overton window

I was reading something recently (but can’t for the life of me track down the original source) about politics and policy and read of The Overton Window. Since then, the Baader-Meinhof effect has kicked in big time and I’m seeing it everywhere.

First line from the Overton Window Wikipedia entry:

The Overton window is a term for the range of ideas tolerated in public discourse, also known as the window of discourse.

Later in the entry it says this:

In his “West India Emancipation” speech at Canandaigua, New York, in 1857, abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass described how public opinion limits the ability of those in power to act with impunity:

“Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37831314

I’m curious about the Overton Window in relation to what people are ready to see and watch in performance or on screen. What is tolerable? How is tolerance changed? How might the choreography or construction of performance or film consider the ways in which the work itself might slide through different tones of being popular, sensible, radical, unthinkable, and back to sensible …?

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