Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Final Paper

If You Can’t Pick Your Family, Can You Pick Your Gender?

There are an infinite number of adjectives that people can choose from to describe themselves. They can choose from: big/small, short/tall, fun/boring, happy/sad. However, when society begins to define people, it tries to fit them into as many short categories as possible; Black/White, Male/Female. The more categories come up, the harder society works to sort them. Take for example nationalities such as Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Salvadoran, Guatemalan, Ecuadoran, Paraguayan, turn into “races” like Asian and Latino. It is for these socially made categories that people now feel the need to define themselves as a certain race. Once that has happened “Race dominates [people’s] personal lives.” (Haney Lopez 965). Then there are the harder categories that society fears to categorize like gender. It would be easier if people would just be male or female, feminine or masculine, but those lines are blurred. Therefore they try to makes as many categories as they can such as gay, transgender, transsexual, bisexual, but there are more than the fields that they create. It is no wonder then that “because races are constructed ideas [they] form part of a wider social fabric into which other relations, not least gender and class, are also woven.”(Haney Lopez 970). Races and cultures begin to define gender roles and sexuality and place them into rules that must be followed. The 1995 film My Family/Mi Familia, strives to depict the struggle of a Mexican-American family. The film is a depiction of Mexican music, dress, language, food, religion, and struggle. Evidently of course, they will show the gender roles and sexuality that are governed by Mexican culture. In the film, there are many differences in the depiction of male and female gender roles and sexuality.
The movie My Family follows the different generations of the Sanchez family. The movie starts off by showing the life that the father, Jose Sanchez, lives in Mexico. Because Mexico is the cultural foundation that the Sanchez family will follow, they make sure to show the colors, dress, and religious practices that Mexicans follow. Within that sequence, they also begin to the differences between men and woman. The first men that come into that scene are pulling a cart with a cow. It is implying that they are working. A second later, women are shown in a grave yard practicing spiritual rituals. For those that have no knowledge of Mexican culture, they would think that it is the men that work and do the hard labor and it is the women that are spiritual and superstitious. This perception is also validated when Maria, the mother of the Sanchez family, is deported back to Mexico and has to come back. Maria and her mother talk about having faith in the Virgin to bring their family back together. Also, when Chucho almost dies, Maria takes him to curanderas or spiritual healers that are all women. The only men that are seen in that part of the movie are the men that are working the boat that will help her cross the river. The men are doing the hard labor which is pulling the boat across an angry river. Because these are the scenes that set in the family roots already show the divides in men and women, it serves the purpose of a reasoning or explanation of how or why the Sanchez children create their roles. It also enforces the “Dominant paradigms, predefined concepts that exist as unquestionable, unchallengeable, are transmitted to us through the culture.” (Anzaldua 1018).
What the movie does in the Mexico scenes is not unlike what many American settlers did to Mexicans when they began to take over their lands. They began to do what Ian F. Haney Lopez calls “gender racialization” (970). He states that during the frontier expansion “the native men of the Southwest were depicted as indolent, slothful, cruel, and cowardly Mexicans, while the women were described as fair, virtuous, and lonely Spanish maidens.” (970). The movie My Family keeps the tradition of gender racialization alive by showing these differences in men and women early on in the film. These perceptions are imprinted in the minds of the viewer as actual Mexican gender roles. Although, the Sanchez family transfers themselves in to a new country some of those gender roles that are set in Mexico are not changed.
The jobs and roles that the Sanchez family takes are highly racialized but even more set in gender. The jobs that the men have in the movie are highly physical. The Sanchez father is a gardener. The viewer sees Jose’s hands bleeding as he pulls weeds and cuts plants. He meets his wife Maria while she is a nanny for a rich white family in the west side of Los Angeles. After their marriage however, Maria is no longer a nanny and takes the role of a house wife. The viewer sees a young Maria saying “Jose, ya esta tu cafĂ© con leche” ( My family), “ Jose your coffee with milk is ready”, and at the end of the film although she is of old age, she still tells him the same thing. No matter how old she is, her job is to be dedicated to her husband.
