Sunday, June 8, 2008

Hollywood’s Middle-Class Fantasy

As I read the article, I kept thinking about the movies that were mentioned that I had already watched. I saw the pattern that was mentioned, the stereotypical troubled kids, in drugs and gangs, waiting to be rescued by someone from the outside who came in to prove they had a chance and could make a difference. I saw all this but as with many of the movies I saw, I didn’t see it as the norm of the urban schools; I saw it simply as Hollywood making movies to make money.
In the same token I don’t know how much of the article is valid and how much is overstretching to serve a purpose: the article’s insistence that urban education’s problem is seen by the masses as a problem with the attitude, morals and behavior of the students, not as lack of funds and a responsibility of government and offices in general. It was interesting to note that of the films mentioned, there are differences between urban and suburban schools, teachers, students and administrators, all of which are what people normally consider stereotypes. I am not agreeing with Hollywood’s depictions; nor am I entirely convinced that the public will see the movie as a reality or a true depiction of reality. Aren’t stereotypes present in almost all movies, plays, and acting in general? Isn’t stereotyping used for a point of reference, so that the public will perceive or understand what is being portrayed? By the same token, isn’t the public aware that they are shown stereotypes?
It was amusing to read of the teacher/principal rescuer figure as the cowboy of these films, the lone person with his or her own methods, discipline and of course past. What I thought was most interesting and this relates to the urban schools being fixed by these figures was that they are depicted as coming from a suburbia, a middle class sometimes, yet their unconventional methods are embraced, tolerated and supported since they appear to be serving a higher purpose. The bothersome whether this is just movie making/money making is that all of the movies depicted really did show problems as just individual or morally based. Again the article mentions that the few exceptions to this rule where movies that did not earn as much money, therefore, were not seen by as many people and as such can be argued that they were not adhering to the stereotype or were in fact more threatening to the middle and upper class perceptions of urban education.

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