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Pleasantville Film Essay Questions

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Pleasantville Case

Pleasantville Case

In many ways, life is constantly changing. Whether it is the individuals around us, our thoughts and feelings, or even our surroundings, we all have to simply adjust to these changes in one way or another. Throughout the film "Pleasantville," every single thing was in constant change. Many concepts about life in Pleasantville were changing, and there are many ways to look at each aspect through either the sociological perspective, or one of the three main theoretical perspectives.

The film Pleasantville is about two teenagers who magically get drawn into the 1950's fictional, black-and-white television sitcom titled "Pleasantville." The show portrays a very stereotypical image of a 1950's family, and is very symbolic. It is a movie that could be interpreted a number of different ways. Most will agree, however, that the basic point of the movie concerns the subject of change.

We can look at this change in Pleasantville in many ways. The first way to look at this is through the sociological perspective. A sociological perspective stresses the social contexts in which people live. It examines how these contexts influence people's lives. At the center of the sociological perspective is the question of how groups influence people, especially how people are influenced by their society (4). Many sociologists look at how education, gender, jobs, race, income, and age affect people's ideas and behavior. During the course of "Pleasantville," every single thing in the town of Pleasantville can be measured through a sociological perspectives eye. Every adult in Pleasantville has a job and income, whether that means staying at home to cook and clean, or driving around the corner to work. Everyone has a gender, race, and age. Also, every teenager goes to school and gets good grades.

Before the main characters David and Jennifer become Bud and Mary Sue, everything in Pleasantville is apparently perfect. Everyone lives their day-to-day lives without any problems and Pleasantville seems to be a place of perfect bliss. Everyone in the little town lives a life of safety and happiness. Outside of Pleasantville, there is disorder and unhappiness. At the beginning of the movie, David is the typical "loser" at school; he is unhappy with his life. On the other hand, his twin sister, Jennifer, is a promiscuous teen who is on her way to becoming popular.

In the show Pleasantville, everything appears in black and white, and all the people are apparently content with their lives. For example, nothing there can catch fire, and the firefighters only have to rescue cats out of trees. Also, the basketball team always wins and players on the team make every single shot. After David and Jennifer are introduced to the peaceful, harmonious town of Pleasantville, the flawless, isolated, community is turned upside down and ruined.

Another way to look at change in Pleasantville is through symbolic interactionism. Symbolic interactionism is a theoretical perspective in which society is viewed as made up of symbols that people use to establish meaning, develop their views of the world, and communicate with one another (13). Developed by Charles Horton Cooley and George Herbert Mead, symbolic interactionism puts a meaning to love and parenthood. We expect true love to deliver constant feelings of intimacy accompanied by emotional highs. This expectation sets people up for crushed hopes, as disappointments in marriage are unavoidable. Spouses tend to blame one another for failing to deliver the expected satisfaction (15). In Pleasantville, it is clear that there is true love everywhere, but once change hits their town, that love seems to fade out. The meaning of parenthood is the providing of children with food, clothing, shelter, and moral guidance. Typically, in a normal world, the greater responsibilities that we assign to parenthood place heavy burdens on today's couples. In Pleasantville, the children are provided with food, clothes, shelter, and moral guidance, but it does not seem like that puts a burden on the parents because of the "perfect world" they live in.

A second theoretical perspective we must look at is functional analysis. This is where society is viewed as composed of various parts, each with a function. These functions contribute to society's equilibrium (15). Functional analysists look at how parts of a society fit together

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Pleasantville film essay questions

Pleasantville

By: Edward • Essay • 1,707 Words • December 1, 2009 • 1,046 Views

Essay title: Pleasantville

The decade following the Second World War brought about a new sensation of the ‘perfect housewife’ and her duties at home. Men being drafted and shipped oversees during World War II had taken a lot of women out of the kitchen and put them into the workplace. This was the biggest movement thus yet of women changing roles in society and moving away from domestication. This movement was thwarted by returning soldiers, their moving back to the workplace, and the repositioning of women in the home. The baby boom followed the Second World War, furthering the encouragement of women to stay home and be the ideal mother and wife. Television greatly reflected this attitude. Sitcoms about the ideal family emerged left and right. Shows like ‘Leave it to Beaver’, ‘Ozzie and Harriet’, and ‘Father Knows Best’ portrayed the happy and satisfying life a woman could lead by fulfilling her duties. Gary Ross’s 1998 feature film Pleasantville examined the differences between the 90s and the 50s image of family by transporting 90s characters into the ideal black and white image of the ideal 1950s family of a mother, father, son and daughter. Not only did this movie explore ideas in feminism, but racism as well. When a character of the original Pleasantville was exposed to something new, they turned from black and white to an image of color. This separation between those in color and those not, there began a racism much like the segregation there used to be between African Americans and white Americans.