The same is seen in the lives of Isabel and Jimmy. Isabel, a Salvadoran immigrant, is working for a white family as a nanny. When she and Jimmy are finally going to have a child Jimmy begins to do manual labor in a sort of grocery warehouse. The woman that Isabel works for, Gloria, realizes that she “has to find someone else” (My Family), because Isabel will have to assume the role of a house wife for her own family. Of course, the film takes the time to show how this gender racialization is seen through the eyes of those of other races or cultures when Gloria’s friend says “Ya they’re always getting pregnant. As soon as you get one trained, each them some English, they can answer phone. Then boom she’s pregnant.”(My Family). The view to other cultures about the Latino race is that they are always having children and after that they serve no purpose because they assume the role of the house wife. However, some of the other Sanchez children try to break the mold of their racialized jobs.
Gloria Anzaldua argues that “For a woman of [Mexican] culture there used to be only three directions she could turn: to the Church as a nun, to the streets as a prostitute, or to the home as a mother.” (1018) and My Family corroborates Azaldua’s argument. The roles that the two Sanchez girls choose when they are young are within the three categories that Anzaldua gives. Irene gets married. She is to assume the role of the wife and mother. Her family is so overjoyed by it that they threw a huge wedding that “nearly ruined [Jose] financially” (My Famiy). But since she was assuming a role that is accepted for women in Mexican culture they celebrated. There is also another celebration that happens on the same day as the wedding. That is when Toni announces that she is going to be a nun. The family is again proud that the women in their families are leading to the lives Anzaldua argues are the three roles that a woman can take.
However, later on in the film there is a shift in the film. The women assume what Anzaldua calls “a fourth choice: entering the world by way of education and career” (1018). Irene’s job is still close to the domestic work that the film shows that Latina women should do. She owns a “family restaurant with Gerardo” (My Family). She is still seen in the kitchen cooking. However, with the success that she is experiencing is connected to a negative aspect. The narrator and her brother Paco says “As Irene’s business expanded so did Irene”, meaning of course that Irene got fat. Although Irene was successful, the film had to show how that affected her negatively. Then Toni is the most revolutionary one of them all. Toni breaks all the rules of her culture for women. She leaves her life as a nun and marries a priest. First she is breaking the rules of the church. Since, it is the woman, as the movie first depicts, that is more spiritual she is not suppose to break such rules. Then, the priest that she marries is also a white priest, which is a big turn for the family. Her career after being a nun is extremely out of the gender role. She is a political activist helping the Latino community with problems such as immigration. Because of that her family is always scrutinizing her. Paco is heard saying that she deals with “that political bullshit” (My Family) and her father yells to her “you and your politics” (My Family). She is also the only female that is not seen having children. She is the only female that detaches herself from the traditional roles that her race and culture give her.
The Sanchez sons are also expected to take certain jobs. Jose fights with Chucho and bans him from the home when he finds out that Chucho is selling drugs in order to make a living. Jose says that he needs to find a job with dignity. It is because of the culture and because of the law that Jose finds Chucho’s job extremely offensive. The men of the family are expected to do work with their hands or jobs that will make decent money in and honorable way. If Jose is not at his official work he can be seen working on his milpa, which provides corn for his family. It is a means for his family to eat. Therefore he is seen as the good male; no matter what he keeps working. Like Chucho Jimmy was as the bad son because he had no real job until he decides to do right for Isabel and his son and “finally crosses the bridge to the Westside”(My Family) to work. Paco is also seen as a bad male figure because of his choices. When he was younger Paco was a proud figure because he was in the Navy. However, his choices after made the family see him as a shame because he was not married and he wants to be a writer. And, as Jose states, “Who is going to pay for that?”(My Family). That is why Maria says that “Memo is the pride of the family” (My Family) because he is on his way to being a lawyer and attending UCLA. He is on his way to having an honest career that will make him an amazing living. Although the men have more choices in their decisions than the women, they are not immune to the gender racialization that the film creates. Though life decisions such as jobs and work are already a lot to live up to and carry, the list only continues.
