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Select a television drama or a film. Using relevant terms and concepts derived from genre analysis, narrative analysis, critical discourse analysis, semiotic analysis, or auteur analysis (you may use any or all of these methods), show how your chosen text constructs ideological messages. You must use secondary readings to support your analysis and include an APA bibliography at the end of your essay. Do not choose a television drama or a film covered in class.
This essay will use a variety of different methods of analysis to show how the film “The Blind Side” constructs ideological messages. The film “The Blind Side” depicts the struggle of a Black American man to assimilate as part of a predominantly white American society. Michael Oher, the main protagonist presents the idea from the outset regarding how a black man experiences maltreatment and discriminative treatment from the white community, something that appears as a common trend in American mainstream ideologies. The film is hugely responsible for the deconstruction of the traditional perceptions, through the presentation of the Tuohy family creating alternative ideologies to dispel them.
A person’s ideology makes the culture more informed and therefore better adapted to make a judgement. “Ideology differs from culture, in that it adds a political dimension to the discussion on culture. It suggests that relations of power shape the cultural and ideological landscape.” (Storey, 2009). The Tuohy’s’ ideology is vastly different from the standard culture of the society. Because they play an influential role in the community, they have the audacity have to express their ideologies. It is hard in the beginning to show their different point of view, but they win the battle against their adversaries because Michael shows that he is different from the stereotypic character of a Black American. The ideology created here is formed mainly of concepts surrounding power, and this produces a platform for the prejudice to be dismissed.
In this movie, the director shows how White Americans like the Tuohy family accept Michael for who he is. The ideological message portrayed is that he Is of an equal ability and have a right to the same right to the principles upheld by the family. The Tuohy’s become Michael’s enduring guide as he makes a vast transformation, obtaining social acceptance, and involvement. From this sense, it can be perceived that Hancock’s film depicts an ideology as it emphasizes the different issues of the society such as racism and cultural interaction, and how these are being dispelled by gracious acts from an unexpected source.
Throughout the discussion of Michael’s life, the film is depicted with flashbacks to contrast his past life from the current occurrences. In many cases such as the depiction of Michael’s mother, these create ideological themes, enabling the audience to follow the wider story as it progresses. They are also vitally important details that help establish the main character’s personality, through his protective and instinctive natures. The ideologies this creates are solely to gain and obtain an emotive engagement from the audience, giving context of the misfortunes he has undergone and the transformation he is now making. The film depicts the dilemma of Black Americans and integration into a White American family, and this ultimately provides this moral dilemma. Regardless of the magnitude of the gesture, the family are still going to be judged heavily for their kindness. The director, however, presents the the moral undertaking in a positive light throughout the film. Although negativity is presented, it is always eliminated. This ideological message portrays them as holding a hugely controversial moral standpoint. “The large majority of the people actively looking to adopt in this country are white and for the most part they want white children, at least initially.” (Bartholet, 1991)
However, the ideology of repulsion is presented as a conflict of the film, within the Tuohy’s social surroundings. Since the socialite family are instrumental individuals, because of their wealth and notoriety people around them think that adopting Michael taints their good reputation. This is one of the major battles presented of the film as they choose between self-preservation and their controversial moral standpoint. “Blacks are purposely portrayed in films with negative stereotypes that reinforced white supremacy over them. This has had a tremendous effect on our view of blacks since motion pictures have had more of an impact on the public mind than any other entertainment medium in the last ninety years.” (Sampson, 1995) The contradictory theme in this, is that he is presented honourably, promoting his abilities rather than his skin colour.
The further ideological messages of racism are made within the within the classroom. According to John Storey (2009), “‘race’ and racism are not natural or inevitable phenomena; they have a history and are a result of human actions and interactions”. He additionally is subject to discriminatory behaviour inside his classroom. His teacher demonstrates a recognition of his differences from the other more able students. It is a form of stereotype that the media continues to express towards its audience, in this case through subtle hints at his poor intellectual capacity.
Another ideological construction that exists in this film is the socialites and the significance of their lifestyle in his transformation. This ideology shows the contrast of how a wealthy white woman is perceived in comparison to Michael and his inability to fend for himself due to his disadvantaged background. (Sorey, 2012) explains that the social construction of culture, and culture as a particular way of life, or “expression of this particular way of living helps us to establish an understanding of the shared values of a group or class of people.” Being a wealthy, successful independent woman she is perceived as being of a high social order and highly intellectual. She is described as a flawless and sophisticated character that has special abilities and an exceptional eye for taste when it comes to her personal needs.
Culture also plays an important role in establishing ideologies in the film. People have different culture, but through cultural relativism, they become connected. “There is no doubt that cultures differ in substantial ways, and that these differences have substantial psychological effects on the members of the culture.” (Rozin, 2003) The Tuohys acknowledge Michael’s cultural differences even though his social and family background seems improper because it contains imperfections. This message shows the Tuohy’s have a specific set of moral values. They believe that Black Americans are unacceptable within their community or surroundings because they are the root of negativities in the community. The Tuohys do not change this norm, but they create their own values by accepting Michael and believe in him and his capabilities as a person.
Bartholet, E. (1991) ‘Where do black children belong? The politics of race matching in adoption’, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 139(5), p. 1163. doi: 10.2307/3312364.
Lam, E.R. and Szekely, K.S. (1987) ‘Blacks in television: A selective, annotated bibliography’, Journal of Popular Film and Television, 14(4), pp. 176-183. doi: 10.1080/01956051.1987.9944224.
PORTRAYAL OF MINORITIES IN THE FILM, MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRIES (1998) Available at: https://web.stanford.edu/class/e297c/poverty_prejudice/mediarace/portrayal.htm (Accessed: 24 February 2017).
Rozin, P. (2003) ‘Five potential principles for understanding cultural differences in relation to individual differences’, Journal of Research in Personality, 37(4), pp. 273-283. doi: 10.1016/s0092-6566(02)00566-4.
Sampson, H.T. (1995) Blacks in black and white: A source book on black films. 2nd edn. New York, NY, United States: The Scarecrow Press.
Storey, J.W. (2009) Cultural theory and popular culture: An introduction (5th edition). 5th edn. Harlow, England: Pearson Longman.
Storey, J.W. (2012) Cultural theory and popular culture: An introduction (6th edition). 6th edn. Harlow, England: Pearson.
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