Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mean Girls


            The setting of the movie Mean Girls is a major part of the movie because it is crucial in the development of the plot. It takes place in the town of Evanston, Illinois after the main character, Cady Heron and her parents move there from Africa. Most of the movie takes place in North Shore High School, where Cady learns how challenging being a girl in high school can be. Since she had spent all of her life in Africa, she was not aware that the “Girl World” could be just as brutal as the “Animal World”. Cady starts hanging out with a group of girls who are called “The Plastics” who are the mean girls of the school in order to expose them and their secrets. Unfortunately for Cady, she starts to like their way of life, causing a rift between her and all of the people she cares about.
            North Shore High School helps make the argument that society can be very shallow The high school is a perfect setting for the movie because schools contain a broad variety of people. In every school, there are people from different economic, ethnic and social backgrounds. There are also people with different personalities and hobbies. By using the high school with its melting pot of students, the argument that most young people in society are materialistic and superficial is made. The reason for this is that most of the girls in North Shore High School cared about being popular and beautiful no matter what clique they were a part of. They all wanted to be part of “The Plastics” because they were the most beautiful and well dressed in the school. Even the nerds and the athletes wanted to be part of the infamous clique. The leader of the plastics, Regina George and the rest of her crew mistreated everyone in North Shore High School, but those who they mistreated still worshipped them because they were blinded by all of their glamour. They saw Regina as a goddess, and even believed rumors that her hair was insured for $10,000. In our society, there are many boys and girls who let the popular kids mistreat them because they want to emulate them and be a part of their group. They use a pathos appeal to prove their argument because by allowing the audience to feel what Cady is going through. By seeing Cady’s experience with cliques, the audience is able to empathize with her and see how shallow society is.
            “Since ancient times, critics have discussed art as having a double function: to teach and to provide pleasure” (Giannetti, 3). The setting of the movie was also used to teach us about American culture. The movie takes place in the United States because it mostly represents how people are in America. Other countries have many materialistic people as well, but the problem of materialism is especially big in the United States. This country is a land of excess in which everything is supposed to be bigger and better. People from all over the world migrate to the United States to live the “American Dream” and earn more money than they could in their home countries. The United States is a place where even meals are super-sized because nothing is ever enough. Using North Shore High School, the movie Mean Girls shows us how many young people feel living in this country. A lot of people are insecure being themselves because they feel that it is not enough. Wearing a cute pair of jeans with a nice t-shirt might is not sufficient for many girls because there is always a Regina George around who is wearing something better, unless you are the Regina George in your school or social circle. By using an ethos appeal, the movie helps the audience get to know the characters and relate to them.
            The use of North Shore High School as the setting is important to make arguments about the time period we are in. Before the 21st century, materialism existed, but was not as big a problem as it is today. In previous times, they did not have all of the things that we do. Our advances in technology have led to the production of so many things that we do not need, but we eventually want. We want these things because we are greedy and always want to have the best things in our hands. A person will never be happy with one pair of shoes, because there are so many other shoes around to buy. “The Plastics” represent those people who always get what they want, while the rest of the girls in the movie represent those who want things, but cannot have them. Cady Heron represents how people can lose their sense of right and wrong when they finally have everything they always wanted. All of this contributes to a pathos appeal because the audience can feel anger towards “The Plastics” and what they stand for. The audience also feels pity for the unpopular girls and Cady because “Emotionally vulnerable characters appeal to our protective instincts” (Giannetti,6).
            The setting also sets the tone and mood of the film in various ways. By using it as the setting, we can see that it is probably not a very serious movie because it is about social cliques. From the beginning, we see that North Shore High School is used to portray major issues in a lighter way. The movie definitely addresses the problem of “bullying” but it does so in a way that is funny to appeal to different types of audiences. Many people do not enjoy watching sad movies, so a comedy can be a good way to teach them a message without them looking for it.
            The movie Mean Girls is a very popular movie and I don’t doubt that a large part of its popularity is due to its powerful hidden messages. Without the use of the high school as the setting, they would not have been able to get their message across as well. North Shore High School and its students depict the way our society works, making it a logos appeal. I loved this movie, and I would definitely recommend it to people of all ages. 

End of Watch Option #1 “Rhetoric of Space”

End of Watch

Option #1 “Rhetoric of Space”

            End of watch is a riveting action thriller that puts audiences at the center of the chase.  This film is a compelling buddy cop movie that shows the hardships and daily lives of two LAPD partners.  End of Watch is grounded in the everyday relationships and very real feelings between cops.  This film is personal; we rely on the police and they in turn rely on each other.

