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1. There always has been and there always will be conflict in society. Every one of us will face some type of challenges in our lifetime. Conflict in film reflects and addresses the issues brought forth by real life experiences. The protagonist is the main character and must be the focus of the viewer’s attention. In order for the viewer to relate, the protagonist must face his or her own personal issues within society much like our own.
Most people would say that at one time or another they have felt like seeking revenge. Is it not in human nature to fight back when we are hurt? Edmond Dantes from “The Count of Monte Cristo” does something extraordinary. Framed by his best friend for a crime he has never committed, he takes it upon himself to seek revenge on all those involved. This revenge all but consumes him; it becomes the focal point of his existence. Many a murder, rape, and assault in today’s society have been the result of revenge. Thankfully, not everyone goes to such extremes to seek payback for a wrong done unto them. The film however lets us live vicariously through Dantes. We can sympathize with his emotions and almost excuse him for his actions because of the extenuating circumstances he has gone through.
One concept discussed was that of a role model. The power to shape society comes from those that we look up to in a leadership positions. There are positive and negative role models. It is hopeful that the ones we choose to look up to fall into the positive rather than the negative category. As an example, Edmond Dantes is a good man that becomes victim of unfortunate circumstances. If the film had continued as started Dantes would have been a positive influence. However, due to his twist of fate he becomes a negative role model up until the very end of the movie. This is when he acknowledges all he has done in the name of revenge and realizes although the outcome is good what he had done to get there was wrong. It is never a good idea to seek revenge as it hurts everyone involved. This was the lesson Dantes figured out at the very end of the film.
The concept of social mobility is quite interesting. I know I myself, would not turn down such an opportunity within my lifetime. Think of all the doors that can open up to one that is privileged enough to up their social position. Many people in our society work very hard daily not just to survive, but also in the hopes to better their lives in such a way. Would social mobility not have been a benefit to some of the characters in “Boyz n the Hood?” It could have opened doors to a better education, and perhaps replaced poverty with the opportunity to lead a better quality of life. Maybe fewer characters would have lost their lives. Such an improvement in social class may have provisioned them with the opportunity to become productive members of society.
The third concept I can identify with is that of the psychopath. I am sure that at some point in our lifetime we will all meet up with at least one. For me that psychopath was a friend in high school. She was so charismatic that you could not help wanting to be friends with her. Soon however, I caught her lying in order to manipulate me. Everything she did was with the focus on her getting her way; or whatever object she desired at the time be it human or otherwise. When confronted my friend would easily laugh things off, often making me feel silly for mistrusting her in the first place. In the end her lack of remorse for the hurtful things she had done cost our friendship. This friend had personality traits closely related to that of Christine from “The Bad Seed.” Christine’s lack of empathy and remorse lead to murder in her attempt to get whatever her heart desires. Christine plays the part of a charming and perfect little girl. She is poised, well mannered, and a doting daughter. Underneath the exterior, she is actually a manipulative psychopath controlling the unwitting adults and world around her as if they were puppets.
4. We viewed some great socially relevant films this quarter. Here are two more that I believe would fit in perfectly as well. “Crash” an intense socially charged movie that involves people of all colors, races, social classes and sexual orientation. To put it precisely there are enough issues brought up in this film to offend everyone. However, strange as it may sound it is not stereotypical in the least. Every character has a surprising quality about them that keeps the viewer from forming or keeping an absolute opinion of them.
The movie in itself is about different groups of people living in Los Angeles whose lives become intertwined in some way; usually violence, and collide. Each character in the film tends to play the part of the protagonist. Yet they also tend to foil themselves through their own prejudices. In turn, every character actually becomes their own antagonist as well as that of those around them.
“Crash” is full of conflict in regards to racial tension or profiling, corruption within the police force, and political issues. It deals with issues such as drugs and poverty affecting minorities, as well as revenge. It exposes how the characters seeking revenge take their anger out on an entire race rather than those who originally wronged them.
The main setting takes place in Los Angeles over a two-day period. However, we find the background switching back and forth from the affluent part of the city, to a middle class neighborhood, and finally to the poverty stricken “hood.”
A wide variety of concepts we studied can applied within the film. Hypergettoization applies to the poverty, despair, and drug addiction the characters living in the hood are dealing with. The strain theory pertains strongly to a part in the movie when two young black men steal a car that would normally be unattainable to those living in poverty. The concept of stratification is viewed throughout the entire film; and strong divisions of society with emphasis on its different levels are clearly pointed out.
