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April 30, 2008



Dear Olive,
For the past few months I have been silent. I’ve wanted desperately to get away from you and the rest of the family, sink into my own world and shut everyone out. When we hit the road for your pageant, allowing you and grandpa to fulfill your dream of competing in Little Miss Sunshine, I wanted to sink back into my own solitary world, and continue to hate everyone around me, including you and the family.
As we traveled on the road, my attempts to disconnect myself from the family was succeeding, but as everyone in the family began to connect in new ways; through the death of grandpa and Richard’s attempt to have him stay with us, connecting with Frank on new levels (at least for myself), the revelation of being color blind, and of course the pageant itself, forced me to realize that family, particularly ours, isn’t so bad. Not only have I been able to realize that being close and connected to our family isn’t horrible, I was also able to reveal new things about myself by being on the road not only with you, but with the family.
Part of what I realized on the road is that disciple is good when pursuing dreams, such as how you and the family were determined to get to Little Miss Sunshine, but having support and faith in yourself proves crucial as well. I believe that this realization, and embracing you and the family, transformed me into a stronger person. In addition, I realized that when it comes to you in particular, and your stunning personality, in addition to the family, I should have appreciated you more.
Olive you are amazing, and through this road trip, I as able to see that fully for the first time. You are my sister, and I love you.

Your big brother, Dwayne



Dear Thelma,

I never regretted a single moment of our final weekend. Although things derailed in a way we never imagined, I think it taught us what we were capable of and the power we never knew we had in our lives. Who'd have ever thought we'd become such independent renegades in only a matter of days? I saw you evolve into a strong woman who no longer let your husband take the reins, and I am so proud of you for that. And I know that after everything we endured, it seemed like giving up to stop and let those men take control of us again. Our lives would have never been the same (jail was on the horizon, I'd guess). But part of me feels that just as we'd found out barrings in this world, we ended our time in it. You told me on that trip that you'd never felt so awake as you did then. I know that the way things played out, we would have never been able to be so "awake" as we were then, but I can't help but wonder what kinds of great things could have laid before us. It seems like only an impossible chance that we could have gotten out of trouble, but finding ourselves, taking risks, and grabbing life by the horns instilled a huge sense of hope and wonder in me, and it's nagged me ever since. Besides, think of all the men we could have screwed with! I'll always love you, partner in crime.


April 29, 2008

"Straight Story"

In the film Straight Story, we are presented with a journey that is mostly stripped of environmental changes and explorations. A road trip that takes the protagonist into uncharted or unfamiliar areas usually has a heavy impact on the other elements of the adventure. However, with a bland and repetitive landscape, the focus becomes entirely on the self and it's interactions with the people it stumbles upon. "What are you setting out to do?" asks a man from Alvin's town before he leaves. I think at this point, Alvin really wasn't prepared for a reunion with his brother, and the journey to come was obviously going to give him time to mentally collect his thoughts on the past and the future. His first encounter is with the pregnant runaway, whom Alvin informs that the impending conflict with her family is not something they would want to lose her over. This is our first glimpse at the potential growth ahead for Alvin. His bike-troupe stay shows him as the "elderly, wise" man, realizing that he sees the most happiness in looking at things behind him, instead of thinking of the present and life to come. Although he encounters mild environmental change, the lack of variance really forces him to seek out other areas of interaction and contemplation. I think that with the distractions of changes in location (i.e. venturing into the city, leaving the midwest or country) Alvin would not have been mentally prepared for his reunion. It is hard to put difficult events in the past, and although he clearly deeply cares for his brother (he would have never set out to see him otherwise) it took a new sense of understanding through the help of strangers (via the help that he gave them, for the most part) that the road gave him to know he was doing what was right.

Creative Assignment Postcard

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Acceptance is overrated...

Dear Frank,

We are on our way to Olive’s latest beauty pageant, and it has reminded me of our trip to California. I can’t thank you enough for what you have done for our family. Just as we were falling apart, you showed up and began to put us back together. If it hadn’t been for you, I don’t know what would have become of us.
Thank you for telling my family the truth about your life and letting them know that it is okay to be different in a society that requires normalcy for acceptance. You truly helped us open up to each other and begin to be supportive. I hope you have found your way back into academia and that someday you’ll come on another trip with us.

Love, Sheryl

Finally Free

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Detective Strode,

I had relied on my younger brother Stevie’s acceptance into UCLA to free myself from the life I was living. However, you took Stevie from me the same night that I had celebrated his graduation from high school. After his death Frankie, Titi, Cleo and I planned to rob a bank in order to get back at a system that was taking advantage of us. Now those three women, my closest friends, are also dead. I want you to understand that your inability to see past a person’s differences causes our world to be a violent one. I know you saw me that night on the bus and I appreciate the fact that you let me go. You gave me an opportunity to free myself from the life I was living and stand on my own two feet. This feeling of freedom comes at a tremendous price, but I want you to know that I am grateful and will protect and cherish it.


April 28, 2008

Where's the rearview mirror?

Alvin has a lot of time to think—to think about anything and everything. He is riding a lawnmower across a state by himself. The six week journey allows space for Alvin to “become? himself. The mode of transportation is important to look at. He is using a lawnmower not mow grass but as a car—not what its original purpose was made for. Since he is using a nontraditional mode transportation some of the road theories go missing. Mainly the notion of the rearview mirror, the concept that one is penetrating the space in front and can view what one is leaving behind through the mirror. The lack of the mirror signifies that Alvin isn’t leaving anything behind; instead he is discovering the world around him and at the same time himself. We have seen this self discovery in other films like, “Little Miss Sunshine?, “Thelma and Louise?, “Search for Angela Shelton?, but all these films the characters were searching for some kind of resolution or cleansing. They left knowing/hoping things would change in their lives. Alvin didn’t need anything to change, he wasn’t escaping. If he was, he sure would not have used a lawnmower as his “get away? car. Also when one travels in a rural setting they are surrounded by nature and life—not buildings and cement. They start to realize what it means to truly live, to live like the plants around them, to be in touch with nature.

Straight Story

Straight Story and Alvin's journey during it is much different then any other road film we have seen this semester thus far. Alvin's journey in this film is not about leaving behind something and I really don't think it's about a destination for the most part. The underlying theme is an eventual destination but the film presents that only in the very end. More importantly, the film is about the journey and even more ones self. This is also true because he knows he needs the journey. He is offered rides and such but decides he needs to do it his way. His wisdom is shared on the road multiple times. The appreciation for how his life has been lived in was in abundance and I think this is, and should be important to him. What he seems to have to show for an obviously well-lived life so far is a brother who he hasn't spoken in a long time and daughter with somewhat of a mental illness that he knows is amazing but nobody else can quite see the same also reflecting on him. His brothers mortality I think may bring a sense of his own into light and hence, while he doesn't directly seek it, I think he needed that. Apart from that, the confrontation with mortality I believe is a driving force for the journey. After all, he worked hard all his life and needed this possibly to slow down. Driving 10 mph from Iowa to Wisconsin is a great way to slow down and learn to appreciate the stars like he dreams of doing with his brother as they did when they were kids. I think he was actually looking for the actualizations, unlike other films.

Rebecca's Mistakes

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If I would have known then what I know now...

Dear Daniel,
It has been many years since I have passed and I have had some things to say to you for quite some time. As you I'm sure know, you were my escape from my mundane life. I was crazy about you, irresponsibly crazy about you. My life at home with my husband was wretched and I was completely dissatisfied. I was young and dumb and I was consumed by confusion and angst as I drove back and forth from reality to fantasy. I mean it was a fantasy with you right? We never had a chance because you were not over your ex. What chance did I have when your heart was somewhere else? My journeys were melancholic and stressful, but nonetheless I have written you to clear my legacy. I do not want to be known as the childish girl who perished in a horrific accident. I want to take my tragedy and help others. I have learned so much over the years and have come to realize that women's empowerment, specifically loving yourself, precedes any man who does not treat a woman right. I want women to know that they are in charge of their own destiny, not anyone else. You don't have to feel hopeless and if I would have know then what I know now years after my death I would have realized that I was a beautiful young woman and that I should not settle for anything but the most amazing guy. Why did I feel like the world was going to end during my journey days when I was unhappy in my life? Why couldn't I take a step back and appreciate all of the amazing things that I had going for me? Daniel I want you to know that women are more than sexual objects. I am sorry that you had your heartbroken before me, but I was more than a sexual object at your disposal. In the future I am going to find ways to spread positive messages to women in similar situations as I was in. I want them to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel if you just step back, take a breathe and think clearly. My motorcycle accident denied me that opportunity to make things right, but that doesn't mean that other girls have to make my mistakes. I hope that you were able to find a kind woman who cared about you as much as I did and that you treat her with respect. Women are half of the world and we are powerful beings. That is if we can come to the revelation that we deserve nothing than the best. I hope you have found happiness as I have found inner peace.


Rural vs. Urban

The importance of the Rural road in Alvin Straights journey is one of creation rather than destruction. Most of my classmates have already commented on the importance of Alvin's character not solely trying to escape, but create something (a re-relationship with his brother). The representation of the rural road as something that runs through farms and growing things is important, compared especially to an urban road which controls the land. The fact that Alvin is also traveling this road in a rural means (the tractor) and is set to travel his own way also mirrors a typical idea of a rural community, independent. The characters he meets remind him of his past, and how things have changed. The hardest part for him in growing (old) is remembering how he was before the transition (being young). This is also the hardest part in his journey, remembering his transgressions as he tries to right them. This is exemplified in the point where he is talking to the vet in the bar and talking about how he accidently killed one of his own men, and how he had never talked about it, this is what the rural road is, something that travels into the past and the future at the same time.

Alvin Straight's journey

Alvin embarks on a journey to make peace with his estranged brother. After his own brush with fate, his age becomes apparent and Alvin realizes he might not have much time left. With a tractor as his only mode of transportation, he sets out against all odds. Alvin's tractor moves at a slow pace and his slow journey gives him all the time in the world to think about his life. It seems that his life even flashes throughout the story, beginning with the pregnant runaway, to the youth of the bicycle marathon men, to reminiscing about his days in WWII. Except Vagabond, unlike the other road films Alvin spends much of his trip alone on a mostly rural road, with only his thoughts. Thus his entire journey gives way to a self revelation: the importance of life, his family. From remembering his wife, his children that are alive and those that have died, to his comrades in the war, to his brother, Lyle, through his time spent alone, Alvin was able to see his life and he also was able to actualize what he wanted out of it. As Alvin travels to see his brother for the first time in ten years, his thoughts have led him to realize how important it is to resolve problems with those who are dear to you because you never know when one's journey in life can end.

The Rural Road

Throughout the semester films the road films watched in this class have been mostly about escaping something. The main characters of the films are leaving their dreadful lives in hopes for an improvement. In The Straight Story, Alvin Straight isn’t leaving a scenario that he dreads, rather is trying to make peace with his brother. Instead of leaving behind his past, he is moving forward and learning and trying to understand it. If we compare The Straight Story to Searching for Angela Shelton, you can see how much these road films vary. Angela Shelton is looking to seek peace through her journey. She is trying to leave her unwanted past behind her and move on, with help from others. Alvin Straight is trying to take responsibility of the past. He isn’t trying to escape his lifestyle, or his culture. He is trying to make things okay with his brother before it is too late. The rural road used is definitely different than other movies we have seen. The people that Alvin meets on the rural road are usually quite similar. They are small town, friendly, and willing to help out Alvin. They are very similar to the people that he knows in his own hometown. In other films like Priscilla, and Vagabond, we can see that they leave their own culture and meet very new and different people from themselves. The rural road shows that Alvin is not trying to leave his lifestyle. It shows that he is not trying to find something new. The rural road shows that Alvin has realized what he has done in his past is wrong and wants to take responsibility for it. In other films, such as Girl on a Motorcycle, the “girl? blames her husband for many things, doesn’t take responsibility for much and doesn’t realize the harm she is doing by her actions. Alvin Straight uses this road, as a means to find his brother. Through his new friends he meets on the road and new experience in other rural, yet similar areas he travels he realizes his journey is about himself and his brother. He uses the rural road as a common space to learn and become the responsible and passionate man that he is.

Straight Story

Straight's journey, like others', allows him to realize past mistakes but I disagree that he "is not so different from some of the characters we've seen in other films." Alvin Straight's journey to "becoming" is defined by the fact that viewers know that he has a home to return to and a home which he plans to return to. In films like Vagabond, Easy Rider and Thelma and Louise, the audience may or may not know whether a home exists but can almost be certain that the characters have no intention of returning. I think that this is what sets apart road films like Straight Story and Little Miss Sunshine. Viewers know that these stories will end at home therefore the players are "becoming" as opposed to "leaving behind." Straight has obligations to his daughter (especially since he was not always the ideal father), friends and because of his age, does not have the freedom to travel as he pleases. Films like Vagabond, Easy Rider and Thelma and Louise feature young people, able to go where they want and free from responsibility to others.
I do agree that Straight's road is quite different from movies we have viewed in the past. His is rural road suits him as he is elderly and slow moving himself. The people he encounters on the road are friendly country dwellers. They are trusting and more than happy to open their homes to him. Also, Straight's vehicle is at home on the rural roads. Unlike Thelma and Louise's T-Bird, Straight's lawnmower could not handle the speed of the highway, other than the waning health of his brother, there is nothing to hurry his journey; his life is not in danger; he isn't on the run. The rural roads serve his purpose to get from point A to point B, not to provide an escape. After the murder in the parking lot, Thelma needed time to think about their next move. While on the highway, she was uneasy as the pace her thoughts seemed to have to keep in time with the pace of her vehicle on the highway. Louise had to get off of the highway in order to think clearly... get a cup of coffee or stay in a hotel. In Straight Story, Alvin's thought process and lawnmower seem to move at the same tempo. Unlike Louise who is distracted by the hurriedness of her road, Alvin can do all of his thinking as he travels down his.

Straight Never Quite Leaves Home

Alvin Straight never leaves the rural road, thus the road acts as a constant reminder of his life and past mistakes he has made. In other movies, characters such as Thelma and Louise leave their familiar landscape, which in a way acts as a way of leaving behind the mundane and entering a new world. Straight however stays in the same space which he is use to (he even grew up in rural Moorhead, Minnesota). As our main character meets other people on the road he is constantly reminded of his own life. He has points of revelation, actualization and realization because he meets people he can relate to. Midwest people are in many ways a certain kind of down to earth people, with similar problems and struggles. For example, Straight's tractor breaks down more than once and multiple men were able to help him fix it because of their knowledge of the John Deere tractor. Also, he is able to talk to another war veteran. They are connected not only because they both fought in World War II, but also because they are from similar towns (small, rural, and simple). He is guided on the road by kind people who he can see eye to eye with. For instance, Straight gets directions by the bartender when he gets to his brother's town. He doesn't know his brother's address, but the man at the bar can relate with Alvin because of his past experiences and where he has traveled from (i.e. the bartender is very understanding when Alvin denies a second beer). In sum, Straight never leaves the familiar, so he is constantly reminded of his own life even when he meets others on the rural road. Characters from other movies who are trying to "leave behind" can temporarily escape their lives and briefly feel like their other lives are in the past (i.e. "something in me has crossed over and I can't go back Louise").

The Rural Road and Alvin Straight

The rural road is slow compared to the city and urban roads. It is also open, quiet, and empty in comparison to the urban road. Being empty and quiet the rural road allows for the sky to be open and the stars to be seen. In road films like, Set it Off and The Grace Lee Project, the road isn’t empty. It is full of highways, skyscrapers, and fences. Mr. Straight meets a pregnant girl who is trying to escape her family and her rural life. Mr. Straight explains to her that her family will probably love her and her baby. Instead of sleeping in the trailer, the girl sleeps near the fire, underneath the stars, because the stars help her think. The rural road gives her a space to realize what is important in life. Mr. Straight himself also uses his road trip to come to terms with a relationship. After years of separation, Alvin Straight wants to befriend his brother. The road gives him the courage to do so. A major revelation Alvin has is at the bar with an older man he meets on the road. At a bar they talk their time in the war. Alvin tells the story about how he shot one of his own and never told his troop. Coming to terms with one’s past is hard for anyone, but Alvin uses space provided by the rural road he needed to actualize importance in his life and the life of those he meets. In films like Thelma and Louise and Easy Rider, the rural roads they travel on are space between the cities they travel between. The rural road is different for Alvin than in other road films because it is full of realization, revelation and actualization.

The Rural Road in "Straight Story"

In Straight Story, Alvin Straight's journey on the road is quite different from the journeys of others in road films we've seen. While Alvin's journey takes place strictly in a rural setting, in a film like Set it Off, the urban setting serves as a confining factor in the women's attempts to get out onto the road and "leave behind" the city. In this sense, the rural road serving as a space for self-actualization, realization, and revelation in Straight Story becomes very clear.
While on the "open road", Alvin stops in a small town where he stays for awhile and meets a couple and another man about his age who takes him to the bar with him. While at the bar, we see Alvin confiding in a fellow veteran the secret about a soldier that he accidentally killed. This experience clearly scarred Alvin for his entire life and accounted for the alcohol abuse he took part in. He hadn't told nearly anyone about this until this man that he just met. He begins to cry but the viewer can see a weight being lifted as he shares this with the other man. After this scene, when he gets to the town where his brother lives, he's able to enjoy just one beer after years of not drinking because of his problem. When asked if he wants another, he can say no so in a sense, he has risen above his past addiction and has foudn a sort of reprieve after being on the road for so long. The rural road has allowed Alvin to release a lot of the built up tension he has been living with and allows him to share things about himself he never would have had he stayed in Iowa. All the shots up towards the sky and looking across the vast fields suggest a sort of openness in the rural setting that is really conducive to the experience Alvin has. When looking at this in comparison with something like Set it Off, differences between the urban and rural settings and the opportunities they provide for certain types of revelation are quite different. While the urban setting often serves as a place where characteres we've seen need to get away from, in Straight Story, had Alvin went to an urban setting his experience would not have been as fulfuilling given his specific life experiences.

A Rural Journey

Alvin Straight takes his journey from Iowa all the way to Wisconsin on a riding lawnmower! His journey is unlike the others that we have seen this semester. He travels alone through the rural midwest to meet up with his brother whom he wants to make amends with after he suffered from a stroke. Along the way he meets many people, all of which he makes an impact on. His journey is not to leave behind anything or anyone; it is about becoming a new person and teaching and impacting people along the way. His experiences and ideas give others a new insight on life and choices. He meets a teenager who runs away from home because she is pregnant. He shows her that family will always be there for you in the end and eventually she returns home. Also, Alvin meets a group of young people trvaling by bike. He says to them that remembering when you were young is the worst part of being old. However, Alvin proves that he can stil be spontaneous and 'young' by traveling so far with so little. Alvin opens up to another man who fought in the same war he had many years ago. He tells him things he have not told anyone since the war. He continues to learn more and more about himself as the road of filled with cornfields continues on toward his borhter. The road is very promising and self-rewarding as it does not allow for many distractions. The road gives him room to grow as a person and encourages him on throughout his journey.

A Straight Story on a Rural Road

In the other films we’ve seen thus far, many characters have ached for bigger and better things, using a route away from their dead-end, small-town lives and into “the city? as a one-way pass to freedom of identity. In David Lynch’s The Straight Story, however, Alvin Straight contains his six-week journey to the rural bowels of the Midwest, traveling atop an old riding lawnmower from his farm in Iowa to his ailing brother’s house in Wisconsin. Along the way, he meets a motley cast of roadside drifters, stressed-out city-type workaholics, suburbanites, and “good country people? like himself. Each plays a minutely significant role in his overall quest, showing how the rural road can operate as a space for realization, revelation, and actualization in ways that previous films have not. In an open but still enclosed space like the Midwest, everyone either knows each other already or is bound to meet in some way—we tend to see signs in the small things but tell it straight; and our futures can be revealed through the trials and tribulations of our neighbors. We are bound in a way by our attitudes, our determinations, and our brand of emotional expression. Alvin, being a poor-sighted senior citizen who wants to finish this rural road trip "the way I started it" (that is, slow and steady and marked by frequently enlightening stops), has the patience and the unconventional ways of "seeing" to understand all of this and more. It's not about how fast he's going or how far he still has to go—a journey like that, so populated by those similar-minded people who admit they have certain things to lose but also much to gain, becomes not about the journey at all anymore, but about oneself.

The Rural Road

As Alvin Straight begins his road trip to see his brother, whom he has not spoke to in ten years, he ends up meeting a variety of people along the way, and gains more than an opportunity to make things right with his brother, he gains an opportunity to make things right with himself. The rural road int his film functions as a backdrop for lessons learned in life as Alvin meets a variety of people along the way. He shares life strories with the people he meets, and is able to reflect upon his own life and the decisions he has made along the way. In doing so, he is able to in gain perspective on his own life, so that by the time he does get to see his brother he has had time to reflect and realize the importance of famiily and the fragility of life.
The rural road connects people, as they are one their various journeys in life and allows strangers, if only for a few moments to connect, share their stories, learn something about themselves and life, and then continue on their journey. Alvin was able to help the young woman who had run away from her family, but helping her realize from his ow personal experience that you only get one family, and despite the ups and downs, running away from them will only cause pain in your life in the long run, as he has learned from his own disputes with his brother. Allvin also offers insights to a young man about life, getting older, and the perspective he has gained and can now appreciate by looking back on his life.
The rural road also functions as a place for self realization and forgiveness. As Alvin makes his journey he goes through a personal transformation, as does everyone he encounters on the road. Every person he meets is on their way to a specific destination, including himself, and each person experiences change and growth between the time they leave for their destination and by the time they arrive. The rural road provides the time for such self realization and actualization to occur. It is a slower paced road, a quieter raod than the road we are used to seeing in road films. It allows for more personal encounters with a variety of people, who both Alvin helped and who helped Alvin.

The Straight Story

The Straight Story takes on a new main character; an elderly man. The sense of time is much slower than in other road films such as Easy Rider or even Vagabond. He drives his tractor across state lines to visit his brother and this gives the road film genre a new meaning. It is no longer a story about leaving behind what hurts you but it turns into a story about becoming something new. For Alvin, this means accepting what has happened between himself and his brother and being able to move forward so that he can "look at the stars".

The slow pace of the movie allows him to think about what he will say to his brother when he gets there and about life in general. If Alvin would have ridden a motorcylce or any type of vehicle that went over 10 miles per hour the story would have been very different. The slow paces gives the main character time for realization about everything that he has before him.

Straight Story

Unlike many of the other road films we've viewed in class, Straight Story's protaganist, Alvin, is not looking to escape from anything but rather the road acts as a way for him to find out more about himself. Alvin is different from most of the characters we've seen so far due to the fact that he is an elderly man who is quite content with most all aspects of his life. The only thing that seems to bother him is the fact that he hasn't spoken to his dying brother in 10 years.
As a poor-sighted elderly man, who wants to embark on his journey alone, Alvin turns to the one mode of transportation he is comfortable with: a driving lawn mower. On his 6 week long, 300some mile journey, Alvin encountered many people and situations that would've been completely passed by had the journey been taken in a car. On the country roads, Alvin is able take plenty of time to think about his life and his relationship with his brother. Time which he wouldn't have had if he had simply gotten a ride from someone or taken a bus.


