A Declaration of Love all the Same: Chicago and Modern Boy
Due to the remarkable changes in the early twentieth century, the new invention and technology impacted peoples’ everyday lives and people started to use the word, modern, to apply specifically to what pertained to present times and to designate a movement in what was new and not old-fashioned—a condition of newness. In the present day, however, the fantastic cultural changes of a century ago have now become commonplace, and what was once considered radically new is no longer a reason to marvel. This paper considers what it mean to be modern, once the new is no longer new. This question seems to remain as complicated and inappropriate to ponder because the consideration and impact of modernity cannot simply end with the end of an era. This paper investigates how the interconnected nature of popular culture provides apt illustrations to reveal the ambivalent nature of modernity and postmodernity. In doing so, first of all, this paper pays attentions to the notion of modernity and popular culture which emerged together in the early twentieth century when technology and mass consumer culture were promoted over the world. Also, it examines how popular culture represents a complex of mutually-interdependent perspectives and values that influence society and its institutions in various ways as the image of modernity continues to build in a postmodern era. That is, popular culture is identified as a large amount of intertextuality or collective experiences due to its intermingling of complementary distribution sources and techonology. Thus, this paper explores that popular culture devotes itself other images or narratives instead of referring to the real world and its output revisits the contemporary or past times in other places, being a means to produce and reproduce the accumulated images of the modern which shapes ceaseless simulacra of modernity over complexities of modernity.
In order to find a critical juncture of the complex networks of modernity and popular culture, this paper considers two places, Chicago and Gyeongsung in the 1920s and 1930s in which the rapid modern experience took place and the modern movement forced the two societies to join the mass consumer culture whether willingly or not. Next, this paper considers two movies released in 2002 and 2008 that exemplify the complexities of modernity in Chicago and Gyeongung of the 1920s and 30s: Chicago and Modern Boy. Both films have common themes of the 1920s and 30s such as violence, adultery, femme fatal, and criminal themes with the forms of musical, dance, drama, and romance. Through the textual analysis of both Chicago and Modern Boy, two films are compared in observing the similar and different ways in which two films deal with the theme of modernity when they are represented from the contemporary perspectives. More specifically, this paper questions how modernity is present in contemporary cultural forms such as commercial and hybrid genre films; and how these movies create a new image of modern by embodying the double coding. Ultimately, this paper aims at realizing the paradox of double edged modernity and its ongoing discourse that controls people’s consciousness through the medium of popular culture.