The concept of the ‘perfect family’ emerged largely after the baby boom when women were forced back into their old ways of domestication and the birth of suburbia. Pleasantville is the perfect title for the suburb portrayed in the movie. This is a community with no problems. The women keep the house neat and have dinner on the table every night for when their husbands come home from work and chant the infamous ‘Honey, I’m home!’ The children, which every family has, do well in school and maintain the perfect balance between social time and family time. The movie focuses on the family of the Parkers. Mom Betty and dad George have the ideal son and daughter, Bud and Mary Sue Parker.

The movie begins in the 1990s, displaying a rather dysfunctional family, the Wagners. Jennifer Wagner, played by Reese Witherspoon, was a troubled teen who liked to experiment with sex and popularity. David Wagner, Jennifer’s brother, played by Toby McGuire, is picked on in high school and also has an unusual obsession with reruns of a show from the 1950s called ‘Pleasantville’. The siblings lived with their divorced single mother working to support two children and dating someone nine years younger than herself. Somehow, during a fight over the remote control, Jennifer and David get teleported into the Pleasantville world where they assume the roles of Peggy Sue and Bud Parker.

The world of Pleasantville is set in black and white in the 50s. The Parkers live in a suburban neighborhood, complete with their own soda shop run by Mr. Bill Johnson, played by Jeff Daniels. A key to the film is when Mary Sue or Bug help the characters of Pleasantville realize something about themselves they had not seen before, they or something they see turns from black and white to color. The color symbolizes ‘thinking outside the box’ and many of the movements that came following that decade, especially women’s empowerment.

The first instances of color occur from sexual experiences, something that had been unknown the town of Pleasantville, where married couples slept on separate twin beds and boyfriends and girlfriends held hands, once they had been steady for a while. Mary Sue first introduces her boyfriend, Skip Martin played by Paul Walker, to his first sexual experience. While driving home, he sees a rose in a bush that is “real red”. After this occurrence, Skip tells his teammates on the basketball team of his experiences, after which they all miss their baskets, something that had never happened before. With that turn, the Pleasantville universe is thrown of balance.

Soon it was clear that the color did not just come from sexual experience, as Mary Sue remained in black and white as did Skip, but when a character in Pleasantville discovered something inside themselves they did not know was there. Mary Sue turns color when she falls asleep reading a book which enlightens her. Bud turns color when he defends his mother from harassing school boys. A number of teenagers turn color when they are first exposed to rain.

At first the phenomena of things and people turning color was seen as an illness that would be cured by “cutting back on sweets and greasy food” but soon, as more things turned color, the city felt threatened, especially the mayor, Big Bob.

In response to Betty not being home to greet George with dinner one night,

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Pleasantville Film Analysis Essay - 766 Words

Pleasantville Film Analysis

The film Pleasantville directed by Gary Ross is about two modern teenagers, David and his sister Jennifer, somehow being transported into the television, ending up in Pleasantville, a 1950s black and white sitcom. The two are trapped as Bud and Mary Sue in a radically different dimension and make some huge changes to the bland lives of the citizens of Pleasantville, with the use of the director’s cinematic techniques. Ross cleverly uses cinematic techniques such as colour, mise-en-scene, camera shots, costumes, music and dialogue to effectively tell the story.