Alvin straight "becomes" in this film through realization of what's important in life. All the characters Alvin meets on the road are kind hearted. From all the kindness received in the movie, especially the couple who took him in for the evening and offered a ride, Alvin realizes kindness and love people have given him, a strange man with faults. He leaves the people he sees with a story and a memory of him but does not interfere in their matters. The plot revolves around the acomplishment of his goal (reuniting with his brother) and how people help him. The road is his only obstacle, all the other aspects are helping him on his way to his brother.


Go with yourself, not for another.

Dear Rebecca,

This is a letter from your future. You have just received a Motorcycle for a gift from Daniel. Don't use him as a reason for escape, it will lead to your ultimate demise. Embrace this motorcycle as a gift of freedom from men and use it to go out and find yourself on a road without masculine domination. Wasting time and preoccupying your thoughts between Raymond and Daniel will only leave you unfulfilled and guilty. On the road you will find your true self and where you belong in life without the responsibilities of caring for someone else. Please take heed of my warning.

Best Wishes,
from your future

April 27, 2008

The Straight Story

The film The Straight Story is different from many of the other road films that we have watched in the fact that the main protagonist, Alvin, is an older man. In this sense Alvin has lived a full life and is perfectly set in his ways. Even in the film he calls himself a stubborn man - he is not one of the characters from the other films that needs to grow or "find" themselves. Alvin already knows who he is and what he would like to do i.e. make amends with his brother. Unlike many of the characters in the other road films, Alvin's journey seems to help others more than it appears to help himself.

Also, unlike many of the other road films we have watched Alvin is not running away from anything and the viewer can see this especially in his means of transportation. With his lawnmower, the journey on the rural road is relatively slow paced embodying the type of lifestyle Alvin and his neighbors share. The lawnmower also reveals to the viewer what type of man Alvin is. He is very determined and riding on a lawnmower for six weeks shows his devotion to his brother and the sincerity in his journey. Alvin's journey on a rural road, though different from other films, is not any less dangerous (riding down steep hills) or any less spontaneous than other road films.

Space, Time and Acceptance on the Rural Road

The rural road in the Straight Story operates as a space for realization, revelation and actualization in ways that the other films and roads we have witnessed do not. Alvin travels along this road that provides space, time and acceptance.

When he first takes off on his lawn mower the camera shows only cornfields and blue skies ahead of him. As the lawn mower cruises along and we watch the yellow lines of the road pass by the audience can’t help but think that Alvin has plenty of time and space to become the man he wants to be. Compare this to the film Thelma and Louise when the two women find themselves surrounded by semi-trucks after Harlan is killed. Thelma and Louise are confined by society and must flee the police, never getting time to slow down and think.

The friendly and accepting rural folks that Alvin crosses paths with help him along his quest. They provide opportunities for him to realize just who he wants to be and what is truly important. In the movie Set it Off the women are treated poorly by the police. After the first bank robbery Strode holds Frankie accountable just for living in the wrong part of town. As she leaves he says “she’s involved… I want everything you have on her.? This distrust and unfriendly behavior is part of the reason these women get together and rob banks.

I'm Not Fine...

Dear Josh,

You have no idea the impact you had on my life. I love you. I am in love with someone who does not love me back. It hurts me so to have to tell myself the reality of it. You have no idea how much I have been through over these past few weeks. When I saw you at the gas station I was in the mist of the most neurotic road trip of my life. Do you have any idea how I got put into such a situation? Well I attempted to kill myself, but sadly I failed at that as well. I do not know what I am going to do know. I said I was fine, but I am anything but. I was on suicide watch by a 15 year-old who did not speak a word because of Friedrich Nietzsche. I have no job and sat in a van for days being lectured on the definition of a loser. Do you know what a loser is? Well in the mind of Richard, I am one because I gave up on life. Then again, he can go to hell. As crazy as it sounds, that road trip full of Rick James and arguing actually gave me strength to want to keep living. I guess that partly could be thanks to the Miss. Sunshine contest, the most disturbing display you have ever seen. I guess that contest or Rick James brought me together with family, discovering a place of belonging. Then again, I’m getting off-track. I wanted to let you know that I am trying to get over you. I am not sure if I ever will, but I’m going to try and I guess this road trip was my first step. For the record, I am the number one Proust scholar in the U.S. and your boyfriend, Larry Sugarman, is second. I thought you should know that as a fact. I guess everything that has happened is part of my suffering that will make me who I am similar to the French writer, Marcel Proust. So I guess all that happiness I would have had with you would have been a total waste. I guess I should realize that my suffering right now are the best years of my life.


P.S.-The porn was not for me

Straight Story

This movie has a very endearing quality to it. There is not a lot of fuss- just a nice, simple story of a man trying to get to his brother the only way he can. The rural road setting for the journey gave Alvin no distractions. Due to the simplicity of the country, Alvin was able to do a lot of thinking. This gave way to when he did meet people along the way, his advice to them was always from the heart, and truth that he had come to learn through his lifetime- and again along his way to his brother.
In some of the other films the characters are around others more and going in and out of city life. Alvin is by himself for most of his journey which gives him the opportunity to go over past experiences and learn the value of what is really important in life--lessons he passes on to others along his way. The fact that he was riding a lawn mower across the state of Iowa also allowed for more time to grow. The slowness of the lawn mower gave him even more time to think about life and making past mistakes right as opposed to getting there in one to two days by car. Overall, I think it is a refreshing, sweet film that speaks to everyone about life and what is really important.

Straight Story

Straight Story is a story about a simple, older man driven by the regrets of his past to move forth on the road, by himself, in order to reach his brother who has suffered a stroke. The film is unlike any of the films we have seen before because his character is very real and unlike Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, who encounters simple car trouble, it is Alvin who represents the rural American, even if on a lawn mower. Alvin’s journey across Iowa to Wisconsin symbolizes human stubbornness and the chance to correct his wrong realizing that life is too short. The rural road in Straight Story symbolizes the road as a means for Alvin to comfort the ghosts of his past in order to move forth in his life. Like many other films we have seen such as Searching for Angela Shelton, Alvin is affected by each individual he encounters on the road and his time spent with each also influences his own life. Similar to Angela, the individuals on the road strengthens Alvin. His life philosophy influences the lives of the individuals he meets. Such is the case with the pregnant teen that ran away from her family. Alvin does not pass judgment, but with his simple philosophy he is able to make a difference in someone else’s life. She leaves him the bundle of sticks, illustrating that family is the most important thing in life and nothing can break that bond. This film is unlike any of the other films we have viewed because it is the tale of true human struggle in its most real and raw form. Alvin, like so many individuals, bottles up many of the feelings and thoughts. His story is not dramatic, but real. Many films we have viewed we are able to discover what exactly it is the character is feeling and thinking. However, Alvin is more of a mystery and the viewer must read his thoughts similar to real life. He uses the road as a means for facing his past. With each stop he is able to reflect upon his past. After his lawn mower breaks down, Alvin reflects upon the war and unleashes some of the bottled feelings and stories of his past. He is able to lift that burden in order to move on through his journey to become a better individual. Alvin reflects true human struggles because the viewer is never able to find out exactly what set him and his brother apart similarly to life where time blurs reasons and logic. He becomes a better individual letting go of the weights that held him back until he finally reaches his brother.

Straight Story

Straight Story had many features that were different to the other films that we have seen this semester. First off, Alvin set off on a lawn mower which already sets up the idea of the rural areas where the farms and cornfields remain. A way for the realization to be shown in the film, was the fact that Alvin actually had car troubles, multiple times so the idea was that he certainly wasn't invincible. Although, in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, they had car troubles as well, the issues for Alvin seemed more significant since he was already on a low budget trip. Also, Alvin seemed to use the actualization that is brother could die soon and his own health problems as his drive to travel and make-up with his brother. Many of these issues appeared very natural and understandable and he was a man that seemed real unlikethe other movies, with all of their dramatic characters. He was an old man who had health problems and a mentally ill daugther who took care of him and kepy up the house. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary besides the fact that he rode from Iowa to Wisconsin on a lawn mower.
Revelation on the other hand is what happened while he was on the road trip. Each time he met someone he learned something about himself and left an impression on everyone he ran into on his way to Wisconsin. After he meets the pregnant adolescent, he is left with the bundle of sticks that represent family which is the most important value to him. When he met up with the women who hit a deer, he took the deer and ate it, then attached the antlers to his trailer. After his lawn mower broke down again, after a hill, he met a family that took him in for a night and he got to reflect on his experiences in war. It made him relive the pain that he suffered. He then got stronger from that experience and built up the courage that was necessary to meet up with his brother again. As he told the twins that fixed his lawn mower, "a brother is a brother" and that will never change which made him feel worse about the small conflict that they had in the past. These three themes realization, which was the small budget he had for the whole trip and transportation, actualization which is how much time he actually had left in his life and revelation which he went through over the trip were main ideas in this film that tell the story of Alvin Straight, an ordinary old man.

Rural Road

In the film "The Straight Story", we witness a road trip that has not been portrayed yet in this class. Alvin, not only chooses to take his road trip on a lawnmower, but he is going from rural Iowa to rural Wisconsin. His road trip is about discovering himself rather than leaving behind something.
As Alvin encounters different people on the road, he really helps them more than I think they help him. Yet, through others Alvin really shares his story with the audience about how he wants to forgive Lyle (his brother) and move on. The film is very slow going which also counters the usual road film; fast and thrilling. I think too, Alvin really expresses the rural in himself. The landscape throughout the film with the accompanying music really allows the audience to fall in love with the rural as Alvin has.
Overall, "The Straight Story" is very different from other road journeys we have viewed in this class.

A Different Road

I "Straight Story" Alvin is on a different kind of road than the others we have seen thus far. The biggest difference about this road is that it is a completely rural road. It being a rural road makes it a very different environment. But the road itself is not what makes the environment different, it is the people and their attitudes that make this road different. The people are not automatically set against Alvin or his quest, often they seem to admire his tenacity. They do not try to hinder him or put him down, instead they try to help him in what ways they can, like offering him a ride. Even those who have their own purposes in mind, like the Olson twins, do not treat him maliciously or disrespectfully. These people and this road do not have prejudices towards Alvin and see no reason to hold him back and this makes it a very different journey from the others we have seen. He does not have to struggle so much with the external forces beyond trying to keep his lawnmower running and is free to concentrate on his internal journey and in some ways enjoy the scenery. He is also not ignore. When the bikers all ride by they wave and people always seem to notice him. In this way he is not on the fringes of society and life so much as just another feature of the world that is there. He is alone but not because he is forced too, it is his choice to be alone. This is a very different situation than the others we have seen because the others are forced into their journey or their isolation by other people or society in general. Alvin's road allows him more choice than the others'.

The Straight Story

In most of the films we've seen thus far in class, the characters tend to use the road as a way to escape where they've been: Stoney used it to escape the projects, Angela Shelton used it to escape her past, etc. In the 1999 film, "The Straight Story," however, the road is not a means for escape as Alvin never leaves where he came from. His journey begins, takes place, and ends within the confines of rural America. Because this road does not change, the changes Alvin goes through and the revelations he encounters are moreso based on himself and the people around him than where he came from and where he's going. For example, when talking about the pros and cons of getting older with the group of bicyclists, he simply verbalizes feelings he's already had, that he's kept inside himself. Because of the people he's met on the road, he is able to bring these parts of him out, something he couldn't do while he was just staying in place. An example of how this is different from other roads comes from Thelma and Louise. Throughout the film, the two women carry with them where they've come from. They carry the baggage of being neglected and battered women as they travel their road to indepenedence. On Alvin's rural road, he has no baggage from his origin. He simply is a body moving through a place, and as it encounters other people, the body can see inside himself because he is finally forced to interact with others. The rural road is a road where the self helps the self, as opposed to a changing road where the location creates the difference in who the character was and who the character has become.

The Effect of the Rural Road

It was clear from the very beginning of the film that Alvin Straight was in love with all things rural. I think this is a very important observation to key in on, in order to realize why the story line never wavered from the country. Unlike many of the other characters we have seen in previous road films, Alvin was not unhappy with his life. He was unhappy though, in the fact that he and his brother had drifted apart. The journey that Alvin took was not one of discovery, but one of reminiscing and humility. It was clear to see that Alvin did not need to make this journey the way that he did, but he wanted to, so that he could have time to himself to think. I think it is very significant that this entire film took place in the middle of the country, because that is who Alvin was. He was not leaving his home to become something different than what he already was. As he rode across Iowa, and into Wisconsin you could not help but think that he was almost riding into the end of his life. It had a very final feel; with the reconciliation of him and his brother, and his own ailing health. It was almost a memoir of his life, and the things that he held dear to him, his rural surroundings being one of them.

Ruminations on the Straight Road

While previous road films from this semester’s selection have taken their protagonists out of their familiar settings, presenting them with a new palate of environs and individuals with which to compare and contrast themselves with, The Straight Story opts to leave Alvin Straight within a familiar surroundings (rural) and peoples (white Midwesterners) in order to come to a place of realization and understanding.

The rural setting is of particular importance to Alvin’s story. Firstly, this road film makes use of a protracted sense of time and motion. There are no shots of the wind whipping as in Searching for Angela Shelton and Thelma and Louise, through the hair of the protagonist as they proverbially flee their past. There is no sense of bliss achieved through hasty flight. Rather, Alvin’s journey through a rural setting is slow and deliberative and demanding of close inspection. The vehicle of choice for Alvin, a tractor, embodies this rural mindset of “slow-and-steady wins the race?. Each scene presented to Alvin, whether it be a corn field, abandoned silo, or wayward hitchhiker must be considered and mulled over. Alvin is not granted the luxury of flying past his surroundings so quickly that he does not need to contemplate them.

Similarly, a rural setting provides little distraction from the mind. Therefore, Alvin’s realization comes very much from within. Nowhere does he encounter situations that are jarringly new and different, or force him to understand life in a new way. Instead, Alvin’s familiarity and slow roaming through the rural road forces him to analyze his past. For example, his encounter with the pregnant young woman is in no way shocking or strange to him. In fact, the familiarity of something such as pregnancy leads to recollections of his past, his wife, and the importance of family (the main reason for this journey). Similarly, his exchange with quarreling brothers is an equally familiar one. Had Alvin encountered these situations in a fast-paced urban setting, he may not have been able to so easily relate or devote time to recollection.

In this way, the slow-pace and familiarity of the rural setting allow Alvin Straight to ruminate on his past.

The Rural Road

Even though Alvin never leaves the rural, his journey is just as significant as that of any of the characters from other movies we've watched in class. It is because he carries out his mission on the tractor that his rural journey is full of as many life-changing elements as other road movie travels. Alvin travels slower, and even though he doesn't cover as much ground, he meets many people and is able to reflect on his own life through their stories. His purpose is also strengthened through listening to the people he meets. For example, the hitch-hiking girl is struggling with family problems, and Alvin's advice to her is to face her family, because having them is the most important thing. This advice crosses over to his own purpose of making amends with his brother, Lyle.
Because Alvin never leaves the rural, it is more apparent that the revelations he experiences are not due to geographical travel, but an inner journey. In other films such as Thelma and Louise and Easy Rider, the road also served as a place for self-actualization, but there was also dramatic change of scenery which underlined this theme. In Straight Story, the stability of the rural road may punctuate the severity of Alvin and Lyle's harsh feelings towards one another, because their physical separation is nowhere near as large as their emotional separation. On this road, Alvin goes through internal changes that define the road movie. The rural road implies the permanence of Alvin's realizations. He has changed even though his environment hasn't.

The New Rural Road...

Unlike the other films we've watched, Straight Story follows Alvin Straight on his journey not away from the rural Midwest, but rather through it. The rural road works kind of in an opposite way for Alvin, unlike how we've seen it work in other films. Rather than cause him unbearable grief, it gives him the opportunity to fully go over his life, and in turn, find himself.

Alvin decides the take his journey from Iowa to Wisconson in a very untraditional way: on a lawn mower. The riding lawn mower in itself can be associated with the rural country. I think here we get the sense that Alvin represents everything rural. Yet unlike the other movies we've seen, he is not a horrible, racist, rural person. He is actually quite nice, and pleasant to be around.

Perhaps the reason he is able to actually find himself while on this rural road is because there is really no chaos for him while on the road. The urban road in other movies we've seen have always been at times a bit hectic and busy. Here, Alvin is able to very slowly make (over a month) progress to his destination with limited distractions, thus allowing him ample time to think about his life, his mistakes, and his regrets. It is possible that if he were on a city road, in a traditional road vehicle, he would have had more distractions to keep him from thinking, and less time to do the thinking, and could have possibly missed his road of becoming.

A Straight, Slowed-Down Story

A Straight Story presented us with a very different road narrative than most of our class's past films. For the first time, we see a single person setting out on a trip with a specific destination and purpose in which he successfully accomplishes. He also faces little danger (aside from some lawnmower problems) and does not engage in anything violent or criminal, except maybe trespassing on private property. Alvin is not leaving his life behind at all, if anything, he appreciates his simple life with Rose more once he begins to travel.

Alvin's road is slow and long which is something we haven't seen in past films. Speed, in the other movies, is so important to the forward motion of the plot. This movie, on the other hand, uses the slow transport to emphasize the time Alvin spends reflecting on his present journey and his overall life journey. It also reflects the patience and the challenges of his trip and, at the same time parallels the difficulties faced by the aging process. He is forced to drive the lawnmower due to his failing eyesight and joint dysfunction, while his stubbornness keeps him persevering no matter the inconvenience of his approach. Also, as some pointed out, the rural setting may be the cause of the slow paced action within this film.

With few words, Alvin is able to reach the people he meets along the way. They are moved by his journey and his ability to empathize with those he encounters. He creates a mood of pensiveness, appreciation and understanding. Although there is not a lot of racial diversity in the film, Alvin does cross age and class barriers it seems as he travels from one rural city to another. Alvin's road is a place for transformation and self-reflection which did not need to be accomplished by engaging in criminal behavior, discrimination or general defiance. Through dialogue and thoughtfulness, the road can be a place for contemplation and positive transformation.

April 26, 2008

Creative Assignment Postcard

The Straight Story Postcard.jpg

Dear Lyle,
As I travel home after seeing you I have realized that I should have made the trip ten years ago. I understand that we exchanged some of the most hurtful words that any brother could imagine, but I should have realized that your presence in my life is far more important than my pride. It shouldn’t have taken your becoming ill for me to see your importance in my life. I know that family is the most important part of a person’s life. I raised my children to understand the importance of family, but as they grew older I ended up paying no attention to it myself. For that, I am a hypocrite.
I just want you to know that I am sorry for my stubbornness and my inability to identify the people in my life that are truly important. I know that my visit was ten years later than it should have been, but I hope that it was as fulfilling for you as it was for me. I spent those six weeks thinking about every little thing we ever did to hurt each other and it took me a while to get over some of the hurtful things you said to me, but I determined that it wasn’t worth the pain to hold a grudge any longer. It has taken a while, but I forgive you. I know that it doesn’t take an afternoon to forgive someone for a lifetime of hurt that they have caused, but I hope that you can eventually find it in yourself to forgive me for our past. We will always be brothers.

I’ll be seeing you,

I, Billy...

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I, Billy should have been more conscious to the fact that the same way patriarchy denied me access to freedom and individuality I denied women these same rights in treating them like tools.

I expected society to accept me as I was. I wanted my uniqueness to be understood or at the very least to be respected. Traveling on the road as the 'other' with my friend Wyatt was oftentimes dangerous because many of the small towns we drove through had the assumption that we were nothing but trouble based on the fact that we rode motorcycles, had long hair, and unusual clothing. Some places refused us room and board, diners refused us food and drink, and others tried to lock us up in their small town jail cell. Luckily, Wyatt was there to keep my temper down when I wanted to solve these conflicts by using my fists rather than my mind and reasoning. I was just so frustrated with the way people treated us based on the way we appeared to them and then I realized that I treat women in this exact same way.
The way I used to chase after women and treat them as though they were objects to use for my own pleasurement was not only completely degrading to them but it was selfish and hypocritical on my part. I wish I would have noticed how foolish I was sooner. While I was angry at society for their ignorance I was being the same way about women and placing them all in the same box even though they were all clearly individuals. I wish I could go back in time and set an example for the rest of the men out there but unfortunately I can not and for that I say sorry to all women. I'm sorry...

April 25, 2008

Rural Road Journey

Within David Lynch’s Straight Story, the rural road serves as an altering agent within the narrative for the main character Alvin, which has not been present within films we’ve viewed so far. Having the narrative and storyline unfold solely within rural Iowa and Wisconsin, allows Alvin, and traditional road film storyline, in a new form.
Within the film, there are many factors that contribute to Alvin’s journey by the rural setting. First, an indicator of a rural road journey is Alvin’s mode of transportation; a John Deere sitting mower. This form of transportation allows for audiences to connect with the character, and his purpose for going on the road at any means, even by driving a lawn mower to complete his journey. Also, it allows for Alvin, along with the audiences, to mentally and physically slow down his road trip to take in all the people, towns, and landscape he encounters, and how rural Iowa and Wisconsin play into his journey; overcoming pride and family loyalty. In addition to his mode of transportation for his road trip, the rural road operates as a space for realization, revelation, and actualization, by allowing Alvin to have the time and space to communicate with himself, and others, about his life, accomplishments, and mistakes. The rural road allows Alvin to meet new people, talk with them, and learn things from them to allow realizations about himself, including the relationships he has had within his life, particularly with his brother. Unlike other road films we have viewed within class, the rural proves as a protective and welcoming place for Alvin, counter to busy towns where danger and trouble lurks. The rural allows for Alvin to open up with others, and himself, to fulfill his journey at all costs, and mend the mistakes he feel he has made in his life. In addition, unlike other films we viewed, his journey proves possible within a rural setting by allowing Alvin to grow into a new person with everyone he talks to, and the longer he is on the road, till he is finally able to mend his relationship with his brother. Throughout his journey, Alvin continually forms, and becomes, a new person with each passing person, town, and road he encounters, so instead of leaving behind something at home, he brings that with him, and becomes a new person by the end of his journey by reuniting with his brother. The Straight Story proves itself as a unique, and touching, road film that embraces the rural road in what it can provide for people who take to it.

Straight Story

The film Straight Story takes place among the rural towns between Iowa and Wisconsin, which ultimately allows the concept of the road movie to take on a new course. This rural setting changes the concept in multiple ways. First, Alvin Straight begins and ends his journey on a tractor. In all the other films we have seen, the means of transportation have taken on different forms, yet none as odd as a tractor. Since a tractor is not normally seen as a mode of transportation, this film allows the road to be interpreted in much different ways. Throughout his journey, Alvin never changes his mode of transportation, and remains steadfast in his insistence upon reaching his destination in his own way, no matter that it takes him six weeks to reach it.
Next, the road is no longer seen as a busy highway that caters to huge numbers of identity-less people, but is now seen as a vast stretch of open space that is seemingly unending, yet full of people who yearn to be known and seen and do so by acknowledging Alvin as he moves by. This is shown through the many people he meets, including the pregnant hitchhiker, the bus driver (and his passengers) as he asks for a ride to town, the group of people determined to help him after the belt breaks on the hill, to the man in the bar just outside of Alvin's brothers town. The road is no longer friendly and unyielding, but becomes protective and open to possibilities for Alvin. The rural road serves to show Alvin what he is capable of, no matter the amount of physical problems he has accrued because of his age. The road reveals to Alvin just who he is, and allows him to be free in a way that he seems to not have been for years. In a way, the road allows Alvin to stay the same, but to allow him to be the same person in a different way. Alvin is not truly "leaving behind" anything, as it is assumed that he will eventually get back home at some point- but perhaps he is leaving behind a certain part of himself, a part that did not allow him to be free in his thoughts and actions.
The other road films have taken place with multiple characters - the main character(s) have never truly been alone, and is the main concept that sets Straight Story apart as a road film.