            End of Watch is a buddy cop movie made in 2012, directed by David Ayer.  David Ayer wrote Training Day, another LAPD thriller film.  This film is starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Brian Taylor and Michael Pena as Mike Zavala, who are partners in the South Central, Los Angeles Police Department.  Director David Ayer tells his story through these two men as he grew up in L.A. and joined the Navy early on.  These two police officers spend most of their time in their assigned ford police interceptor.  The partners eat, sleep, and talk about their private lives in this squad car.  They depend on each other as much as they depend on their police cruiser.  This is a film propelled by the strength of its characters and how they relate to each other and their world.  This film takes you inside the South Central LAPD as Brian videotapes their days on the job for a project in his pre-law class.

            End of Watch is centered around two police partners.  The ford squad car in this movie argues a generalization of policemen, as they all must experience what these men did.  There is nothing unique or flashy (aside from the lights) about the car that these men ride around in.  The car my not be exclusive but it hold everything these men need for survival in the ghetto of L.A.  The squad car in this film sets an exciting mood when, the officers go on pursuit.  The mood in the police car can also be relaxed as the two men swap stories and converse about their problems.  The car is not only part of their job but their time-out as well.  The men become good friends in this squad car.  At the same time these police officers roam the streets of L.A. in this car.  The partners and their squad car tell the tale of what current day police officers of Los Angeles really experience. 

The hand held camera work in the squad car gives the effect of actually riding around with the two police officers.  “Personal experience carefully reported can also support a claim convincingly” (Lunsford 83).  This film has some similar elements of other police movies directed by David Ayer.  If the viewer enjoyed other movies by David Ayer, they may appreciate this film.  This is an appeal to consistency or logos.  As I mentioned earlier, there is nothing unique about the squad car these men drive everyday.  These police partners come off as genuine and reliable.  They are men you would want patrolling your city or neighborhood.  They receive creditability as you experience first hand what these men go through.  This provides an argument of credibility or ethos.  In End of Watch you can really feel the chemistry between these two actors.  These men become like brothers to each other in the film.  Some of the scenes in this film are moving, like during Brian’s wedding or when one of the men gets shot.  “If you strike the right emotional note, you’ll establish an important connection” (Lunsford 44).  This works to add the strongest argument in the film; an argument of emotion or pathos to the film.  “Emotional appeals (sometimes called appeals to pathos) are powerful tools for influencing what people think and believe” (Lunsford 38).

            As these two men cruise around L.A. the viewer observes the local culture.  The two partners are forced to deal with different gangs and cartels in this film.  However, most of the time they interact with the gang members without leaving their squad car.  The patrol car provides a wedge or buffer between the law enforcers and the lawless.  The squad car acts as a refuge that these police officers can always fall back to.      


            In conclusion, End of Watch is a great buddy cop movie, full of action and drama.  This film has a heart felt story and unique camera work to tell the LAPD perspective.  End of Watch makes an impact, stressing the important need to recognize that there are real people out there who risk their lives for all of us, each and every day.  Behind every cop is a loyal squad car to shield them and get them out of harms way.  Overall I give this film four out of five slurpees because of some lackluster acting on the part of some of the bad guys. 
            “We stand watch together.  The thin-blue-line, protecting the prey from the predators, the good from the bad. We are the police” (End of Watch).

Works Cited

Lunsford, Andrea. Ruskiewicz, John. Walters, Keith. Everything’s An Argument with readings.  2010. Pg. 18.

Remembering the Titans

Lucia Kruseman
English 2
Professor Waggoner
April 21/14

Remembering the Titans

The movie Remembering the Titans by Boaz Yakin is based on a true story about an African American high school football coach in Virginia on 1971, where in the United States was still difficult times for African Americans because of segregation. Most of the places where still segregated and African Americans were not even consider part of the society or either Americans. There was still violence against each other race, and even schools were completely segregated by the government. The movie has an A grading on the representation project test because of its cultural diversity.