There is another heavy task that the women have to live up to and the men get to forget about. The women in this movie are the keepers of their culture and the men get to assimilate in to the “American” culture or create a new one. Chucho is the first character that we say take on a new dimension of his culture. Instead of being a traditional Mexican male he becomes a Pachuco. During the wedding of his sister Irene, he says “man I hate this mariachi shit”(My Family). Then he is seen listening to Oldies. He doesn’t like his cultural music. However, his sister Toni, is seen doing the traditional dances to the mariachi music at the wedding. She is the one keeping the culture. The same goes for Jimmy when he is with Isabel. He is also listening to Oldies and Isabel comes out and says “Oldies, Oldies always listening to Oldies.” (My Family) and she puts on a Dominican Merenge that is listen to in many Latin American countries. Although it was not Mexican music she had him listening to what more people of his culture were listening to than to what he was listening to. She forces him to dace with her in a way that many people in Mexico and Latin America dance. That’s why the old man comes out and yells “Que viva la raza!”(My Family), because it was music from their race instead of the Oldies music which is Americanized. The other way that the women keep the culture alive is through their dress. When Toni comes back from being a nun she is wearing the traditional Mexican shirt that has the hand woven designs. Through out the movie she is only seen wearing these types of shirts. The same goes for Irene. Once she has a family she not only cooks the traditional food but she also wears the traditional outfit. She also wears the traditional shirts but she goes further by wearing the skirts and the wraps. The men, like Guillermo, Jimmy, Chuco, and Paco get to wear the clothes that people wear in the united States. Chuco and Jimmy wear the Pachuco clothing. They wear the flannel shirts, pressed slacks, and white shirts, clothes that are not uncommon in the U.S. Guillermo is more conservative wearing business suits or dressed in his UCLA shirt and shorts. The men are able or maybe more willing to move away from their culture than the women. However, it is Guillermo that moves the farthest away from his culture than anyone. He is engaged to a white privileged female, but unlike his sister who married a white male, he disconnects from his culture completely. He lies about family stories, and changes his name from Guillermo to William and even his nick name Memo to Bill. Although it is implied that the family might look down on Memo’s choices, he is still allowed to disconnect. The movie gives the women the job of carrying the culture throughout the generations and the men are moved away from that job.
Out of all of the things that culture dictates is the sexuality. It comes to no surprise that the men in the movie are more free to be sexual than the women. In the beginning scenes back in Mexico there man running from a woman with his pants down implying that was probably cheating on some one. He is allowed in the story to be sexually promiscuous, something that is not seen throughout the movie being done by women. Also, Chucho is seductively dancing with a girl at a dance. The girl is enjoying the dance but it pulling away from him. In the movie, Chucho is allowed to be pushy and seductive with the girl and if the scene wouldn’t have gone into a knife fight he probably would have continued with his intentions with the girl. Now, one might say that Isabel was also pushy and seductive with Jimmy and one might think that she is also free sexually like Chucho was, but her mission was different. Her mission was to make Jimmy be her husband. She assumed the role of the wife before that of a sexual partner. She cooked for him and began to rearrange the house. It was obvious that with Chucho he probably had no intentions on marring the girl that he was dancing with. It is only until Jimmy accepts Isabel as his wife that they interact sexually. Isabel had to wait for Jimmy’s acceptance thus leaving her sexuality at the hands of the man. Her sexuality is based on something more long term, like the culture says that it should be. She was able to be shown in that scene sexually because it was with the man that she married. Chucho on the other hand did not have to wait to be involved legally with anyone. He is a man so he is able to do what he wants with his body. The way that the other women are shown sexually is in order to have children. When Maria tells Jose that she is pregnant with their third child Jose says “Do you remember when it happened? That one Sunday afternoon.”(My Family) When he says that Maria blushes because of course the movie portrays her as to innocent to actually be apart of such a thing, but Jose goes on to say that after he saw an angel and he knew they would have a child. This is making the sexual act that they engaged in, more of an act from God than a demonstration of their own passion. The oldest sister Irene is never discussed or shown sexually either, she is just said to of had children and that is it.