April 24, 2008

Alvin's Journey

Alvin, in the film The Straight Story, uses his journey as a means to come to terms with his life. After hearing about his brother’s health he decides to set off on a journey to see him after having not spoken to him in ten years. His decision to see his brother marks the beginning of his transformation or “becoming.? The film didn’t directly depict Alvin as a man that didn’t pay attention to his family, but as the film progressed and as Alvin met different people along his way, it was clear to see that Alvin didn’t pay as much attention to his family as he had hoped he would. In a way, Alvin’s realization of how important his family was to him defined the meaning of his journey.
One of the first people that Alvin encounters is a young lady who has run away from home because she is pregnant and doesn’t know how to face her parents or her boyfriend. Up to this point Alvin’s journey didn’t seem to have a significant amount of purpose, but as he spent time with this girl they began to talk about family. Alvin told her a story about how he used to play a game with his kids where they had to try and break a stick. “Of course they could real easy.? Then he told them to tie the stick in a bundle and try to break that. “Of course they couldn’t.? They he went on to explain that that bundle represented family. Not only did Alvin give some really good advice to the new friend that he made, he was also able to look back on his past and realize the impact that family truly had on him.
Another example, further along in the movie, Alvin demonstrates his transformation when he calls his daughter for the first time since he left. Just hearing her voice made him realize how grateful he was to have her in his life. He knew that she needed him, but he also realized that he needed her just as much.
Alvin wouldn’t have been able to accomplish all that he did without the people that he met along his journey. The rural setting operated as a means to give Alvin the opportunity to meet all of the people that he did. Each of them had an impact on him, which ultimately made his trip to see his brother again a real learning experience for him. He learned the importance of family.

'Straight Story'

This film does not display...'American individuals and the individuals growing sense of disconnectedness in the contemporary era. Rather his films repeatedly place his characters on the road to find connection, community, and family in a world grown impatient with and insensitive to those more stable institutions. "
In this particular film the road is used as a completely different tool than in the other films we have watched. This film is about a white, conservative male who goes from rural Iowa to rural Wisconsin to visit a brother of his to make ammends before he dies. The only thing this man has going against him is his old age and the fact that he hasn't advanced in technology since the sixties or seventies, the year his John Deere lawn mower was made. Society completely accepts this man and even the fact that he might be incredibly stubborn and senial (as e said himself). In Thelma and Louise the road was danger because they had vaginas. In the film Set it off the characters not only had vaginas but they were black. And then there is the film where two white men who are considered hippies hit the road and that doesn't go well because they head through hick down one to many times. In fact I imagine that Alvin Straight lived in a town very similar especially a decade or so earlier.
Although Alvin did make a very courageous journey on his lawn mower from one state to the other the road actually was pleasant to him for the most part and without the friends he made on the road he never could have made his journey. The road provided Alvin with other conservative white people that had similar pasts and relationships and in that way Alvin could see himelf in many of their shoes. For example, the two lawn mower brothers who fought related to Alvin and his brother Lyle. The young pregnant woman reminded Alvin of his wife and all the children she had as well as his daughter Rose who ended up losing her children. The one part that did worry me in this scene is the possibility that this girl who was preganat had been raped or possibly abused or maybe there was a case of incest and Alvin felt so comfortable encouraging her to go back to her family when he had no idea under what circumstances she was living. Alvin also meets another Vietnam vet on the road where he shares his traumatic stories with to accept his past. All in All Straight Story is able to use the road in a positive way because he is almost entirely accepted by the rest of northern rural society.

April 23, 2008

Powwow Highway

As simple a thing as a different attitude can completely alter one's perception of the way the world works. As proud as both men appear to be of their Cheyenne heritage, they view the societal effects in such ways that their alignment of pride diverts. Philbert seems to see beyond the easy anger and frustration that could be acted out and seeks to find a higher, more peaceful level to rest on. Despite the obvious burdens that their heritage places upon them, Philbert resists fighting them, indicative that he sees more benefit in complacent hopes for the future. His gentile nature is shown well when he defends himself after wanting to set a spider free, rather than squash it: "Nature takes many forms". Meanwhile, Buddy depicts a man whose pride and acknowledgment of injustice have provided him with a deep-rooted aggression towards the forces causing this. He dislikes the mistreatment and struggle, and he is one to put up a fight to solidify his position. Herein lies the distinction between their portrayal of identities: both men have love and respect for being Cheyenne, but their attitudes towards life in general cause them to show this love in greatly different ways. One, the extreme of hopeful contentness. The other, of defiant pride.

April 22, 2008

SAMPLE: Creative Assignment


Hi Angela,

I'm on my way home after months on the road interviewing Angela Shelton's across the nation. What an amazing experience! I can't begin to tell you how much their stories have affected me and have provided me with the strength to confront my father about his years of abuse.

Blah blah blah.

On my way home, I couldn't stop thinking about you and how wanting to produce a film that allowed me and others to tell our stories wound up, in some ways, hurting you . I should have been more responsible when it came to your needs, Angela. All I could see was my goals of raising awareness of sexual and physical abuse and changing the world a little bit. In the midst, I lost sight of to whom I was accountable. There were many times when I shouldn't have pushed you to talk about the abuse you endured - namely, those times being when you were not sober or when the pain was just so suffocating.

Blah blah blah.


They are Cheyenne

The two protagonists of Pow-wow Highway both display qualities of being true to their Cheyenne heritage, but in different ways. Buddy is a strong individual who takes his and his people's rights and well-being very seriously. He shows his pride many times throughout the movie, like when he trashed the electronics store, or when he punched that guy in the face. He also shows loyalty to his family. He said he hadn't seen his sister in ten years, but still agrees to come bail her out of jail, even though the means of transportation are hard to find.
Philbert is another Cheyenne man who shows a very different side of the Cheyenne identity. He is very spiritual, and has a strong connection to nature. This is seen when he climbs up the black hills and sits under the shelter made of sticks. He also collects tokens throughout his journey, which he believes are signs from he who is looking over him and guiding him in the right direction.
Though Buddy has a rough attitude and Philbert is very gentle, they are both proud to be Cheyenne, and end up learning a lot about what it means for them to be Cheyenne.

Pow-wow Highway: Resistance and Understanding

Many of my classmates have already pointed out the internal and material differences between Philbert and Buddy. Their identity as Cheyenne is controlled by both the spiritual and cultural aspects of American Indian tradition and need for survival within a white, patriarchal, oppressive society. Many times, these two identities are put in opposition and often cause a tug-of-war like force upon American Indians. Pow Wow Highway exemplifies this action by showing both extremes: Buddy, an American Indian activist that resists capitalistic, oppressive motives to erase indigenous rights and property; Philbert, a spiritual Cheyenne member resisting normative and popular white-American values/culture in order to preserve the traditions of his ancestors.

Buddy and many others on the reservation are frustrated by the lack of resources and respect and often lose many of their cheyenne traditions in the process of this struggle. Philbert, on the other hand, seems oblivious at times to the political struggle of his people as he believes that traditions and spirituality are more important. In doing so, he often forgets that he is buying into many of the things that are erasing his people's cultural identity (cheeseburgers, hershey bars, etc). The road in this movie creates a space for both men to find a balance of political resistance and spiritual attainment. Their journey is governed by the corrupt law that oppresses them and by Philbert's desire to visit historical landmarks and to have solidarity with nature. In the end, I believe both men find understanding in one another's quest, in turn melding their respective identity politics into a common goal.

April 21, 2008

Identity on the road in Pow Wow Highway

In Pow Wow Highway the most telling scene involving identity politics to me was when Buddy was fighting Young Blood in the bar and told him "I can't hide my red." Comparing these two characters is as important as comparing Philbert and Buddy. The idea of a "white-washed" Native American who is trying to cheat the reservation out of it's natural resources and is working with the F.B.I. is representative of broader power struggles in the Native American community. Buddy is trying to fight a racialized institution, Young Blood is a part of it, and Philbert has faith in the Cheyenne identity. The pow wow that Buddy and Philbert end up at, although it is off their designated road, helps Buddy connect to who he is as a Cheyenne. Especially when he dances and "means it." The differences between identifying physically as Cheyenne (Buddy), identifying spiritually as Cheyenne, and not identifying as Cheyenne (Young Blood) are treated differently on and off the road. When Young Blood is on the reservation he is ridiculed, when he is off he is still ridiculed (pushed over at the police station, talked down to by the F.B.I.). Buddy is treated in a racist manner at the radio shop, and is targeted because of his activism, but still believes they "can't win" against the white powers that be. Philberts' self-identification as a protected warrior is what saves the day, even though it is scoffed at by most (his aunt, Buddy).

we are Cheyenne

In “Powwow Highway?, identity politics is center stage. Both Red Bow’s and Philbert’s identity clearly revolves around being Cheyenne but they understand it in two different ways. Red Bow understands that he is being persecuted by the western world because of his Cheyenne identity. He takes strong objection to the white man coming in and exploiting their land and their sovereignty. A great of example of this is the scene where the business man is trying to convince the council to allow his men to come in and take resources off the land. His own conception of his identity is because of outside pressure against it. On the other hand Philbert’s Cheyenne identity revolves around an inner understanding—spiritually connected. It is a personal journey to connect with his ancestors and Cheyenne heritage. On this road trip, like every road trip, signifies an inner journey for all who take to the road. Both men had the trip bring them in touch with who they really are—“We are Cheyenne?. I do think that the most personal change in identify came from Red Bow. Before the road trip his identity came from how the outside world interacted with him but as the road trip continued with Philbert and multiple stops at sacred sites, he started to experience his identity from within. The road is a place that allows and sometimes forces people to deal with themselves and in the end discovering something new about oneself—their identity.


Identity politics play a key role in the film Powwow Highway. The best example I can think of for this film is the comparison of Redbow and Philbert in how they relate to their identity of proud Cheyenne. Philbert express his pride in the Cheyenne tribe through spirituality and the preservation of much of traditional lifestyle. This is seen very early on when Philbert's aunt was talking with him and was terribly bother with him for continually asking about the old days and there were multiple times in the movie that Philbert had to make a stop due to reasons significant with the Cheyenne tribe. Redbow had a significantly different way of being Cheyenne. His approach was much more aggressive stemming from a distaste in American government since the Wounded Knee incident. The very first scene you meet Redbow almost leading a crowd of Cheyenne against a man from an oil company. He also holds a very strong importance of the land the Cheyennes live, agrivated with a fellow Cheyenne who was moving to the suburbs for safety reasons of their child. His tactics are much more upfront and blunt, such as when he barged in to see his sister in jail.

What it means to be Cheyenne...

Redbow and Philbert, both Cheyenne, have very different views of what it means to be Cheyenne. Redbow, a political activist, takes the colonizer's perspective of what it means to be a productive member of society, Euro-American ideals shape this meaning. He fights for American Indian civil rights by utilizing the methods of the United States government. Philbert, on the other hand, seems to disregard the colonizer's influence and pays little attention to formal government. He practices his peoples' traditions and culture and to him, this is what it means to be Cheyenne. Philbert's definition of a productive member of society aligns with traditional Cheyenne teachings: being spiritual, helping others and respecting nature. Redbow defines wealth as ownership of things: in the electronics store, he proves his wealth by buying the most expensive sound system. Philbert believes that as long as it gets the job done, the simpliest stereo is sufficient. His definition of wealth is like that of traditional American Indian teaching: wealth is measured by how well you can take care of others in the community. Philbert embraces the way of life of indigenous people. He has learned the language of his ancestors, possesses a special connection to nature and practices traditional ceremonies and tells and learns from ancient stories. To him, this is what it means to by Cheyenne, to live as his ancestors, in a more diplomatic fashion. Redbow disconnects himself from the traditional way of life. He refuses to look for a deeper meaning in Philbert's story, he is upset about having to go to the powwow and does not accept the traditional practices of the Cheyenne people. To him, being Cheyenne is fighting for the civil rights of his people using the white man's methods. He is militant like the colonizer, he has assimilated to his way of life.


Identity politics is obvious through-out the movies. The most important, and reason for the road trip, happens in the beginning of the movie when Bonnie is set-up and put in jail by raciest cops because she is a Native. The cops are identitfied and the law, but also construed as the "bad guys" in this movie. The Natives have to fight the law and are labeled as law breakers and "weed" grower's and smokers, trying to fight for freedom of their land.

We are Cheyenne

In the film Powwow Highway, the characters of Philbert and Redbow have very opposite values and beliefs when it comes to identifying with their culture and their heritage. Philbert identifies with being Cheyenne in terms of his culture and the historical background of his tribe. Philbert takes his values and moral systems from the culture and heritage of the Cheyenne and relies heavily on his culture for support and guidance in life. This more spiritual side is one aspect that Redbow has difficulty understanding and coming to terms with. In the film, we really only hear Philbert stating, "We are Cheyenne". Philbert constantly expresses pride for his culture. However, it seems as if Redbow is lost and has really lost sight of what it means to be Cheyenne - he has lost his connections with the culture. For Redbow, he definitely identifies with being Cheyenne but seemingly only on the surface where he is fighting politically for his people but does not really understand what he is fighting for. Redbow is always so eager to pick fights and has the shortest temper when it comes to being Cheyenne. He explodes when the slightest insult is given. While Redbow certainly has pride and defends his identity with being Cheyenne it is only when he goes on the road trip with Philbert that he begins to remember why he gets so angry about and what he is fighting for. While he resists Philbert at first thinking rather that Philbert doesn't understand what being Cheyenne means in the world today (discrimination, marginalization) he slowly opens up to what his culture truly is - he dances in the powwow and he joins Philbert singing in the river. By the end of the film, Redbow has a new conscious and definition of what it means to be Cheyenne.

Powwow Highway/Identity Politics

Powwow Highway was a movie in which identity politics was very prevalent. Both of the main characters Philbert and Redbow, were dealing with this struggle in their own ways. Though they were both from the Cheyenne tribe, it meant different things to each of them. They both had to deal with problems and issues because of their identity, and they chose different ways to go about handling it. Philbert was much kinder and sentimental, handling things with patience and care. Redbow was much more aggressive and hands on, choosing to go about life in a rough and abrupt manner. Though dealing with a lot of the same problems, they just chose different ways to handle them. In the end, they both learned things from eachother, and grew from the experiences they shared together.

They are Cheyenne

Buddy and Philbert have two different views of what Cheyenne is. Their views could also be seen as coming from different sources, one from the outside world looking at the Cheyenne and one from the Cheyenne looking at themselves and their past. Buddy seems to look at the Cheyenne as "outsiders" do. He knows that people see them as poor and stupid and tries to change that but at the same time he seems to view their traditions as holding them back and keeping them stupid in a way. He want Philbert to make his car look nicer and gets angry at the salesman because he knows that people look at them as stupid just because they are Native Americans. Philbert on the other hand views Cheyenne as descendants of their ancestors and people who should be keeping their traditions alive. He replies to Buddy's request for a ride that "we are Cheyenne" as if there is no question of whether or not he will help because they are Cheyenne so he must. It seems that he has asked his aunt about Cheyenne tradition many times because she seems to angry and tired of his questions when he asks her about gathering medicine. And his whole journey is based on gathering medicine to become a warrior and based off signs and visions. Their two views of the Cheyenne seem to get reconciled a bit throughout the movie as Buddy accepts Philbert's view of the Cheyenne and seems to worry less about how others see him as well as the fact that Philbert seems to have gained a bit more understanding of how others see the Cheyenne by the end of the film.

Identity Politics in Powwow Highway

In the film Powwow HIghway, identity politics concerning Native Americans are played out in different ways through each of the characters. This is an important aspect of the film because in popular Western (white) representation, Native Americans often are not portrayed as complex individuals with conflicting views of their heritage within their own communities. Identity politics are meant to shed light on the experiences of an oppressed group of people and in the characters of Redbow and Philbert, the viewer can see two different mentalities about Cheyenne culture in terms of how it is thought about today.
Philbert is the older character of the two men and embodies a desire to live the way his ancestors did, he ahs a connection with his Cheyenne identity that Redbow doesn't necessarily understand until later in the film. Philbert continually acts in ways to bring himself closer to his roots. He names his car Protector and treats it as he would a pony. His calm demeanor seems unshakeable while Redbow is the more uptight, angry character. Redbow is an activist who has a more dismal view of Native American life as it is today. He speaks about all of the injustices placed upon his people and in this provides a view of Native American life not often heard about. Both characters come to a sort of understanding of one another at the end of the film that helps to create a more intricate way of looking at and understanding Cheyenne identity for the viewer. In this sense identity politics and how they play out are an essential aspect of Powwow Highway.

We are Cheyenne

The phrase "We are Cheyenne" to Philbert means a connection spiritually, and with tradition. RedBoe, however, relates the phrase with politics and preserving the Cheyenne community. During the roadtrip, Philbert learns from Redboe the importance of not letting the government take what is yours. Redboe learns from Philbert the importance of being connected with your history and traditions. Although the two characters seem so different with identity politics, the are connected through Cheyenne.

"We are Cheyenne."

Giving one’s identity the power of open mobility often means exposing it to situations where it must be confronted and reconsidered. In Jonathan Wacks’ 1989 film Powwow Highway, the “identity politics? of two longtime friends are taken from an American Indian reservation and onto the winding road; thus, what it means for each to be a Cheyenne tribal member is given central focus. As Professor Zita explained in lecture, “identity politics? are founded on the shared experiences of injustice within certain social groups and aim to re-secure political and/or spiritual freedoms within a larger context: by asserting ways of understanding, challenging dominant oppressive characterizations, and, especially, shaping a goal of greater self-determination. Both Buddy Red Bow and Philbert Bono are physically en route in Philbert’s “war pony? (a junky old car he names “Protector?), but on two very different road trips. Red Bow, a hot-tempered activist, is on a journey of political identity: in trying to get his framed sister out of jail as soon as possible, he hopes to return to the reservation so he can protest a looming “white man? corporation’s on-site uranium mining. His narrower notion of what it means to be Cheyenne involves something similar to the struggle of those at the early-70s Wounded Knee resistance, and his own pain has overshadowed the beauty of a now-dying culture. Opposing Red Bow's path of personal destruction is the much more peaceful Philbert, on a spiritual identity quest to become intrinsically bound to what it means to be Cheyenne (before outside influence encouraged his people to turn away from the past, that is). Both men voluntarily and involuntarily feel they must be representatives for their heritage, although it means different things to each; and, thanks to their Sante Fe-or-bust road trip, both end up seriously contemplating their constructed Cheyenne identities whether they mean to or not.

Identity as Cheyenne

Throughout the film, the characters must deal with their Native American heritage. The main characters Buddy and Philbert are an interesting pair because although they both identify strongly as Cheyenne, Philbert dreams of becoming a warrior while Buddy worries about life on the Rez. One main encounter the two had was with the clerk at the stereo store. The man working was blatantly racist and assumed that Buddy and Philbert didn't have enough money to buy a nice stereo and offered them the cheapest one available because of their features as Native American. Buddy was instantly insulted and when he insisted on buying the most expensive equipement for sale, the clerk said, "no get 'um special deal on this one chief." Speaking so slowly and as if Buddy didn't know english, Buddy was enraged by the clerk, and rightly so. Even though Philbert reacted differently to the clerk's racist remark than Buddy, their identity as Native American was put in the forefront as negative and neither of them backed down, standing tall and proving that they had enough money to buy the stereo in spite of the fact of their heritage.
Another instance of identity was when Bonnie's children had to make a phone call to find Rabbit. Although it seemed that the children didn't have much knowledge about their heritage, it was interesting that they singled out a Native woman to ask for change to make a phone call. Asking if she was 'indian' and then saying that they were 'indian' too signifies that they identified with being Native themselves. It was also evident that Bonnie's son Sky was interested in his heritage because although he didn't know what tribe he was when the old woman asked, he immediately asked Rabbit. Sky also was greatly interested in the stories Philbert told about the Cheyenne and it was clear that Sky was happy to know he was Cheyenne and eager to learn more about his heritage, but most of all, he was proud. That was one the one constant throughout that made the film positive: pride in identity as Cheyenne.

Identity Politics

In the film Powwow Highway, Redbow and Philbert show how identity politics have shaped the way they think of their tribe Cheyenne. Redbow is a very much a historical activist and was a veteran of Wounded Knee in 1973. He is conservative in his views of Cheyenne and is reluctant to let others from outside of the tribe influence what is happening. He becomes angry with his friends that decided to live in a suburban tribe. He believes that the traditional house setting is a defining part of being an Indian American. Redbow is also involved with the American Indian Movement. Because of his struggles at Wounded Knee and being very involved witht he movement, Redbow is very in tune to the realities of oppression within Cheyenne and other Indian tribes. The other main character, Philbert, is connected to his tribe Cheyenne in a different way. He is a spiritual seeker. He is constantly looking for 'signs' allow their journey and very in touch with nature. He day dreams about what Cheyenne was in the 1800s and is fixated on living that way. He is somewhat of a comdian and is very pround of being Cheyenne. In fact he even has a war pony. However, it really happens to be a beat down car that barely works. Both characters are proud of being Cheyenne, but in different ways:politically and spiritually.

"We Are Cheyenne"

There are many identity issues that were placed in this film both on purpose and for comedic reasons. Philbert is seeking his calling from the Cheyenne people throughout this movie. Through his unconventional means to find himself, he makes people around him uncomfortable and upset, especially Buddy. In the movie the boys are treated differently because they are Native American. They come from extreme lower class and live by the simplest means possible. This shows identity politics because it shows what most people think of Cheyenne people: poor, pot smoking, drinkers with little will to help themselves or the community. This is done not only through the film making but through the corporate people that judge their livestyles. Sandy Youngblood shows that he is too corporate or an elitist in the group of Cheyennes. He tries to authoritate the community because he believes he is superior and knows more than the others. Philbert also tells many stories of the Cheyenne. He shows that he is proud of his background and just wants to do more, be more, and act more like his ancestors from his tribe. Buddy is a pessimist. He has much hatred for many people throughout the film, including Sandy, and feels that there is no way out of this financial burden. Philbert uses old stories of Mateo and the four tokens to try to find the right thing to do. He believes in spirituality. This shows that he lives the life of a Cheyenne and chooses to not be anything but a Cheyenne. Buddy, although very famous throughout the community, doesn't believe the core beliefs of a Cheyenne. He often criticizes Philbert's actions. It isn't until the end where we see these two come together as one. They save Buddy's sister from jail and escape the police of New Mexico. They work together to show how strong Cheyenne can be. It isn't until the Powwow in South Dakota that Buddy starts to show his Cheyenne roots. By the end of the movie, one can see that this film is about the Cheyenne coming together as one, in a journey. They find an answer to their community's problems and join forces as the Cheyenne, their identity.