            The film Remembering the Titans by Boaz Yakin, is about an African American coach at T.C Williams High School in 1971. In those T.C Williams High School was an all white public high school until it was federal mandate to become an integrated public high school. Coach Herman Boone, an African American coach, was ordered to become the new head coach of the High School football team. Every player, parent and student were against it first of all because he was African American and second of all because he took the place of Coach Bill Yoast, who was the head coach for years. Coach Boone decided to take all new African American players and the old White players to a camp outside of the city to train them and so they can relate to each other and stop the discrimination. At the beginning they completely hate each other but at the end of the camp they actually all became friends. This helped them first to make the whole Virginia society and the whole country realize that segregation should be stopped and that African Americans are consider part of everyone’s community. Likewise helped them to become state champions.
            The representation project test is a test that grades the cultural diversity and measures how well does the film challenges the status quo. The movie Remembering the Titans has eleven points so that means that have a grade of an A. This means that the movie portraits lots of diversity and also does not limit stereotypes.
            One of the things that the representation project test looks for on a film is how women are portrait. In the Remembering the Titans film there are more than one women of color in speaking roles. One of them is Coach Boone’s wife and the second one is his daughter. Also another characteristic of the film is that it does represent women as more than “objects for the male gaze”. As Giannetti mentions most movies put “women’s picture – emphasizing a female star and focusing on typical female concerns such as getting or holding on to a man” (Giannetti 430). But on this film women do not only focus on getting a man or holding into a man. For example Coach Yoast ‘s wife left him because he was too focus on his job, and his daughter, Sheryl, was basically a tomboy young girl who loves football and was always his helper coaching and she even shout to the player what they were doing wrong. Sheryl also represent a different body time since she loved to coach football instead of playing with dolls. In the movie even Coach Boone tell Coach Yoast that Sheryl should be playing with dolls instead of watching how to coach a football team, but Coach Yoast told Coach Boone that he already trying and she does not like it. In the movie they accept Sheryl as she is and they are okay with it.  Also other requirement is to have pass the Bechdel Test and women in the movie when the two little girls talk to each other they do not talk about men instead they talk about either football or dolls.

            In the other hand, for the men characters there were different requirements.  One of them was that the film does not glorify violent men. Every time the players were violent either in school or on the field they were always punished. Another is if the film perpetuate an unhealthy men as ideal, and in deed the movie does not since it is a sport movie every one of the players even the coaches exercise every time and Coach Boone even mentions that they will start eating healthy for know on since the training is just starting. A third requirement was if there are more than one men of color in a speaking role. In this film since it is based on a true story in times of segregation there are lots of men of color in speaking roles, since most of the important football players are African American. The last requirement is about if there are men portrayed as non-stereotypical roles and there are. One of them is Gerry Bertier since he is one of the main Whites that started first carrying and actually carrying for the African Americans and actually trying to make his mother and girlfriend realize that discrimination is not good and has to stop.
            Additional, there is a requirement if the film avoids celebrating offensive racial discrimination, ethnic and stereotype. The film incorporates several types of culture and even incorporated and makes it seem like normal. First it does not celebrate offensive racial discrimination. Another example is that one of the football players was overweight and he actually believe that he had cero possibility to go to college since everyone in his family were dropouts and at the end he ended going to college. Also there is gay character, Ronnie “Sunshine” Bass, and at the beginning obviously everyone was in shock when Sunshine kiss Gerry but no one ever discriminated him for that, not even his roommate. Moreover the test has some bonus points, Remembering the Titans has one bonus point that the writer of the movie is an African American, Gregory Allen Howard. Also another aspect of the movie is that unfortunately Gerry has a tragically car accident and ends up being paraplegic. Here the director as Lunsford mentions “You may sometimes want to use emotions to connect with readers to assure them that you understand their experiences” (Lunsford, 51) use several emotions about the accident and he even at the end showed the scene when the whole team was on Gerry’s funeral since after ten years unfortunately he died. All these points sum up and give the film a grade of an A.

            First of all I was not surprised by the results since the beginning you can see that this movie has lots of diversity since it is based on a true story on times of segregation. Second of all I do not believe this is a fair score system, even though I know that the test was made to challenge Hollywood movies to incorporate more diversity since the society now a days is not just only White and strait people anymore. But I think that not every movie should have like for example lesbians and women with important roles or several African Americans and so, I think that it depends on what the movie is about. For example in this film I think it was super random that there was a gay. I think it was just incorporate to past first all type of society approval and test like this one.

            In conclusion, the film Remembering the Titans is a great movie based on a true story about segregation between African American and Whites in the United States and describes perfectly how sports also helped to join two different cultures together. Furthermore, the representation project test is made to make Hollywood movies more conscious about the different kinds of societies and to incorporate diversity on their movies.