The town of Pleasantville is dull and this is reflected by its lack of colour - the town is completely black and white. Black and white life is simple and uncomplicated. However Bud and Mary Sue soon begin to awaken the town of Pleasantville, especially Betty, Mr. Johnson and Skip changing it from sedate to a lively environment. Not only do the town people change, they become liberated. Colour is used impressively throughout the film and plays a huge role as a cinematic device representing liberation and change. This is highlighted in the Lovers Lane scene when Bud and Margaret are driving to their first date. This striking scene depicted coloured pink blossoms falling from the trees onto their black and white skin. The juxtaposition between black and white here is also significant because it shows how things are changing. The black and white and color images blend pretty seamlessly. The viewer notices how this couple wonders at the petals instead of noticing the surroundings with strong elements of conservatism. Another example where the ‘normality’ in ‘‘Pleasantville’’ has changed is when the colour red is used for ‘romance.’ This is seen on Mary-Sue’s first date with Skip, where afterwards Skip sees a ‘red’ rose. Ross used the symbolism of red to indicate changes in the residents’ attitudes to love, passion and lust. These passions were considered to be absent from the idealized 1950s. The first.

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the encouragement of women to stay home and be the ideal mother and wife. Television greatly reflected this attitude. Sitcoms about the ideal family emerged left and right. Shows like ‘Leave it to Beaver', ‘Ozzie and Harriet', and ‘Father Knows Best' portrayed the happy and satisfying life a woman could lead by fulfilling her duties. Gary Ross's 1998 feature filmPleasantville examined the differences between the 90s and the 50s image of family by transporting 90s characters into the ideal black and white image of the ideal 1950s family of a mother, father, son and daughter. Not only did this movie explore ideas in feminism, but racism as well. When a character of the original Pleasantville was exposed to something new, they turned from black and white to an image of color. This separation between those in color and those not, there began a racism much like the segregation there used to be between African Americans and white Americans. The concept of the ‘perfect family' emerged largely after the baby boom when women were forced back into their old ways of domestication and the birth of suburbia. Pleasantville is the perfect title for the suburb portrayed in the movie. This is a community with no problems. The women keep the house neat and have dinner on the table every night for when their husbands come home from work and chant the infamous ‘Honey, I'm home!' The children, which every family has, do.

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Pleasantville Case

Pleasantville Case

Autor: moto • February 3, 2013 • Essay • 926 Words (4 Pages) • 377 Views

Throughout American history, there has been a struggle for equality and power. The film Pleasantville examines and criticizes the changes that have occurred in American society over the past 50 years. The movie reveals individual struggles along with tying these conflicts in with a larger story line. Pleasantville can be seen as a conservative Utopia but in reality it consists of censorship, sexism, segregation, and narrow mindedness. From an outsider, Pleasantville can be viewed as a harmonious community where everything is just "pleasant," but in reality this is only because nothing ever changes and the citizens abide to their daily routines. However, once David and Jennifer arrive this quickly changes as they introduce elements of their lifestyle from the nineties. Boundaries are tested as the citizens of Pleasantville begin to break away from their conformist routines and gain individuality.

These ideas of conformity and restriction can be correlated to the text,

Punishing Schools Fear and Citizenship in American Public Education by William Lyons and Julie Drew. It elaborates on the idea that the educational system mechanisms of punishment causes fear and encourages the development of passive, abiding citizens. It critiques the American public education system and its role in national culture. Punishing Schools brings a light on to public education by comparing Pleasantville to Suburbia High School. Since it is a cultural text, the ideas expressed in Pleasantville are the ideas that the writer wants to portray. Therefore, the writing portrays what the authors wanted to. Punishing Schools compares public school education to Pleasantville to convey that authority is enforced through fear and conformity is present in both.

When Pleasantville is first introduced, the citizens lacked originality and personal freedom. Idealistic characters governed by social norms represented the artificial happiness of the monotonous town. This is portrayed through the use of a grey hue throughout the film. The town lacks color due to the mundane, uneventful lives of Pleasantville. Only once the people of Pleasantville began to turn "colored," did they start to break out of social norms and defy the conventional ways of society. This change can be seen through Betty, a typical housewife, who becomes "colored" once she begins to pursue her feelings and ambitions. The use of grey hues reveals the lack of diversity in Pleasantville. Everyone is viewed as the same and abide by the same rules. Similarly, in the public school education, students are all viewed as the same and forced to follow the same authority figures. The loss of individualism in the 1950's is revealed through the restrictions on expression and behavior.

Once people began rebelling and expressing their personal freedom, racism began to occur throughout Pleasantville me a separation between "colored,"