A.M.Holmes' Music For Torching, Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy, and Tony Kushner's Angels in America
The social progression of America in the 20th and 21st centuries has been arguably advantageous. In the years following the feminist and civil rights movements, the United States has undeniably developed into the world’s leading democratic system. Women and minorities have equal citizenship status under the law. There are more females in the workforce than ever before, and formerly guarded issues such as homosexuality and domestic problems can now be addressed openly in social and political forums. However, the question remains as to whether or not such progression has benefited American culture and its population as a whole. Perhaps we have become too liberal, too timorous at addressing one another’s differences, resulting in the perpetual fear of coming across as too politically incorrect when expressing one’s opinions. Perhaps our social order has become excessively inverted; women are born intended to slave over the hot stove, and only males and females are biologically prearranged to copulate. Perhaps we are still not tolerant enough, as many minorities still suffer quietly under a largely heterosexual-Caucasian-male-dominated regime. What we have gained from free thinking and global assimilation, we have also lost in traditional principles. Despite the cultural uncertainties that have risen from national change, it is evident that the “American dream” is no longer the embodiment of attaining the white picket fence and happy home that it once was.
Postmodern texts seek to examine this social revolution by examining and questioning our social evolution. Three examples of such texts, A.M. Homes’ Music For Torching, Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy, and Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, utilize intertextuality to compare the identity of the individual in America today to identities of the past. References to primarily American popular culture and literature create a discourse investigating the merits of our nation’s development. Each text employs comedy at Sigmund Freud’s tendentious level of jest to challenge personal and social reticence without appearing antagonistic to any specific group. The use of intertexuality condenses the length of the works and lends to the humor of the subject matter by alluding to already familiar people, places, and events in American culture. Without prior knowledge of such entities, most of the texts’ meaning and wit will be lost. Nevertheless, a complete understanding of such allusions will reveal the juxtaposition of America’s modern progression: society has improved in certain aspects, yet has somewhat been demoted in other regards.
The long-established attraction of migrating to America is derived from its historic reputation as the land of opportunity. The Statue of Liberty symbolizes the ability of the wretched refuse to surpass birth and class distinctions through hard work and economy. But the...