The only woman that is shown to be engaging in sex for pleasure and is shown to be free sexually is the one that rebelled against everything else; Toni. Toni rebelled against the Church, against her family culture by not staying true to the Church or her race, by not having children, by having a career, and by being a political activist. When she tells her parents that she is married she has a flash back where she is enjoying intercourse with the man that she might or might have not been married to at the time. The scene itself implies that it was a wild act because they are surrounded by the plant life and jungles of Central America. Because it is in such a random setting it might be trying to say that it was a random act. Toni rebelled against everything. Even though she tried to maintain many of the roles her family put upon her, she still lead her own path. That is why she is the only women in the entire movie that is able to be shown enjoying the act of sex for pleasure and not for bearing children. For women of the Mexican culture “the ultimate rebellion she can make against her native culture is through her sexual behavior. “ (Anzaldua 1020). And among other things she defiantly followed that rebellion. One may argue that because Isabel is shown in bed with Jimmy, she is also shown as sexual. However, she is not seen enjoying it as Toni is. She is just naked and it was that act that allowed Jimmy to share his emotions. It was soon after that, which she was with child. Therefore, the act was more to connect with Jimmy and to start a family than to just be enjoyable like Chucho was free to do.
It is no surprise that sexuality is a big aspect of cultural control. Because of the physical aspect that unite a culture such as hair color, skin color, height, and facial features “The body may also operate as a metaphor for culture.”(Bordo 2363). Thus, what one chooses to do with their body usually is seen as affecting their culture through stereotypes. For example, in the United States, if a woman of one Latino culture is seen a promiscuous the other Latino culture might see that whole sector as having promiscuous women. If men are more promiscuous than another culture some might say that the men are weaker or less masculine. It is the “Social renditions of masculinity and femininity often carry with them racial overtones, just as racial stereotypes invariably embody some elements of sexual identity.” (Haney Lopez 970) The body is “a practrical, direct locus of social control.” (Bordo 2362). The more culture decides what its people can and cannot do gives them more and more control of people’s physical body actions. Sadly, this is scene more so in women’s bodies than in men’s. The control of the female body is more important to a culture.
Within one family, it is easy to see how controlled each individual is by their Mexican heritage especially in terms of their gender roles. Even in the Sanchez family some of the children are seen as better than others based on whether they followed the cultural guidelines of their gender or not. Race and culture work to define what a group of people are. It describes where they are from, what they believe in, and most of all what they can and cannot do. But even with in those cultures there are still many divides. There are divides in class, in gender, and many other aspects. Unfortunately, race also serves as a divide one people from others in the world. This is because “Races are constructed relationally, against one another, rather than in isolation.” (Haney Lopez 969). Race does not serve the purpose of uniting. It makes people fight for lands, for jobs, for well being. It allows people to point fingers. It serves as an excuse to create hate and injustice and “It alters electoral boundaries, shapes the disbursement of local, state, and federal funds, fuels the creation and collapse of political alliances, and twists the conducts of law enforcement.” (Haney Lopez 965) as we can see when Paco says that in the 1930’s “If you looked Mexican you were picked up and shipped out.” (My Family). This social creation of a race is blurring the fact that all races, all genders, all cultures, all people are human, and that unites everyone, whether they like it or not.