“12 Angry Men” is another film with the subject matter of social conflict and prejudices. A young Latino from the slums remains accused of murdering his father and put on trial. A jury of twelve men from very different social, economic, and cultural backgrounds convenes to decide the boy’s fate. Initially eleven of the twelve jurors are quick to declare the boy guilty due to their own personal prejudices. One lone unprejudiced juror is able to convince the others to put their hatred aside in order for the boy to be given a fair trial.
The non-biased juror represents the protagonist in the film; while those with prejudices act as the antagonists. The jurors symbolize our government, while the young Latino is representative of all those who the government has ever unjustly accused. The conflict in this film is also based on racial bias, prejudice, and fairness. The film is set in a juror room on a particularly stifling hot day. The air conditioning is broken leading to heated tempers and the trapped feeling of sardines in a can. Symbolic of the stifling feeling one must have while waiting for others to make the decision of your fate.
The criminology concept fits into this film. Especially in the sense of how a criminal should be treated by society. The consensus of jurors did not go in with the innocent until proven guilty attitude; it was quite the opposite. Intersectionality may also be applied to the film. If we have an understanding of the interrelationships between different social and racial groups; then we can have better relationships with members of different social profiles.
6. The movie “The Bad Seed” brings up many psychological questions. It is an extremely risqué movie for the culture of the 1950s since this was a time when the issue of juvenile delinquency was becoming more progressive. The most controversial question this movie poses is “are there those that are just born evil?” The second important issue addressed is that of mental disorders. Is it safe to assume that those that fall under the category of psychopath or sociopath acquired these traits through a hereditary condition? It seems that it is more acceptable or the norm for us to think of adults as having these types of disorders. When it comes to children with these psychological problems, it tends to be harder for society to accept the idea. Who wants to believe that children are not always as innocent as they seem?
Although many questions are brought up, there are no definitive answers by the end of the film. We as viewers are left to question ourselves about our own beliefs on the subject. Perhaps it is not such a silly idea to believe that a psycho or sociopath is actually born into society and not necessarily the product of society. The most obvious concepts that apply are sociopath and psychopath. Rhoda obviously has all the classic traits. She is charming and sweet, yet she is a manipulative liar that will stop at nothing including murder to get what she wants. Nature vs. nurture is relevant as well. The theory to this day is still very debatable. Is a person’s personality determined more so by their genetic background or the environment they grow up in? In Rhoda’s case, the former rather than the latter appears to be the true.
Where does this leave us by way of role models? Rhoda seems to have had positive role models. Her parents and the upstairs property owner known as Aunt Monica, all have prominent roles in her life. We know role models can have a positive or negative effect but Rhoda’s role models seem to have neither influence on her. She is what she is with or without their example. Other relevant concepts that apply are norms; or proscriptive norms since murder is obviously a taboo act in our society.
“The Bad Seed” is a great controversial film the ending does not seem fitting. However, I wonder what would have been done differently, had there been no Hays Code restrictions at the time.
7. The main point of “Bulworth” is to express the radical change that needs to take place within politics. It is time for a new attitude; the rich control politics. The middle class and the poor do not have very much pull if any. In reality, politicians are just puppets filled with the ideas of those with the money to finance their campaign.
The film also points out that there is still an incredible amount of racialism. People of color are still not treated, as they should be; even by politicians who promise to address the issues that are of most concern to them. Warren Beatty is attempting to address the separation issue that is still upheld today between social classes and race.
Through all his rhyme and rap Beatty gets his point across shockingly well. The message that he is trying to convey is that people are people. No matter the color or race, people of the same social classes need to break down the walls. The white middle class has much more in common with the black middle class than they will ever have with the rich. Once society understands this concept, we would no longer exist as the “ghosts” but would become the “spirit” that Beatty is looking for. I believe he is telling us that only at such a level can we expect the changes we are looking for to take place.
Politicians need to take on more of a populist attitude such as Bulworth. The common person deserves to have his needs met just as much as the rich. The film makes an issue of pointing out and mocking the oligarchy that takes place during a political campaign. Lastly, the entire film is an allegory based on the corrupt process of politics, how we live as a society, and the economics of the U.S.
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