Argument about Carnival Row (2019) and what it is suggesting about power dynamics based on class, race, sexuality, and/or gender

Throughout this semester, we have studied how arguments are constructed, and at times manipulated, in popular fiction, including short stories and satirical works. Like the quote above suggests, popular media can create ideologies that trap us and, at times, free us. As we have already observed when examining context and subtext, all media communicates in subtle ways and can reveal particular world views while having the potential to change them for better or for worse. As critical thinkers we have to be able to analyze all of these options while rooting our opinions in the evidence we observe.
All media sources–including TV shows and films–are ideological. These films and shows reveal the values, desires, attitudes, and beliefs of a given culture, revealing something about the context in which the film was created.
For this paper, you will use all your analytical skills to make an argument about one of the following contemporary films/TV shows and what it is suggesting about power dynamics based on class, race, sexuality, and/or gender. More specifically, your thesis should put forward a nuanced view of how it engages with power structures through the making of what we will call “hegemony”.
Film/TV Show Options:
Get Out (2017)
Parasite (2019)
The Boys (2019)
Carnival Row (2019)
Lovecraft Country (2020)
Westworld (2016 – 2019–the TV show, not the original 1973 film)
Game of Thrones (2011-2019–the TV show, not the books)
The Handmaid’s Tale (2017-now–the TV Show, not the book or old film versions)
Squid Game (2021)
NOTE: Some of these are based on books or comic books; do not confuse the film/show with the original book or comic. Stick to the show/film only in this paper. These can be found streaming on Netflix, Amazon, HBO, etc. If you do not have access to these services, you may have to rent the film or temporarily sign-up for the service for the shows (many offer trial periods for free).
As you watch and analyze your film/show, consider the following questions:
What is the film/show suggesting about power dynamics (what is its subtextual argument about power, how it is formed, how it is maintained, etc.)?
How does the film/show challenge or reinforce dominant viewpoints regarding race, class, gender, sexuality, etc.?
How does the film/show reflect the intersections of power or disempowerment (meaning, how are class and race, or race and gender, or gender and class, or a combination of more than two of these, etc. interrelated in the film or show)? What does the film or show suggest about the relationship between these different identity markers and their connection to power or disempowerment?
How does the film/show make an argument about the way that ideologies are formed? In what ways might its presentation of power be flawed or even harmful? You must fully introduce, quote from, and fluidly integrate your primary source and five additional sources in this paper.
To support your argument about the film or TV show, which is your PRIMARY source and should be the focus on analysis throughout the entire paper, you will also integrate 5 additional secondary sources. YOU WILL HAVE 6 SOURCES TOTAL!
If you choose a TV series as your primary source, you will want to engage specifically with two episodes from the series (do not attempt to discuss the whole series and everything in it!). If you choose a film as your primary source, you can just use the one film.
Three of the additional secondary sources can be the unit readings from Baldwin, Du Bois, Lull, Marx, Foucault, and/or Althusser. The other two must be peer-reviewed academic journal articles about the issues you are discussing in the paper. For example, if you are looking at how The Boys depicts race and power, you can find journal articles on race and power in modern America or on how the show itself depicts these issues; if you are looking at how The Handmaid’s Tale depicts gender, sex, sexuality, and power, you can find journal articles on modern power dynamics related to sex and gender or on the show itself (do not confuse the show with the book, though–make sure that if you use sources on the show that they are in fact about the show itself and not the book alone).
Do not use any other sources. Reviews or popular articles from general websites will not be accepted. In addition to the course readings, you must use two peer-reviewed academic journal articles (you can find these in JSTOR or EBSCO or another comparable database with peer-reviewed journal materials).
To have your sources approved, you will submit an Annotated Bibliography and introduction paragraph. This will count as a draft of the paper. Near the end of the introduction, you will answer the thesis question that follows:
What is the film arguing about the establishment, reproduction, and/or maintenance of power based on specific identity markers, such as class, race, gender, sexuality, or intersections of these?
