In the recent Hollywood film blockbusters, audiences witness clichés accompanied by problematic messages. The movie industry targets various audiences, trying to teach a lesson or get people thinking, although the message is not always valuable. One such example of a movie with a distorted, inappropriate sentiment is The Hangover, a film about a wild bachelor party in Vegas. This comedy teaches my generation, the young leaders of tomorrow, that vulgarity, promiscuity, impulsivity, and destructive behavior is all fun and games.
As previously mentioned, the plot of The Hangover is about a bachelor party in Vegas and the film focuses on drinking, drugs, and gambling. When watching the film, the recently popular cliché, “Y.O.L.O.,” popped into my head. “Y.O.L.O.” is an acronym for the cliché “you only live once.” In general, I believe this is a very great, inspiring message, as the words motivate people to live out each day to the best of one’s abilities and to have fun. I believe my attachment and belief in this message stems from my upbringing in a rightest, conservative family. Louis Giannetti, author of Understanding Movies, argues that in a rightest family, right and wrong are clear-cut and violations of moral principles and rules result in punishment (412). I completely agree with this assessment, as I recall the times I misbehaved and was punished to learn a lesson, as well as set an example for my younger sister. For the Barber household, family is a sacred foundation and institution, filled with people encouraging others to do and be the best that they can be.
My family shaped me to feel this way about the message, “Y.O.L.O.,” but The Hangover tainted the meaning of the wonderful sentiment, placing the message into a negative light. The audience views the bachelor party taking “Y.O.L.O.” to a whole new level, as seen when the men wake up the morning after the bachelor party without any recollection of the night before. One man has a missing tooth, the thousand-dollar hotel room is trashed, Mike Tyson’s tiger is in the bathroom, and an unknown baby cries in the closet. Giannetti would characterize this film as a neutral movie, in which “issues of right and wrong are treated superficially with little or no analysis” (403). However, when there is no analysis of the message, kids learn to mimic these decisions and chaos ensues. Although the movie is hilarious and ridiculous, there needs to be a line drawn. In Everything’s an Argument by Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz, the authors state that humor in an argument puts the audience at ease, “thereby making them more open to a proposal” (48). Since the movie makes fun of the men for their crazy antics, the audience is more willing to listen and watch the movie without judgment. Then, when the movie is over, the audience will delve in the idea that what the men did was funny and plausible, and then they will go engage in various shenanigans, possibly resulting in lasting consequences.
In addition to the morning after the bachelor party scene, the audience witnesses an encounter between the men and some cops after the men stole the cop’s police car the night before. The men have no remorse for their actions and they are not punished for their recklessness and endangerment of other’s lives. Giannetti states that the audience sides with the men in situations like these, as “people who are funny, charming, and/or intelligent” win us over to their side (406). The characters in the film attract the loyalty of the audience, as the loyalty stems from the character’s comedic situations and stories, as well as their dashing appearances and sex appeal.
The studio uses pathos to bring the emotions out of the audience and make the people more open to the movie. The Hangover does this by using humor to target my generation, the college kids and young adults in America, who are looking for a good laugh. The sentiment, “Y.O.L.O.” is beneficial in the sense that it is okay to have fun and let of steam and not keep everything bottle up. However, the film sends off a message that people can drink, gamble, be promiscuous, do drugs, and life will be fantastic. This message is effective because Americans see the film become reality. It is no wonder that foreign countries denounce American actions and way of life. However, people do not always get away with this lifestyle and the consequences can be devastating. These consequences include fines, warrants, jail, and possibly death.
Although this film is intended for a mature audience with the “R” rating, the people who watch the movie are not always mature. Kids sneak into these movies and then engage in such activities, not thinking before they act. Adolescents thrive to gain peer approval and be “cool,” so they engage in risky behaviors. As long as people watch the film with a rational mindset, the movie is a great comedy that America loves. However, I fear for my generation, as many mimic these shenanigans and find themselves in sticky situations, harmful to themselves and to society.
For the ruining of a beneficial slogan and the message the film sends to the population:
(2 out of 5)