Wednesday, April 30, 2008
I LOVE LUCY!
I LOVE LUCY! I really do!
Ever since I was a little girl watching reruns of I Love Lucy on Nick at Night, I have been captured by and down right addicted to the television series that set the tone for not only production and cinematography of television and film, but the de-polarization of traditional gender roles during its time. I chose to focus on I Love Lucy because it represents and intertwines so many aspects of visual culture.
I Love Lucy brilliantly debuted during an important moment of American history when technology moved entertainment from radio and film to an in-your-home simultaneous audio and visual stimulant called the television. American families now had a deeper connection with the stars they were watching in their living rooms every evening after dinner, and Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz used this to their utmost advantage. I Love Lucy was particularly unique due to the real life marriage between Ball and Arnaz which translated from their private life into their public, on screen scripted marriage. The actors played off the public's knowledge of their real life relationship, blurring the lines between realism and resemblance, causing an even greater effect on the viewing audience.
I have created an artistic 3D sculpture painting that illustrates three of my favorite episodes, but more importantly represents some of the major revolutionary anti-domestic ideals that I Love Lucy was famous for portraying. In each smaller hanging panel is an example of a particular moment where Lucy Ricardo is pushing her way through the traditional, unbending roles of what women in the 1950's were suppose to play. In Episode 56 entitled "Equal Rights" Lucy and Ethel demand their husbands to treat them as complete equals and as a result the men refuse to pay for their dinners later that night at a restaurant, therefore the girls end up having to wash dishes to pay for their meals. And to stay true to the situational comedy, the girls get even (as they always do) and fake getting held up in a robbery, throwing the men in jail to teach them a lesson.
Woman all over the United States recognized a little bit of themselves in Lucy Ricardo: the liberated crazy, looney, comic - a role known to only be suited for a man. Women identified with Lucy who was a lady ahead of her time, as the feminist movement did not reach it's hey day until the 1960's and 70's. Yet in 1951 I Love Lucy was revolutionizing the way society viewed gender and helped pry open the vice gripped around the polarization of men and women in the home and work place blending these worlds together.
Episode 39 is probably the most well known I Love Lucy to have aired, entitled "Job Switching". Here Lucy and Ethel speak for woman across the nation as they moan and groan over the repetitive dullness of cooking and cleaning, which was prompted by Ricky complaining about the pains of making a living in. The men of course challenge the woman to a contest to switch jobs and see who can last the longest. While the woman realize they aren’t cut out for chocolate factory work, the men have a revelation of their own when they encounter a disaster attempting to make dinner and almost burning the kitchen down. The episode resolved back into the traditional lines of domestication where Ricky went back to making the living and Lucy went back to being the housewife, setting audiences at ease who were not quite ready for such a bold social move forward.
The larger main canvas is painted using acrylic and has flowing spiral red ribbon to mimic the fabric behind the big heart during the opening title of the show. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz are fixed in the middle of the art, as the household icons. People fell in love with the Ricardo's because they knew parts of the Ball/Arnaz family's real life was connected to what they saw on camera, and that made watching even more alluring. Lucille Ball played the first openly pregnant woman on television as she was expecting in real life. It was playing variations of their real off screen lives that lead to that intimacy and connection for the viewers. It was the everyday life inside the home of a hilarious yet fearless couple that tugged on the strings everyone's hearts. Even to this day, almost sixty years later, the show still communicates to audiences, and I am a prime example. Back then heterosexual couples looked toward the Ricardo's as their prime example of love and middle aged housewives looked toward Lucy Ricardo for what they hoped they someday could be. Now we look back with nods of approval that we might possibly not have had, had the world not been given Lucy Ricardo, the unconventional and revolutionary female model.