Critical Review No. 4 (Professor’s Choice: Boyz ‘N the Hood, 1991; Directed by John Singleton or Straight Outta Compton, 2015; Directed by F. Gary Gray)
Below are example on how to answer them.
1a. I found My Own Private Idaho to be a very complex film and with out any background information the average moviegoer would not see this film as one in which would awaken their sensibilities.
2a. (1)The average moviegoer is not aware of the Generation X culture/era, male prostitution, nor the plight of someone with a unique illness like narcolepsy as presented by Mike Waters and therefore has difficulty becoming immersed and empathizing with the character’s. challenges. (2) Throughout the film there is no prominent societal involvement, authority figures or anyone opposing the behavior that the Generation X slackers demonstrated. (3) The “cut-up” directors technique made the film hard to follow contributing to the overall difficulty relating to the characters.
3a. It is difficult to identify three scenes to support my thesis statement because there is not a particular scene in the movie that could do so. It is the technique in which the film was presented and the unique character attributes that leave the average moviegoer confused, lost and walking away saying “what the fuck was that all about?”
4a. My Own Private Idaho, a movie about two young male hustlers, is not a film that has the capability to transform one’s sensibilities. Although one might relate to one of the characters, the film does nothing but leave you confused and or lost, wanting more information about the characters in order to make some conclusions about what the producer/movie is trying to make. I found My Own Private Idaho quite confusing. Only after reading about it in Democracy and Difference did it make some sense to me. I found My Own Private Idaho to be a very complex film and with out any background information the average moviegoer would not see the film as one in which awaken’s their sensibilities.
1a. Gus Van Sant’s movie, My Own Private Idaho, has the power to change a person’s political sensibilities by examining the paradigms that exist between sexuality and personal identity as they relate to the social and moral norms of society.
2a. The character Scott uses his sexuality to create a false identity, though initially intended as a back handed action against his father, in truth, Scott is just as lost as any of the other “street hustlers.” Lacking a cognitive connection between morality and sexuality, Mike falls asleep when faced with “situations of stress,” returning to a time in his life when he feels his personal identity is most stable, his life with his mother; in this way he attempts to understand who he is, through what he has experienced. The accessibility and internal acceptability of this generation of “lost boys” becomes evident during the Café scene, where each tells a horror story of their hustles, laughing, smiling, and shrugging off these encounters as though each was a common experience for those who live hollow lives.
3a. Café 20:50 In the Cafe the “Hustlers” tell horror stories, often overlapping, of their encounters as though they are normal experiences, and though distasteful, perfectly acceptable amongst our society. Betray Bob 1:25:10 Here Scott turns his back on his former mentor, this shows how while Scott appeared to be the character who is the most “together” he is actually the most lost; by casting off a former lifestyle to take up another without respecting the transition that links the two, Scott, has simply taken off one mask and put another on. Here the audience realizes he is the most profound, yet hollow character. Last Pass-out 1:32:05 Mike’s inability to reconcile his past with his present is the reason he is constantly at a cross roads in the middle of nowhere, and it’s in the realization of this that he becomes so upset that he passes out. Here in the final scene he passes out on a road between a brown dying field and a vibrant green one, lost on a road separated from who he was and who he is, this adds to the depth of his shoes being stolen, and a random person picking him up while he slumbers; he doesn’t know where he is going or how he will get there, but it will be an arduous journey.
4a. Gus Van Sant’s movie, My Own Private Idaho, has the power to change a person’s political sensibilities by examining the paradigms that exist between sexuality and personal identity as they relate to the social and moral norms of society. With main characters Scott Favor, Keanu Reeves, and Mike Waters, River Phoenix, walk the roads of life amongst a subculture that allows them to exploit their bodies to survive, while attempting to create the foundations of an identity they have yet to understand. With Bob as the veritable “psychedelic teacher” of their subculture, a man who hustles and lies to others, as each hustles and lies to themselves; lost in a world without substance, a melancholy of fading youth.
Develop a thesis pertaining to the assigned film text and whether or not it, the film, in your view has the power to transform one’s political sensibilities. Your argument should express your point of view regarding the politics of difference, political sensibilities, and political transformation(s) as related to the film. Remember, you’re writing (developing) an analytical essay. Submit your thesis statement in the box below:
1a. In my opinion, the film, My Own Private Idaho, does not have the power to transform one’s political sensibilities because it reinforces negative stereotypes about homosexuality, the characters are not very likable, and the Shakespearian dialogue would be difficult for the average middle-north-american to follow.
2a. When considering homophobia in the United States, one main factor that stimulates most prejudice is that many associate the gay community with promiscuity. This film not only reinforces this stigma but could also intensify it with the promiscuity that occurs mostly in the form of prostitution. 2. The characters in this film are not portrayed as righteous good-doers, but as deviants of our society. Unlike the depiction of Harvey Milk, from the film, Milk, the protagonists in My Own Private Idaho are not fighting to save lives, they are doing drugs and performing sexual favors in return for money and even though it is possible to feel sympathy for them, it is unlikely that a homophobic person could watch this film and want to relate to these characters. 3. Not only is it difficult to relate to the characters because of their behavior, but also because of the complicated dialogue and artsy nature of the film. Literacy in the United States is not so high that the average person would feel comfortable following along with a Shakespeare play, that was turned into a creative, modern play about prostitution, and then made into a movie, without losing interest in it.
3a. Approx. 22 minutes, Café scene In this scene, some of the male prostitutes are describing their first experience with an exchange of sex for money. They were desperate and were willing to have sex with strangers, not long term partners or significant others out of love. Even though I personally sympathized for their difficult situation and traumatizing experiences, this shows homosexuality with values that are not strict or pure, the way that many generalize for all gays and would continue to after watching this film. 2. Approx. 29 minutes, Hotel Scene In this scene where Bob first appears and arrives to the hotel, many forms of deviance occur, showing questionable morals. Doing drugs, stealing drugs, planning to rob, and being prostitutes, the characters are not the typical protagonists that one would want to root for relate themselves to. 3. Approx. 42 minutes, Dialogue with Scott and Bob Scott and Bob engage in an argument that is difficult to follow, and very Shakespearian in its dialogue, Bob uses many metaphors and other devices. Throughout the play, there are pieces of dialogue like, “Good lord, lads, I know you as well as he that made you- Do you think that I would kill the heir apparent?” which clearly use vocabulary that is unusual for our time.
4a. The film, My Own Private Idaho, tells a story of desperation and hardship for young male prostitutes. Many times they are stripped of their innocence and they surround themselves with a hostile environment containing drugs, stealing, and other forms of illegal activity. Although one may come to like the characters and feel sympathy for them, the film is unlikely to appeal to those who are not already open-minded about homosexuality. In my opinion, the film, My Own Private Idaho, does not have the power to transform one’s political sensibilities because it reinforces negative stereotypes about homosexuality, the characters are not very likable, and the Shakespearian dialogue would be difficult for the average middle-north-american to follow.
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