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Sociological Movie Review

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How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days
Film; Sociological Movie Review Extra Credit
(SOC 1001, Anna Posbergh, SEC 014)

The 2003 romantic comedy film, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, with Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey, exploits social expectations and social norms in the dating world and gives an exaggerated interpretation of what happens when these expectations and norms are ignored. Hudson, a writer for a magazine, seeks to find a man and break up with him using only 'the classic mistakes women make'. The idea of 'making mistakes' in regards to dating implies that there are certain standards and expectations that must be met and fulfilled, while the idea of making mistakes that only women make implies that there are specific guidelines and expectations set aside for only women. The difference between expectations and 'mistakes' for men and women, as Hudson inadvertently points out, is distinct and apparent. Thus, Hudson also points out a gender inequality between men and women in regards to dating. Later on in the film, Hudson goes to the extreme in regards to these 'mistakes'; she quickly moves into his apartment, acts overly possessive and emotional, talks about marriage and future children, and even goes so far as to ruin poker night for McConaughey and his friends. Each one of these actions she takes evokes a sense of discomfort and awkwardness, as her actions significantly divert from what is considered 'socially acceptable'. But the idea of 'socially acceptable' comes from societal expectations and norms that are developed throughout communities and touch on several ideas such as gender inequality. Additionally, 'socially acceptable' is an indication of social construct in society - its exact original sociological source is unknown, but thinking about it, why are some things considered 'wrong' or 'unacceptable' in regards to dating. Sociology seeks to make the familiar strange; dating guidelines in our society have always been merely adhered, but nobody questions their origins. Hence, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, though it often evokes awkward and uncomfortable comedy, sociologically questions dating guidelines and exploits societal norms and expectations in regards to dating.

Sociology Movie Review: Schindler's List

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Movie Review: "Schindler's List"
By Stia Jama

Concurrently with this class I am taking Sociology 4102: Criminology. This class discusses and helps create concrete connections between patterns in crime and punishment throughout the US and their effects from and on political, economic, social and cultural issues and their connection to 'broader sociological themes'. (Sociology 4102 syllabus). One of the topic in the class that we studied is genocide and what causes normal people to engage in the systemic killing of other individuals, that used to be their co-worker, next door neighbor, etc. So for my sociological movie review I decided to delve deeper into this topic. This interests me greatly interests me, due to my own background of immigrating from a country that considers mass murders (due to tribalistic reasons usually) normal side affect of a disenfranchised society.
The movie I choose is "Schindler's List". "Schindler's List" is the Hollywood version of the heroic tale of a man named Oskar Schindler. Schindler through the use of his factory implementation of Jewish workers labor managed to save more than 1100 Jews from concentration camps and their eventual death. This story shows the plight of a man fighting against society evilness to do the right thing. However, the main focus of this review is not of the deviant, ie Oskar Schindler. But, of all the people that conformed and in one-way or another aided the mass genocide of the Jewish people, the issue of conformity. Conformity, is in Sociology, is the action in which people match their own personal attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to agree or align favorable with the group norms.

An example of how conformity can warp a person is Amon Goeth. He is the perfect SS solider. He has not empathy with the enemy, the Jews, considered them nothing more than what Nazi ideology has taught him. That they are evil and must by eradicated following the destruction process. A destruction process has three major components: Defining, Concentrating and Annihilating the groups or groups in question. In Germany, they labeled and defined Gypsies, Jews and other groups they felt detrimental to the Aryan dream. After labeling them, the groups become concentrated in small ghettos and were worked and starved to death. Finally they annihilated them by confiscated the majority if not all of their worldly possession and killing them using gas chambers or other methods.

However, one major problem to the conformity of dehumanizing and eradicating of Jews was people's basic morality especially those soldiers directly responsible for killing the labeled people. The way the Germans dealt with this issue is first desensitize people to their crimes, make it as routine as possible so that no murder sticks out among the masses making it easier to forget. Two minimizing the role that people thought they had in the genocide, in other words make it seem like they are just following orders and should have no guilt in the death's they are causing. Third, control and hide objective do not tell people of the end goal until it is already in motion. Fourth, rationalizing the deaths by the use of propaganda to make the victims evil worthless people that deserve to die. And in utilizing these steps many normal people became the fuel that feed the monstrous death machine of Nazi Germany.


