A recent film that I have studied in class has managed to unsettle me, to change my views about major issues such as gender and family I found Billy Elliot to be a moving and uplifting film about motherless Billy fulfilling his dream of becoming a ballet dancer, in the process overcoming the objections of his father and brother. By setting the movie in the context of a mining community, and more specifically against the backdrop of the 1980??™s miners strike they were able to refer to gender and class issues. The effective use of symbolic and technical film codes and the narrative elements; point of view, plot and characterization positioned me to challenge the stereotypical understandings of class and gender. At first, this does not seem like a text that would unsettle anybody in a significant way but when the true messages are conveyed a deeper meaning can be made and can, indeed, be quite unsettling.
The first issue I will be discussing is gender expectations within society. This issue has unsettled me more so than I would have thought, maybe because it is still I key issue in today??™s society .There are a lot of gender expectations within society that are involved with Billy Elliot. In Billy Elliot, boys are meant to do boxing, wrestling and any other sports that may be viewed as strictly male activities and girls are meant to do ballet, cooking and sewing. This is evident in the scene when billy??™s dad finds out that billy has been doing dancing, where Jackie is tells Billy, he is not allowed to do ballet “Boys do football, soccer, wrestling, not friggin ballet” and eventually bans Billy from attending ballet class and even boxing, to care for his grandmother. These challenges are emphasised by the lack of dialogue, allowing complete focus to be placed on Billy as he dances in an attempt to break through the social constraints. It makes me think, how much effort billy had to go through just to do what he wants, not only where gender expectations strict in the 1980??™s mining society but breaking out of them can be a great ordeal. Possibly, the reason I am unsettled by this issue is because I can see how difficult it was just to be free to choose his own path for Billy Elliot.
This visual text examines how politics can affect an individuals experiences, representing struggles with which the person has to act in order to grow. In Billy Elliot, political struggle can be seen in the scene with the song London Calling, which shows the violence of the miners strike. For Billy, the miners aggression is a large part of his world and by choosing to have nothing to do with it, he distances himself from his brothers physical violence. Although he sees the violence that was inflicted upon his brother, it affects billy in his attitudes which is seen later in the scene when Mrs. Wilkinson tries to confront billy about being late for his audition. This aspect can be quite unsettling by showing how politics is not only capable of violence but how it has an effect on the others around you i.e. billy stays with his brother instead of going for his audition. When billy skips his audition because of his brother??™s incident with the police we see how the political struggle has deterred billy from his chance to follow his dreams. Even though all Billy wanted was to be a dancer he puts more value on his family than his audition. The effect of the film seemed to change my priorities altogether. What is more important, your dream or your family
In conclusion, gender expectations, family and political struggle all represent familiar experiences with which an individual must deal in order to grow. In this text, it has been shown that familiar experiences often involve struggles between individuals, their parents, society and socially-defined ideas such as gender stereotypes. However, it has also been shown that when individuals are able to determine their own identities in spite of these factors, they are able to grow by having new goals and encourage other individuals around them to do so as well. Familiar experiences represent the struggles in which individuals are engaged such as redefining gender roles, overcoming domineering parenting and political issues. All of these are fine examples where familiar experiences can bring upon a new horizon which is a continual process as we grow and change throughout life. So to sum up, this text wasn??™t unsettling because it had a bunch of dramatic scenes, but because it has influenced me to view my life in a different way, a way in which gender and family are much more familiar and important. Billy Elliot??™s struggle in this masculine society where males are ridiculed upon for being feminine like or physically weak, is the perfect example of how gender was ridiculed. For new goals to be reached people within Billy Elliot must let go from the social constraints and accept the future of a more modernised society that accepts people for who they are, what they are interested in, and all other factors that influence us as people within society.
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