Studio 360

American Tricon

Three American icon segments about women’s identity.

Lobby card for the 1934 film The Scarlet Letter with Henry B. Walthall, Colleen Moore, Hardie Albright, and Cora Sue Collins.

Majestic Pictures/Wikimedia Commons

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This week, a triple-header from the series American Icons, which focuses on works of art that changed the way we think about America.

First is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, his 1850 novel about a woman being shamed for having an affair. Anna Sale produced this Icon segment in 2013, before starting her hit podcast Death, Sex & Money. Her interpretation of the classic novel resonates very differently in 2017, as the country grapples with how to define consent and sexual misconduct.

Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes,” on the other hand, celebrates the opposite tendency in American culture: the devil-may-care slide toward looser morals. And in “Untitled Film Stills,” Cindy Sherman captured the way that being a woman—or maybe being a person—is just playing a role.

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