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Michigan's Culture: "Dreamgirls" Movie (Essay Sample)


1. a normal ~6-page paper (use established format/parameters) (Honors projects must be 10 p.)
2. a presentation based in digital story-telling techniques that must have ~1250 words of original text/script/narration. This could also be a webpage, Tumblr, powerpoint, short film, etc.
As we've been discussing, the goal is to discuss a Michigan-based:
*book (not your book report book) *author *event
*band/musician *movie/TV show/digital media presence
*celebrity or individual, or other cultural institution/event *political issue
*any other Michigan based cultural phenomenon/event whose significance you establish as part of the assignment
If it's not on this list, your subject must reflect, refract, or comment upon life in Michigan in the current cultural moment (since 1985). You will be required to use a diversity of primary and secondary sources; an MLA-style bibliography is required. To contain and control the process of selecting appropriate topics, please send your TA and Prof Watts (watts) a BRIEF description of your topic by April 7 even if we've already discussed it informally. If you are doing something not on the list, please send your proposal to Dr. Watts as well. And be ready to talk about it in section every week. Same checkout policy as Book Reports.
PROMPT: While background research will be required, your thesis and introduction should address a few things:
a. what is the contribution of this subject to Michigan's culture? Is it significant enough for the reader to care about it?
b. what do you mean by “Michigan's culture”? Or the culture of a population, region or city in the state? Does it suggest the state has one diverse culture or many overlapping ones?
c. how was your source produced (officially or unofficially) by Michigan and its cultural environment?
d. for whom was it produced? was it successful? A national or local audience?
e. moving forward, will your subject have a historical presence? How will it contribute to the understanding of the state and its culture for future Michiganders?
A few warnings:
1. You are not working for the State Chamber of Commerce, Convention or Tourism Boards or any of that. Do not write promotional material. Establish a critical distance the same way we have with the books we have been reading.
2. Likewise, don't try to solve the problem. Identify its sources and discuss what it reveals. Understand your role as observer and analyst. Don't be preachy.
3. Be specific. If you want to work on Motown, focus on a specific individual or group. For example, narrow it to Barry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, the Temptations, or the Supremes, etc.


Ford, is one of the famous car brands and it has been first created and produced in the home of Henry Ford in Detroit Michigan in 1896 (“Michigan”, n.d). Aside from being the home of the American Automobile Industry, some of the US most scenic destination can be seen in Michigan (“Michigan”, n.d). It is also known as a Great Lake State for it borders four of the five great lakes which gives the state the second longest freshwater coastline in the Country after Alaska (“Michigan', n. d.). The state that now has 9.9 million people had its largest City, Detroit, as the fourth largest US city in 1940 (“Michigan”, n.d). How we dress, how we speak, how we interact with people and the things we used in the interaction is part of our culture. This is because culture is usually defined as a way of life (“Culture”, n. d). Michigan's culture is very rich and deep for it has arts, music, and ethnic culture (“Arts and Culture”, n. d.). Michigan's culture in music is particularly rich. It was the birthplace of Mowtown, a record company, and had produced a long list of famous bands and singers such as, The Supremes, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Eminem and so on (“Motown, The Sound that changed America”, n. d.). One great film representation of this culture and its development is the award-winning movie Dreamgirls which is loosely based on the story of the famous trio of women singers, The Supremes (Beckman, 2007). This was released in theatres on December 26, 2006, and was directed by Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls 2006”, n. d.). It had an all-star cast of Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, Anika Noni Rose, Jamie Fox and Eddie Murphy (“Dreamgirls 2006”, n. d.). It is a successful film which had been nominated and received a lot of Awards including, Oscars, Golden Globes, BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild Awards, AARP Movies for Grownups Awards, AFI Awards, African American Film Critic Association, Alliance of Women Film Journalist and a lot more (“Dreamgirls, Awards”, n. d.). The development of the African Music Industry can be seen in this movie for it was set in the 1960s and 1970s were Blacks still do not have the same opportunities as the Whites in this industry and Black clubs and White clubs still existed. It is significantly part of our culture and history thus it is entertaining as well as educational to watch. The Dreamgirls movie portrayed African American Music, a little of Detroit history and the African American culture as a whole.
As discussed above, the movie is about a group of three Black women and their life in the music industry. It opened in an amateur R& B Talent show in 1962 at the Detroit Theatre where the Black women, Effie, Deena, and Lorrell participated in as a group with the name “The Dreamettes” but did not win. They met a car salesman, Curtis Taylor Jr. Curtis who had known that Jimmy “Thunderbird” Early of Chitlin Circuit, an R&B Singer is in need of new backup singers. With a little manipulation, he became the new manager of The Dreamettes and had arranged them to be backup singers for Jimmy which extended to an on the road musical tour. Curtis then started Rainbow Records as his own record label from his car dealership and appointed, C. C, Effie's brother as his head songwriter. Yet, the first record they made failed when a cover version was released by a white pop group. Thus, Curtis together with C.C and Wayne their producer made “Jimmy Early and The Dreamettes” mainstream popstars through a payola. Effie and Curtis had a relationship off stage as well as Lorrell and Jimmy despite Jimmy having a wife. Marty had a fight with Curtis about Jimmy's career which made Marty quit. Curtis...

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