A new idea can throw off a whole community. Don’t believe me? Watch Pleasantville, a movie on how a pair of twins, brother and sister, completely change a city.
They are transported from the modern world, to a quaint town in a T.V. show called Pleasantville. As quick as the pair of twins spread their ideas they try even harder to stop them, not wanting to change how the whole community functions. But it proved to be impossible and soon everything was changing, for the better and for the worse. Sociologists can view this movie in three different perspectives: the functionalist, conflict, and interactionist perspective.
The Conflict Perspective is shown throughout the movie. This perspective focuses on those forces in society that promote change and competition. In this movie, an example would be the colored vs. the black and white folks. Violence aroused between the colored vs. the black and white’s. Soon the black and white folks began to vandalize the colored people’s shops, homes, and even went as far as to racism laws; they viewed the colored people as different individuals because they were accepting change.
The colored vs. the black and white’s is viewed as a conflict perspective because of the change that is accruing from the black and white’s racism toward the colored people; like only gray and white paint, the Lovers Lane and the library being closed up, colored and the black and white’s sit separated at court, and no umbrellas on sale. Another example would be the moms’ inner conflict within her; she accepts the change but is too afraid to show it. She is in love with Mr. Johnson but she has to choose to either stay true to her husband or too follow her heart.
This is an example of conflict perspective because the wife is beginning to change because of the conflict within her; like not going to sleep at the same time as her husband, not wanting to be a house wife anymore, not having food ready for her husband when he gets home, and last but not least becoming colored. The functionalist perspective is employed by those who view society as a set of interrelated parts that work together to create a stable social system.
Since not everything in society is positive, a dysfunction is the negative consequence an element has for the stability of the social system. This is shown in the movie when the roles of daughter and mother have changed. Instead of the mom giving her daughter “the talk” it’s the other way around. This is an example of functional perspective because the mother is no longer doing her job.
Another example would be the firemen. They are not exactly doing their job either; instead of stopping fires they rescue cats from trees because fire does not really exist in Pleasantville. They don’t really start doing their job until the twins show up and the first fire occurs and even then bud has to show them how to do their job and stop the fire!
The last type is interactionist perspective, which is how individuals interact with each other’s in society. Sociologists would focus on how soon after Mary Sue’s relations with her brother improved, and soon after she would ask him for advice and confide in him. The fact that they were stranded in a 1950’s T.V. show makes them stick together. Another example is how the kids were acting more provocative and became sexually active. This was a huge change from their previous, obedient character.
Also after a few days, Mary Sue’s friends were speaking in the same ’90s dialect. This is shown when her friend remarks “Cool!” Mary Sue changed the way they communicated with her ideas. All these examples fall under interactionist perspective because the characters began to change the way they talk and how they interact with one another.
The key theme in this movie is change. It shows that change can be both positive and negative, with the Functionalist, conflict, and interactionist perspectives. As the plot progresses, Pleasantville changes increasingly and colors begin to appear, symbolizing the spread of new ideas. Without change, a society truly cannot function.
Courtney from Study Moose
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