April 20, 2008

Powwow Highway

In Powwow Highway, identity politics are shown in different ways through the two characters of Philbert and Redbow. Philbert, on one hand, is a very proud Cheyenne, constantly looking to expand his knowledge of the Cheyenne culture and to experience as much of the culture as he can. On the other hand is Redbow, who is also a proud Cheyenne, but instead of working to expand his knowledge and experiences, Redbow is busy working to preserve the Cheyenne heritage that he fought for at wounded knee and continues to fight for throughout the film.
On the road, these two men are given a chance to experience each others view on identity politics. Despite his protests, Redbow is forced to go to places and events that he would never have attended without Philbert and is shown more of the spiritual side of the Cheyenne culture. On this journey, Philbert is also given a chance to experience a different view of the Cheyenne as he experiences Redbow's fight to preserve their culture and to stand up to the prejudice of the men imprisoning his sister. Because of their time on the road, both of these men are able to expand their knowledge and experience of the various aspects of the cheyenne culture.

Identity politics and the Cheyenne people

In the film Powwow Highway characters Philbert & Red Bow do a wonderful job in expressing how completely different they are when others (namely white Amercia) views them in only one group and that is Indians. Although the two friends are very close and share the same gender and ethnicity identity Philbert is far more spiritual and calm whereas Red bow is violent and angry with the way people treat him based on the fact that he is Native American and Cheyenne. Clearly Red Bow has every right to be angry about they way his people are treated but sadly it seems as though his pain is also harmful to him and his self identity.
The road is not only a physical journey but a spiritual and emotional journey for the two men. Along the road they play the ‘other’ not only because of their ethnicity but because they are travelers and unfamiliar to others and there is some type of suspicion that comes along with the traveler. Bonnie, Red Bows sister is also struggling with identity politics because she is being treated unjustly in jail based on the fact that she is not white and also because she is a woman. Also, these reasons are what put her in jail which shows how corruption is a big part of identity politics as well as who holds the power.

Identity Politics Hits the Road

In the film Pow Wow Highway, there are two main scenes in which we see Identity Politics in the film. The first is when Philbert detours to the Black Hills of South Dakota which he considers to be a very sacred place. Here, we see him making a deeper connection with his culture and the group in which he identifies with. He is able to see White Cloud; he climbs to the top of the mountain and then does a glorious roll down back toward Red Bow. In this scene, we see Philbert creating a more spiritual connection. To do so, he has to take to the road; however, it is the road that allows him to make this connection. Secondly, we see Red Bow making a stronger connection with his group when Philbert takes Red Bow to the Pow Wow. Although he doesn't want to go, he does. He gets into a confrontation with a group of Native American men and they start to fight physical. A man from the bleachers throws something at them breaking up the situation. Red Bow goes and talks to the man and makes a comment about how he thinks pow wows are stupid. Later, he makes another comment about how having a beat and special beads does not constitute a culture. However, the man who has difficulty talking allows Red Bow to create a stronger connection to his people. We then see him participating in the Pow Wow and even get the feeling that he is proud to be connected to this group of people. Overall these two scenes reveal an Identity Politics where the characters are strengthening their bonds to a specific group of people through experiences they have on the road.

Powwow Highway

In the film Powwow Highway, Philbert and Redbow are identified as Cheyenne, but both of them express it differently. Philbert was more of a quiet man who just loved to be happy and helpful. Redbow was a man who liked to get involved in sticky situations. Examples of how the two react to different situations was portrayed very clearly when the two set out on the road. Being that Philbert is more of a spiritual guy and doesn’t like arguments, he does everything he can to represent the Cheyenne in a positive way. He thinks very highly of himself for being a part of the Cheyenne tribe. Redbow sees being Cheyenne as one big stereotype. He doesn’t like that people make fun of the tribe and judge others just because they are Cheyenne. He gets into multiple confrontations with people while on the road, and struggles with memories of when he was involved in the Wounded Knee Massacre.

Identity Politics on the Road

Identity politics is by no means a subtle theme in Powwow Highway. The Native American road film displays the tensions that exist between the marginalized First Nation peoples and dominant society (namely white conservative America). Philbert, the spiritual protagonist of the film, reclaims his native identity as he proudly reiterates "We are Cheyenne." Identity politics in this film are based on modern day societal problems, such as poverty, reservation politics, racism, which is empowering for Native people as they are usually portrayed as stoic figures in cinema. On the road Philbert and Redbow, both violently and peacefully, assert their different understandings of who they are. Redbow is aggressive and a realist while Philbert is a spiritualist. Although the two characters have different beliefs and mentalities they both in some ways hold strong to their Native identity. Redbow achieves this through litigating for his community when white corporate America attempts to move in to their reservation. Philbert asserts his identity while he actively and enthusiastically participates in Native rituals. On the road identity politics are revealed by constant battles, both physical and moral, with Natives and non-Natives. For example, Redbow's sister is unjustly incarcerated. This film reveals that identity, a socially constructed word and idea, can have major effects on people's lives, especially for people who live on the margins of society.

Powwow Highway

It is very easy to see the difference in identity politics when comparing the two main characters of Powwow Highway. Throughout the movie, Philbert constantly expresses his positive attitude toward his background even when the people around him don’t appreciate it. He isn’t afraid to let other people know that he is Cheyenne while other characters in the movie are. Red Bow, on the other hand, is one of those people. He can’t seem to find a way to identify as a Cheyenne. His negative attitude throughout the movie does a great job in demonstrating this. While Philbert searches for the five tokens Red Bow becomes fed up and doesn’t want to have anything to do with it. Red Bow and Philbert have different approaches when it comes to their identity, but this is why they work so well together. They balance each other out to make a great friendship between the two. In the beginning of the film it doesn’t seem like Red Bow cares about Philbert all that much. It seems as if he might only be using Philbert as a means to help his sister, but as the movie progresses it becomes clear that Red Bow in fact does care for Philbert. The scene in the movie that makes this the most apparent is when Red Bow is devastated when he thinks that Philbert died in the car crash, but is very relieved when he realizes that Philbert survived. Their hug in the end of the movie shows just how much they care about each other. Although their approaches to identity are extremely different, their care for each other makes them alike.

Powwow Highway

Identity politics are a preeminent part of the film Powwow Highway. The characters in the film are continuously dealing with a shared oppression stemming from their race and culture, and this drives their actions and feelings in every scene. Their identity is such a part of their lives that they are willing to do anything to protect it and each other. It both defines them and divides them, as shown by the tribe's arguments over the possible future development on their reservation. This development would bring the tribe economic stability, but at the same time would break down their culture- their identity- and everything the tribe stands for.
While on the road, the characters learn how to identify themselves, though that takes longer for some than it does for others. They learn just how far they will go to protect their heritage and their future as a culture. The characters begin to become more unified through their culture and find out that it may be more important to them than they previously thought. The politics of money has torn through their nation to such an extreme that they had lost their love for their culture and for each other, and by going out on the road, they begin to re-identify with the nation and their past.

Dualism in Cheyenne Identity

Identity politics that are taken on the road result in the shift or deepening of meaning of what it means to be "Cheyenne" for the two travelers in Powwow Highway. While on the road, the duo feel they must be representatives for their heritage, although this means different things for each man. Both men outwardly posit their constructed "Cheyenne" identity, whether it is intentional or not.

For Red Bow, this means assembling an entire tribe's collection of hurts and memories to weave an identity formulated on pain, anger, and resentment. Red Bow actively seeks to externally exhibit the havoc wreaked upon a people, both in the past (Wounded Knee, etc.) and the present (Government’s desire to mine uranium on reservations), by constantly displaying a fiercely angry persona. Philbert however, does not focus on the outward influences upon the reservation, but rather on the identity of the Cheyenne prior to outside influence. Philbert’s identity politics operate independently of the negative interactions with government/white man/off-reservation life.

Being on the road together forces the two men to deal with the reaction of both the “other? and those who share a similar identity. This mobilization of the identity places it in situations where it must be questioned/confronted. One such situation occurs at the Powwow in Pine City. This gathering illustrates a convergence with the identity that Red Bow has come to embrace, and the one Philbert embodies. Attending the Powwow are Native Americans donning traditional powwow attire, listening to tribal music, and celebrating the culture which Philbert has embraced wholeheartedly. Also in attendance are several embodiments of the transgressions against Native peoples. The severely disabled Vietnam Vet and tribal members turned against one another represent the negative side of Native existence that Red Bow includes in his formulation of native identity.

While at the Powwow, Red Bow has a brief conversation with the Vietnam Veteran. In this exchange, Red Bow posits an attitude toward Native identity that alludes to the pointlessness of celebrating a savagely destroyed culture. The Veteran however, points out (using very few words) that Red Bow has allowed the hurts to overshadow the beauty of his culture, creating an identity focused so much on destructive anger that it has stunted future growth and ceased honoring the past.

Without going on the road, Red Bow would not have been forced to confront the identity that Philbert wholly embraces. On the reservation, Red Bow found Philbert’s identity politics childish and silly. However, upon seeing them withstand the confrontations on the road, Red Bow was forced to admit that he must find a balance between love of native culture and acknowledging the transgressions toward Native communities while working to save and repair what remains.

Powwow Highway

Within Powwow highway, the two main characters are living their life, according to how they believe it means to be a Cheyenne, the Native American tribe they both belong two. Although they both are striving to be a true Cheyenne in their own portrayal belief, they both differ on many levels of what it means to be a Cheyenne. For Red bow, being a Cheyenne means defending their land and ownership against those who wish to harm it, and defending against the government, and others, who also wish to harm their tribe. Red bow believes defending his heritage is what it means to be a Cheyenne. On the other hand, Philbert believes in embracing, and embodying the wisdom of his ancestors and the spiritual side of being a Cheyenne. For Philbert, embracing the spiritual side of becoming a warrior of Cheyenne is what it means to be a true Cheyenne.
When the two men embark on their journey, within Philbert’s car, who he deems ‘the protector,’ a transformation of the men occurs within Protector, the more they are on the road. At the beginning of the trip, Red bow only decides to use Philbert for his car, to get to his sister, however, the longer Red bow spends time with Philbert, particularly on the road, the two distinct characters begin to become closer as members of the same tribe, and become closer as friends. On the road, the who are forced to talk and interact with each other on their own level; Red bow wanting to facilitate chance and protection for their tribe, and Philbert wanting to embrace the spiritual side, causes both to embrace each other for who they are on their own terms, and in regards to who they are as Cheyenne’s, and the road facilitates that.
At the end of the film, I believe the emotion Red bow shows when he believe the friend he just became so close to died, and Philbert embracing his new found identity of being a Cheyenne warrior, cause the two to really ‘fuse’ together. With the ‘death’ of the protector, in my opinion, it symbolizes the need for the two men to not have to be dependent on it anymore, and have each other to protect and defend each other, as ‘the protector’ was doing, and the two can begin another journey back home as newly defined people.

Identity Politics on the Road

Powwow Highway illustrates identity politics with the government’s role in the imprisonment of Buddy’s sister, Bonnie. It signifies a wide range of political activity and theorizing in the injustice experience of members of certain social groups. The government attempts to marginalize the Native American people by attempting to get Buddy off the reservation for the vote on the land mine on their reservation. They do so by blatantly imprisoning an innocent woman and her children. It is their attempt to further marginalize and control the Native Americans in the U.S. “Yeah, well it's just too bad those stories don't tell us how to keep our reservations from turning into sewers? (IMDB). The dual contrasting roles of Buddy and Philbert allows the viewer to see the influence of a corrupt government on two extremely individuals; yet, in the end they turn out victorious. They were both born into a role in which holds them back from what they can become and only allows for opportunities that are socially acceptable with their Native American role. The road is altered by identity politics since their marginal identity is ultimately positioned by the law. One scene where they stop to get speakers for their pony, the “protector,? illustrates the salesperson’s demeanor in which Native American people are continuously marginalized. He talks down to them stating, “This much money, understand chief?? They are looked down upon on the road as many individuals believe them to be less intelligent or unable to understand. They cannot even survive outside their reservation land as they are chased and end in an explosion crash of the pony which they survive. They is no place for them outside their reservation land as they are continuously criticized and marginalized by the government restricting them to lands throughout the country, limiting their opportunities and place in society. At the end of the film, the only place where they are able to find safety is in their reservation; outside they are open for manipulation and unfair treatment from other social groups. It speaks volumes of society in which a social group cannot even interact with the outside world as they are taken advantage of and have no rights. Ultimately, it is back to their reservation after their journey on the road symbolizing identity politics.

Identity Politics in Pow Wow Highway

In comparison to other movies, where the giver of mobility is flashy and phallic, or just plain impractical-Pow Wow Highway has a car that is a clunker. Bad gas mileage, no radio- until Red Bow comes along, it’s just a car to get Philbert out of town, and wherever his spirit takes him.
He sees the car as much more than it is, which is part of his personality. He sees it as a protector of his being, and as “a pony?. Philbert’s interest in the metaphysical takes him to culturally important spiritual places. These places are not what Redbow was hoping for, and rightly so because Redbow is not the driver.
Redbow gets frustrated with Philbert many times but he sticks with him. This is probably part of being Cheyenne. The two both have very different interpretations of the phrase “ we are Cheyenne?. Other students have touched upon this enough.
I found it interesting that only their culture, as it is in the 1990’s, is shown to the viewer. Even though it is constructed with the camera having power over what we see-it seems fairly accurate. I took a trip out to Wyoming a few years back, to paint their tiny houses, and talk with the children. We were told, many of them were safer with us;strangers, than with their family. The Natives as a whole are an oppressed people. As an employee of Loring Park, I see how a lot of Native folk deal with their day-to-day lives. Homeless, drunk, unhappy, but those are the ones who have ended up in my view. They escape their life just like Philbert does. Anglo-Americans have created an oppressed group of people who need escapes. Philbert chose the road, and others choose the bottle. Some still, don’t fall into either category. In general, Pow Wow Highway constructed a sense of Native culture and what it would be like to travel as a Native American.

Identity Politics, Powwow Highway

"Powwow Highway" uses identity politics in two separate ways. There are two Cheyenne characters who view their identity differently. Philbert is optimistic and proud to be Cheyenne. He views happenings in his life as "signs" and is a quite spiritual man. Buddy Redbow is more of a fighter to protect his Cheyenne heritage. He is involved more politically than Philbert in relations regarding his reservation. He tends to be more aggressive for protecting his identity and values his identity quite opposite his friend Philbert.
The road trip that Philbert and Buddy go on bonds them in both being proud to fight for their people and proud to seek out their roots as Cheyenne. The journey these men partake in begins from their rural reservation to the rural past lands of their ancestors. A really cool view of what it means to be proud of their tribe is when Buddy's nephew asks Philbert, which tribe he is. I find this interesting that Buddy's sister had not been specific about the tribe her children were from, yet Philbert knew it was important to relay this information to future generations within their people. Traditions, history, and the people's future are very important to both Buddy and Philbert: the Cheyenne.

Identity Politics in Powwow Highway

In the film Powwow Highway our main characters Philbert and Redbow each use different methods of political activity to try and secure their (“Cheyenne?) political freedom. Philbert believes in a spiritual method of activism and spends his time searching for items to put together to form a special medicine. When he thinks Cheyenne he sees the tribe back in the 1800’s. Redbow on the other hand is an activist and is not afraid of confrontation. When he thinks Cheyenne he probably pictures the group of activists involved in the 1973 Wounded Knee and what the tribe is today.

The road that the characters travel reveals identity politics in many ways. First, Philbert and Redbow stop to purchase a radio and we watch as Redbow gets violent with the sales person because he feels he has been cheated. Later we watch as Philbert wanders out into a river chanting. He appears to be trying to communicate with the sky which may symbolize the Cheyenne who have left this earth and traveled to a better place. At the end of the film Redbow tries to break Bonnie out of jail but is stopped by the officers and dragged out. In the midst of the action Philbert is able to sneak into the vault and steal money. Later while Redbow is out drinking with Rabbit, Philbert sneaks back to the jail with the two kids and breaks Bonnie out. I found this rather interesting because it seems to symbolize that the best way to get a result (i.e. your political freedom) is not through confrontation but rather to formulate a plan and then put that plan into action. However, it also demonstrates that confrontation and planning taking place at the same time can help lead to change.

"We are Cheyenne"

There is a definite difference between Philbert and Redbow when it comes to identifying with the Cheyenne. Redbow is more worried about staying on the reservation and fighting against the oppression for their rights. Philbert, on the other hand, is worrying about the spiritual part of their tribe and becoming an important person in the culture, peace is his guide. As told in the lecture, these two men were on different road trips, Redbow was on a "political identity" road trip, to get his sister out of jail, and Philbert was on a "spiritual identity" road trip, to go to spiritual sites and get his four tokens. The road trip is focused on "identity politics," in a sense that Native Americans, in specific the Cheyenne for this movie, are a group of people that have shared experiences of injustice and they want to declare political freedom for themselves. One experience that happened in the movie was when the police framed Redbow's sister so that Redbow would leave the reservation before they voted on construction. The experience of Redbow's included both Redbow and Philbert since she was Redbow's sister and she was a friend of Philbert when they were younger. Redbow wanted to stop the injustices from happening to his people and that began with getting his sister out of jail and then to stop construction from trying to tear down the last acres of land that they own. The "white people" in the movie besides Redbow's sister's friend were seen as the oppressive characters who only wanted to reach further and take the only land that Native Americans own. Some people don't know when to stop until they are absolutely on top and in charge. I believe that is an idea that runs right along with the idea of identity politics. Redbow just wants his people to be left alone and the other people don't want to leave them alone so he has to stay and fight to get his way instead of conforming to the mainstream society, that was built off his own ancestors land.

Being Cheyenne

In the film, "Pow Wow Highway," identity politics concerning what it means to be Cheyenne are at play throughout the film. Our two lead characters, Philbert and Buddy, view what it means to be Cheyenne in different ways. Philbert ascribes to the spirituality and cultural wonders of what it means to be Cheyenne. Throughout the film he is on a sort of vision quest to become "whirlwind dreamer." After talking to a trucker on a radio, he makes the decision to veer off their course to Santa Fe in order to visit "the most sacred place in America." His preconcern with connecting with his spiritual culture is prominent in the film as he tells stories of their culture, refers to things with Cheyenne titles (ie calling his car his war pony), and continuously says "we are Cheyenne" to remind Buddy of where they're coming from. Because of his intense spiritual connection to being Cheyenne, Philbert overlooks the racial stereotypes his people face. In the very beginning, a car salesman dresses up as a Native American and says things like "heap big savings" and "pick out your pony," all of which are lost on Philbert as insults. They are not, however, lost on Buddy.
Buddy's view of being Cheyenne differs from Philbert's in that he focuses defending Native Americans against attack and stereotype, and does not ascribe to it's spiritual values. He tends to fly off the handle at any tiny slight to his people. An obvious example is in the radio store when the salesman is showing them the cheapest radios, and Buddy insists on buying a more expensive one. When he can't get the radio to work, he goes nuts on the clerks and violently insists that he's been cheated. Because of his intense defense of his culture, he overlooks the spiritual benefits that Philbert sees. When Philbert tells an old story of their ancestors, all Buddy can say is "too bad those stories don't tell us how to keep our reservations from turning into sewers." His Cheyenne is keeping the world from harassing his culture, and not so much practicing its spirituality.
The end of this film is a bit ambiguous, but in general both characters finally see the benefits of the other character's viewpoints. Philbert shows this in the way in which he breaks Buddy's sister out of jail ("we'll tie up these bars and pull them off this fucking wall"). This is a demonstration of defending his people against unjustice. Buddy is shown in warrior garb while throwing the window at the police car. This signifies that he has finally ascribed somewhat to the cultural spirituality of the Cheyenne people. Overall, this film plays with identity politics on the road, fulfilling the spirits of both characters.

Identity Politics, Powwow Highway

Identity politics are made very apparent in the film Powwow Highway. The two main characters, Philbert and Red Bow, both identity as Cheyennes, yet their identity politics are very different. Philbert on the one hand is a very positive person. He looks at his roots and is proud. He doesn't really see the hardships his people have faced, rather he focuses on the positives. He looks for signs and tokens everywhere he goes, and usually he is able to find them. Red Bow on the otherhand, has a very different approach to his roots. He is bitter. Perhaps the different attitudes of the two characters stems from the fact that Red Bow was involved in the Wounded Knee Massacre, and Philbert was not. Red Bow has seen first hand the injustices done to his people. So he lives his life trying to correct those. He is a proud member of AIM, he even wears an AIM shirt at times in the movie. He has allowed his experience with politics to shape him. Philbert has too, but his experience has not been as bad as Red Bow's, so his outlooks tend to be more positive.

April 19, 2008

Identity Politics on the Road

(**I didn't write down exactly what the question was on the PowerPoint in class, but I think it had something to do with defining the difference between Redbow's and Filbert's interpretation of the phrase "We Are Cheyenne"**)

Filbert's declaration of "We Are Cheyenne" is proud everytime he repeats it. He is always smiling, because he views being Cheyenne a blessing. He is continually searching for the history, the signs and tokens, and is fighting to pass on the stories of their people. All of this he does with his whole heart, and it is evident when he begins crying at the end of his story that to him, being Cheyenne defines his existence positively. He is connected to his land, his people, his family and himself.

Buddy Redbow's identification with "We Are Cheyenne" is more cynical and negative. He views it as an outsider would view it, or rather he feels the way he does because he has fought for the white man and yet feels trampled on and taken advantage of. In a way, he too is proud to be Cheyenne, but a stubborn, hard-headed pride that creates a tough outward appearance, angry and resentful of those around him.

On the road, these individual identifications come to fruition differently. Buddy's pride is more apparent in the presence of whites, as in the radio salesman, the white policemen in the jail, and the man Sandy Youngblood. Filbert's identity as Cheyenne is most apparent when he is with other Cheyenne, as when with the young couple he tells a story of their people, when he passes the warrior stories on to Buddy's nephew, and when he insists on attending the PowWow even though it will take them far off their course. In these ways, their Cheyenne identity is shaped and defined by those around them and by their reactions to those around them.

