British Theorist Raymond Williams Applied to American Film

Ronald Conner played in Chasing Blues, a film about two rival record collectors attempt to con an old lady. Some of the characters are sent and released from jail. All of the characters carry the love for old vinyl records. It is the messages of lyrics that they are chasing. The music is what lives on forever. Conner tells us what people are seemingly chasing in life? As the men in this film are chasing the blue record, what are people seemingly chasing in life? “I think the record in the film is a representation of what most of us chase in life; which is financial stability and validation.” In liking music, this film also seeks revenge. What does this film say about the stake for revenge? “I think it says when the stakes for revenge get so high that you become obsessed, both sides lose in the end.”

Conner relates how music makes him feel. The music continues to make us feel different than how another generation might look at music. Is the way we listen to the old music and putting it on repeat a figurative way of how we chase music in our society? “I think “old music” is relative and specific to the individual. My “old” is different than someone younger or older than me. I think we listen to it on repeat because it takes us to a time in our life that was simpler.” This response relates to the British Theorist Raymond Williams. He used the term Structure of Feeling to help people understand that when immersing yourself in a different time, we take on the feeling of those who lived in this time that is different from our own. This is called the Structure of Feeling. This theory is still relative in our society today when we listen to music while listening to music, we take on the lifestyle of the lyrics and the artists that talk about their lives.

The American actor Conner provides a response that helps us see this theory at its fullest effect. What is an old record or song that makes you receive the feeling or sense of the culture or period through the lyrics? “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash 1982” To provide that this theory still applies to our world today and in American film, Conner goes further to describe how and why this is the case. “From the very first lyrics of the song; “broken glass everywhere” coupled with the sound effect of glass breaking, The Message begins the journey of shining a light on a marginalized community. A culture that was experiencing the living conditions of a third world country but was living on American soil. A country that was advertised as the land of opportunity. As the hook explains- “It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under.”

As we listen to music, we gain a sense of thinking, feeling, and understanding of the artist’s life. This happens subconsciously, and it is something we cannot control. The Structure of Feeling theory makes us correlate lyrics in the songs to our own lives. This furthers the understanding and our need to listen to the song. Conner agrees and expresses how the song The Message gives him a structure of feeling of the time described in this piece of music. “The Message” makes me receive the feeling or sense of the culture because I grew up in it. I’ve seen my working-class neighborhood deteriorate into the very jungle that Grand Master Flash spoke about. While there were times my family was “close to the edge;” We didn’t “lose our heads,” and fortunately the jungle “never took us under.” 

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