This paper analyzes Rosie the Riveter by the Vagabonds and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy by the Andrew Sisters to establish the message behind the films, their importance at the time and whether the ultimate goal for their production was realized. The songs have unique linguistic precursors involving both piano and guitar rhythms and they can be labelled as films of persuasion since they were politically motivated. The message from the songs is clear and this paper analyzes in detail the recurrent themes, common feature and hidden meanings behind the films.
The message in the films
The two film are similar in the way they portray American women from a professional perspective ready for war. For instance, one of the most prominent features was the dressing code. In Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, the three leading women wore matching attires, with black neckties surrounded by jovial military men, who were enjoying the show. The song has a smooth flow, and the voices of the three singers are well articulated, although the tone is also patronizing. The women are fully clothed and professionally dressed which emphasizes the idea that they meant business.
The films personify American women in the 1940s, and the role they played when men went to war. In Rosie the Riveter, Rosie does hard work that men in our current society do. She works in an assembly line and the lyrics are in tune with the surroundings, what she does in the factory line and most importantly why she does it. Rosie works on a daily basis, regardless of what the day brings, and song follows that her work is for victory. There are different meanings attached to this phrase and it makes the viewer’s empathize with her as she goes around her responsibilities. She has myriad obligations, and when she is finally given the production “E”, it a show of her excellence not her need.
The role of women in the society is also explored. Prior to the war, most women only did household chores and female workers in industries was unheard of. Society’s roles would change once the war began, appoint that brought to the forefront by the films. The norms and traditions are contrasted in the films. Uniformity as opposed to casual wear and professionalism as opposed to leisure.
Why the films were made.
In my view, the films were created to persuade American women to go to work when men were away at war. Moreover, the American government aimed at recruiting women for World War II and the films were also meant to influence women to be part of the established Women’s’ Army Corps (WACs). This “women’s movement is evidence that although women’s efforts were not recognized during and after the war, they were part of the war though indirectly. For instance, they worked assemblies and factories to produce what men in the war needed which ultimately helped their men win World War II. WACs was a means for military preparedness that involved wars operations by women and also have minimal threats to the already established Army culture that was male dominated. At the time however, the army could not accept female military officers directly into their ranks and WACS were a compromise.
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy also explores the various roles that some of the soldiers played on the war front. The song talks about a talented musician who id recruited by “Uncle Sam” for the sole purpose of blowing the bugle. He feels his talents are wasted and is sometimes disillusioned at his role in the camp. Having been a prominent street musician, “a top man at his craft” back in Chicago, his role at the camp does not involve any meaningful musical contributions and he only blows the wakeup call for military personnel in the morning. The song was a constant reminder that everyone was a part of the war no matter their occupation, class or talent. Any contribution to the cause, regardless of how minimal the effort was, counted in the face of the threats the country face.
On a different note, the United States government also realized that world wars II would require the input of large portions of the population to emerge victorious, and the films coaxed women to also rise up. It is noteworthy that during this period, close to twenty million women were in employment, and they were also expected to return home and also manage the household chores.
How the films achieved their goals.
The recruitment drive by the American government to attract more women into employed worked and the country increased the labour force significantly. Rosie the Riveter was an icon of the American culture during the Second World War. It symbolized American feminism and its role in creating the economic and military powers of the country. Ammunitions and war supplies were produced in factories and assemblies where women were part of the workforce. The films were used to encourage women to go to work and in some cases they were direct replacements to the departing men, taking on unfamiliar roles.
The fictional characters in both films were used as propaganda campaigns and this strategy was effective in increasing the labour force. There are various themes to this effect portrayed in the films such as:-
The allure of work. Judging by the elegance of the ladies, their dressing code and their tone, women would believe that going to work was noble and fashionable. American feminism was exploited to great effect to influence perception through government fueled propaganda.
A patriotic theme to elicit a sense of belonging and purpose. The films main point was to argue a case for why women needed to work. In Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, for example, there were many soldiers surrounding the singing and dancing women which can be viewed as a depiction that the country had many able men but many would be lost if women failed to help. This was a purposeful statement to strengthen their resolve to work and ensure that they remained dedicated during the entire period.
Rosie the Riveter has a feel of “spousal pride”. The woman in the film works tirelessly which is a source of pride. This made the women idealize that their men would be proud of their efforts and that they would reap hefty rewards for their efforts. Additionally, women were made to feel that taking part in industrial labour was similar to household chores and the work was not as difficult as they thought. Moreover, it was understood that if they helped, then their men would return home safe and sound and that they would eventually go back to the duties they were accustomed to.
The filmmakers also persuaded women to think, behave and feel a certain way. They were to dress as professionals, work like their men did and persevere for the entire duration of the war. Although this was a tough ordeal, they were persuaded that this would help their country and help ease the burden placed on men. Their endeavours were recognized in the films, which may have had the effect of strengthening their resolve to heed the directives given by the government.
The ultimate goals of the political campaign involving the films were realized. The intention was to enhance the role women played in the society and have women take up the jobs of the men who left for war. In the period beginning 1940 to 1945, women labour force increased significantly by approximately 10%. In the aircraft industry, the number of women surpassed three hundred thousand and after the war, records show that close to three million women exited the industrial workforce.
Women were a big part of World War II and their efforts, especially in the United States industrial sector helped their allies emerge victorious. They volunteered to work and help in any way they could and the films also made them realize that they faced imminent danger and in case they were unprepared, there would be catastrophic consequences On further analysis, the impact was profound since countries such as Germany, where the Nazi under Hitler outlawed women from taking part in industrial jobs were on the losing end.
The filmmakers in these films had political leanings. World War II beckoned and the need to recruit men into the military made the government develop new strategies to ensure that the country did not run into economic woes. During this period, industrialization was an economic pillar and labour was key to continued stability and growth. Women’s response to the messages and themes portrayed in the films was patriotic, and they entered the industrial workforce to fill the void left by men. The war was a major turning point in the American society and this period was significant in forming the foundations of modern day contemporary women’s movements in the country. The working woman’s domination during this person diminished the image of riveting housewives to some extent, and women were no longer viewed as domestic beings.
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