April 15, 2008

Little Miss Sunshine

Upon watching this movie in regards to the blog question concerning this movie, my immediate response was to say that each member of the family took some sort of journey throughout the piece. Although I do not deny this now, I reread the question asking not "who went on a journey?" but "who was the journey for?" When implying causality, the question is obvious, Olive. I believe the question goes deeper then this though and although the journey did start as Olive's quest to Little Miss Sunshine, I believe that the viewer, through the character Richard, was truly the one to journey. He is the one who we, or at least I, find to be the prominent character who delivers the major themes in film as he is in need of change more then any of the others and on that subject the family seems to agree. They have no problem with their grandpa being a heroin addict, the fact that Dwayne hasn't spoken in 9 months makes little difference to them, the fact that Olive is obsessed with vanity is ignored and even the fact that Frank is a gay man that just attempted to kill himself after an obsession over a student subsequently getting him fired has little dialogue amongst the family after the original outbreak at the dinner table. Richard, on the other hand is constantly subjected to the family's irritation with him for speaking his mind on a road to self-help, the only real positive problem in the film. Upon examination, the only shots made in this film against any other character was initiated by Richard, including the dinner outbreak, and was quickly turned against him and his annoying 9 step gag. What did Richard need to learn so terribly then? I think he needed to, and succeeded in doing so, learn a quote he never heard. When Dwayne and Frank were on the dock, Dwayne proclaims, "Do what you love, fuck everything else." This statement reflects Richard's obvious new outlook on life. Though it is my belief that Dwayne truly had this mindset to some extent the entire film, Richard was obsessed with the difference between Losers and Winners and it took the failures of everyone on the trip, including himself, for him to realize this. Dwayne failed at getting into the Air Force Academy, Grandpa died due to a possible heroin overdose, Frank failed as a Proust scholar when his rival got a genius award in a subject Frank felt he knew better, Sheryl has failed at holding the family together (Something assigned to her as her main objective in the film) and it was finally revealed to the rest of the family that Olive would never be a beauty queen. FInally, Richard's self help book deal fell through bringing truly home for the first time that even if you do everything you possibly can, failure is still an option when associating winning with success. This is where doing what you love has to be done for some intrinsic value aside from winning. Although every character goes through a journey, at the end of the film, Richard finally understands this concept and makes the journey for him.

Little Miss Sunshine

The Hoover family in Little Miss Sunshine take a family road trip leading them finally to Olive's Little Miss Sunshine pageant. Although, the stroy may appear at first glance to be Olive's journey, it is in fact a journey for each character in the film. But above this, it is a journey for the FAMILY. In the beginning of the film, success and determination to excel are greatly encouraged. As, the story continues, each character begins to grow closer as a whole and form a support system in one another.
Each character is faced with challenges and opportunities along the way. Sheryl is faced with problems in the home, Dwayne is taking a vow of silence, Olive is trying to perfect her routine for the pageant, Richard is trying to sell his self-help for winners method, Frank is battling with his suicidal thoughts, gay identity, and loss of his boyfriend, and granpa is struggling with his drug addiction.
As the story goes on, each character focuses less and less on their personal problems and more on the other people in the family. The death of grandpa is a turning point in the movie. It brings everyone down, but eventually ties everyone even closer in a loving family bond. They decide to go forth and continue on the roadtrip to the pageant.
At the pageant when the entire family realizes that Olive is not like the other participants, the family still supports Olive and lets 'Olive be Olive.' The end of the film really shows how the roadtrip brought everyone close together when they all are in support of one another.

Super Freak

“Do what you love, fuck everything else.?
“Little Miss Sunshine,? the story of a family road trip determined to get to a beauty pageant, reveals the individual journey of Dwayne, the teenager who takes a vow of silence until he reaches his dream of being a pilot in flight school and “hates everyone.? Although each individual of the Hoover family transforms in some way through their cross-country road trip, it is Dwayne’s journey whose is the most evident. As he ventures outside his comfort zone into the close quarters of their VW bus he is lead to the discovery about himself which changes his dream forever. Dwayne takes a vow of silence until he reaches his dream of flight school; yet, his dream is threatened by the discovery of a self-test by his young and curious sister, Olive, that he is color-blind. He finds his voice in both a literal sense, but reveals his deep and insightful thoughts to his family and the audience. The family trip which he despises in every sense is the journey that brings him to his identity, learning to connect with his family members thus growing closer even through a great loss of their grandfather. Through the death of his grandfather, the family pulls together and Dwayne sees the strength of the family that he expressed great hatred for in the beginning of the film. Although each member is changed as a result of the “all-American? road trip, Dwayne finds a strength evident in his family and a vulnerability present especially within his father; the “winner? with the 9 steps, who ultimately faces his one fear of being a “loser.? His reality check ultimately allows his family to join together, having nothing to lose. Dwayne’s transformation is the most evident with his care and worry for Olive in the beauty pageant. Dwayne voices his strong opinion to his mother when he had previously loathed each member and never bothered to achieve a connection. He could never achieve his personal journey without the presence of his family members. His transformation is complete as he jumps on stage dancing to “Super Freak? to support his little sister with his entire family revealing that family members go the limit, even if it is pelvic thrusting to James Brown’s “Super freak.? When else could such an act of a teenager be considered devotion and togetherness of family?

April 14, 2008

Little Miss Sunshine

This film encompasses a family of people who are brought together to experience personal journeys through one collective traveling journey. As much as I'd like to dissect this film to the point that one more prominent journey-taker is noticeable, each family member is assigned their own kind of exploration in the film, giving them all equal importance. The most obvious is that of Olive, whose more physically journey consists of her getting to the competition on time and succeeding. At the same time, she perseveres through the more internal, emotional task of following her heart and aspirations, despite the opinions of others that she is unfit. Her father is clearly a man who cares deeply about how others perceive him and his family [i.e. his attempt to teach Olive about winners and losers via her wish for ice cream], and we see him overcome this through standing up for his daughter and displaying his pride in a most public and proud [of their strangeness] way. One more significant journey we are exposed to is that of Frank, who begins as a sort of odd man out. Uncomfortable in the presence of the family, his journey is much more forced [as he is dealing with a personal tragedy] which ultimately leads to some of the most notable strides in the film. When the family arrives late to the competition, we see Frank race ahead of the rest of the family to make it to the sign-up table in time, showing compassion, motivation, and mostly love.

The family grows and bonds through disaster, bizarre circumstance, devastation, and adventure leading to their acceptance of what is, understanding of what isn't, and appreciation for one another.

Little Miss Sunshine

There are examples in Little Miss Sunshine on how it is everyone in the family's journey, but I don't think the film was about each individuals mental/physical changes, but rather the family as a whole unit. The film depicts the family in relation to others constantly. In the beginning each member is introduced to us separately, Sheryl driving and lying about smoking, Richard giving a presentation, grandpa (favorite) doing drugs, Dwayne alone, Frank (last name Ginsberg, reference to another gay genius?) in the hospital and Olive watching Miss America. These initial introductions are the main representations you see of each character in the film. The things that change about them are what brings each of them into the fold of the family. Throughout the film you see changes that each individual goes through leading them to become a unit. Examples: Dwayne denying the family after the colorblind test, then returning with Olive. Grandpa talking to Richard telling him he's proud even though he "failed" because at least he tried. Everyone eating the ice cream, a point where everyone is part of the whole except the father. And finally when they are all dancing together (grandpa included because he choreographed it). Since each member's journey eventually leads them into a place in the group and ends with a us/them dance party at the beauty pageant you see the whole film as the journey of the family's against the "perfect" world.

A Journey for All

The road trip starts off as a journey for Olive, but ends up being a journey for everyone. Each person in the family evolves and changes throughout this trip. The road helps each character get over their current problems and in the end, they realize all the needed was each other.
The trip is an emotional roller coaster with the downs (Grandpa dying, the brother realizing he is color blind, and the dad not getting the business deal) and ups (the brother finally speaking again and the final dance they take as a family).
The final ride together after the dance you see the looks of completion on everyone’s faces. Together they push the van to it’s roll and hop into together, changed and reunited as a family. No physical distance was given to the members of that family, but all emotional distances have been depleted. The journey was for everyone and brought everyone closer in the end.

Little Miss Sunshine

To me, this movie was powered by Dwayne. He is the was who ultimately decides that they are going on the roadtrip, and his not talking gives us insight to what he is thinking through his actions. He relates to everyone in the film, and everyone likes to talk to him even though he doesn't talk back. When the other characters talk to him, we get to see them in a way that we previoulsy hadn't seen them. They reveal their true selves. When Dwayne starts talking again, he is the one who has the revelation about life and beauty pagents. Dwayne's experience during the road trip is one that changed the entire family, and their view on the world.

All things go.

Little Miss Sunshine makes it very clear throughout that this is an important physical AND psychic journey for multiple people. We are immediately introduced to a family with lots missing and little to lose: a once-renowned and now-suicidal professor who’s lost his student lover and his reputation; a would-be self-help guru who can’t manage his family, much less his career; a mute teenager whose rebellion sets him free (to a point); a little girl with big dreams and a wide-eyed view of the world she doesn’t yet know is cruel. Each of these characters needs this 800-mile road trip from Albuquerque to Redondo Beach, California, even if it ends somewhat anticlimactically (at least with pageant-conclusion/win-or-lose expectations in mind). It began as indulging the deserving Olive’s desperate need to be in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant, but slowly morphed with each passing mile into a quest to feel whole again—as a family, a business, and a person. Olive’s transformation, in the form of just barely making the pageant and finally getting to awkwardly dance her heart out the way her grandfather intended (which was totally awesome, by the way), was the most obvious, but the audience is left assured that the other characters have taken something from their trip as well. She is their unconventional teacher as much as the road is their encouraging vessel, and it is through her charming mixture of innocence and confidence that they learn the power of sticking together and standing up for what you believe in.

P.S. Is there a category for this week's entries?


The road trip from Albuquerque to Redondo Beach provided both a psychic and physical journey for each member of the family. For me, Frank made the most significant and captivating psychic transformation. When we first meet Frank he is in the hospital after attempting to commit suicide. His sister runs to hug him saying "I'm so happy you're still here" to which he replies, "Well, that makes one of us." Frank is extremely depressed. He speaks in a monotonous voice and is less than amused with the Hoover way of life which the audience can assume is quite different from the life of a top scholar. Frank seems repulsed by the meal that Cheryl serves which, other than the salad, is comprised of take-out and pre-packaged foods. The family sets out on their road trip and Frank begins to shed his troubled exterior. He lets loose a little and instead of acting abhorred by the van's [and his family's] disfunction he exclaims "No one gets left behind! Outstanding soldier! Outstanding!" He is elated and beaming. Furthur down the road, the family stops at a convenience store. Frank goes inside to purchase a blue raspberry slushie, sharply contrasting his order of chamomile tea with honey in the restaurant. Finally at the end of the film, he joins hands with his sister on stage. Frank has made a complete turn-around: from his stiff reception of her embrace at the beginning of the film to dancing with her hand in hand.

Little Miss Sunshine

The journey that the family took in Little Miss Sunshine was definitely a life changing experience for all of them. I think that it is a hard distinction to make, to label it as any certain person's journey. Throughout the journey, it seemed as if there were times when the journey seemed to be for a certain person. So, in keeping with the obvious choice, I would say that the journey was for Olive. Though everyone changed because of the road trip, it was because of Olive that they were taking it. She was the driving force behind it, and they were trying to fufill her dreams by going on this trip. Nothing got in the way of Olive competing in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty competition. The family put aside their individual motives, and worked together so that Olive could reach her dream. It wasn't easy and the focus was shared with other members of the family, but in the end it was Olive that was taking the journey.

Little Miss Sunshine

The journey that the family took in Little Miss Sunshine was definitely a life changing experience for all of them. I think that it is a hard distinction to make, to label it as any certain person's journey. Throughout the journey, it seemed as if there were times when the journey seemed to be for a certain person. So, in keeping with the obvious choice, I would say that the journey was for Olive. Though everyone changed because of the road trip, it was because of Olive that they were taking it. She was the driving force behind it, and they were trying to fufill her dreams by going on this trip. Nothing got in the way of Olive competing in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty competition. The family put aside their individual motives, and worked together so that Olive could reach her dream. It wasn't easy and the focus was shared with other members of the family, but in the end it was Olive that was taking the journey.

Little Miss Sunshine

The journey that the family took in Little Miss Sunshine was definitely a life changing experience for all of them. I think that it is a hard distinction to make, to label it as any certain person's journey. Throughout the journey, it seemed as if there were times when the journey seemed to be for a certain person. So, in keeping with the obvious choice, I would say that the journey was for Olive. Though everyone changed because of the road trip, it was because of Olive that they were taking it. She was the driving force behind it, and they were trying to fufill her dreams by going on this trip. Nothing got in the way of Olive competing in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty competition. The family put aside their individual motives, and worked together so that Olive could reach her dream. It wasn't easy and the focus was shared with other members of the family, but in the end it was Olive that was taking the journey.

The Journey of L.M.S.

Little Miss Sunshine is a movie that I always seem to enjoy. It takes me back to when I lived at home and shows me that ALL families truly are as aconventional as my own. When watching this movie, I tried to decipher whose journey this film was about. I have decided that the journey is the entire family as a whole. It seems to me that although the movie is about getting Olive to the pageant, the movie revolves around everyone's own little problems and how they solve these problems are grow as a family. As the film progresses and moves closer to the pageant, the characters in the film also grow. It's hard to pick one person because each person seems to change throughout the film. For example, the father is obsessed with winning, he tells Oliive that she will be fat if she eats ice cream at the diner, but eventually something changes. He doesn't get his big break through his nine steps to winning and eventually realizes how great his family is. At the pageant, he forgets about winning and cares about Olive and what is best for her and their family. Also, Dwayne goes from a silent, angry teenager in the beginning of the film to an analytical, talking boy. At the pageant, he discusses with Frank how messed up the world is and how he wants to change it. Frank also grows much in this film. He goes from being depressed and hating life to understanding and caring for his family. He goes from being an outsider, not having anyone, to an essential family member.
Through my findings this movie is not about one person's journey. It is about everyone's journey together, growing as a family. It's about going from completely disfunctional to understanding and caring about the family as a whole.

Little Miss Sunshine

I think this film really is the story of the entire Hoover family, and it is difficult to choose just one character who's journey represented the whole film. I think each member of the family was on a journey, each person came away dramatically changed from where they began. To see the family together all dancing celebrating at Olilve at the end of the film, really exemplified the growth they had made as a family and the bond that was created by spending so much time together on the road. In their daily lives each family member was able to go into his or her own world of work, school, or even depression, and remain isolated. The road really brought them together in a way that nothing else could.
I do think however that Dwayne's journey was significant throughout the film. When he finally broke his silence and realized he was colorblind and could not be a pilot, it was clear that his whole life was forever changed in that instant, everthing he thought he knew for sure was turned upside down, and through his sister Olive, and her perhaps naiive, but completely genuine authenticity and confidence, he is able to look beyond himself and see life in a bigger scope. Though Olive's dreams of being a pageant winner were not able to be fullfilled, her spirit and enthusiasm were unwavering. By being there for his family, he was able to open up, and grow, and I think truly change throughout the course of the film.

Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine was an adventurous trip for the entire Hoover family. However, I felt that Frank was the most affected by the trip out of anyone in the family. Frank came into the picture as a suicidal and depressed man. As the film goes on, Frank tends to open up more easily to the family and learns to live life as a happier person. I felt Frank and Dwayne had a very strong connection and understood each other. For example, when the family is at the beauty contest, Frank and Dwayne go for a walk together and have a good life talk. They laugh together and decide that life is more than what people see on the outside. Dwayne goes on to say, “ you do what you love and fuck the rest.? Frank agrees and even smiles a bit. I felt that since Frank had just got through a break up, tried to commit suicide and was just confused about a lot of things, that this trip really helped him figure out who he was as a person. It is obvious that Frank feels comfortable around the Hoover family and he really cares for them, especially Olive.

Richard Hoover

As many of us have noted, "Little Miss Sunshine" had many journeys within one story. I believe the road became a transforming place for the whole family. At the head the family, in a traditional sense, is the father Richard Hoover. He is the breadwinner, the voice for the family and the one who keeps people inline. The film was a journey for Richard. He starts out as this sad representation of a motivational speaker, speaking for only ten people in a medium size class room, but he believes he is a winner. After all, he is an expert at being a winner. He brings this motivational mentality back to the home, coaching and “inspiring? everyone in his family (most of the time with no luck). Even though he’s whole life is falling apart around him, he still tries to hide behind his “winning? facade. The road starts to tear down this wall to expose the truth—he is losing at most places in his life—job, marriage and family. At the same time he is learning about himself and growing. Many things happen on the road that represents Richard’s growing internal destruction. He first can’t get a hold of his potential publisher, who promised him a book; only to find out he is not getting the contract. Next the car keeps breaking down and there is scene after scene of him hitting the steering wheel in frustration. Then his father dies. I believe the death of his father signifies a “rebirth? for the whole family. All of this comes to a head at Abigail’s beauty pageant. In the midst of obvious failure Richard jumps up on stage and starts dancing with his daughter. In that moment he understands that it isn’t all about winning, he understands it is about family.

Dwayne's Journey

As I was watching Little Miss Sunshine I constantly found myself focusing on Dwayne and his contribution to the Hoover Family. I believe that the road trip that the Hoover family partakes in is a physical journey for the entire family, but I see Dwayne experiencing the strongest psychic journey out of all of the characters. In the beginning of the film it is easy to see that Dwayne sees himself as an outside, but as the film progresses he becomes familiar with the interactions of his family and he learns to find his place among them. Dwayne goes from being an individual to being part of a family. This behavior is present throughout Dwayne’s experience with anticipating getting into the Air Force Academy. He shows his ability to be an individual while he purposely doesn’t talk to his family, but when his dreams come crashing to the ground after finding out that he’s color blind and unable to fly planes, he slowly recognizes that his family loves him anyways. For me, Dwayne’s journey was the most interesting to watch because it showed the point of view of the outsider trying to find his place within his family, and when Dwayne finally found that place it felt like the film’s overall journey was successful.

April 13, 2008

Little Miss Sunshine

"Little Miss Sunshine" involves an entire family's journey, not just one person. Although, Olive tends to be the person who moves the road trip along, each family member must deal with issues of their own throughout the road trip. For example, when Dwayne finds out he can't join the air force because he's colorblind, he deals with this on the road. It's Olive that assists Dwayne and moves the road trip on its way.
This film begins with a picture of a disarrayed family. Everyone is kind of living in their own world, unaware of those within the family. As the journey progresses, the family begins to bond to each other and take on the roles specified to them within the family scenario. At the end of the film, when the entire family stands up for Olive, it is the first time we see true unity amongst the family. This is a great picture of an American family in the sense that there are many different characteristics amidst one entity (family).

A Communal Journey

Undoubtedly, this was a journey for Olive. In the begining of Little Miss Sunshine the audience sees the little girl's complete enthusiasm and excitement to have an opportunity to compete in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. Take for example, the scene where Olive first hears word of the good news from her aunt and she instantly begins screaming for joy and runs to her room to pack for her journey. The little protagonist is shown gazing admiringly at clips of a recent beauty pageant and even trying to reenact the pageant winner's mannerism when she is first crowned. I would also argue that it is Olive's journey because the rest of the family either doesn't want to partake in the road trip in the least bit (i.e. Frank and Dwayne's complete resistance to the trip at the dinner table) or they want to do the trip for Olive's sake (i.e. her mother goes through trials and tribulations to figure out how to travel to California). Although this trip is taken for Olive because of Olive's desires, which is not to say that by the end of the film it becomes the entire family’s journey. In the most morbid sense, it was the end of Grandpa's journey which we call life. On a more positive side Frank and Dwayne grew and developed into happier people as they dealt with their anger and disappointments on the road. Take for instance Frank's encounter with the young man he fell in love with. It pained him to have to see his ex-lover, especially in such an awkward way, but by the end of the film Frank is shown smiling and really seen as having life and livelihood back in his spirit. Essentially, the entire family grows closer and stronger as a result of Olive's journey. This is nicely depicted in the final scene where the family works together in sync to push the van going to get back home. They appear to be a unison family as they smile and shout while they break through a parking lot arm gate. The objective of the trip was to have Olive live out her dream, but in the end the whole family benefited from her quest.

The entire family's journey

The road trip movies “Little Miss Sunshine? takes the Hoover family for the journey of their lifetime. The reason for the trip is to have Olive compete in a beauty pageant in California. Before their journey each family members has their ticks and self-critiquing hang-ups that are holding them back from enjoying life. The main character Olive engulfs herself in self-discipline to become the best girl in the show. The longer she’s on the road the looser and less self-disciplined she becomes. Dwayne, Olive’s brother, is a typical teenager confident he knows his life plan. He writes Richard the message instead of telling him because of his vow of silence. Dwayne hopes he can escape his family and their stupidity through silence. One the road, however, he learns that he his color blind when Olive tests him with the cards she picked up from the hospital. Frank tells him he cannot fly jets if he’s colorblind. When his life plan is destroy, he finally lets his wall down and starts enjoying his family members. He and Frank have a chat about how horrible life is, but that you can do anything you set your mind to. Frank, the depressed homosexual, attempts to commit suicide after the loss of his lover. From the journey with the Hoovers he learns that the world doesn’t revolve around him and he can find happiness in other ways other than a significant other. Richard, the dad and bread winner of the family, works to get his “nine steps? program on the market while on the trip. He promotes winning and winning attitudes while on the road to Frank and other family members. He starts the movie by asking Olive if she thinks she will win the pageant because there is no reason to go unless she knows she will win. After his father dies and the “nine steps? program isn’t giving the financial support needed Richard begins to realize winning isn’t everything. True he wants to pull Olive from the pageant because he fears her beginning a looser, but he soon realizes, due to Sheryl, its okay to lose and enjoying one’s self is more important. Richard’s wife, Sheryl, struggles with her confidence and ability to keep everyone happy. Richard and Dwayne want to would rather not have Olive in the pageant when they finally arrive at their destination. Sheryl, however, tells them Olive will be participating in the pageant because its what Olvie wants to do. As a mother it is Sheryl’s responsibility to allow her children to participate in every opportunity that arises. Sheryl finally realizes she no longer has to keep everyone happy and that she has the confidence and ability to say things she would have not said in the past. Grandpa is also changed on the journey physically through death. When they first hit the road Granpa tells Dwyane to have sex with as many women as possible and especially now when he and the ladies are young. He also tells Frank about his heroin addiction that he is not ashamed to hide. Grandpa thinks one should hold no regrets about their lives when they reach his ripe and old age. Maybe Grandpa himself didn’t do all he wanted to do, but he does pass his knowledge on through his “voice of experience,? something he probably wouldn’t have done unless bored in the backseat with Dwayne. Whose journey was it? It was the whole family’s journey.

Little Miss Sunshine: Who's Trip

Little Miss Sunshine was a story in which many of the characters learned a lesson. One of the most important character's that was able to open up on the road was the suicidal, gay uncle. Frank started out the movie depressed and unmotivated. Through the use of the road and family he was able to realize the power of acomplishment and defeat. One of the first scenes where we see him smiling and bonding with his nephew is the first time they push the van into gear. After they are all in the van we see Frank and his nephew smiling and laughing. Frank can see, through Olive's competition, that yes she acompished being there and being a simple little girl, but also faliling at the competition because she was not the "best". I think this road trip helps Frank realize that he can still be important even though he lost to his collegue (which was making him depressed) and that he can still be loved (even if not by his young lover). I also think that Franks trip is important because it opens up the road for homosexuals to find themselves/happiness on the road.

