Misunderstanding Movies and Movement in Music

Alex Apkin

The connection between violence and men is eminent throughout the world and was the main topic of discussion in Tough Guise 2. The documentary takes a look at the brutal and violent nature that people are so quick to associate with men. This association has come to pass after years of movies, TV Shows, and teachings from many sources. Our society has been built on the idea that guys must act a certain way, and this is only pushed further by the film and entertainment industry. Movies as early as the 50’s, with actors such as John Wayne, began a trend of endorsing violence as the answer and things have escalated ever since. By the time Scarface opened 1983 men young and old were entrenched with the belief that violence and aggression were important parts of who they were as beings in this world. Scarface is recognized as a great piece of work that everyone approves of as a cinematic masterpiece. Scarface a ruthless gangster is considered a hero by most, especially men, who love his combative, violent nature, true fearlessness, powerful aura, and the ability to do whatever he wants. This paints him as a model figure for so many men. While many can see through this character and understand the film depicts a morally flawed, corrupt and dangerous person, many others still perceive him as a great role model and someone to aspire to become. I noticed a similar type of misunderstanding with the movie The Wolf of Street. The movie depicts the real life story of Jordan Belfort, a Wall Street stockbroker, who came into hundreds of millions of dollars through illegal means. The characters in this story behaved brutishly. They treated women as simply sexual objects, whom they could use and then dispose of in an instant. They took countless drugs throughout, and spoke vilely using swears. They treated the world as their playground and never knew when enough was enough. The goal of this movie was to show the corrupt and awful nature of some Wall Street brokers who take advantage of their situation and are greedy beyond belief. Clearly they are men who should not be looked up to, but many people will do so because these men are not exceptional in their immature behavior. Just as these men were greedy, so many more would do the same in their shoes, and would love to be them. This is the issue that society faces. When do we draw the line between reality and fantasy. I believe much of the controversy surrounding The Wolf of Wall Street is understandable, considering how harsh the movie is. It shows women as nothing more than sexual objects, but this is because this is how the characters in the film view them not the writer or the director, and therefore not the audience. The way the movie portrays women should disgust viewers but not in the sense that the movie lacks respect for women but that the characters within it do.

Movies like Scarface and the Wolf of Wall Street are perfectly ok when we have an understanding of what the message at hand is. When we are laughing at the characters rather than with them we are making it clear in our minds that these individuals that we see on the screen are animals and we are better than that. However when we see the character on screen and we admire them to the point where we wish we could have the opportunity to unleash these attributes in some forum we become just as cruel as these people. Understanding the distinct, yet for some invisible, line of what is right and wrong can be hard. Greed, money, power are enticing but at what price? Knowing that there are more important aspects to life may seem basic but for so many the intrigue that these stories of others provide is extremely powerful and harmful. It is sickening to think that some cannot see the evils of these terribly flawed characters, and so the fault does not lie with the storyteller but rather the viewer, who must learn to love life for the things that truly matter not the artificial pieces that rise to the surface in portrayals of violent greedy scoundrels. The bigger problem is the these types of movies that romanticize and build up the idea of violence as the answer seem to greatly outnumber those that preach against the violence and abhorrent behavior. It seems we could use more of these films along with the proper mental fortitude to absorb the tales on the screen.

I feel another example of this is in comedies that portray characters as foolish. It makes fun of extraordinary characters, but the fan of that work is looking at each character as cool and wants to be them. The show Workaholics shows three degenerate telemarketers, who drink, take countless drugs, and think they are much cooler than they are. They don’t have any large aspirations for life outside of next week. Yet even though they enjoy little success in any fashion of life, other than having fun and acting younger than their age, audiences adore and admire them. Instead of laughing at them they are laughing with them, which is the major issue at play in so many TV shows and movies.

The movie industry does deserve a large amount of blame for displays of violence though. When the core of the movie is senseless violence and it is gory to no end with no message to hold together the film I believe it falls apart. The studio is just feeding in to what they know the people want, and what will therefore make them the most money. This is a dangerous part of the movie industry, because violence and explosions have become so popular to this point that they are what makes the movie studios money, and this is all that the studios truly care about. When the protagonist and the clear hero of the film is using violence as the answer then the film is corrupting and brainwashing our society through mixed messages. They say that violence is acceptable but hope that you understand that this is just entertainment. The problem arises when men want more than to just watch the movie but feel a need to live it as. Fight Club was an example that Tough Guise 2 remarked upon where people started their own fighting groups just like those seen in the movie. Knowing that movies are entertainment and rarely more than that is imperative, but it seems that many Americans are influenced by the themes they see in movies.

Dreamworlds 3 compiled image upon image of women being subjected to the wishes of men in apparent fantasies of so many musical groups. The repetitive nature of the film was alarming and seeing the images next to those from the assaults at Central Park in 2000. While the images seen in this documentary were extremely disturbing I believe that the music industry is taking good strides in the right direction. During the Grammy’s two weeks ago 33 couples, some gay and some straight were married on television. As they embraced Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, who recently won best new rap artist, played their song Same Love. The fact that there is a rapper singing about his endorsement of gay marriage, and promoting equality while being recognized at the Grammys in multiple categories says a lot about how the rap genre and music industry has changed. Also during the night Lorde, a 17-year-old girl, performed her hit Royals, which speaks to her frustration with the material goods that celebrities indulge themselves on, and how she will never  give in to that lifestyle. She seems to be more interested in her music than in what people think of her, and so it will be fascinating to see how her career takes shape as she grows both as a person (who is still so young) and as a musician. Adele is another fine example of a female artist succeeding without succumbing to the desire for sexual appeal from the public. If an artist has enough talent he or she can survive without the proper sexual appeal that was once required of them.



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