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Lois Weber and Social Issue Films

by Kate Fortmueller

Lois Weber was known as a director who took up contemporary social issues in her films. The Blot, which is about the working conditions and low pay for teachers, is an example of Weber's interest in contemporary issues.

In this sequence, the Professor's wife takes stock of her house, with special attention to her husband's shoes.  Throughout the film shoes play an important role as an indicator of class.  The neighbor makes expensive shoes, his daughter plays with expensive shoes (the epitome of waste), the pastor compares his shoes with a wealthier man, and the Professor's daughter repairs her shoes after work.  This is not the only time Weber has used shoes as a key symbol in her explorations of class.  Shoes (1916) also deals with women's struggles in the workplace along with practical needs (functional shoes), aspirations, and struggles to support themselves.  The Blot also demonstrates what film historian Shelley Stamp has observed about Lois Weber when she stated, "[...] she [Lois Weber] believed that cinema, like any good newspaper's editorial page, could provoke discussion about the key questions of the day." (146)  In The Blot this discussion actually plays out on screen as the students advocate for their professors to receive higher salaries.

 

Quotation from: Stamp, Shelley. "Lois Weber, Progressive Cinema, and the Fate of "The Work-a-Day Girls" in Shoes." In Camera Obscura 19.2 (2004): 140-169.

The Blot (1921) - The Griggs family at home

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Throughout The Blot class is communicated through the quality of shoes. In this sequence Mrs. Griggs looks around her house and takes stock of their living conditions.

from The Blot (1921)
Creator: Lois Weber
Distributor: Milestone Film & Video
Posted by Kate Fortmueller
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