The Pursuit of Happyness
“Rhetoric of Space”
Each day our society is changing and adapting its cultural background to a more innovative and profound way that instills both equality and justice to a solidified nation. With evolving enhancements concerning women’s rights, improvements in ethnicity and culture, as well as an optimistic attitude towards LGBT individuals, the United States alters these stereotypes in an accepting and positive way. Our country fulfills the wants and needs of the people and takes their opinion and desires into consideration. Despite these stereotypical developments, the film industry does not always illustrate these advancements throughout their films. The Representation Test is a media literacy tool that depicts the knowledge of conversation and demonstrates a particular film’s cultural identity. Many people are starting to realize that personal preferences play a dominant role in determining a movies prestige, but fail to acknowledge that often times the greatest films receive an inaccurate representation.
Introduced in 2006, The Pursuit of Happyness is a film that left an everlasting impact bringing Americans to their feet. Based on a true story, The Pursuit of Happyness describes a unique and brave father who sacrifices everything for his young son. In hopes to achieve success as a future stockbroker in the heart of San Francisco, this young man inspires individuals that through hard work and dedication identities can be changed. This particular film has gone down in history as one of the most remarkable and inspirational films of a man who overcame all odds to achieve the impossible.
Beginning with the first section of the Representation Test, Women, have often times been overlooked as actresses who are unable to compete for a lead role or are generally stereotyped based on their race as the mother-like figure who lacks wisdom and character. Although within The Pursuit of Happyness, a woman may not play a profound role, this particular film does not judge a woman based on their race and ethnicity, but simply acknowledges the courage and love a mother has for her son. A scene that depicts these attributes is when Christopher’s wife, Linda, chooses to leave her son in his father’s guidance and states, “I know you will take care of him, I know that” (T.P.H.). By having faith in her husband she accepts that leaving her son under his father’s protection is in the best interest for his future. The poise and astuteness that this woman withholds, conveys the message that voids any racial stereotypes associated with any previous accusations upon colored women. Moving away from past racial slurs and segregation, films are starting to provide a more accurate representation of women in society.
Another category that the Representation Test outlines are the film’s that give men certain stereotypes that do not honestly reflect or resemble their true nature. Frequently, films glorify men as violent and destructive forces, but The Pursuit of Happyness proves otherwise. In addition, during a horrific time in our countries past history, stereotypes surrounded colored men and women in a negative and un-justice manner. Not only does this film show the true characteristics of a colored father and son who join forces and achieve success, but proves to society that men are perfectly capable of becoming the main caring and supporting parent figure in a family. This film accurately illustrates that your race and ethnicity have nothing to do with your ability to achieve yours goals and aspirations. As the story unfolds, Christopher Gardner begins to take over as a father who encourages and shares words of wisdom towards his son saying, “Hey. Don't ever let somebody tell you…you can't do something. You got a dream, you gotta protect it. If you want somethin', go get it. Period” (T.P.H). Often times, society recognizes that women generally fulfill these roles, but as the audience sees here, the wise words of encouragement are told from a father to his beloved son. The film industry is starting to acknowledge this certain stereotype about men and are slowly improving and altering it to reflect men in a more supportive light.
Lastly, The Pursuit of Happyness does not recognize the controversies in regards to LGBT individuals along with people and their disabilities. Although, these common stereotypes are not present, the director, Gabriele Muccino, evokes a sense of compassion and understanding among his viewers. As told in Everything’s an Argument, “We will be true to the values that make us who we are” (Lunsford 31). I firmly believe that his position on these stereotypes would be identified and constructed in a helpful and encouraging way that suspends judgment of any past, present, or future disputes if necessary.
Receiving an overall score of a 5 on the Representation Test, I feel does not portray the overall quality of this film. As I filled out this test, I am surprised that this spectacular film obtained a lower end grade in the “C” category. Even though times are changing in regards to stereotypes, personally, I believe that a representation of a movie should be based on a personal preference rather than an established test. According to Andrea Lunsford, in her book Everything’s an Argument, “Strong emotions can add energy to a certain passage” (36). Throughout the beginning of time, films have been created to instill passion, desire, knowledge, and much more upon its audience. The creation of The Pursuit of Happyness is a story line that deserves to be recognized as a credible representation of cultural and racial diversity and the Representation Test is in fact, a parody of this phenomenon. Overall, I rate this film a 5 out of 5 Slurpee’s in hopes to show an audience that tests like these do not always illustrate the true representation of a film.