Spies Like Us (Rhetoric of Space)

            Growing up, Spies Like Us, was one of the first comedies I ever saw, and is one of the reasons Dan Akroyd and Chevy Chase are two of my favorite actors of all time. The movie takes place in the Cold War days of the 1980s. In the movie, the “Ace Tomato Company,” a secret government agency responsible for national security, notices a team of Soviets with a nuclear bomb moving across the Russian border. In reaction, the Ace Tomato Company sends four spies to Russia to complete a very risky objective: to launch the nuke at the U.S. and attempt to destroy it mid-launch in order to test a new nuclear defense system. The team of spies used in this operation consists of two highly trained “real” spies, and two phony spies to be used as decoys, Akroyd and Chase.
Although the movie’s primary purpose is to be funny and have an excuse to crack jokes, Spies Like Us contains one place that makes an argument about the secret and powerful role of our government in the 1980s during the Cold War. The place is referred to as WAMP, which is an underground military nuclear defense base that is in the middle of a vast dessert. The depiction and overall role of this underground base effectively argues that during the times of the Cold War, and even today, our government has secret places where operations take place that even the President doesn’t know about.
When the spies reach the nuke traveling through Russia, two men from the Ace Tomato Company join the military at WAMP, to prepare to destroy the nuke that the spies are instructed to launch.

          The symbolism and role that WAMP plays in Spies Like Us, is important to the film’s argument of pathos. At this place and time in the film, WAMP is quite literally the only place in the world that is capable of stopping a nuclear bomb from landing inside the United States and causing an instant global nuclear war. The people inside WAMP and the spies, according to the movie, are the only people in the world that know of this possible threat to the destruction of humanity, not even the President. The emotional appeal of this film’s argument about the government’s mysterious power lies in the gravity of this situation that takes place only inside this secret underground base. The situation invokes an eerie and anxious mood that causes the audience to ask questions like; How do we know something like this hasn’t happened before? Do places like this exist? How much does the government know that I don’t know? WAMP symbolizes a location during the Reagan Administration that was ultimately responsible for protecting American’s lives, and curing their greatest and most realistic fears, a nuclear attack.
The argument of ethos used in Spies Like Us is the effort that the film takes to depict WAMP as technologically advanced, accurate, and powerful. This detailed depiction establishes credibility to the film and to the argument the film makes by the use of WAMP. In the scenes that involve WAMP, the movie leaves out humor and takes time to show the power and mystery of this secret government location. During scenes inside WAMP, the background sounds in make this place seem very “high tech,” including various beeping computer sounds, large metal doors shutting, and other industrial machinery movement noises. During the scene where the people at WAMP try to shoot down the nuke from space, WAMP’s computers eject two enormous “laser gun” looking machines from underground that look like something from a futuristic space movie. The bizarre, futuristic looking, and advanced technology in WAMP speaks for the place’s credibility as one that is spot-on to what a real nuclear defense base looks like. The shock and awe of this computerized technology and machinery, which was a major cultural obsession during the 1980s, allows the audience to believe that WAMP is making a statement to resemble a place that exists in real life.
Another example of an argument that WAMP makes through ethos is the secret base’s underlined purpose, to protect the United States. In this film, as a place that is protecting American’s lives, WAMP might argue for people to be supportive of secret government operations involving nuclear defense. During the 1980s, a Russian attack was possible and this caused much anxiety among Americans; because of this, spending billions of dollars, such as the spending on technology in WAMP, to protect the U.S. from a Russian attack was a core belief for many Americans. According to Lunsford in Everything’s an Argument, “You can also establish credibility by connecting your own beliefs to core principles that are well established and widely respected” (Lunsford 60). Showing that WAMP has the capability of stopping a nuclear attack gives credibility to the place and the argument that nuclear defense systems, even if they are secret, are necessary to protect the United States.
The use of logos as an appeal stating that secret places like “WAMP” are necessary in such times of the Cold War is also used. In the 1980s, a crisis like the one depicted in Spies Like Us, is one that is very possible. According to the movie, the defense system in “WAMP” is a new system that needed to be tested, which is one of the reasons the missile is launched at the U.S. When commenting on the tremendous risk involved in the unauthorized launching of the nuke at the U.S. for defense research, General Sline, the man in charge of “WAMP,” states, “To guarantee the American way of life, I’m willing to take that risk… a weapon unused is a useless weapon” (Spies Like Us Film). General Sline uses logic to state that in order to secure American life, risky and secret actions like the ones taken at “WAMP” need to happen. Since the crisis in this movie is one that was realistic during the time period, the audience could logically assume that places like “WAMP” definitely exist due to the possibility of extreme situations like the one in this film.
The depiction and role that “WAMP” plays in Spies like Us effectively argues that we don’t know the entirety of the power and secrets of our government. During the 1980s the threat to national security was one of all American’s greatest fears, and since Spies Like Us shows that how our government can secretly destroy nukes from outer space, while being extremely hilarious, I’ll give it 5 slurpees.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gK5tWGKHdA4 (note only watch from 0:00-1:45) *this was the only clip from the movie I could find that shows WAMP