Works Cited
Azaldua, Gloria. "Borderlands/La Frontera." 2004. Literary Theory, an Anthology (Blackwell Anthologies). 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Blackwell Limited, 2004. 1017-030. Print.
Bordo, Susan. "Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body." The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York: W. W. Norton, 2001. 2362-376. Print.
Haney Lopez, Ian F. "The Social Construction of Race." Literary Theory, an Anthology (Blackwell Anthologies). 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Blackwell Limited, 2004. 964-73. Print.
My Family/ Mi Familia. Dir. Gregory Nava. Perf. Esai Morales, Jimmy Smits, Edward James Olmos. New Line Home Entertainment, 1995. DVD.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Analysis # 4 (or 5)

Quando La Cultura Domina/ When Culture Dominates
The culture that I know best is the Latino culture, but mostly Salvadoran culture. Although it is miles away from Mexico, there are some elements that I can relate to in Gloria Azaldua’s “Borderlands/La Frontera”. Although every Latino experience is different from one another, there are some things that we can all relate to. Azaldua says that her experience is the Tex-Mex experience, some of the topics she discusses are reflected in movie Mi Familia/My Family, such as, family vs. the individual, the roles of women, the struggle of being from the United States and the home land, and the languages that come from being Latino.
The first thing that is noticed about the movie is the title, Mi Familia. The family in the Latino culture is something extremely important. The narrator of the movie says that the greatest day for his family was his sister’s wedding. It wasn’t the best day of his life personally; it was for his whole family. The movie is not about one person or one experience; it is the experience of a family as a whole. In the Latino culture there is no individual because “The individual exists first as kin—as sister, as father, as padrino—and last as self.”(Anzaldua 1019). In this movie there is not one main character because the family is the protagonist. The view does see the individuals and the experiences that they live, but the viewers see how the choices or experiences of the individuals affect the family as a whole.
The women in the scene are doing three different things, being a mother, getting married, and becoming a nun. All three of these women are viewed as positive. There are many old traditions in many Latino cultures that put women in three roles, “to the Church as a nun, to the streets as a prostitute, or to the home as a mother.” (Anzaldua 1018). The movie depicts two of these three roles and one that is on the path of the mother. The movie is alluding to Latino culture very well, especially in terms of women. Women have very strict standards and roles that they have to abide by. Maybe because as Azaldua says, “Culture is made by those in power—men.”(1018).
The character Chucho shows another area of Latino culture that is a branch that only Chicanos have talked about. It is the Latino that is born in the United States. There are many struggles that are faced. First is that of language. I as a Salvadoran born in the United States, raised in South Central Los Angeles, I have many different languages: Salvadoran Spanish, Broken Spanish influenced by Mexicans and Chicanos, Standard English, African American influenced English, and Los Angeles Spanish slang. So what identity do I have if it is that “ethnic identity is twin to linguistic identity.” (Anzaldua 1027)? Would I be a Salvadoran-African American and Mexican Influenced-American? As Latinos, we struggle to be the “turtle” that Anzaldua talks about, carrying our homes on our backs, (1021), and the influences that we learn here. Chuco shows that although he speaks Spanish and although his family follows many Mexican traditions he is not fully into the Mexican tradition. He speaks Spanglish and says “Man, I hate this Mariachi shit”. There are some characteristics that he fights against. Anzaldua shows these are actual characteristics of the Chicano by saying that “In the 50s and 60s, for the slightly educated and agringado Chicanos, there existed a sense of shame at being caught listening to our music.”(1028). Although Chucho might not be that educated her still has that Anglo influence because he is listening to English music while he is washing his car. But, he also has the influence of other Latino cultures because he then listens to Mambo.
As Latinos we have many different influences. We have mixtures of other Latinos in our language. We start listening to their different music. Then we have the other completely different cultures that begin to shape us. We have the Anglo, the African American, the Asian, and so many more depending on our surroundings. So as Latinos who are we? Are we the Chicano, the Salvi, the Latino, the Hispanic, La Raza, Gente, the Brown, or que? No matter what we are though we do try to keep our connections and foundation to our homes.