American Gangster

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After Frank Lucas' (Denzel Washington) mentor and employer "Bumpy" died Frank is left to continue Bumpy's business and take over Harlam's drug and crime scene. Without the traditional authority of Bumpy and with no domination Frank is put off by how often he has to resort to violence to get what he wants. Frank eventually travels to Thailand in order to buy cheaper and better heroine then his competitors. Here Frank is demonstrating the 3rd face of power by using he's better price and content to put himself in a position of power, eventually even his competitors wanted to work for him.
From here Frank builds on His aspects of power, Frank always had power as he wasn't afraid to face resistance. Frank gained domination and discipline through his new found wealth and infamy. As well as his readiness to demonstrate power leading to an over looming threat of violence that furthers his power.
Conley's paradox is demonstrated in how Frank decided to handle an unwanted cop trying to bribe him. Instead of harming the officer Frank blows up his car and leaves a turkey which translates to something of a calling card. This all comes across as a threat of future violence.

Sociological Movie Review: Mean Girls

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Mean Girls is one of the most watched movies in today's society. It seems as though people of all gender, sex, age, race, ethnicity, class have seen this movie and can relate to some aspect of it. A brutal portrayal of high school cliques, Mean Girls depicts everyday high school struggles for students and teachers. The popular group of girls, referred to as the "Plastics", control every aspect of the school by using their good looks, money, popularity, and power. They are middle class white girls who, with the exception of Cady, receive all the materialistic items that are the most desirable because their parents can afford it. Cady comes in as a transfer student from Africa, completely unaware of the social structure of high school in America. When she first arrives everyone is surprised that she is from Africa because she's white and not Black. This stereotype exemplifies the blinding that Americans have of other cultures. We are detached from the world because our lives are so busy and we are self-centered in the way that we only care about U.S. news, not what's going on outside of the country. Cady also does not partake in the typical teenage girl practices of dressing provocative, wearing make-up, and being promiscuous.

By the end of the movie, after she socializes with the 'plastics', she becomes one of them inadvertently. The entire school idealizes the 'plastics'. Every girl wants to be Regina George (the queen bee) so they copy what she wears, eats, does, says, etc. Cady wants to ruin the 'plastics' because she and Janis (out-casted by Regina) feel that the school would be better off without the hierarchy and social control that Regina creates. This revolt against the governing body is seen a lot in many cultures and is more frequent than people think. In a natural society there are always people that oppose the government. This theme carries through to education systems, politics, family, religion, and the economy. All five social institutions see this theme.

It's possible for one to argue that revolting against authority is human instinct. In the end Cady and Regina are both hated by the school and the 'plastics' is no longer a governing body; each member of the 'plastics' joins another school clique and it appears as so the school is at peace until a new generation of 'plastics' appear. I found it to be very interesting that a new generation of 'plastics' appeared even though the previous one had ended. It made the point that although one change at one point in time occurs, that doesn't mean that future generations will change. A change can't occur across generations unless there are people there to pass knowledge down the line, which is why we preserve cultural knowledge in books, films, and media sources so we future generations can build off of history, not repeat it.

Written by Ayla Scharnow

mean girls.jpg

Sociological Movie Review: Baby Mama

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I chose to review the movie, Baby Mama, and analyze the sociological concepts I observed while watching. The film is about Kate Holbrook, the 37-year-old Vice President of a health foods company who wants to have a baby. Kate has worked hard to achieve her career goals, so she has past the age most women get married and have babies. First, she applied for an adoption, but it can take five years for a single woman to get a baby. She tried in vitro fertilization, but it failed. She finally settles on hiring a woman to be a surrogate mother for her. The movie shows the social construction of pregnancy, family as a social institution, and the structure and agency related to having children.

I noticed the social construction being pregnant and having a family while watching this movie. While at the surrogacy agency, Kate is told by the woman in charge, "There is no wrong way to make a family." This shows how family is socially constructed, because you can still have a family without all of the norms associated with it. However, Kate doesn't feel completely comfortable being so different in her way of creating her family, and does not tell her boyfriend about the surrogacy. Baby Mama also shows norms related to family, making it a social institution. Kate's mom tells her, "Not everyone is as tolerant of your alternative lifestyle as we are." The fact that being an older single woman is seen as "alternative" proves that there is a certain image people think of when they picture a family.