Little Miss sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine, shine, shine!
“The Hoover family is the dictionary definition for the word dysfunctional.? (Jim Beaver, rating from video website). Every single character in the Hoover family had some personal and family issues that prevented them from really understanding each other but their journey to Redondo Beach California for Olives’ Little Miss Beauty Pageant forced them to come together to really communicate. In North American culture many people do not discuss their issues with one another and don’t ever really get over how they feel so that they never can truly move on. Dwayne, the older of the two kids has taken in oath of silence which I believe to be a symbol of U.S. culture and how we do not focus nor talk about our feelings therefore we get caught up in drug addictions, eating disorders, depression, and loads of anxiety. This physical journey for the Hoover family becomes a true spiritual journey.
The mother Cheryl was pressured by society to play the woman who cooks, cleans, and gives herself to her children and husband while she is struggling to be herself especially, when she is trying to do what is best for Olive. The husband Richard is obsessed with the idea that you can be whatever you want to be even though his family and he are having some financial and personal problems themselves. Grandpa Edwin is addicted to Heroin and only really finds true happiness when with his granddaughter Olive. Olive is the main protagonist who is very young and naïve but at the same time she is the one who encourages everyone to be themselves and helps them bring out their honesty. Dwayne is the son and Olives older brother who has decided to take an oath of silence until he gets into the air force. Dwayne is the stereotypical teenager because he hates his parents and is very dramatic. Lastly, Richard is Cheryl’s gay brother who used to be a professor but tried to kill himself after a breakup with his boyfriend. Cheryl is afraid for him so she is constantly dragging him wherever the family goes and makes sure he is always being watched.
There are quite a few scenes in this film that cause quite a stir and really play with the audiences’ attitudes and beliefs. When the family is at a restaurant and Olive wants the dessert her father is so caught up with Olive being a ‘winner’ that he says she shouldn’t eat it suggesting she might be fat. Here is where Olive gets a taste of how harsh reality is. Richard perhaps begins to realize that being obsessed with winning could be dangerous. The rest of the family realizes this and steps in to protect Olive. Another scene s where Dwayne flips out when his mother tells him that he will not be able to get into the airforce. Olive comes to his side and comforts him with a big hug and he knows that he has to suck it up and go back to the van and keep moving forward in life.
There are two big moments where the family really works together to accomplish something and this is where the characters spiritual journeys really brighten and develop. In these moments each character is an important member. The first example is when Olive gets left at the gas station and they are unable to stop the van so as Richard drives as slow as he possibly can without stalling the car Frank reaches out to grab Olive while she is running. The mother, brother, and grandfather are all part of her vocal support as they cheer her on. This is also true when Olive is doing her dance scene at the pageant and one of the judges threatens to pull her off. The family immediately comes to her aid and humiliates themselves willingly all for Olive and her self esteem. The other scene is when the family works together to steal their dead grandfathers body from the hospital. Each character learns a little bit more about themselves as they all strategize and successfully retrieve their grandpa and put him in the trunk.
Everyone has a different spiritual journey and their journeys are influenced by the people in their lives. Although the Hoover family was completely dysfunctional up until the very end they were able to finally accept that fate as well as the people in their family.

Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine is a wonderful example of the American family. While they go on a physical journey on the road to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant, more family members undergo an emotional journey than others. Frank, Dwayne, and Richard Hoover all become quite different from where they begin in the start of the story. Frank clearly begins emotionally distressed from a whirlwind of bad events that have taken place in his recent life- lost love, losing his job, etc- by spending time with his sister's family he begins to learn from just as they learn from his high intelligence. He is a real character with a warm heart that reopens through the film. Dwayne has the more obvious transformation with the fact that he begins speaking again after months of no talking. It says something about his character that he even agrees to go on the trip considering his note to Frank about him hating everyone. Through Olive's presence and love, he also opens to a strong-emotionally charged loving older brother and son. Frank and Dwayne I believe help each other by having that other person by their side through the film. Richard Hoover also makes big changes in his personality and behavior. He starts as a character you don't really like and even more so when you see the looks he is given by his family members. Through the events that take place on the road such as when his father dies or when Olive is met with disapproval from others at the talent, he steps up and is a loving, comforting, supportive father--which is very far from where he began. It really comes together Frank, Dwayne, Richard and Sheryl get up on stage with Olive as she performs her talent to show their support and love for their family.

A Journey for All

Little Miss Sunshine tells the story of an all-American family and each member's personal journey. The incentive for the trip was to bring Olive to the pageant, but little did the family know that the trip would end up changing them all. Richard's journey was self-discovery through facing his worst fear--failure. When he found out that his career dreams weren't going to come true after visiting Stan Grossman, he went through a change that made him more open and able to let Olive be herself.
The journey was also in large part Dwayne's. He, like Richard, had to deal with the fact that his dream wouldn't come true. He found out he was colorblind and couldn't fly jets, which was devastating but also brought him back to the reality of his family life and allowed him to accept them and lean on them for support.
Frank went through a personal journey, as well. At the beginning of the movie he wanted to be dead, but after being on the road with his family, his perspective changed and he realized that life was worth living, especially for its suffering. A scene in which he vocalizes this is when he and Dwayne are on the pier, talking about how much life sucks and relating it to Proust.

Little Miss Sunshine

It is definitely hard to argue that the film Little Miss Sunshine was about one person's journey. Indeed it was an entire family that took this journey and each character grew from one another and this could only have been possible with the family dynamic. However, I think one can argue that it was not solely the characters on screen that took a journey. As we were discussing in class, everyone really likes this movie because they can identify with either a certain character or rather the whole notion of a dysfunctional family. So perhaps as the characters on screen grow and change through their journey so does the viewer as maybe they come to a realization for themselves of how they act with their own families. I think that is why the movie was so successful - that the audience members grew themselves as they watched the drama unfold on the screen.

But the assignment requires that I pick certain characters so I think that the most prominent and drastic changes happened with the character of Richard. With Richard, at the beginning of the film he cannot accept the family and the situation he is in. He continually fights with his wife, father, step-son, and brother-in-law and tries to change them to fit into his "nine steps" and his world. Although as the film continues and one mishap leads to another he begins to loosen up especially after he steals his father's body. We can definitely see how he changes and begins to accept his family for who they are and can accept the status of being a loser.

Everyone's Journey

Everyone in Olivia's family, including herself, was on their own journey. They were all traveling together and influenced each other's journeys but they traveled separate mental paths. Frank learned to love life again and learned that he can make his own happiness. Dwayne was on the stereotypical teenage journey to find himself. He started out being so certain of exactly where he was going to go and what he was going to do and then it all crashed when Olivia showed him the picture and discovered that he is color blind. He realizes who he is at the end when he is on the pier talking to Frank and says that he will fly jets if he wants to and no one can stop him. He seems to have a new confidence in himself and now it's not some solid plan but simply a knowledge of what he wants to do and that he will do it somehow. The mother's journey ends with her finding confidence in herself and her motherhood. At the beginning she seems uncertain about her own power and strength but as her journey progresses she gains more confidence. She finally tells her husband what she thinks of his 9-step program and when he and Dwayne want to pull Olivia out of the pageant at the end she finally puts her foot down and says no, that this is what Olivia wants and she as her mother will make sure Olivia gets every chance to do what she wants. The father's journey is a journey towards acceptance. In the beginning he is obsessed with winning and succeeding and nothing else matters to him, even seemingly his daughters happiness. But after his father dies and he has failed to get a book contract of any kind he seems to have a change of heart. Towards the end he simply wants to pull Olivia out of the contest, not even thinking about it as quitting, because he doesn't want her to get hurt, not because he's afraid of losing. Then at the very end he has finally learned to accept who his daughter is, win or lose, when he gets up on stage and starts dancing with her. Olivia's journey leads her many places. Her journey is generally uneventful at first but when they get to the pageant she begins to doubt herself and lose her care-freeness. Then just as it seems her confidence is about to be crushed her family supports her and she seems to see that it doesn't matter what others look like or think of you that matters, it is how you treat others and how you see life. The grandfather does not seem to have much of a mental journey on this physical journey. He does however help the others along on their journeys and seems as if he is gaining more peace throughout the journey. When he tells his son that he is proud of him it is as if he has finally learned to accept him no matter how annoying he can be. It could be speculated that the grandfather gains his peace of mind throughout the beginning of the journey so that he can die in good conscience and not worry about his family.

Little Miss Sunshine

As we discussed in class, Little Miss Sunshine can be described as an "American family road movie". Describing the film as American locates it specifically within American culture and thus within America's cultural ideals about success, beauty, love, family, etc. And as a family road film, the physical and psychic journeys that take place involve the entire family, not just one character. Even though Olive's (the daughter) pageant is the main motivation to begin the journey, each family member goes through changes that deeply affect their personal lives.
By focusing on one character though, Olive, we can see how one of the transformations in the film plays out. Olive is the 7 year old daughter who serves as a mediator amongst issues involving the rest of the family but goes through some things on her own as well. The first scene in which we see her, Olive is staring at the tv screen watching a taped version of a Miss America pageant. There is a shot of her from behind in which we see her standing in front of the giant screen with her arms spread out making it look like she is about to embrace the image of the winner. She mimics the winner's reaction and we can really see her connecting with this traditional ideal of American beauty-- that of a pageant winner. This is something Olive is aspiring to be, but we see that Olive's appearance doesn't necessarily coincide with that of a "normal" pageant winner as her father painfully points out when she orders ice cream with her breakfast. This is a struggle common to many young girls in our society, trying to encompass a nearly impossible ideal of feminine beauty. In the end though, Olive triumphs in the eyes of her family with her performance in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant but int he eyes of the rest of society, Olive fails and gets banned from performing in pageants in California. Olive's personal triumph tries to subvert the idea that beauty can be judged by one's looks and based on only one of a person's talents. But Olive must accept defeat in the eyes of mainstream society to come to this personal change.

Little Miss Sunshine

"Little Miss Sunshine" is a film that depicts a family filled with problems; however, the family is much like other American middle-class families. Each member has their own quirks and odd characteristics, but this also makes them representative of the film's viewers. Because the film easily addresses many different members of the "American family", I believe "Little Miss Sunshine" is the journey of all the characters in the film. The main character facilities changes for each family member. She is the reasons why the head to the road, and she is the one who is most connected to each individual who is also on the road.

She is the only one who is able to comfort Dwayne when he finds out that he is unable to fly jets, and he reciprocates her compassion by agreeing to return to the road so that they can continue toward Redondo Beach. The viewer witnesses his change when he apologizes to the family for making bad comments about them and then dancing with them during Olive's stage performance. Olive also helps Frank to talk about his attempted suicide when she casually brings up his "accident" at the familial dinner table. Although Olive calls Franks love affair with another man "silly", she does not seem to be bothered by him. Finally, she also helps Richard to get over his "non-loser" obsession. While dancing on stage with his family, he is able to forget about being a winner and just be himself, and part of his family.

In this way, "Little Miss Sunshine" tells the story of a family's journey, not that of just one individual; however, the journey for each character is propelled by Olive.

Little Miss Sunshine

As a whole, I think the whole family learned something on the journey. They also helped each other through tough times. For example, Frank helped Dwayne realize that it wasn't the end of the world that he couldn't go to flight school. This led Dwayne to believe that he will learn to fly even without flight school since that is what he wants to do. The grandpa made Olive feel better about herself because she wasn't feeling pretty anymore. The family made Frank feel more comfortable with being alive because he felt like he had something worth living for. Sheryl realized that she loved her family no matter what, even her husband who was obsessed with the idea of winning. And the whole family taught Richard that winning wasn't everything which was shown when they saw what winning meant at the beauty pageant for little girls. In all, I believe that the journey was for Richard because he finally got to know what it was like to lose and it turned out fine. After he stopped enforcing winning as the ultimate goal of life, the trip seemed to make him feel content with his family as they are. He realized this when he saw how well they worked together as a team to get Olive to the pageant, like for example, jumping into the moving bus one by one. Richard learned the most on the trip and so much that I wish I could have seen what their life was like after the trip. My prediction was that some things started to go right for a change. Richard needed to stop and take a look around because no one wanted to listen to him and his one-track mind before, like for example, when he was telling Olive not to eat ice cream if she wants to be a winner of the beauty contest. The journey was like a trip to reality because you can't win all the time.

Little Miss Sunshine

In Little Miss Sunshine, I think the journey included the entire family, though there are certain characters who this perhaps applies to more than others. More specifically, I think Dwayne, Sheryl, and Frank found the journey to be more personally changing than the others. These characters were the most affected by the activities that occured throughout the trip, and I think the journey brought these three together more than the rest. For instance, when Dwayne learns from Frank that he will be unable to fly and he forces himself to break his vow of silence in order to express the rage and disappointment that he feels and had felt inside for so long. In this Dwayne has to force himself to tell everyone what he really thinks and feels, and does so in a way that sacrifices what he knew to be replaced by who he really is. It's a journey for Frank because he learns that he perhaps hasn't lost it all, like he originally thought, and that maybe this family can offer him more fulfillment to his life- something for him to care about, and something that could bring him some form of feeling wanted or cared for. Towards the end of the film, when Olive is in the pageant, Sheryl begins to become a mother. Before, she had just been acting the part, but in the scene where Dwayne and Frank attemp to get Olive out of the competition in order to protect her, Sheryl reacts in a way that she wouldn't have done before, which propels her out of the stupor she was in and into active role as a mother.
So while it could be said that this was a journey for the entire family, it could be argued that certain characters were more changed than others.

Little Miss Sunshine

I feel that the journey was made as a family unit. Not just one person’s journey, but everyone’s as a collective whole. Everyone within the family had a different experience on the trip, but in the end they did it as a family, because families stick together even if we don’t like each other. The examples that illustrates this the best is when Dwayne finds out he is colour blind and the family pulls over, and Olive pulls the trip back on the road. Although, she is the binding force in the family, it is not just her journey. In the end, through all the struggles and fighting, they jump up on stage and become a harmonious family supporting the one that binds them all together.

Little Miss Sunshine

In the film Little Miss Sunshine we watch the Hoover family travel across the country to get to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant Olive will be performing in. Although the character Olive provides the reason for the journey, the journey is not her own. Instead she serves as a guide and a mediator for her father, uncle, step-brother and mother on their psychic journeys.

One of the characters that Olive helps to guide is her father Richard. We are first introduced to Richard as he shares his “9 Step? program with a sparsely filled room. He talks about the importance of refusing to lose and comes across as someone very focused on winning. Throughout the journey Richard’s focus on winning is tested by the news that his “9 Step? program won’t sell because he is “unheard of? and the death of his father. The culmination of these two events seems to motivate Richard to look past winning and appreciate what he has. He is the one that fights for Olive’s dream by stealing Grandpa’s body and kneeling on the floor holding the pageant director’s hand. When Richard finally sees what the Little Miss Sunshine Pageant entails he tries to prevent Olive from performing, a concern that displays that he doesn’t seem to view winning as important as her innocence. Richard’s final step of his journey comes when Olive is performing and the announcer is trying to chase her off stage. He runs to her aid and joins her dancing on stage which demonstrates to her that he no longer cares if she wins so long as she is having fun.

Little Miss Sunshine...

It is hard to pick just one character from the movie Little Miss Sunshine who I feel had both a psychic journey as well as a physical journey. In all reality, the entire family went through both of these journeys on the road. They were all changed in some sort of way by the end of the road trip. If I were to pick one character I felt exemplified these two journeys the most, I would pick Frank. When the viewer first sees Frank, he is a broken man. We see him in the hospital after unsuccessfully attempting suicide. There is an instance where his sister hugs him after coming to pick him up, and he is just limp. He shows no emotion to her. When he gets to the house, he is little different. Though he does try to put up some facade for the sake of the family.

It isn't until Frank gets on the road that the viewer starts to see Frank change. He seems overall happier and even takes part in jokes and conversation. The viewer does however see that his journey is complicated and cannot be corrected that easily. This is seen when he encounters a set back on the road. While going to get a drink and some porn from inside the gas station store, he sees the source of what he feels are his problems: his ex-student who he fell in love with. And to make the blow worse, he's with the man he chose over Frank. Frank initially goes back into his depression, but soon after it is again forgotten. It seems as though his transformation is taking place.

It is ultimately the end of the movie where I believe the viewer can definately see the full transformation of Frank. Although he is against the idea of beauty pageants, he supports his niece Olive and is the first to stand up and cheer when her performance turns shocking. This is a very big contrast from the first emotionless Frank we saw at the beginning of the movie. Life on the road for him has been a psychic journey and a physical journey.

There Are Winners, And Then There Are Losers

In the 2006 film, "Little Miss Sunshine," the Hoover family hits the road so that little Olive can compete in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. During the trip, each member of the family learns about "...winning, losing, and that nether state in between where most of us must learn to live" (David Germann, Associated Press). Even though each character experiences a life-changing journey down this road, it is Richard's narrative that really empowers the journey, that changes in the family's dynamic, and that ultimately leaves him as a different person then when he began. When we're first introduced to Richard, we see him giving his lecture on the 9 steps toward winning in a virtually empty classroom. This establishes him as an unsuccessful career man who is trying to build his career on the concept of winning. Winning is everything to Richard. In the first full family scene at the dinner table, Richard asks Olive if she thinks she's going to win Little Miss Sunshine, because there's no point in trying unless you're going to win. In this scene we also see how his winner/loser view on life affects his relationships with his family members. When Frank is telling Olive his suicidal story, Richard gets antsy because he doesn't want the rhetoric of losers in his house. When he reacts by calling Frank a sick loser, we see that Cheryl is appalled, Frank is angered, Dwayne reverts further into his angst, Olive is confused, and Grandpa finds the whole concpet dopey. We once again see Richard's winner/loser focus on the road at the diner. He tells Olive that only losers become fat and eat ice cream, causing her to second guess her breakfast choice. Here we see how Richard is, in a way, exiled from the family as the rest of the members encourage Olive to be herself no matter what.

Change comes for Richard in the form of failure. When Stan Grossman tells him his book deal fell through, Richard is crushed. He drives by himself to find Stan, and by driving by himself we once again see him as a singular unit, not as part of the family. After meeting Stan, Richard changes. The road here has changed him, both the physical trials of a broke-down VW bus, as well as the emotional trials of a failed business and failure and being a successful head of the family. We first see this change when Grandpa dies and the family doesn't know what to do with the body. Instead of preaching about winning and losing, or letting Cheryl handle the situation, he takes charge as head of the family. He makes and enforces the decision to take the body with them. This is the first time that we see one of Richard's decisions being adhered to, establishing his rise as a true family member. Richard's narrative comes to a sort of fullness at the end of the film. The family has just been freed after disrupting the Little Miss Sunshine pageant (another thing that the old winner/loser Richard would not have done), and the family is staring at the empty space where Grandpa's body used to be. Richard then tells Olive how proud her Grandpa would have been of her. An earlier Richard would have preached about how she was a loser and needed to learn how to win, but not now. Now his is a true part of the family. He accepts them as they accept him, and as the road has changed him, it has ultimately changed the strained state of the entire family.

Little Miss Sunshine

Within Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’s 2006 comedy adventure Little Miss Sunshine, all characters involved within the narrative invoke themselves in a family, and personal, journey as they travel across the southwest of the United States. Although each character within the film; Richard, Olive, Frank, Dwayne, Grandpa, and Sheryl, begin the film with the excitement of a family road trip, along with a personal journey for themselves, the journey the family takes truly belongs to, in my opinion, to the eldest son Dwayne. For Dwayne (Paul Dano), his personal journey to grow into self identity and strength reveals itself from the opening sequence of the film as we are shown his devotion to maintaining a disciplined life as he works towards his goal of flight school. As the road journey begins, Dwayne maintains his devotion to maintain silence as he is forced to be with his family, and although he continually attempts to be sectioned off from the family he despises, he begins to become ever more connected to them. Partly what makes Little Miss Sunshine a true journey for Dwayne is how throughout the road trip he transforms into an a stronger, ‘newer’ person by the end of the film. At the beginning of the film, Dwayne expresses his hatred towards his family, but the more time he spends with his family on the road, and experiences life altering acts; death of his grandfather, and realization of flight school, he grows to identify and build strength off of his family. Through his family and self reliance, and various acts, such as Olive consoling him in his time of hopelessness and Dwayne standing up for Olive and his family at the beauty pageant, Dwayne ends his personal journey understanding that others are helpful in being happy, especially family proves important. Although all characters within the film undergo some sort of journey, Dwayne goes through more of a transformation, and has more reliance, on the road trip taken by the Hoover family, making the narrative and storyline more a journey for Dwayne than anyone else.

April 12, 2008

Little Miss Acceptence

It is a seemingly impossible task to declare that Little Miss Sunshine dictates the journey of just one of the passengers on the big yellow bus. The journey belongs to the entire family, both physically and psychically.

The story begins by bringing the entire caravan under one stable roof, the home. Inside the home, the family ruminates over the same problems, resentments, and frustrations over and over again. They cannot move forward, or accept their physical and mental imperfections, so they live in stasis. However, Olive’s stroke of ‘luck’ (which according to Richard is a fallacy), forces the family onto a road which forces them to confront the circular problems they have been sidestepping while at home.

The family embarks on a literal straight road, rather than the circular motion of scurrying around the home. Through this unstoppable motion (Richard literally cannot physically stop the van from moving at times), the passengers are forced to confront the forces in their life that they have no control over. In order to continue this motion, they must accept/embrace the disorder of life.

Dwayne, although not the only person on a journey, embodies how the forceful forward motion of the road forces him to confront things he has no control over, and either accept them or remain locked in stasis of rage. Dwayne lives in a complete closed loop within his home. He has no friends, speaks to no one, and mainly stays within the small, colorless (a telling sign) environment of his room. He completes the same daily routine of reading and exercise, and even has a massive chart, documenting his repetition. However, when forced to take a trip with people he interacts with only out of sheer necessity and lack of choice, he must learn to accept things which he has no control over. Dwayne must grapple with a physical handicap (color-blindness), as well as being part of a family he hates. While in the car, Dwayne comes to the realization of his physical handicap, and immediately demands to stop moving forward on his journey. He physically leaves the confines of the road, and refuses to move. It is only when his sister’s gentle comfort comes to his aide that he is able to take up mobility once again and move on. By getting into the car, Dwayne symbolically begins to accept a physical condition which he cannot control. By yielding to his sister’s tacit request, he also begins to accept that one cannot choose their family, but must simply ‘keep moving’ with the passengers you are paired with.

While Dwayne’s journey is more definable and concrete, all the characters travel on similar journeys throughout Little Miss Sunshine. Each must accept unchangeable conditions about their lives, and make a decision whether to keep moving or remain in a state of immobility.

Little Miss Sunshine: American Family Transformed

I certainly agree that there is not one person from the Hoover family that was most transformed by this journey. Together, and probably unexpectedly, they found unity as a family. In a way, I think it was a journey for the family, especially the American family. Filled with disillusion and hidden vices and general dissatisfaction, the American family often gets lost in the current of our society: one that is filled with sweeping cultural rules, expectations and consumption. The Hoovers transformed individually, yet came together to make the family unit strong as well. The Hoovers could very well represent any dysfunctional American family. Some common themes or obstacles that they encountered were: sacrifice, honesty, humility, adventure, etc. And let's be real, any American could use a little dose of each of those.

Besides being a movie about the family, I also think it was a movie about the journey of "the loser." In some respects, each character had failed to be the ideal model that they have been socially expected to be. Olive, the chubby wannabe beauty queen with a personality; Dwayne, the angsty teen that breaks his vow of silence; Frank the gay suicidal ex-proust scholar; Grandpa, a heroine snorter porn lover who gets kicked out of the retirement home; Richard, a life coach that can't seem to follow his own "steps to success"; Sheryl, the mom who might not be able to keep her fractured family together. Although the movie looks at all the vices and failures and worries of these characters, we see them embrace their differences and learn to understand each other and appreciate one another. They come out as both a tighter unit and as stronger, confident individuals.

