The Middleton Family Visits the 1939 World’s Fair
This is a 1939 film which was directed by Robert S. Snody. The film is a depiction of a middle class family from Indiana which had visited the New York World’s Fair in 1939. The New York World’s Fair was meant to show case the positive prospects of the future in the American corporate world. The Middletons are the object of this depiction and display. The family visits the Westinghouse building only despite the event exhibiting a wide range of other exhibitions. The family visits the Battle of the centuries, the Scientific Playground, the television display, the Hall of Power, the Hall of Electrical Living and the Junior science Hall (The Middleton Family at the New York World’s Fair n.p).
This film would be considered as a legend. A legend is a depiction of extra ordinary human actions which have actually taken place in the human history. The stories are sometimes made up or added some details that are usually difficult to confirm but which a majority of individuals believe (Boone, 2001). The extra ordinary actions are performed by normal human beings but which transform the lives of other human beings significantly. In this film, Jim Treadway can be considered a legend as his innovations transform the livelihood of many individuals.
American civil religion is a religion that is inherent only in the United States that is of nonsectarian faith that represents the national history of United States (Haberski, 2012). The religion creates a feeling of loyalty and brings about cohesiveness and unity among the United States citizens. The Middleton family portrays this American civil religion in the manner in which they corporate in their activities in Westinghouse. The strong belief and support of Jim Treadway as opposed to Nicholas Makaroff is a clear indication of this religion.
Considering that the New York World Fair was a trade fair meant to show case and prospects of wealth, Middleton Family has elements that depict just that. The material dimension of this film is seen in the various sections that the family explores in the Westinghouse building. To begin with, the Westinghouse building is in itself a depiction of wealth and prestige in this film. The Westinghouse is frequented only by the rich as is depicted in this film. The status of the Middleton family thus allows them to explore this building without much ado. The various sections within the Westinghouse especially the Hall of Power are all enigmas of prestige and wealth. They alienate the lower social classes which is ironical as the trade fair was meant to create hope in the prosperity of the future for every individual.
Nicholas Makaroff and Jim Treadway are also both a good representation of the material perspective of this film. They however each represent different ideologies both of which bring out the economic social structures inherent in the society. Nicholas Makaroff depicts the evils inherent in the capitalistic system that lowers the status of the worker. He favors the adoption of Marxism in the effort of revitalizing the livelihood of the worker. He is however depicted as just a portrayal of pretence as he does not live the life he so much advocates for. Though he advocates for an adoption of communism as an ideal system to achieve prosperity, he does not act towards achieving what he ardently advocate for.
Jim Treadway is a representation of the typical American pursuing the dream of transforming his country into an industrialized economy. He demonstrates modern and novel technology which he believes are a means towards industrialization and prosperity but is shunned down by the pretentious Makaroff. This is a clear depiction of the material world the film was trying to portray.
Jim Treadway eventually wins the heart of Babs an indication that capitalism is the ideal mechanism to prosperity. Makaroff keeps on critiquing the novel innovation claiming that they would render most Americans jobless but instead, the innovations are depicted as improving not only the livelihood of many workers, but also their conditions in their various places of work (The Middleton Family at the New York World’s Fair n.p). The film ends with Bas eventually going back to Jim Treadway depicting the success of capitalism.
Haberski, R. (2012). God and war. American civil religion since 1945. New Jersey: Rutgers
Johnston, M. (2001). Daniel Boone. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group.
The Middleton Family at the New York World’s Fair. Dir. Robert S. Snody. Westinghouse, 1939.