Works Cited
Anzaldua, Gloria. "Borderlands/La Frontera." Literary Theory, an Anthology (Blackwell Anthologies). Grand Rapids: Blackwell Limited, 2004. 1017-030. Print.
"YouTube - My Family [Mi Familia] Part 4 of 13." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. Web. 13 Aug. 2009. .

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Analysis # 3

Why there is No Need To Chop
In order to make my mom’s famous Ceviche, it would take me a good hour and a half to two hours. This is due to all the chopping that is involved. But apparently, with one easy simple product that humanity just has to have I can make that same meal in 2 minutes or less. I can’t seem to understand how I could ever survive with out this product before. This magic product is, The Magic Bullet. The makers of the Magic Bullet have bought a twenty-minute television spot dedicated to show consumers how their product can change lives. They are defiantly creating what Marx would refer to as “a definite social want” (Marx 668).
In the infomercial the two host show their audience of “friends” everything that can be made with The Magic Bullet. The audience continues watching with “oohs” and “ahhs”. The audience continues to say how they can see themselves using the product every day and how they need to have one. This is what happens with many products in a Capitalist society. It is a change in technology that changes the way a society functions, in order to make profit. This is how a bourgeoisie keeps making money. They create a necessity for a product that can be distributed to the masses.
Although humanity has survived for years just using a knife to chop their products, although people have cooked with blenders and whisks for so long, the magic bullet commercial makes it look like knives, blenders, and whisks, are medieval products. So why is there this constant change in products? It is because “The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society.” (Marx and Engels 2). Soon, there will be no more need for knives and “old school” cooking products. Then next thing you know, the Magic Bullet will be a thing of the past as well.
As, technology keeps changing; the bourgeoisie keeps making new products to keep consumers buying. Consumers keep finding new things to “need” that are actually things that are wants. Even though they have “old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants” (Marx and Engels 2). And that’s one way Capitalism stays alive.

Works Cited
Marx, Karl, and Frederick Engels. The Communist Manifesto. Filiquarian, 2007. Print.
Marx, Karl. Capital. Literary Theory, an Anthology (Blackwell Anthologies). Grand Rapids: Blackwell Limited, 2004. 665-72. Print.
"YouTube - The Original Magic Bullet - Part 2." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. Web. 08 Aug. 2009. .

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Analysis # 2

Same Canvas but They All See a Different Picture
To those who have some knowledge of the catholic religion, it makes sense that the writer wrote that it was a saint that saved the boy. However, to those that have no knowledge, it might not be a saint. How is it that you could have a group of people standing in front of the same picture, but they all see something different? The answer is in what Ferdinand de Saussure calls Semiology. Although Saussure is speaking in terms of language, the theory can also be applied to the visual. What a viewer sees when he or she looks at a picture is also influenced by the social system that they were raised in.
The writer assumes that the large image of the man dressed in white, is a saint. The assumption comes from the large yellow circle that was placed above his head. For those that were raised or have knowledge of Catholicism, they know that all pictures of saints come with a similar halo type circles around their heads. However, one must remember that it is a halo, if being looked at by the social system that is the Catholic religion. If someone who has no knowledge of saints or Catholicism is analyzing the picture, they might say that maybe it is the sun or the moon. Even then, based on people’s social make up, the circle can represent many things.
The writer also assumes that the other person in the picture is a small child. A child would be something that many would say that they could identify because many have seen a child. They know that a child is smaller than an adult, so small that one could probably carry it in their arms. So, the child in the picture cannot be an adult because it is not small, it is not as big as the other man in the picture, and it is not impossible to carry. Many words or in this case pictures are “constituted not by its material substance but by the differences that separate,” (Saussure 69). Who is to say that the larger person in the picture is not a giant holding an adult? To many, it is because of the oppositions that are seen between the small person and the large person that reflect the same oppositions as adult/child.
The way that people view this picture is based on what one knows based on their social background. To some there might be a saint with a halo and death squad helicopters trying to put out a fire. Others might see a man carrying a child away from the large sun while the helpful helicopters try to put out the fires. Interpretations are also based on binary relationships. To some, helicopters mean good because they do not hurt people, they do not cause fires, and they do not cause harm. To other, the helicopters are bad because they do not save people, they do not bring peace to their communities, and they do not put out fires. Overall, everything goes back to the social, it is the most important thing when it comes to making signs and symbols.

