Feb. 4th, 2011

krikketgirl: (Riiight)
In my Communications class, we will be watching three movies and then doing "Case Studies" on characters from them, writing a paper and explaining what communication terms we saw being displayed by characters from the movie. Now, as an aside, most of you know that I'm not a big fan of movies, so there's that quibble. But the project seems fine.

Last night we watched The Family Stone. You can read more about it over at imdb.com. The gist of it is that Everett--the 'golden boy' of liberal, outrageous parents--is bringing his girlfriend Meredith home to meet his family, and he's hoping to propose to her on Christmas. His whole family is there, and they've already decided they don't like Meredith, despite the fact that only one of the family--"mean sister" Amy--has even met her. For her part, Meredith is very conservative, and very unsure of herself. She's shocked by the family's behavior, and they give her plenty to be shocked about.

There were a lot of things that really irritated me about this movie, but here's the biggest one: despite the fact that the family is plain mean to the visiting girlfriend, viewers are supposed to see them as just fun-loving and free-spirited, as though that makes up for their not being kind or welcoming. Meredith's reserve and conservativism are seen as major character flaws. Granted, in the course of the movie she does and says some boneheaded and rude things. However, these aren't really the things that are seen as the biggest issue. Instead, what seems to need changing--according to the characters in the film--is that she needs to loosen up. Nothing that too much alcohol and doing some drugs won't help! She just needs to learn how to be outrageous!

And sure, it's 'just a movie,' but I feel that our society trends this way. If you're well-behaved, you're "uptight." If you're not willing to share (or listen to others share) way too much personal information all the time, then you need to loosen up. It's not enough to be a good mom, you have to write a book about how you've embraced an outrageous parenting style. Even many Christian writers and bloggers are trying to embrace being outspoken and outrageous. We are pushed to be edgy, ironic, loud, boastful, and egocentric.

It can be fun to have outrageous friends, but in the end it's exhausting, because they're not really into the relationship, they're into having an audience for their being outrageous. At some level, being outrageous spurs one on to greater and greater acts of outrageousness, because at some point people get bored with what you were doing yesterday. Outrageous behavior is not inherently good. Being a character is not the same thing as having character.


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