Pleasantville & film
Pleasantville, clever and poignant film, details the adventures two 1990s suburban teenagers have when they are zapped back in time into a 1950s sitcom called “Pleasantville. ” Unintentionally, they introduce modern ideas to the sheltered and safe residents of Pleasantville. As more of the Pleasantville residents have these modern experiences, their black-and-white world turns into color. Frightened and angry by these changes, the adults of Pleasantville try to do something about it.
With the help of the 1990s teenagers, the sleepy town of Pleasantville slowly realizes that color is not terrible; these modern experiences enhance life in a way they never thought possible. This film is rife with meaning. In addition to the transition from black-and-white to color meaning change, it is a commentary on sexual repression, women’s roles, and the family dynamic in the 1950s. In the 1950s, as depicted in Pleasantville, George Parker worked a nine-to-five job and saw his family at night and on weekends. Fathers were the disciplinarians and controlled all financial matters in the household.
Fathers also offered sage advice to his children. Betty Parker, on the other hand, was a housewife and mother. Mothers, like the children, received a weekly allowance from their husbands and they made sure the house was clean, meals were prepared, and children were happy and content. David and Jennifer, transformed in Pleasantville to Bud and Mary Sue Parker, were well-adjusted children with relatively happy and content lives. The film is also about the fact that personal repression gives way to political oppression. For example, the mayor of Pleasantville, Big Bob, resolves that color is indecent.
With McCarthy-like tendencies, Big Bob tries to zero in on the source of the colorization of his town while banning certain things having to do with color and the change of his town, such as painting and reading. Big Bob wanted to keep Pleasantville safe and “pleasant. ” He reasoned that color was the source of evil and implied that Pleasantville would no longer be “pleasant” if color was introduced into their lives. The characters all have certain issues with everything changing to color. The adults want it to stop while the young people embrace the newness of turning into color.
This personifies how two different generations think. Herein lies the mentality of old men who could send young men off to war, or how the older generation will always hate the music of the younger generation. This is because the young generation is inheriting new life while the older generation is inheriting old age. This is why the adult characters in Pleasantville make it their personal business to stop and try to reverse the coloration. They do not want things to change; They liked everything just fine the way it was. This brings up another point: Change is difficult for older generations as opposed to younger generations.
For example, some individuals in their fifties or sixties do not have cellular phones. They do not know how to use them, they do not like them, they do not want to be anywhere near them, even if it will make their lives easier. People are stuck on doing things the way they were taught to do them, and anything different is frightening or bad. This is evident when George walks into the bowling alley, in a daze, wet from the rain, and tells his friends that he did not get dinner that night because Betty was nowhere to be found.
This prospect was frightening and the men decided to fight against the color, against this new liberation. By today’s standards, for a man to be that lost without his wife fixing his dinner would be considered weak. The man of the house is considered the provider; to not be able to provide for oneself and still call yourself a provider makes one a hypocrite. Elderly people have an excuse, however, George Parker was still a healthy, younger man. He was not able to adapt to his wife leaving him without dinner, and that created a weakness in his character.
The color symbolized the sexual and women’s liberations as modern changes in an extremely traditional time. A new and exciting world was emerging around them, creating conflict. Some parts of the sexuality of human beings, for instance, what Betty did in the bathtub that turned her from black-and-white to color, is still considered taboo today. In the 1950s, all sexuality was taboo. No one talked about it, no one insinuated it. Dress for both men and women were modest, and dating consisted of “holding hands.
” Today, sexuality is more a part of America’s culture and people are more accepting of it, however, certain parts of sexuality are still not talked about. Men and women’s dress are much more scantily clad, leaving less to the imagination, however, talking about such things as “self pleasure” is still a topic that is avoided. An example of women’s liberation was when Betty discovered how to make herself happy. At first, Betty was ashamed that she was becoming colored. At a point in the film, Betty asked Bud to apply makeup to her face and arms to make her black-and-white again so no one would notice she was different.
It was only when she learned from Bill Johnson that Betty as a colored woman was beautiful that she stopped being ashamed and looking for others’ approval and sought to make herself happy. There were difference stances on women’s liberation in the film that were personified through male characters. Some of the male characters, such as Bill Johnson, believed that colored was beautiful and embraced his new surroundings. Others, however, such as George Parker and Big Bob, believed that color was evil and that it must be reversed.
Perhaps the men that believed that color was evil saw Betty after she was colored as a loose woman, a woman of less-than-perfect moral standing. To them, once she had been colored, Betty was no longer an upstanding citizen; she had become what the town of Pleasantville dreaded. Color also symbolized the progression of change. For example, when Skip, Mary Sue’s boyfriend, experienced a sexual relationship with Mary Sue, he saw a red rose among black-and-white bushes when he was driving home that night. The reason why the flower was in color, perhaps, was that Skip was viewing the world around him in a different way.
The more the residents of Pleasantville realized there was more to the world than the weather always being 72 degrees and the high school basketball team always winning their games, the more color was added to their environment. David and Jennifer were pretty stereotypical of the 1990s teen. David was more concerned about television and fantasy worlds, while Jennifer was more interested in dating. When they became Bud and Mary Sue Parker, because they brought their 1990s views with them and enlightened the residents of Pleasantville, they were still in black-and-white while other characters were turning to color.
Bud and Mary Sue needed to learn more, perhaps about themselves or perhaps about the world around them, in order to turn to color. For example, Mary Sue became colored when she finished reading a book. Formerly, Mary Sue/Jennifer was not interested in academics, including reading. She was an extremely superficial character. Bud/David did not become colored until he went against his mild-mannered ways and defended Betty against teens who were trying to harass her. Bud/David’s lesson was perhaps to learn how to defend himself and/or others. Mr. T. V. was personified as a force against change.
When Mr. T. V. sent David and Jennifer back in time to the 1950s, David and Jennifer were supposed to enjoy the simple, safe life. However, what Mr. T. V. did not count on was David and Jennifer changing Pleasantville. When he did find out, Mr. T. V. wanted to send David and Jennifer back to their own time immediately. He did not want Pleasantville to be changed. The film, Pleasantville, was a story about change. Many people, especially older individuals, resist change. Change is considered a bad thing; change is moving out of one’s comfort-zone and living in a different way.
It has been said that people fear the unknown, and that is what change is, the unknown. This is what happened in Pleasantville. The residents of Pleasantville feared change because they did not know what being colored had in store for them, or they believed that whatever change and color had in store for them, it certainly would be bad. Perhaps, however, that it is not the fear of the unknown that makes change bad to some individuals, but the farewell to what was believed to be a better time. ? Pleasantville. Dir. Gary Ross. Perf. Toby Maguire, Reese Witherspoon. New Line Cinema, 1998.Sample Essay of Paperial.com