This movie also shows agency over structure. Kate chose to be successful give her career a high priority in her life, which illustrates her own agency in the situation. However, she did not want to give up the opportunity of having children. Society makes it very difficult for women to have a career and children at the same time.

Waiting for Superman is a 2010 documentary that analyzes the failures of the American public education system by following several students as they strive to be accepted into a charter school. The film described how up until the 1970's U.S. public schools were seen as the best in the world. Now other countries are outperforming American students in reading, writing, math and science. Geoffrey Canada (an Educator and the star of the documentary) explained that when President George H.W. Bush signed The No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, it was seen as the next step for education. National test scores over the last decade have shown that this piece of legislation has often hurt rather than helped schools, students, and families.

Geoffrey Canada pointed out that many public schools put students on a track or a curriculum for high performing students and a different curriculum for low performing students and that this is not acceptable. Public education is supposed to teach everyone adequately, especially the most disadvantaged students, yet in actuality they are hurt the most. The curriculum track was also present in Women without Class. The preps, a largely middle-class group of high-performing White students were placed on the college-bound track. While the skaters and the Las Chicas, the White and Mexican students from working-class backgrounds were put on a lower track by their high school guidance counselors. In our discussion section we discussed how the counselors had negative perceptions about the working-class students' academic abilities and future aspirations based on superficial attributes, such as their group membership. The counselors let their stereotypes about the working-class students across race cloud their judgment.

Another key point this documentary made was reiterating that there is an achievement gap between rich and poor students. Too often children from urban and rural neighborhoods are funneled into poor schools that do not adequately prepare them to go to college, let alone even complete high school. This is related to the concept of inequality discussed in lecture, specifically social inequality and the issue of access to education. Social inequality, in this case exists because the lack of wealth prohibits some people from obtaining the same quality of education as others. So the children who need the best education are receiving the short end of the stick. It is common knowledge that often urban public schools have more students and less resources available than public schools in wealthier neighborhoods. This is because wealthier districts have families that tend to have more economic capital. The effect of the lack of access to a quality education is that it can lead to a self-perpetuating cycle of underperformance and poverty. This could be seen in Women without Class, where the students put on the college preparatory track, the Preps, were more likely to go away to college and enter the middle-class as adults. While the working-class students placed on the lower vocational track were more likely to go on to lead working-class lives.

Sociological Movie Review: Remember the Titans

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Mykenna Yesnes
Evan Stewart
2 May 2013
Sociological Movie Review:
Remember The Titans
Remember the Titans begins by Sheryl Yoast narrating and explaining the integration forced by the school board that took place in Alexandra, Virginia in 1971. Upon this integration, Herman Boone, an African American football coach, was given the head coaching position at the new school TC Williams. Because Boone lost his previous job in a similar situation with the other prospect being far less qualified, he didn't want to take the position of the original head coach in Virginia, Bill Yoast. However, in one of the early opening scenes, Boone walked out of his house to be greeted by many other African Americans in the community that needed his support and leadership. Boone was quick to realize the importance of this head coaching position on the community and the changing times in Virginia in the 70's. It was clear there was a vast amount of racism present at this time and all whites held the power. However, with this new position, Boone was determined to break that norm and prove he, as well as many other African Americans, deserved just as much respect.
Power, as defined in lecture, is the probability of carrying out one's own will despite resistance. Throughout Remember the Titans, this was absolutely the case with the white individuals. Not only did whites exert power over African Americans, but simply over anyone that was different from the norm. For example, Ronnie Bass plays a "hippie" from California that everyone has deemed a homosexual. Simply walking through the halls of his high school, white males told him he's not welcome there, either.
In addition to the very prominent power that is demonstrated in this movie, there is also extreme dominance. Dominant behavior or domination refers to the probability a command will be obeyed by a given group of persons. However, the dominance is not only exuded by the white characters, but also by one of black characters. Coach Boone from the very beginning demands dominance from his players. The irony of his dominance is his lack of power, but that does not slow him down one bit. At the beginning of the film, Boone demonstrates complete dominance over one of his white defensemen and demands his player refer to him as "daddy." The white player challenges Boone despite his role as coach and his far more superior position.
Herman Boone forces his team to come together and sets an example for the community by treating all equally. He specifically points this out to his assistant coach, Yoast, as he calls him out for only babying the black players. Boone asks Yoast why he only tries to reach out to the black players after Boone has chewed them out, but not the white players. He tells Yoast, "Now I may be a mean cuss. But I'm the same mean cuss with everybody out there on that football field." By demonstrating this equal behavior and getting his coaching staff and players to do the same, he gains much more power and is able to have full dominance over his football team.
Boone proved the ability to treat people equally and in turn elicited the same response out of his rather stubborn assistant, Bill Yoast. By the end of the movie, Yoast realized his duty and responsibility to reciprocate. Though Yoast suffered the public consequence of sticking up for his team and community, the Titans began a movement in their community for all around change.

