O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a figurative, yet farcical comedy. In what ways does it reflect common and real beliefs about the South? 

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Coen Brothers' film is one in which there is an attempt to depict several aspects of the South in a realistic manner.  The presence of religion is a strong element in the film and a part of Southern culture.  This is also true in the presence and violence associated with the Ku Klux Klan.  Both of these forces converge in a rural condition, where wide open space is a distinctive feature of the both the landscape and the cultural conditions.  These realistic elements can be seen as another attempt by the film making industry to stereotype the South.  Yet, the reality is that these elements did exist and in depicting them, the Coen Brothers' work seeks to bring out their own condition in a manner that is both reflective and humorous.  This can be seen in the view of law enforcement, images of vendetta- bound forms of implementing justice and corruption in the name of consolidating one's power.  While no one would suggest that all Southern lawmakers are corrupt and others are not, the Southern image of lawmakers and law enforcers that is presented is one in which some aspect of truth is present.  Its depiction is both to bring this aspect of truth out as well as provide reflection on how these traits can be seen in our own setting.  Through this , the film depicts aspects and beliefs about the South that are valid, to an extent, but help to raise more in way of discussion than seek to make any definitive statement.


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