Works Cited
De Saussure, Ferdinand. "Course in General Liguistics." Literary Theory, an Anthology (Blackwell Anthologies). 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Blackwell Limited, 2004. 59-71.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Word Picture

It was the Saint that saved the child. While his house and the people around him were melting from the flames, the small child stared. Before flames could turn him to ashes, as they did to the rest of his family, a soft hand grabbed his. Up he went into someone’s arms. There was no time to see whom they belonged to. Outside the sky was gray and filled with the large dark metal birds, as it had been since he was born. The arms carried him down the mountain that he had lived on his whole life. Down, down, down he went. He turned his neck. “Don’t look back,” said the arms. So instead the child looked up, to see a saint carrying him away.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Analysis 1

The Truth in the Mirror
Most people, before leaving their homes in the morning, look into a shiny piece of glass. They do this to get an answer to a very important question; “How do I look this morning?”. But is what they are seeing in the mirror really the way that they look? Plato would argue that it isn’t. The reflection that many people are seeing in the morning is a false representation of them. So it isn’t a trust worthy answer in Plato’s opinion. However, even worse than believing the image that they see in the mirror, is believing the picture that say a painter would paint of the person. That is even farther representation of the way that person looks. To believe the painting, is to believe a lie. For Plato, this also goes for poets, and overall artist. In today’s day and age, one could probably add films to the list of false representations especially films that are representations of true events like biofilms. The clip that I chose is a piece from the movie Frida, which is suppose to be the true story of the life of Frida Kahlo.
It is true, that there was an actual person that once walked the earth named Frida Kahlo. And, it is true that she did cut off her hair after her divorce from her husband Diego Rivera. It is also true that she painted a picture for that event. The makers of the film want their audience to believe that what they are seeing is actually what Frida Kahlo lived and did in that moment of her life. However, the fact that they had to replicate that does not make it at all reality but instead, a false representation of what happened in Kahlo’s life, as close at it may be.
The reason why is because of how far away the clip is from the truth. Plato uses the example of a bed to show the three levels of reality in an object.
“’Well, we’ve got these three beds. First, there’s the real one, and we’d say, I imagine, that it is a product of divine craftsmanship’… ‘Then there’s the one the joiner makes.’… ‘And then there’s the one the painter makes” (Plato 69)
In the case of the clip, it is God that created the situation that Kahlo would go through in her life. The joiner would be Kahlo who physically made it happen, and, the filmmakers who made it on screen. Plato then goes on to say that God makes the one true reality; that the joiner is the manufacture, and the artist is the representer. (70)
In terms of what is true, Plato says that representation are not truths, but instead they are appearances of things. (70). It is because “representation and truth are a considerable distance apart, and a representer is capable of making every product there is only because his contact things is slight and is restricted to how they look.”(Plato 70). The filmmakers of Frida made the appearances of the way things looked to them in terms of the stories they heard about Frida Kahlo, her paintings, and her journals. It is what they think things should look like.
Although, the filmmakers of Frida made sure to do their research and got pretty close to the truth, Plato would argue that it is not at all a truth but an appearance of that moment in Frida Kahlo’s life. If Kahlo’s painting of herself in that moment of time in her life is a representation the filmmakers must be even farther from the absolute truth then what Plato thought.
Works Cited
Plato. "Republic: Book X." The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York: W. W.
Norton, 2001. 67-80.
"YouTube - Self Haircut for a Self-Protrait." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. N.p., n.d. Web. 15
July 2009. .