Sociology Paper

Option B Movie Analysis Watching movies is a leisurely activity enjoyed by many people. Not only are movies enjoyable to get a good laugh, cry, or just to relax to, but there are many things to be learned from movies as well. For this project I choose to examine two movies from a sociological perspective. The two movies I chose are, Law Abiding Citizen and 8 Mile. Law Abiding Citizen Law Abiding Citizen is a story of a man who takes justice into his own hands after the legal system fails to bring justice on the murderer of his wife and children.

Instead of convicting the murder for a longer sentence, the lawyer plays it safe by making a deal with the murderer to convict for a shorter sentence; which in turn keeps his conviction percentage high. Questions for Law Abiding Citizen 1. What was the main issue the movie was expressing? Both individuals interviewed found that the main issue was that the main character Clyde is determined to bring down the corrupted law system that failed to bring his wife and daughter justice. 2. How was this issue presented?

Both individuals agreed that this was apparent because the first five minutes of the movie show the murder take place and the rest is Clyde’s actions to bring down the law system. 3. What sociological issue was presented? Individual A believes the sociological issue presented is the relationships between the law system and Clyde. Individual B believes that the sociological issue presented deals with how crime and punishment affects society’s views on justice. 4. How was the sociological issue presented? Both individuals agree that these issues were straightforward in the plot.

The issues were represented by the characters actions in the movie. 5. How did the movie distort social reality? Both individuals believe that the events that took place in the movie are extremely exaggerated. Although they both believe that the justice system has many flaws they don’t believe that a person would be able to commit all the acts that Clyde committed without being caught. 6. How did the characters in the movie show deviancy? Individual A says that that all the murders that took place were deviant.

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Individual B agrees but also includes that the lawyer making deals with murderers is deviant because it doesn’t help society overall. 7. Why do you think that the characters had deviant behavior? Both individuals agree that Clyde was deviant because of the death of his family. Individual B adds that the lawyer’s deviant deal making is a quest for a higher career status. 8. Whose behavior do you find was more deviant? Both individuals find that Clyde is the most deviant because he caused the most deaths but they both understand why Clyde did what he did and take his side over anybody else’s in the movie. . Do you agree with the law system’s justice or Clyde’s form of justice? Both individuals agree with Clyde’s form of justice in the movie, but both think that in real life they would not act out in Clyde’s manner. 10. Whose act was more deviant in your opinion Clyde’s or the murder? Both individuals find that Clyde is the most deviant but they take his side over the murderer because they both feel they connected more with Clyde and his motives. I found that the main concept in Law Abiding Citizen was deviancy. Deviancy can be defined in many different ways.

For example Howard Becker defined deviance as not that act but the reaction of others to the act. The textbook on the other hand defines deviance as, any behavior or physical appearance that is socially challenged and or condemned because it departs from the norms and expectations of some groups. In Law Abiding Citizen, Clyde, who has witnessed the murder of his wife and daughter, displays behavior that could be defined as deviant. Ten years after the death of his loved ones he decides to take justice into his own hands. An example of his deviancy includes brutally murdering his family’s murderer.

He does this by injecting him with adrenaline, sewing his eyelids open, placing him below a mirror, and cutting him limb by limb. Throughout the movie he murders more people that failed to bring his families murderer to justice. It is interesting to analyze the deviant acts by Howard Becker’s definition of deviancy. In the beginning of the movie a woman and daughter are murdered and the reaction I had towards the killer was disgust and anger. Later on in the movie when Clyde murder’s the murderer, it is much more graphic scene but my reaction to the act was not disgust and anger.

In this scene I feel that I, as well as other viewers understand his motives. Both of the individuals I interviewed felt the same way. By Howard Becker’s definition the more graphic and torture some murder in this case was less deviant because of our reaction to the act. Clyde turned to deviancy. I feel that his deviancy relates to Robert Merton’s strain theory. Robert Merton’s strain theory analyzes what happens when people are socialized into desirably cultural goals but denied the institutional means to achieve those goals. Merton uses this term to explain why good people turn to crime.

I believe this relates to Clyde because before the crime, he was a productive member of society, he supported his family and worked as an engineer. Unfortunately the justice system did not provide the institutional means of providing him closure on the crimes committed. He then felt the need to take action and provide justice himself. Another concept that goes along with strain theory is anomie. The book defines anomie as, a state in which the ties attaching the individual to the group are disrupted due to dramatic changes in circumstances.