Note: the title of the film MUST be in the thesis statement.
Weak Sample: The film Title argues that racism is wrong.
This is a very weak thesis that will earn a very weak grade. It is obvious, lacks substance, and does not explain how power is established, reproduced, or maintained in the film nor how this relates to specific identity markers. This thesis makes me ask: racism against what groups? Who is racist? Why does it suggest it is wrong? How does it function in the film? Your thesis needs to move far beyond these types of obvious statements.
Stronger Samples:
The film Title argues that the disempowerment of women, especially women of color, is maintained through unequal access to childcare and job opportunities, which is encouraged not only by men but also by other women who do not question the patriarchal traditions they’ve inherited from past generations.
The film Title attempts to show that discrimination towards the LGBTQ+ community negatively affects adolescents, but it does not adequately achieve this goal because it depicts sexual attraction as a choice, and in doing so reinforces the idea that gay and bisexual people can simply choose to be straight without considering the logical implication: if sexuality is a choice then nobody is inherently straight either, and sexuality must then be a social construct; in doing so, this perpetuates stereotypes against the LGBTQ+ community and works to maintain power dynamics that position heteronormative behavior as “normal” and everything else as “deviant.”
These samples are stronger because they present arguable claims about how the films depict a specific issue related to power and how this relates to specific group that is disempowered, indicating not only WHAT power relation the film is critiquing or reinforcing but also HOW the film does so.
This paper must be in MLA format. It must include in-text citations for all quoted and paraphrased material. All sources must be introduced and credited. A Works Cited for all sources used in the paper is mandatory. The Works Cited in the final draft of the paper should not include the annotations. Failure to cite (i.e. plagiarism) will result in a non-passing grade on the paper.You must do the following in this paper:
include a unique and creative title that sets the tone for your paper
introduce the primary source (the film or TV show) by title in the introduction paragraph before the thesis
answer the thesis question in a nuanced, original, and arguable thesis statement that appears near the end of the introduction paragraph
develop an argument to support the thesis that includes evidence (quotes and paraphrases with in-text citations) from credible sources, taking care to adhere to the source requirements above
compose a well-organized essay that includes an introduction w/ a thesis, multiple body paragraphs that follow the AXES or SCREAM model and use introduced and cited quotes with explanations to support the thesis, and a conclusion
begin each body paragraph with a subclaim that helps develop the argument
introduce your sources fully as you use them
be written in 3rd person
meet the word count of 1250 words before the Works Cited page
cite in-text and on a Works Cited in MLA format
use MLA format
proofread for grammar and mechanical errors (grammar and usage counts)
submit as a Word document by the due date and timeThis activity is designed to support the following Learning Objectives:
Analyze the relationship between meaning in texts and language manipulation (including literal and figurative language, connotation, and denotation), the use of sophisticated literary forms and strategies (including irony, parody and satire), and the similarities and differences between the author and his/her characters (including intentions, biases, assumptions, and arguments).
Examine unstated premises and hidden assumptions that arise from the social, historical, moral, cultural, psychological, or aesthetic contexts in which the primary texts and critical analysis of those texts exist.
Evaluate the pattern of reasoning present in a literary argument and related critical evaluation, including induction and deduction, in terms of fairness, accuracy, completeness, and effectiveness.
Examine logical fallacies– including appeals to authority, fear, and pity– in the arguments of literary works and criticism and particular literary fallacies, such as evaluating a work purely in terms of aesthetics, emotional effects, etc.
Distinguish between fact, inference, and judgment, recognizing that many reasonable inferences can be derived from the same facts.
Derive and justify inferences about a work, the intention of the author or the effect of the text based on its thesis or theme as reflected in rhetorical strategies, such as symbolism, imagery, use of irony, structure, point of view, characterization or other aspects of the text.
The file that I added is a student sample and can not be used for my essay, it is just a sample.

Leave a Reply