The TV series M*A*S*H holds a special place in a history of American well-liked culture. M*A*S*H ran intended for eleven periods beginning in the autumn of 1972 with a total of two hundred and fifty-one episodes, and the series finale of M*A*S*H in 1981 continues to be the most viewed series television episode ever. Yet from the standpoint of critical research, there are a number of curious problems about the show and its particular popularity. In the first place, what genre is it? The 1970 Robert Altman film upon which the series is based is usually referred to as a “black comedy, inch but the fact of the series is a bit stranger than that. Budd and Steinman, for example , specify the genre as some thing they phone “warmedy” – “comedy overlaid with understanding audience identification. ” This really is an important idea as to the way the show worked (and we will go back to it later on in discussion) but it also fails to capture the strangeness. For example , the theme song to M*A*S*H (originally written by the fourteen-year-old boy of overseer Robert Altman for use in the 1970 film) is eligible “Suicide is Painless, inch seemingly a strange choice for a sitcom. Nevertheless the song’s name is a mention of the the central scene in Altman’s film where the M*A*S*H unit’s dental practitioner, nicknamed “Painless, ” chooses to devote suicide after fearing that erectile dysfunction means that he is lgbt. (This is an additional surprise because Painless is said to experience a remarkably large penis. ) Hawkeye and Father Mulcahy (two personas who would cross from the film into the series) then set up a “last supper” – complete with Altman’s visual parody of the Da Vinci nuevo – through which Painless uses a “suicide pill” (really a sleeping pill) and works on to die. Hawkeye in that case finds a nurse in the barracks that is willing to have sexual intercourse with Uncomplicated, thus solving his problem. Yet the event of Uncomplicated in the film – who does not make it into the series, apart from through the show’s theme song – slope inclines us to focus on a sort of feminist analysis. Precisely what is the connection involving the dentist’s huge penis, lgbt panic, and suicidality? The central metaphor in Altman seems truthfully to be a sexist one: battle is a great emasculating push. Yet I would really prefer to look at two characters in the TV series – Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan, performed by Loretta Swit in the series (and by Sally Kellerman in Altman’s film) and Fisico Maxwell Klinger, played by Jamie Farr in the series (and not based on a character in the film) – showing the ways by which M*A*S*H like a series attempted to negotiate problems of gender. I will consider with a great analysis of just one of M*A*S*H’s most famous attacks – the end of it is fourth season, entitled “The Interview” – to show the way in which the comedy’s attempts to aim at greater seriousness essential a reductions of the low-level sexism and homophobia that were initially an integral part of Altman’s film and which usually extended to some degree into the series.
If we think M*A*S*H of any slight indirection in controlling the audiences, this is totally natural. Budd and Steinman note that “from the early seventies to the early on eighties M*A*S*H was often more regarding its own age than the Korean language War inch (72). Although more crucially it is important to find out how Altman in 1970 acquired made a movie set in the Korean Battle at the level of the Vietnam War: Altman himself was a bomber pilot in World War 2, and was obviously a generation over the age of most of the stars in the 1970 film. The studio got permitted the making of your Korean War film solely because they were filming several other military epics at the time (Patton and Tora! Tora! Tora! ) together already appointed the relevant armed forces equipment intended for the filming of large level battle sequences, and Altman filmed over a back whole lot using the gear from the various other films. But this intellectual disconnect was crucial to the achievements of M*A*S*H while both a film and a TV series: it only pretended to be regarding the Korean war, when in reality attempted to provide a discourse on the Vietnam war. This is how an episode like “The Interview” becomes so important in how M*A*S*H constructs that means for its viewers. Wittebols phone calls it “one of the more unusual, introspective episodes of the complete series” and notes that it was the last episode to be authored by the show’s creator, copy writer Larry Gelbart, so to some extent represents sort of swan track (75). The evacuation of Saigon in the Vietnam discord occurred in 30 April 1975. If the fourth time of year of M*A*S*H concluded upon 24 Feb . 1976, it was not quite a year later – in other words, the Vietnam war was still a method to obtain much turmoil and debate. “The Interview” meanwhile signposts its seriousness – mainly because it begins, viewers note that it can be filmed in black-and-white, rather than color (which is what M*A*S*H was usually filmed in, and indeed the closing credit of the instance use the normal color footage). Meanwhile the episode’s customer star was Los Angeles network news core Clete Roberts, playing him self – Roberts had worked as a warfare correspondent in Korea prior to becoming a tv set news broadcaster, and was here playing himself on assignment. The success of the event was as good established at that time that Clete Roberts would be invited back for another instance filmed inside the same design in M*A*S*H’s seventh season – and also to a certain degree, Gelbart was following inside the series Robert Altman’s popular penchant pertaining to allowing celebrities to improvise, as much of “The Interview” was not written immediately by Gelbart but was dedicated directly to film in the design of journalism. The actors had been interviewed in character by Clete Roberts, and the producing footage was edited together into a program.
Yet here is where the feminist analysis turns into absolutely necessary, since what “The Interview” somewhat glaringly is not sold with is the anxiety about gender which is normal in M*A*S*H as a series, especially in previously seasons. The smoothness of Main Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan – enjoyed by Loretta Swit for any eleven periods of M*A*S*H on television – had been introduced in the 70 film because the booty of rather ugly sexist humor. (To find out if Houlihan is a “natural blonde, inches the entire camp sets up chairs outside her shower, in that case pulls the shower straight down, leaving Houlihan flailing and naked – her moniker comes from her sexual face with the reactionary Frank Burns up, which Hawkeye and the other folks broadcast in the tannoy, experiencing “Hot Lips” as Burns’ term of endearment for her). The status of “Hot Lips” as the only female character today might raise clear feminist questions, but of course in 1970-2 that wave of feminism which will would permit such asking yourself of a appear culture artifact was by itself nascent. Yet it is well worth noting that, in the opening four months of M*A*S*H, the depressed initial function of “Hot Lips” Houlihan – to get a nexus to get both sexual fantasy and nervous (often sexist) laughter) – is altered by the introduction of Jamie Farr’s character of Corporal Klinger. Klinger wears women’s apparel in the hopes to be invalided out of your Army as being a mental case or gay. This was ground-breaking at the time, and also to some extent the series might back away from the broader suggestion, as David Diffrient remarks, eventually “heteronormalizing” Klinger by presenting him with a “Korean war-bride” (Diffrient 123). Klinger – in whose portrayal appears actually anachronistic, more an indicator of Vietnam-era draft dodgers moreso than Korean conscripts – has the most remarkable statement in “The Interview. ” The moment asked by Clete Roberts what he thinks with the war, Klinger