The Peculiar Life of an Orphan Part II / by KirstenStudio

Each day and evening at Orphans 8 proved to be chalked full of unique examples of Made to Persuade media.  Below are some of my personal favorites from Friday symposium's schedule (I unfortunately did not attend Friday's late afternoon and evening's sessions). Friday morning began with Campaign Film and TV Spots. David Schwartz (MMI Chief Curator) presented some interesting Reagan era propaganda ads. You can browse The Living Room Candidate through the Museum of the Moving Images online collection. Schwartz mentioned that campaigns actually use the link as a resource and inspiration for future campaign ads (for better or for worse). Check out The Bear ad.

And an Advocacy Campaign Film screened Children Limited (1951) followed by a talk back with Laura Kissel (U of South Carolina), Larry A. Jones (The Arc of Washington) and  Faye Ginsburg (NYU Council for the Study of Disability).

Children Limited served as an advocacy film and was insightful in the ways society once approached disability as opposed to the way it does now. There have been major strides, but as most of us already are aware, there is a long way to go. For example this film's segregation message is incredibly dated but societally we still lack appropriate tools for integrating those with intellectual disabilities into our life and communities.

An interesting aspect of the film that was brought up was the idealized depiction of a disability institution filled with one-on-one care, clean clothing and environment, happy children walking across expansive green lawns under the sun and surrounded regal large white buildings. The reality of these institutions have been, of course and unfortunately, notoriously and starkly different. To me that makes this film important because it serves as a study guide on several different levels.

On a less somber note, Catherine Jurca (Cal Tech) brought Friday afternoon's orphanistas Motion Pictures' Greatest Year Campaign: The World Is Ours (MPPDA, 1938), a hysterical and heavy handed promotional Made to Persuade Americans to go back to the movies. The piece offered a variety of reasons, given by each generation, from 'entertainment is a serious business, to 'Hollywood employees many' to its educational and social values. Jurca said there was a vested interest in making the film to show the 'real human' so audiences had people to connect with, but apparently the campaign itself was a flop.

A real oddity of what I saw on Friday was a religious story from the well-known comedy director, Frank Tashlin. Ethan de Seife (Hosfstra U) presented snippets of the partially animated film, The Way of Peace (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 1947). The wacky stop motion (although the motion appeared to be fairly minimal) figures illustrated scenes from classic bible stories to the blazoned end of the world. Spooky and goofy, yet kind of mesmerizing, all at the same time. De Seife admitted that even after researching for over a decade, he still wasn't sure about how Tashlin came to work on The Way of Peace. To me that's part of why orphan films are so interesting. They're often a mystery and sometimes unraveling them brings the detective closer to an understanding, but sometimes they seem meant to be somewhat elusive. In this case the how and why remains unanswered.