Emile Durkheim used the term anomie as a detachment from norms that usually guide ones behaviors. Emile Durkheim stated that this usually accompanies a lack in social integration. He also stated that the less socially integrated individuals are, the more likely they are to do harm to themselves and others. The behavior of Clyde shows that he is not socially integrated and he displays anomie. This was triggered by the death of his family members and the lack of support given by the justice system. 8 Mile 8 Mile is based off of Eminem’s life.

It shows the struggles of growing up surrounded by poverty, drugs, alcohol, and gangs. The main character Jimmy (based off of Eminem) struggles with poverty and a drug addicted mother with an abusive boyfriend all while trying to establish himself in the music industry. Other barriers he faces include competing gangs and a weak support system. Questions for 8 Mile 1. What was the main issue the movie was expressing? Both individuals agree that there were many struggles present in the movie from poverty to gangs. 2. What sociological issue was presented?

Individual A says that the issue was conflicting power struggles between gangs. Individual B says that the issue was how poverty affects people. 3. How were the sociological issues presented? Individual A says that the struggles between gangs were shown through the numerous fights and through the rap battles. Individual B says that the affects of poverty are shown through the acting out behavior of various characters as well as the mother’s need to stay with an abusive boyfriend for his money. 4. How did the movie distort social reality?

Both individuals believe that the movie realistically portrays social relationships but neither one entirely sure because they have not lived in any areas similar to the part of Detroit in the movie. 5. Why do you think that the characters in the movie showed deviancy? Both individuals believed it was because they were born into it and don’t know how to live in another life style. 6. What are the ‘battles’ in 8 Mile? Both individuals stated that the battles in 8 mile were a way of the local lyrical minds to show off their talent against one in other to score a deal with a record label. . Why do the characters In 8 Mile participate in these battles? Both individuals said they participate in these battles to further themselves and possibly make it big. 8. Was the burning of the old house acceptable? Individual A said that they completely accepted that they burn the house down since no one lived in it anymore and it just served as a place for violence to take place. Individual B said they did not accept the burning of the house mainly because it still could have served as a shelter to the homeless. 9. What do you think was Eminem’s major setback?

Both individuals said that poverty was the biggest thing holding Eminem back. 10. Why was it his major setback? Both individuals said that if it weren’t for his poverty, he would have never have been in all of the situations that he was in. Also though, if it weren’t for his poverty he wouldn’t be rapping about a lot of what he usually raps about so it helped him in a way also. There were many sociological aspects of the movie 8 mile. The movie did not go into depth in a particular sociological issue but many were present. One of the issues was the struggling family relationship.

The family relationship in the movie was not healthy. The mother was a single mother living in extreme poverty. We learned in class that poverty is the primary strain in a one-parent family. In the movie the mother dates a guy who abuses her and her children. She continues to stay in the relationship out of fear of not being able to provide a home and food for her family. Another issue that is presented is the conflicts that arise when social classes conflict. In the movie there is a house where a young girl from a low class family got raped (as social class decreases being a victim to crime increases).

The house is an abandoned house that remains standing until the characters from the movie decide to burn it down. They come to the conclusion that if the house was on the “other side” of 8 mile (the territory of another social class) that it would have been demolished by now. They then take it into their own hands to burn the house down. This is only one of the actions performed by the characters that could be considered deviant. The reasons for the deviancy in this movie vary from the deviancy in Law Abiding Citizen. The characters in 8 mile have deviant behavior, such as stealing, weapon use, fighting, and vandalism.

I believe their deviance is best explained by the differential association theory used in symbolic interactionism. The differential association theory, coined by Edwin Sutherland, says that people learn to either deviate or conform to society’s norms through the different groups with whom they associate. Most of the characters in the movie were born into a low class life style. One of the characters was portrayed as having a status inconsistency. Status inconsistency is when a person has characteristics high in one area of status and low in another. One of the members of Jimmy’s rival gang is a great example of status inconsistency.

He is a member of a gang, walks the streets, is involved in fighting yet he attended Cranbrook and has two educated, happily married parents. I have watched both Law Abiding Citizen and 8 Mile on numerous other occasions before watching these movies again for this project. In the past I never took as much time to think about the driving forces behind the characters behavior and social contexts. As a result this project helped me analyze the movies from a new perspective. It was very interesting to see the concepts I have learned about in class be portrayed in the media.

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