April 11, 2008

Little Miss Sunshine

"Little Miss Sunshine" was a journey for the whole family and everyone who sees it can benefit and learn about themselves in the process. The road trip this family went on was essential for all the family members and it brought them closer together in the end; they began to really support and accept each other.
For me, the person who exemplifies the most transformed is Dwayne. He begins in the film as a silent comedic character and through the teachings of Nietchze, he is learning self-discipline for flight school. Dwayne seems the most intune to the family's neuroses and he chooses to take a different route than acting out like the rest of them. While feeling like he's figured out his family's problems, he loses it thru an eye exam pamphlet Olive has taken from the hospital where Grandpa was examined, and learns that he is color blind and therefore is exempt from flight school. He starts to have a nervous breakdown in the car and everyone is forced to pull over so Dwayne can release the animal voice inside him that built up during his nine months of silence. This transformation within Dwayne was a self realization that it's okay to be different and when Olive approaches him he is acle to see his family for who they are and love them in spite of it. Another pivotal scene in Dwayne's psychic journey was during the pageant when he talks with his uncle and learns that the hardest years of his life are the ones the most worth living. I could not agree more with the idea that suffering leads to better understanding and "soul searching/finding." I feel it was very important for Dwayne to begin where he was with his family and with the more he learned about himself within the family he was able to find his identity and thus his journey was nearing the comprehension completion of what it means to be an angsty teenager.

April 9, 2008

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Robertson discusses a sense of exaggeration in the film improperly executed, thus diminishing other oppressed people. Although I feel that this is a semi-just accusation, since there are, in fact, poor portrayals of women, immigrants, and others, the purpose and message of the film were not distracted. We are given a troupe of people who have no doubt experienced the harsh reality of the intolerant world in which we live. They take a dive into a culture that is seemingly further behind and thus more oppressive, but go full-force, nonetheless. The gender norms of the outback are immediately presented to them, and whether the butch woman's role ends up with a negative connotation or not, our three protagonists are given a sense of comradeship and slight acceptance through her appearance. They suffer many more tribulations revolving around their gender presentation and status, and I believe that looking into how their oppression is portrayed as a means to shed light on another injustice isn't legitimate and distracts from the true nature of the film. Yes, stereotypes are scattered throughout the film, but I don't believe that toning these down and bringing the characters to a more similar plane and common ground would be as effective. These roles are merely roadblocks for them to overcome, other types of people and situations to encounter.

Tick and Felicia's return home is, to me, in no way an indication that they didn't belong on the road, didn't fit in, and therefore defeatedly returned to where they came from. I don't believe the journey was unsuccessful. Clearly the purpose of it was to (looking more deeply than just the destination they had all along) strengthen personal views of oneself, despite criticism. It was to take on the given challenge of unpreferable conditions. And concluding the journey with the wholehearted approval of an opinion most valued (Tick's son) completed this excursion. Therefore the return home was merely the inevitable wrapping up of a positive ending.

April 8, 2008

Priscilla, The Queen

I do not agree with Robertson. I believe in the film, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the stereotypical gay men who are part of the drag culture is meant to represent something much deeper in the film and reveal a larger issue to the viewer. Robertson believes that such stereotypes are used in the film to frighten those who venture, but I disagree. Throughout the film, the stereotype of the gay man in drag is mocked and ultimately is personalized with the three individuals’ experiences in the outback. One scene that stands out in my mind is when Adam is chased and beaten up by a group of men who represent the stereotypical outback masculinity. I believe that the scene breaks down the stereotypes of drags queens and reveals them as individuals who go through struggles and face dire consequences for being true to themselves. Though comedic throughout the film, the experience changes the talkative Adam, who is left voiceless after his frightful experience. Tick actually yells at Adam for putting himself into such a situation in the outback. Yet, as the viewer I myself question why couldn’t Adam be true to himself without having to worry about being killed? It present such a question within me about the type of society we have and the close-minded individuals in society who feel threatened enough by differences to turn to violence. I believe that such strong stereotypes are present in the film for a deep reason for the viewer to question the type of society we live in and ultimately change it. It allows the viewer to question whether they themselves feel uncomfortable with the drag queens; yet, throughout the film of Adam, Tick and Bernadette on the road I see that they are all much deeper than what meets the eye. Tick is continuously battling the desire to have his son in his life, but frightful of what he will think of his father because of his living. The son views his father profession as completely normal. Such a child-like innocence, untainted by stereotypes and prejudices in our world voices the opinion that is how all individuals should respond. Overall the film personalizes the individuals with their battles that they go through for simply being open and honest with what makes them happy in their life and why should any individual have to be persecuted for finding something that makes them happy, even in the outback?

April 7, 2008

Stereotypes upon stereotypes....

“But the return home in Priscilla, as in the Wizard of Oz, can be a rejection of difference and a return to familiarity,? (Pamela Robertson, Home and Away). I believe what Robertson has said about stereotypes and their usage to frighten those who venture to be very true. Firstly, stereotypes stem from something that may have been true however, they are excessively used so that they usually cause harm towards a specific group of people based on nationality, sexual orientation, appearance, etc. The three main characters Tick, Bernadette, and Adam, are minorities in the Australian outback where most likely people don’t see a group of men dressed in ‘feminine’ clothing therefore, this could end up to be a dangerous encounter between the ‘normal’ or accepted and the transsexual and drag queens. Many studies have found that people tend to be afraid of the unknown so they act out in sometimes very hateful ways. This is true for both parties of people in the case of the film Priscilla.
When they made their journey on the road they had a very friendly departure with people hooraying and being merry but once they hit the road and the outback they realized they were no longer in their safety zone where their bus had hateful words directed at them involving the stereotype of AIDS coming from all gays. In this same place where their bus was graffitied they met a woman who was mean and vulgar towards them who ‘just happened to be’ a butch woman. Bernadette makes a comment that reflects her appearance and the fact that she will never get laid. Here Bernadette reacts to an insulting stereotype by dealing out her own. Before Bernadette was a white woman she was a white man and perhaps these stereotypes of women were engrained in her from the very beginning of her existence that she does not even realize she is only continuing the hate and stereotypes that she is held accounted to because she is a transsexual. Another interesting scene is where the Filipino woman is stereotyped as this crazy, exotic, and manipulative woman while her husband Bob, a white European man, is portrayed as this gentle kind soul. Here Cynthia will never find her place and society and will always be seen as the strange or ‘alien.’ Bernadette refers to Cynthia as a bitch which furthers the negative stereotype of all women who act out as bitches and also how it is becoming a popular word for even women to use against other women securing patriarchy.
The last scene that I believe imperative to discus is how the ‘manly outback man’ is stereotyped as sex deprived and therefore incredibly horny. He is also incredibly ignorant and the town bully. Adam decides after binging on drugs to go off and find some excitement. After an altercation Adam and the outback man get in a fight and Adam gets a blow to the face and nearly a blow to his pelvic region which was intended to reinforce the fact that he was not a true man because he dressed in feminine clothes.
Although I do not believe that it is the responsibility of minorities and the ‘other’ to help stop stereotypes nor do I find them more wrong if they themselves use stereotypes it is very possible that this film has perhaps dangerously used the stereotypes of transsexuals and drag queens to reinforce other stereotypes such as the butch woman and the exotic, manipulating immigrant.

Robertson. Ugh.

The stereotypes presented in Priscilla are presented that way for a reason. I don't believe it's the reason Robertson states, however. In Australia the depictions of the butch woman, the Fillipina woman, the aboriginal group, as well as the "rednecks" are all presentations of the colonial/outside world view of Australia that Australia has come to internalize. When this film came out, as Robertson talks about, Australia was trying to come into it's own and shrug off these views, especially the romanticized Dundee image. These characters are straw-(wo)men in the film to shine a light on those stereotypes. It is a magnifying glass used against generally accepted concepts of what these people are in Australia. The most interesting part to me was the most hyper-magnified/dramatic/focal/comic presentation of Cynthia. Robertson talks about the blame forced on immigrants in Australia and the inability for them to assimilate and how we don't know how Cynthia feels. This is how Fillipina/o people are treated though, they do lack a voice and are seen as tricky. The grotesque way Cynthia is portrayed is to make you uncomfortable with this idea, the character is upsetting because that idea is upsetting, not because Fillipina women are like that. The same goes for the butch woman, the aboriginal group, and the rednecks. These are all upsetting/one dimensional/incomplete presentations of people because that is how people view Australia, Unfeminine, mystified, and extremely masculine/intolerant. It's to make you think about these stereotypes and why they exist, not to say they are accurate. Through the film you are siding with the "other" and the straw-characters are used to show that everyone is "othered," but people living within that world are less likely to scrutinize widely accepted stereotypes.

Priscilla on the Road

I agree that there were stereotypes used throughout the movie, but I think it was necessary to set up the differences between the characters of the film and also enables us as viewers to see the differences between those on the road in this film than those of other films we have watched. There were obvious obstacles set up in the film along their journey to scare them off. For example, the sheer length and immensity of the Outback, the opposition from other people they encounter such as the woman in the bar that yells at them or the message written on Priscilla, and that Priscilla keeps breaking down, etc. These circumstances would scare many off, but what I really liked about the movie is that nothing did--they kept going through everything and made friends along the way through unlikely people. Even with the attack scene, I really liked that they ended up being the winners of that event. When it first started I remember thinking that I was not suprised that one of them is getting attacked considering the outcomes of the others that have taken to the road in the other films we have watched. I think overall, what was great about this film is that they were very clear in the differences of the characters, and while they were met with opposition along their journey, they came out on top through making it the whole way on the road to being accepted by family members and others.

Australia: Exaggerated

After watching the film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, I can see where Robertson is coming from when he states that this movie is self-consciously about difference and diversity in Australia. I think the film portrayed a perfect example in cultural differences and diversity. There were a lot of stereotypical moments in the film and many of them were exaggerated. I don’t know if I would call this film a super liberating one like Robertson said, but I felt it was a semi-liberating film. I felt that at the end of the film Tick felt free knowing that his son knew he was different than other fathers and knowing his son knew the truth about him and was okay with it. I also thought Bernie was liberated at the end when she decided to stay with Bob and not continue back home with the others. I really enjoyed this film and thought it was entertaining. I agree with some stuff that Robertson stated but disagree with how exaggerated some of the stereotypes were.

Queens in the Desert

In The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, as Robertson argues, particular stereotypes about woman, immigrant, and native definitely work to normalize certain stereotypes about queer culture. The stereotypes are so obvious that it makes the viewer think about how they are working within the film rather than just accepting them as truths about certain groups of people. In the situation with the butch woman, she is dressed in a dirty "beater" tank top, not wearing any makeup, and is "unwomanly" in terms of conventions. It is only when Bernadette slams her on these "unwomanly" grounds (insinuating her unattractiveness to men), that she and Felicia and Tick are accepted by the heterosexual white male crowd. In the scene where Cynthia, the Filipino wife of Bob, escapes the confines of home to go to the bar and perform her act, the stereotyped immigrant wife upstages the drag queens, making them look less ridiculous and deviant than the woman who shoots ping pong balls out of her g-string. In the scene with a group of Aboriginies, a specifically Australian relationship with Aboriginal peoples comes into play. The three main characters spend an evening performing with the group of natives and while the scene shows a certain bonding between two groups of people seen as outsiders in "normal" society, the queens are the characters that get developed and get to move on, while the purely re-active natives (they respond to the queens' performance without words, but use facial expressions and so on) are left without any further engagement in the plot. As straw men, these essentialized characters work to render an essentialized view of queer culture as false or "more normal" than their stereotypical counterparts.

What's Home Got to Do with It?

Like Robertson, I believe that Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert relies on stereotypical portraits of characters critical to the story of Felicia, Bernadette and Tick. Priscella creates caricatures of the woman, immigrant, and native (and outback masculinity) to discourage the non normative body from exercising mobility in the Australian outback.
The supporting female roles in Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Shirley and Cynthia, are not portrayed in a very positive manner. Shirley, who is very masculine in dress and mannerisms, is insulted by Bernadette for not being feminine enough, attractive enough and for menstruating. Bernadette is portrayed as tougher, smarter and classier than the woman who was born anatomically female. Cynthia is perhaps the opposite of Shirley. She is very feminine but excessively sexual (embarrassingly so) to her husband abusing a very negative stereotype of not only women but especially the female Asian immigrant.
The Aborigines are most accepting of Felicia, Bernadette and Tick but it seems that they cannot make a true connection. Felicia, Bernadette and Tick seem rather out of place in the desert and unlike the Aborigines are not accustomed to sleeping outdoors. When they are invited to the Aborigine camp, Felicia, Bernadette and Tick seem exceedingly dainty and sophistcated in order to exaggerate the contrast between the two groups.
The men of the outback are also portrayed very negatively. None are accepting of the Felicia, Bernadette and Tick and are made to be hypermasculinzed and unintelligent. All of the characters pitted against Felicia, Bernadette and Tick seem to be caricatures perhaps in order to compete with their larger than life personalities but unfortunately, the film still relies on negative stereotypes in order to tell their story.

Normalizing the Abnormal?

"I suggest that we must understand the degree to which the categories “gay? and “Australian? are defined in the film through their opposition to other categories, especially “woman,? “immigrant,? and “native.? …I explore how concepts of home and away intersect with concepts of difference in Priscilla and suggest ways in which identity politics intertwine with how we conceive and remember home." (Robertson 274)

In all the films we’ve watched thus far, the road represents both the taking away from and the returning to “home? (which is often more an idea than a physical place). Australian film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is no different, unfurling the personal and sexual pasts, and following the current plights, of two drag queens and one transsexual en route to an Outback-set drag show. All are based in Sydney, which serves as a sort of Mecca for all things queer and fabulous; the juxtaposition between the two locations is where we lay our scene (and where Robertson swoops in to make her point). “In the course of their journey, in line with the conventions of the road movie, these three main characters, all white, come into contact with a variety of people who provide a range of responses to their queerness and cross-dressing. Once fulfilled, however, Adam’s dream [of climbing to the top of King’s Canyon as a Queen] feels anticlimactic for the three drag queens who in the incongruity of their surroundings become like Dorothy in her Oz: they want to go home.?

Robertson argues in Home and Away that the masculine-liberating aspects of the road in Priscilla rely on various (contrasting, essentialized) racist and sexist representations to shape the film’s gay identity. Her claim is that these stereotypes are set up to “frighten away? those who dare venture from where they’re supposed to belong and down a road that otherwise assumes normativity. I agree with Robertson that Priscilla’s use of the butch bar patron, the Filipino “mail-order? bride and the indigenous desert-dwellers are a bit overblown. This is most obvious when the overtly masculine Bob’s aforementioned Filipino bride (who, the audience is left to assume, is nothing short of completely insane) performs her “act? for a crowd of roughneck drunks. Involving strategically placed leather and ping-pong balls, we are privy to something even the drag queens deem too perverse. Followed up by that, their lip-synching, costume-changing excess is left deflated and, suddenly, so normal. We get bouts of homophobia (Priscilla, their chrome vessel, is spray-painted with hateful obscenities; Adam/Felicia is harassed and nearly beaten up by a group of men who mistake her for a woman), but ultimately, our gals come off as the not-so-odd ones out when plunked beside the film’s other “wackier? elements.

I will say, however, that I did not find the film's ending to be as disappointing as Robertson. There's nothing wrong with discovering that where you came from is where you belong, and I praise the characters for their willingness to endure an experience outside of their comfort zones. The road is a funny place like that: it tends to be as much in your head and heart as it is beneath your tires, and sometimes it's supposed to take you right back to where you started.

Drag Queens in the Desert

Hitting the road can be an exciting journey of possibilities. By venturing far from home into the wide open world, travelers may encounter things they had or had not been expecting. By traveling the road through the eyes of drag queens and transsexuals, the original male character is transformed into a new feminine and gay role. Along this journey, Bernadette, Tick, and Felicia are faced with opportunities and challenges.
The road that these three are taking will eventually lead them to a resort in the Austrailian landscape. They will be able to perform their song and dance routines which they all love to do. During their journey, they come face-to-face with straw men. However, these problems do not set them back. They only strenghten the characters bonds with eachother and allow them to grow as individuals. Without these conflicts, 'the road' would not have been as rewarding.
In the beginning of the film, Priscilla (the bus) is vandilized. They become sad, but only momentarilly. They realize that their journey has only begun and they improvise by painting over it in a purple color!
Bernadette is faced with the struggle of grieving on the road. Her lover had passed away and she finds a new lvoe in Bob (an originally straight man). Bernadette is very strong and supportive when times get rough. She often comes to the rescue for the others. When Felicia is being assaulted in the alley by many angry straight men, Bernadette puts them in their place. This is an example of gay power and identity at the extreme. Also, when Bernadette outdrinks the local champion at the bar, she and the others are then accepted into the group. Often times these three have to prove that their gay and transsexual identities should be accepted.
Finally, at the end of the film, Tick is reunited with his birth son. He fears to reveal his true identity to him because he wants his son to love him. However, when he finds out his son already knows that he is a drag queen, he is very happy. The two of them can enjoy one another while Tick still can be his true self.
While challenges did arise, the three characters of Priscilla rose above the racism and sexism finding their true selves and living above the criticism of drag queens and transsexuals.

Drag Queens in the Desert

Hitting the road can be an exciting journey of possibilities. By venturing far from home into the wide open world, travelers may encounter things they had or had not been expecting. By traveling the road through the eyes of drag queens and transsexuals, the original male character is transformed into a new feminine and gay role. Along this journey, Bernadette, Tick, and Felicia are faced with opportunities and challenges.
The road that these three are taking will eventually lead them to a resort in the Austrailian landscape. They will be able to perform their song and dance routines which they all love to do. During their journey, they come face-to-face with straw men. However, these problems do not set them back. They only strenghten the characters bonds with eachother and allow them to grow as individuals. Without these conflicts, 'the road' would not have been as rewarding.
In the beginning of the film, Priscilla (the bus) is vandilized. They become sad, but only momentarilly. They realize that their journey has only begun and they improvise by painting over it in a purple color!
Bernadette is faced with the struggle of grieving on the road. Her lover had passed away and she finds a new lvoe in Bob (an originally straight man). Bernadette is very strong and supportive when times get rough. She often comes to the rescue for the others. When Felicia is being assaulted in the alley by many angry straight men, Bernadette puts them in their place. This is an example of gay power and identity at the extreme. Also, when Bernadette outdrinks the local champion at the bar, she and the others are then accepted into the group. Often times these three have to prove that their gay and transsexual identities should be accepted.
Finally, at the end of the film, Tick is reunited with his birth son. He fears to reveal his true identity to him because he wants his son to love him. However, when he finds out his son already knows that he is a drag queen, he is very happy. The two of them can enjoy one another while Tick still can be his true self.
While challenges did arise, the three characters of Priscilla rose above the racism and sexism finding their true selves and living above the criticism of drag queens and transsexuals.

Home and Identity

I agree with Roberson and her thoughts in “Home and Away? that The Adventures of Pricilla, Queen of the Desert is set up in a way to frighten those who wish to venture into the outback. The outback is depicted as lonely, stark, and dangerous. The music that is played while the camera captures landscapes is very wild, full of echoes, and frightening. This combination creates an unwelcoming outback. Moreover, since the characters in Pricilla are mainly gay and transsexual the music and landscapes of the outback especially frighten them. In addition to the music and landscapes identity based off of identity to be created based on opposition. The gay and Australian are defined through opposition to woman, immigrant, native, and outback masculinity within the film. For example, Bob’s Asian wife is an extreme woman. She loves the attention of other men. At the bar she walks straight in and starts dancing on top of the bar. After a few projections of ping-pong balls Bob gets angry and takes her off the bar. Before Bob’s wife started dancing the drag queens attempted to perform but were not accepted by the bar crowd. This scene shows that even through the drag queens are Australian they are less acceptable in the outback compared to an immigrant. Another bar scene in Pricilla shows that gay isn’t as accepted as a woman is in the outback. When they arrive at a hotel to spend the night they three queens go to the bar downstairs. When they enter the bar everyone stops talking. Politely Bernadette asks for drinks but a woman interrupts her. The woman says the bar doesn’t serve people like them. This masculine woman with her tank top and armpit stains opposes the gay/transsexual identity of the drag queens. In an outback bar, masculine women are allowed but gay men are not. Using identity to show the non-conforming culture of drags in the outback allows Pricilla to frighten those who venture away from home and into the Australian outback.


Everyone has a different Idea of home. Some don't even have a place o actually call home, and others never want to leave.
The ideas of home are shaped by many different things, race class, and even gender. In Priscilla we watched a group of drag queens and one transsexual explore the road and find home on a bus. We saw how when someone endangers the ideas of traditional masuclinity and gender they are seen as inferior and therefore threatening of the so called normal person.
Although they were not your traditional males, seeing them on the road, and finally getting to their destination after being subjected to multiple hostilites was heartwarming. I was glad to see that they were determined to get where they were going and not let anyone get in the way of their destination. They didn't care that they had "Aids F-ers Go Home!!" written on their bus. They took this as an opportunity to make the bus even more fabulous, and even more fitting to their personalities.
They may have gotten a good fright here and there, but they learned from it, and bonded between each experience. They were also reminded that the city is more of a safe zone, because of the higher tolerance level than that of all the hetero-normativity in the rural and desert areas.
One cannot live there life in fear, this was demonstrated perfectly by this movie.

"We're not in Kansas anymore"

In comparing the article Home and Away to The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, it is seen that the road is used as an escape route somewhere. Not only is the road used for leaving a destination in hopes of an improved outcome, it can also be used for gay identity, homophobia and isolation. In The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, the two drag queens and one transsexual live in a somewhat comfortable and accepting city. As they travel, they become vicitmized by almost everyone possible. A woman, an immigrant and men are used to show victimize these characters.
It seems that people are scared of what they do not know. In the rugged outback, people are used to the same people, almost a cookie cutter affect. They are stereotyped to not like change and not understand differences of outsiders. As The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert is watched, one can see that the people can not identify with these drag queens. Because they don't understand their lifestyles, many characters in these isolated neighborhoods harass the queens throughout the film. In the article Home and Away, it discusses how the men are used as spectacles within the society and isolated because of the differences of both men and women, races, and cultures.
I think that the victimizers are trying to frighten away the drag queens., but I don't think the film is trying to frighten away an adventure. I think they are doing this because of the fear of change. Throughout the film we can see the draq queens grow as individuals and become more complex and complicated. Meanwhile, the other characters seem to stay the same, at a equilibrium of their human development. The only other person that grows in this film and benefits from these queens is Bob, who actually follows them. I think that this film is not trying to frighten people, rather I think it is trying to show the vast amount of differences of culture that Australia has to offer.

straw men at their best

The road, as we have known it, has been a place of escape, mobility and discovery of oneself. I feel in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert it is no different. The road for the three drag queens is one filled with hope that escape, mobility, and discovery will occur but they are continually met with “straw men?. The three assume the road will be easy compared to the stresses back home. They also assume that their mobility will be simple and not met with any barriers, even though they start their journey in a secondhand, “piece of junk? torn a part tour bus.
If a person is continually met with aggression, insult and hate in a strange place they are bound to want to go back to the familiar—to go back home. “The home that Tick and Adam return to is defined in the film as providing a barrier between the gay community and a hostile world? (Robertson 282). This attitude of “city superiority? over rural outback is due to the “straw men? representation of the outback. Things like having an obscene message written on their bus, people driving away and not helping them when their bus breaks down. Also when Tick enters a “hyper-masculine? space in drag, to be chased out and almost castrated. These three examples are only a few “straw men? that lead the men back home to the confined city walls of Sydney. In the end, the road redefines their home and the security they find there. The film also depicts the outback as unsafe for people who fit outside normality.