The Hunger Games Through A Sociological Lense

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The Hunger Games is a movie and a book that follows Katniss Everdeen as she enters, participates in, and wins the Hunger Games Tournament (a tournament where 24 contestants are forced into a vast arena to battle to the death) in the fictional nation of Panem. Panem is made of twelve districts that are centered around The Capitol. This district system demonstrates Panem's own system of class, where The Capitol is the upper class, with the most money and technology, who uses the resources from its districts. District's 1,2, 3 or 4 are the upper middle class, while the rest of the districts are probably less wealthy, with District 12 being considered the poorest district. Because they have the most resources, Districts 1,2,3, and 4 are usually the ones to win the Games, while District 12 only has one victor. This is consistent with our society, where the rich use the resources created by the poor. It is also consistent with an idea in "Women Without Class," that the poor have less resources, and because of this they can't get ahead in life, which sets them on a cycle that is difficult to break.
In The Hunger Games, President Snow is the main power figure. His power is not legitimate because he uses force and fear through The Hunger Games, and if it were legitimate he would not have to do that. No one respects him, and most people despise him for his evil.
Contestants of the Hunger Games all wear the same costumes and the costumes for the girls' aren't any different from the boys'. This is inconsistent from many other action movies where there is a female protagonist, because the women are usually dressed in something tight or skimpy or both, that usually shows off sexualized parts of their body. The Hunger Games doesn't do this. Katniss is dressed in a leather jacket, a v-neck t-shirt and a pair of pants which are realistic for the type of situation she'd be in.
Although the Hunger Games is set in a completely different society than ours, many aspects of Panem are very similar to the United States. They still have similar class structures, and power figures.

Sociological Movie Review: The Breakfast Club

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(review by Demi Mancini)

The Breakfast Club is hands down one of the best movies ever made (no room for argument!). Watching this movie not only was enjoyable but also interesting to watch through a sociological lens. There are so many ways to look at the different roles of each character and how they all tie together. Within this movie we see a variety of stereotypical high school roles that we expect to see, since the movie is based on events of high school students.

"Dear Mr. Vernon, We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever we did wrong. But we think that you're crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us. In the simplest terms, and the most convenient definitions, but what we found is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Club (The Breakfast Club, 1985)".

The famous line from the note that was left by the teens in detention at the end of the movie shows the societal connection between each of their roles and those ties to society. The teens use the stereotypical names to tell Mr. Vernon who they think they are; they use the names that society has given them because of their reputations, hobbies and looks. They each realize throughout the movie that in each one of them, they find connections to one another which makes them all realize that no matter the stereotypical separation between them, they all have some things in common.

We can relate these social roles to social identity. These students acted as though they needed to uphold these social roles that in the beginning of the movie they identified themselves with, but by the end of the movie each one had broken the stereotypical mold of each social identity by doing things that were abnormal for that mold (the princess talking to the basket case or the athlete connecting with the criminal).

Along with this topic comes the creation of social networks. When the guest speakers Chen Yu-Wu and Marie DeRousse-Wu spoke about social networks and the reasons why they are the way they are (starting with a small network that grows by who knows who, racial connections and what each person gets from one another), the social connections between the characters in the movie became more evident and easier to understand.

The idea of power also played a role within this movie. As I watched the movie I noticed how power affected each person in different ways. The power or structure within this movie was the school (or Mr. Vernon) mandating the detention and facility of the punishment but the power of coming together and uniting made for a win of agency (the unification of The Breakfast Club which reminded me of some of the actions within Contentious Lives).

I think The Breakfast Club is a perfect movie to watch when analyzing sociological expectations, ties and statuses. The sociological lens is perfect to watch this movie through!

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