Asynchronous Screening and Blog Post on The Get Down: Episode One

Creator and the director of the pilot, Baz Luhrmann, and a team of collaborators -Catherine Martin, MC Nas, DJ Grandmaster Flash, playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis, and hip-hop historian Nelson George – set The Get Down as a music-driven drama that documents the emergence of a new art form. Set in the late 1970s, when New York was at the brink of bankruptcy, the rise of hip-hop is told through the lives, art, music, and dance of a group of young people in the South Bronx.


ASYNCHRONOUS ASSIGNMENT (Due on 9/21 before the class)


1. Watch the first episode of the Netflix show The Get Down: “Where There Is Ruin, There Is Hope for a Treasure.”

2. In the comment section down below answer ONE of the following prompts (200-word minimum).


Describe the different artistic engagements of intersecting Nuyorican and Black communities in the Bronx that led to the creation of Hip Hop culture? Refer to specific characters and scenes from the first episode of The Get Down.


Hip Hop parties became healing spaces to deal with the marginalization and turf wars in the Bronx. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Refer to the title of the episode and to specific scenes from the first episode of The Get Down 


Analyze the elements of mise en scene in this scene

How does the director uses the setting, lighting, costumes, props, camera, and/or actor movements or positions to portrait Ezekiel’s potential as a poet/MC?


Respectfully interact with ONE of your classmates’ responses. Do you agree with their arguments and interpretations? Do you disagree? What other observations about The Get Down do you want to bring into the discussion?

Decade of Fire

Entry Question

Have you seen similar disinvestment as the one presented in the documentary in your borough or neighborhood? What are some common signs of this urban marginalization?

.What are the central ideas of this writer, thinker, and/or filmmaker?

In the documentary Decade of Fire, Vivian Vásquez look at how during the 70s the systemic disenfranchisement of the Bronx as well as the criminalization of black, Puerto Rican, Caribbean, and Latinx people contributed to the literal burning of the borough and further displacement of these historically marginalized communities. Using Vasquez’s account, the filmmakers also pay attention to the ways grassroots organizing led to an ongoing project of revitalization, cultural affirmation, and sustainability.


.Analyze one specific section of the film with an excerpt by your assigned author that best communicates what you identified in the question above. What analogies and critical connections can you establish between the audiovisual work and the essay?

Necropolis- J. Chang (Page 13)


Both Chang and the filmmakers bring evidence of how landlords benefitted from burning their own buildings to collect insurance money. They proposed that this type of corrupt economy went on for many years with no accountability of repercussions against those who destroyed and displaced whole communities in the South Bronx.

.Select one specific element of mise-en-scene (costume, lighting, camera frames or movements, sound, music, actors’ movements, or positions) and examine how this artistic choice enhances or adds nuance to the central concerns of the audiovisual piece.

A mise en scene element that stands out from the documentary is the use of maps with archival footage to demonstrate and see the scale of its arguments (see 12:00-13:40 /  42:00-43:00). In these two sections we see on one side how redlining was part of a concerted effort of the state, the city, developers, and insurance companies to neglect black and Latinx communities, and on the other side, the amount of money made from the fires.

.Pose a critical question about the audiovisual piece or the essay to the group.

What were some of the community initiatives against the “mathematics of destruction” (Chang 14) that stood out for you? How the current wave of gentrification in the Bronx is connected to this story? (01:08:00-01:11:00)

Asynchronous Screening and Blog Post on Decade of Fire

Throughout the 1970s, fires consumed the South Bronx. Black and Puerto Rican residents were blamed for the devastation even as they battled daily to save their neighborhoods. In DECADE OF FIRE, Bronx-born Vivian Vázquez Irizarry pursues the truth surrounding the fires – uncovering policies of racism and neglect that still shape our cities, and offering hope to communities on the brink today.

-from the Official Website

ASYNCHRONOUS ASSIGNMENT (Due on 9/14 before the class)


1. Watch the documentary Decade of Fire (Gretchen Hildebran and Vivian Vásquez, 2018)

2. In the comment section down below answer ONE of the following prompts (2o0-words minimum).


Discuss specific policies (laws), political or corporate decisions, and/or examples of media representation, that led to the neglect and extreme marginalization of the Bronx during the 1970s.

Refer to scenes and concrete issues presented by the filmmakers.


Elaborate on some of the grassroots efforts and community activism that ended the fires.

Refer to scenes, concrete actions, and solutions presented by the filmmakers.


Select and analyze the function of two different documentary techniques in Decade of Fire (voice-over narration; archival footage or images; interviews; montage; animation). How do these techniques help to convey the results of the filmmakers’ historical research?



Respectfully interact with ONE of your classmates’ responses. Do you agree with their arguments and interpretations? Do you disagree? What other observations about Decade of Fire do you want to bring into the discussion?

Elements of Mise en Scene

Entry Question

Apart from the story, the plot, and the actors’ performances, are there other elements of movies and tv shows that you usually pay attention to?

Elements of mise-en-scene-G. Lathrop and D. Sutton

Mise-en-scene, a French term meaning “place on stage,” refers to all the visual elements of a theatrical production within the space provided by the stage itself. Filmmakers have borrowed the term and have extended the meaning to suggest the control the director and his collaborators have over the visual elements within the film image. Four aspects of mise-en-scene which overlap the physical art of the theatre are setting, costume, lighting, and movement of figures and the camera. Control of these elements provides the director an opportunity to stage events and engage in visual storytelling.


Setting, as an important visual element of film, includes all that the viewer sees which informs time and place apart from costume.


Costume, or clothing and its accessories, is also an important visual element in film. Costume can serve to enhance the narrative, or story, for instance, by suggesting social position of characters.

Figure Behavior

Figure expression and movement are used by the director to support the narrative as well as help develop the thematic unity of a film.

Figure expression refers to the facial expressions and the posture of an actor, whereas figure movement refers to all other actions of the actor, including gestures.


Lighting, like the other aspects of mise-en-scene, is a tool used by the director to convey special meaning about a character or the narrative to the viewer. Lighting can help define the setting of a scene or accentuate the behavior of the figures in the film.

Camera Shots and Angles

What mise en scene elements Gregory Nava, the director of Selena, and his collaborators use to convey: a) Selena’s relatability (everydayness; b) social classes, elitism, and ethnic prejudices; c)Selena’s level of success within the music industry?