Rochester: A City of Quality & Poverty (thoughts on contradiction)

In class today we spent some time discussing contradictions and dichotomies, and how the concept of “both/and” subverts the concept of “either/or.” The short film, “Rochester: A City of Quality” that Professor McCoy showed us in class today was filled with contradictions. Here are the links to the specific ones I noticed in the short film:

An artist glacier / volatile glacier

Tough / gentle surgery

Controlled abundance

Tough / tender

I also wanted to share this parody video I found called “Rochester: A City of Poverty” which serves to contradict the original short film created in 1963.

This parody, created in 2005 by Will Hart, pushes against the 1963 film’s message that Rochester is a wealthy and welcoming city. I found that these two videos, when considered together, emphasize the same concept of “both/and” that we have worked as a class to find within Morrison’s texts. Can Rochester be both a city of quality and a city of poverty? Is Joe Trace both a friendly neighbor and a person capable of murder? Is Dorcas both timid and bold? One could argue that a person can be many contradicting things at once. In her Ted Talk, which we watched a few weeks back, Adichie reminded us of the danger of a single story, and encouraged us to think about people and cultures in complex terms. I would like to submit that Morrison is encouraging us to do the same with her texts: to read the contradictions as complexities, and not as untruths.


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