April 6, 2008

You gotta save yourself hunny

The women decide to take to the road in hopes to find a "new found freedom." They look to the road for liberation and a chance to escape. However, unlike many other films we have watched, the road doesn't become as liberating for homosexual drag queens. Living in the city and surrounded by people who are much more accepting of their lifestyles, I think these ladies were unaware of how harsh the road could be.
Peppered with stereotypical characters. (the mechanic and his mail order bride & the homophobic hicks) the road becomes a cold and almost cruel place for these characters. I think the women soon realize that this road is not going to give them the liberation they were looking for - and that feeling is going to come from within. Despite their bad luck and unresponsive audiences, in the end the roadtrip did change them. They found the confidence and liberation within themselves and within each other to feel this road trip was a success.
The road can't change everyone, sometimes you gotta look within yourself to bring out that change.

Priscilla and Stereotypes

After reading Robertson's article, I found her view of how characters' stereotypes play out in the film and affect the drag queens to be very interesting. I do agree that the use of stereotypes play a significant role in the film, however, I don't think that these stereotypes make the drag queens afraid to be on the road or frighten them to go home. I agree with Robertson that these stereotypes are actually there to "normalize" the drag queens by having the butch woman, "mail-order bride" and the natives be exceeding outrageous and excessive in their actions. For instance, when Bob's wife, the Filipino "mail-order bride" does her act so to speak with her outfit and ping pong balls, the drag show that was put on before seems almost tame and not at all extraordinary. Both Bob and the drag queens find her act to be over the top and in Robertson's words even "perverse". Indeed the audience then identifies with Bob and the drag queens when they see this act and find the drag queens to be the "normal" ones in the situation and Bob's wife and the men in the bar to be perverse.

As the drag queens continue in their journey throughout the desert they run into homophobia such as when Priscilla is vandalized, however, they are not frightened off the road but continue on usually with a joke from Felicia. It is when they face this homophobia, they are seen as different or marginalized. But when they are confronted with other marginalized groups such as the natives or the Filipino woman, the drag queens are outshined by the stereotypes and the drag queens appear to be the "normal" ones that can better blend into society and the status quo.

Is the "outback" for everyone?

I agree with Robertson's arguement that certain tropes are established in order to solidify the liberatory aspects seen in Priscilla; however the racist and sexist tropes employed in the film led me to feel that the road was not a safe place for homosexuals and that in the end Mitzi and Felicia felt more comfortable at home in the big city, Sydney and therefore were not very liberated on the road. For example, when their bus broke down and they were in the middle of nowhere, Bernadette went searching for help and when she returned in the jeep, the couple in the car was immediately turned off when they saw Mitzi in her stage outfit and the newly painted pink bus. The fact that they painted their bus in the first place was a reason of their unwelcoming in the "outback" of Australia because of the obscenities. I also believe it was quite telling that besides the resort, the only place where Mitzi, Felicia and Bernadette felt welcomed was with the aboriginals - a group of "atypical" people to the mainstream much like the main characters and their nonconformist lifestyles as homosexuals. Although I enjoyed the film overall, I did not think it was liberating as a road film in that the main characters weren't comfortable and seemed unwelcomed/not accepted in the unfamiliar "away from home" road they traveled.


Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is the first film that we have seen in class where the main characters are non-heterosexual human beings. On the road, Mitzie, Bernadette, and Felicia encounter other character types that can be seen as a stereotypical characters. These characters (Bob, Bob's wife, and the aborigine man) all show stereotypical characteristics while also breaking the molds that restrain them. Bob appears to be a white male who is possessive and abusive to his wife. However, we see him support our main characters in a way which is not expected. He sticks up for them and befriends them. Bobs wife begins as an oppressed woman who we later see is obsessed with some sort of ping pong ball act. In the end, she leaves her controlling husband saying "you want good wife, you be good husband". Althogh confined to her "Asian speaking ability", she still conveys the message that she knows she is treated badly and deserves better. Finally, we see the aborigine man who unlike the white, older couple helps them when Priscilla breaks down on the road. He brings them back to his home, which ends with him joining in their drag performance. He accepts them and even equates himself with the three characters when he dresses up to participate.

The road for our non-heterosexual characters opens up new doors for them. For example, Tick is able to confront his fear about being a father and is accepted by his son for who he is. Although the road is beneficial in some ways, it is filled with hate and stereotypes. Priscilla is spray painted by people in the first town, and they are turned away by many because of who they are (i.e. the older white couple).

Robertson is half way there

Robertson is right to say that Priscilla, Queen of the Desert portrays various racist, sexist and essentializing tropes of authenticity. For instance, the way that the aboriginals were portrayed as stragglers of society who dwell in the desolute parts of Australia. They are filmed as quite passive subjects as they are depicted as silent, smiling dark figures against a fire. However, I do not believe that Robertson is correct in saying that these tropes were needed in order to position a more authentic gay identity. Instead, I would argue that a scene like the before mentioned depicts one marginilzed group embracing another marginilzed group (the natives cheering on the drag show). Undoubtebly, the film could have done a better job at not using stereotypes of woman, immigrants, and natives (i.e. Bob's wife was shown as a crazy, loose drunk).


After viewing The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, overall I agree with Robertson’s idea that the road becomes liberating for those in the film with a gay identity. The first example from the film that can be used to explain this idea of liberation is when Bob interacts with the three main characters; Bernadette, Mitzi, and Felicia. He is first introduced as a mechanic with a wife that participates in activities that he doesn’t approve of. When Bob’s wife ends up leaving him because of her unhappiness with him he takes to the road with Bernadette, Mitzi, and Felicia. As he travels with them he and Bernadette begin to have feelings for each other, which is very liberating for the gay identity because Bob shows his respect for them throughout his time with them. Another example of how the road is liberating for the gay identity is the connection that Mitzi and his son develop throughout the journey. Although Mitzi’s son isn’t present for most of the film, just the existence of the thought of him proves to be very liberating in the end. Throughout the entire film Tick possess many questions about the way his son is going to see him. He is nervous to finally meet him because he doesn’t want to be rejected. When he finally sees his son and realizes that his son knows about the kind of person he is Tick recognizes that his son is okay with who he is. Tick realizes that it is okay for him to be Mitzi because his son is okay with it and that is all that really matters to him. He finds liberation in the way he can interact with his son no matter who he is.


Home has a lot to do with it. The three main characters: Mitzie, Bernadette, and Felicia left their home, where they were accepted for being homosexual/bisexual and went off to travel through rural areas to get to Tick/Mitzie's wife and son. The idea that the rearview mirror shows where they have been, home, and new experiences. In this movie, the road was seen as a way to leave home for a while, with the intentions of coming back sooner or later. I believe that the presence of the other groups, that may be portrayed in an offensive way, makes the focus not solely on the transsexual, or transgender individuals but shifts the attention to the other minorities in the rural areas like the butch woman, Filipino woman and aboriginal man. Priscilla herself fits into the stereotype of transsexuals or homosexual men, it was painted pink, and full of glitter and colorful clothing, to match the thought of the flamboyant, energetic, colorful men. I believe that the whole movie presented stereotypes because every type of person that was shown in the movie, was portrayed as and acting like the stereotype of the ethnicity or community that they belonged to. For example, the butch woman had short hair and manly features to fit the stereotype of a "butch" lesbian. Also, like Felicia, the homosexual man was was very colorful, loud and flamboyant which fit the stereotype of the "fem" gay man. Stereotypes float throughout this movie, and Priscilla passes through as she conquers the desert.

Gay identity and stereotypes

I agree with Robertson that a gay identity is created in "Priscilla" by contrasting the three main characters with stereotypical portrayals of women, immigrants, and natives. The woman in the hotel bar is dirty looking and very butch and it is implied that she works hard for a living in contrast to Bernadette who looks very cultured and clean and the epitome of upper-class womanhood. The contrast is shown really well in the shot of the woman's hand on Bernadette's with the dirty, short nails on the woman's dirty looking hands and Bernadette's long manicured fingernails on her perfectly clean and soft hands. But then Bernadette's reply to the woman shows the teeth hidden behind the pretty lips and sets out some of the flexibility in the gay image being portrayed, gays can be perfect women if they so choose but they can also be tough.

The immigrant woman's act with the ping-pong balls and her overly-sexual behavior contrasts with the act that the queens put on involving lots of clothing and more idealized womanhood. Their response to the immigrant woman's trick with the ping-pong balls also suggests that they are capable of acknowledging not only when they have met their match but also when their femininity is surpassed. The seeming naivety and acceptance of their act as just a show seems to point out the experience that the men have had with the world and how negative it is. The natives cheer more loudly than any of the other crowds and one joins in and in the end another adds a digerido to the music. It is a sharp contrast to the ridicule they get in some of the towns and seems to symbolize the blind acceptance of nature and the harsh reality of city life.

To Priscilla Thanks For Everything.

"Representations of normative whiteness foreground race and ethnicity as categories of difference Queer and camp representations, though non-normative in terms of sex and gender, are still consistently defined through categories of racial difference and especially blackness" (Robertson 280).
Until I read this phrase, I really didn't find much of Robertson's analysis to be veracious, after all the characters of Shirley and Cynthia were just single characters, and attempting to read too much into their placement in the film. I saw them primarily as comedic devices, and means to undermine hetero-normativity, not as insistent racist or misogynist archetypes to create some sort of white masculinist discourse.

What struck so strongly was how the Aboriginal Man (Alan Dargin) and his fellow Aborigines were constructed "not so much united with the drag queens but existing for them" (280). Granted the narrative, was primarily about the three queens, but to not even give their desert saviors a name, and to seemingly simply typecast the Aborigines in a position of subjugation similar to that of black american caricatures does seem at the very least a trifle hypocritical.
That being said, it'd be interesting to a do a comparative analysis of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of The Desert, with To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar (a film I have not yet viewed) and see how the inclusion of a black main character could change the racial dynamics, and subvert the invisible white normativity.


In Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the road to home is not so much a geographical quest (although the characters do, of course, cover physical ground) so much as a road to self-discovery and social acceptance. The traditional, prescriptive roles of gender and norms of sexuality are the obstacles which the group has to travel through and overcome. The juxtaposition of rural Australia with the flamboyance of the three characters shows how serious a journey it is for those riding in Priscilla to make, and that the journey is a necessary step in their lives as authentic beings, not hiding from themselves just because of the place they happen to live. The encounters with the homophobic illustrate the aspects of society that Mitzie, Bernadette, and Adam had to face in order to remain true to themselves, and not be restricted to the comfort of a “home? that for many breed a certain fear of the outside world and outside viewpoints.

Robertson describes the characters’ desire to return home after their journey as “anti-climactic? (Home and Away, 273). This takes me back to our first road movie viewed in class: Easy Rider. Wyatt’s claim of having “blown it? relates the common road film’s theme of having an initial motive for travel which ends up changing through a series of enlightening and/or tragic events. In Priscilla, the characters’ realization of their desire to return home may seem anti-climactic in contrast to the initial optimism of the trip, but the journey itself was valuable, and the return home does not devalue those changes in perspective and encounters with opposing viewpoints which a journey brings. I agree that the road in the symbolic “quest? sense is a vehicle for discovery that may or may not lead back to the familiar starting point. In Priscilla, the conventional roles of the Australian society from which the character’s come are breached through a discovery of the limitlessness of their own identities. Through comparing their freedom of expression and self-discovery with that of the more fixed, dominant culture, we see the power of the road in its relation to home: home is more of a state of mind than a specific place.


“As camp, these road movies seemingly allow for models of difference and diversity but, ultimately, by opting for the familiarity of their own backyard, they reinscribe differences rather than acknowledge diversity.? Robertson, 283

I agree with Robertson on the issue that, yes, having minor stereotypical characters in the film, the protagonist(s) is define and shown in a light which makes him non-normative and a type of outcast. We find that in many situations by the comparison of the protagonist(s) to the other minor characters that the protagionist is flawed, out of place, and/or unaccepted. An obvious scene is when Felicia is at the Manly-Brew_Fest dressed like a woman, almost tricks one man into believing s/he is a female, and is chased down by the group of “normative? outback masculine men.
A comparison can be found the scene in Easy Rider where the men are denied a room at the motel, and the scene in Priscilla where then men are left stranded by the hunters because they look queer. Both sets of men are left out in the dust, but one group is considered normative masculinity (because of their motorcycle, womanizing attitude, etc.), and the other is not (because of the way the dress, transgender, etc.) Therefore, that goes to show that when out on the road and compared/interacting with stereotypical characters of people you find yourself lost, longing for familiarity and acceptance, and different.


I agree with Robertson that "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" uses various stereotypes of gender and sex to "frighten" the way of these bodies to take on the road. In one of the bar scenes, the three bodies are approached by a "butch" woman who refuses to let them have a drink, ultimately refusing to accept them. Bernadette out wits this woman AND out drinks her, proving herself in her lifestyle as a transsexual.
There are many other encounters with immigrants, natives, aborigines, etc. that seem to be placed in the outback to keep different gender identities out of the outback and into the cities.
At the end of the film, one of the girls mentions that they are ready to go home. So even after experiencing some people groups that accepted their differences there is this understanding that cities hold a 'safer' place for transsexuals and drag queens.

Please be considerate with your kitsch

"Priscilla reminds us that diversity is not a single thing but consensus of multiple and potentially conflicting groups and identities. We need, however to find ways to bring these differences into constellation, without erasing them and without privileging one difference over others" (Robertson, 284).

With this quote, Robertson crystallizes my own sentiments on the methods that Priscilla utilizes to situate a place in society for individuals one may encounter when leaving the known road, and traveling into the 'outback'. Throughout Priscilla, 3 individuals (who lie outside the hetero-normative confines) encounter gross exaggerations/stereotypes of 'others'. There is the oversexed voyeuristic mail-order-bride, the nearly mute aboriginal peoples, and a angry and violent butch woman. Their interactions with these non-normatives allow the 3 travelers to justify how frightening the road truly is. Although the 3 embody stereotypes in their own right, certain scenes allow them to appear the "normal" ones, while those they encounter on the road are the "frightening/perverse".

The bar scene where the mail-order-bride performs illustrates this notion. While the travelers calmly prepare their makeup/costumes, the bride paces her home manically. She is locked away, too savage and perverse for human eyes. The men make their brief and poorly received number. The crowd reacts, but not in a way that suggests they are put off by the qualities that make the travelers 'non-normative'. Instead, they seemed unimpressed and bored. However, when the bride takes stage, the crowd erupts, suggesting that they are also savage and wild because they react so positively to such a spectacle. This turns the travelers into the normative figures. The road houses the likes of the performer and the crowd, who are both perverse in their own rights. The men react to the situation with either disgust or laughter at the sheer madness of it all.

In this manner, Priscilla uses stereotypes to situate them in a place of normalcy. The travelers can justify their adherence to urban settings by profiling those who lie outside its borders to be wild and perverse/


I both agree and disagree with Robertson's statement. The movie does seem to set up instances where the characters are put in continuously bad positions while on the road. Every character in this film is the epitome of excess of the stereotype they are representing. Thus each obsticle they encounter on the road is more horrible then the next. Robertson claims that the 3 drag queens on the road are always making a "spectacle" of themselves and that is largely why they are targeted. "Being a spectacle, however, also entails being victim to homophobia, as when anti-gay graffiti are spray-painted on their bus in Broken Hill, or when Adam is nearly gay-bashed in Coober Pedy" (Roberston 277). In a way, all the other characters too, like Shirely, and Bob's wife, were making spectacles of themselves, this contributes to their excess. I agree with Robertson in the sense that perhaps this was intentional to highlight the uncertainty of the road and make one not want to leave their home.

But then there are also characters like Bob. Bob is a straight man from these seemingly red neck towns and he accepts the 3 drag queens straight away. He helps them, feeds them, joins them, and ultimately falls in love with one of them, all on the road. This is where I tend to disagree with Robertson. For the 3 main characters to find this acceptance on the road, especially when they've encountered nothing but seeming hardships along the way, could be an encouraging factor.

Ultimately though, the characters do get fed-up with the unfair life on the road and want to return home. Bernadette points out that the city (their home) "looks after them." I am not quite sure though that any of the characters found their trip on the road a waste of time. Tick gets his son, who accepts him, Adam gets to fulfill a dream, and Bernadette actually stays to see if she can make it work with Bob. So while they did experience some obsticles that would make some want to never venture off onto the road, they gained some things that seemingly made the trip worth it.

Priscilla - For or Against Diversity

I agree with Robertson's argument that the road is liberating to gay identities because of its racist and sexist nature. This point can not be more evident than in the bar scene where Shirley, a very butch white woman, refuses to serve Tick, Adam and Bernadette because they are different. Bernadette's response to this woman is to yell at her in front of a large crowd of men that have gathered. "Now listen here, you mullet. Why don't you just light your tampon and blow your box apart, because it's the only bang you're ever going to get." After Bernadette has made Shirley into a "scape goat" for the crowd's hostility the male crowd erupts in laughter and our three main characters are instantly accepted in the bar.

In another scene Bob’s wife Cynthia shows up at the bar where Tick, Adam and Bernadette are suppose to be performing their drag number. She is very scantily clad and begins dancing and performing a ping pong ball routine. The all male audience goes wild and Bob is eventually forced to pull her off the bar and take her back home. Cynthia’s performance liberates the drag queens from the eyes of the audience as she becomes their focus.

April 5, 2008

Queens of the Desert

Within Stephan Elliott’s Australian film Adventures of Pricilla, Queen of the Dessert, the road serves as a liberating tool for the queer men and transsexual aboard Pricilla as they take to the Australian Outback. As proposed by Pamela Robertson in her piece “Home and Away,? that mobility in the Australian Outback, as taken by those within ‘Pricilla,’ is set up to frighten away those who choose to venture away from the city and into the vast, harshness of the road, by stereotypes of woman, immigrants, and those native to the outback. Personally, I both agree and disagree with the argument Robertson proposes that the outback is set up to frighten away those who wish to venture to it, specifically those who associate with a gay identity, through harsh stereotypes and identities. Although there are harsh stereotypes that do attempt to scare off people from the Outback, especially those who are gay, the men and women aboard Pricilla tend to find another side to the stereotypes will traveling, and encountering various stereotypes along their journey, which is where I disagree with in regards to Robertson’s argument.
Although there are stereotypes of women, natives, and outback men that those aboard Pricilla encounter, such as the butch women in the first bar they go to, who fulfills the stereotype of a women living in the outback and amongst many men, who addresses the men and Bernadette, is suppose to scare them away as outsiders, but instead they stand up to her and she no longer is seen as a threat and those within the bar then embrace the ‘outsiders’ as one, regardless of who they are. This occurs at various points within their road journey, (such as the outback native coming to rescue him, and instead of being scared of and abusing the men and women, welcomes them to the outback life) as harsh stereotypes and figures attempt to scare off Bernadette, Mitzi, and Felicia, but the harsh stereotypes that were suppose to scare them off, actually embrace them all for who they are. Although I do agree with Robertson’s point that the use of stereotypes is apart of the attempt to scare off those from the city to venture away into the outback, majority of the people who fit the harsh stereotypes actually don’t scare them away, but embrace or tolerate those on Pricilla and help them with their journey instead.

April 4, 2008

Queens of the Desert

I both disagree and agree with Robertson, in that the film uses both stereotypes to frighten away those who undertake the desert and that it also encourages freedom. For example, after the scene where Mitzi takes some drugs and decides to go have a drink with the men in the desert and ends up almost getting hurt, Bernadette reflects on how the city protects them, because it is more accepting and sheltered than the desert. Here the desert is unwelcoming, harsh, and provides the characters with a reason to feel unaccepted and unwanted. The desert encourages mobility of the men by inforcing stereotypes of people being homophobic outside of the city, and accepting within it.
The desert encourages freedom because of its space. The desert is wide, open, and for the most part uninhabited. You can do anything you want, and almost no one would ever know. Priscilla makes use of this in its many scenes of the men dressed up in full drag and doing things such as painting the bus, riding on top singing opera, or practicing their dances. They only come upon people when they need help or reach a town, which allows the characters to feel free and comfortable with themselves and who they are while in the desert. Also, the people of the desert are not entirely unwelcoming. There are two instances of this: the group of aboriginees hat they meet when the bus breaks down for the first time and they end up performing for them, and Bob, the man with the mail order wife who they enlist to help them the second time the bus breaks down. These people are accepting and welcoming of the men as drag queens, and Bob even begins a relatioship with Bernadette, breaking down the stereotype of people in the desert being unaccepting of differences.

April 3, 2008

Kings of Queens

The film, "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," showcases gay mobility in a way no other movie had before. Putting queer bodies on the road illustrates a whole new way to liberate these unaccepted people through the journey they take together. Robertson in Home and Away tries to argue that the liberating factor of the film relies on racist and sexist stereotypes that furthermore frighten those who dare to venture from home. Though the film does make use of such stereotypes, they work to enhance the liberation of the road, and instead of frightening travelers away, the stereotypes aid the queer bodies in finding their place in this world. In the film, the "girls" visit a bar early on in their journey. Here they encounter a woman who is portrayed as being extremely "butch," as well as other "redneck" type patrons. Instead of being outcast and persecuted, Bernadette proves their worth with her sharp wit. They become a hit at the bar, singing songs, selling Wo-Man cosmetics, and winning drinking duels. Here the stereotype of the working class Australian works with the road to show that queer bodies can find their fit in an unlikely place, specifically a room of extremely manly and conservative Australians. Also in the film, the three encounter a group of Aboriginees, one in particular, who invite them to a party. Once again the racial stereotype of impoverished and old fashioned Aboriginee culture is employed to aid the queer bodies in finding a place wherever they roam. Where one would think they would be shunned, they are once again accepted. At the party, the three put on a drag show, and the Aboriginees, though hesitant, enjoy it, support it, and join in. These uses of stereotypes, though they could be employed to frighten and de-liberate the road, in fact are used to show that queer bodies have a place in any part of society that they find, therefore making the road all the more liberating for the three characters, and making a venture away from home seem more than worthwhile.

Priscilla Instructions

The road can be conceived as taking us away from home and into the wide open spaces of possibility and often returning us home. Robertson argues in Home and Away that the potentially libratory aspects of the road for masculinities in Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert relies on various racist, sexist
and essentializing tropes of authenticity to position a more authentic, because less fixed, gay identity. In its portrayal of a porous and mobile gay identity, Priscilla relies on contrasting and essentialized stereotypes of woman, immigrant, and native (and outback masculinity)* ---straw men, as it were, set up to frighten away those who venture away from home and into the Australian landscape. Do you agree or disagree? Give examples from the film to support your point of view. Do not repeat what students have already entered in prior blog responses. (*added by Prof Z)