Questions Without Answers

Two other presentations stood out to me as both creative and higher in level of difficulty, and those presentation included Stacy’s presentation on the many roles of Reese Witherspoon and Mylan’s presentation surrounding gender identity. I would like to comment on both of these presentations as the relate to the overarching themes of our class.

In her presentation on Reese Witherspoon, Stacy identified several films in which Reese served as a strong female lead. These films includes Legally Blonde, Cruel Intentions, Sweet Home Alabama, and Election. Stacy pointed out how Reese’s role onscreen seems to correlate with her personal life, as she was both a mother and a busy and successful actress. One of her coworkers in Sweet Home Alabama commented on the “rarity” of this type of woman. Is he correct in saying this is a rarity or is it merely that society has mapped out the image of women and anyone who disturbs this image is a rarity. Another movie Stacy is considering in addition to or alternatively to her chosen movies, it the movie Freeway. In the movie, Reese plays the character Vanessa a teenage girl growing up in the ghetto with a sexually abusive step father and a mother of who is a prostitute. At the beginning of the movie, Vanessa’s boyfriend is murdered in a gang shootout and her mother and step father are arrested. Although the movie is a comedy, it addresses many important and serious issues. As a parody of the Little Red Riding Hood story, Vanessa attempts to go visit her grandmother only to encounter several unique characters along the way. One important character in the seemingly charming but serial rapist and killer who is stalking Vanessa. In the end, Vanessa overcomes both Child Protective Services and this sadistic man. Stacy presented the question: Does it undervalue the strength of these roles that a man is almost always involved in her journey to finding power? I think that having a male present only strengthens her role as the male is typically the one being over powered.

In his presentation on the complicated issues of gender identity, Mylan offered the class two movies to consider along with this topic, Brokeback Mountain and To Wung Fu. These films present two polar opposite views of male homosexuality, one of stereotypical masculine tough homosexual cowboys and alternatively, hyper-feminine drag queens. Mylan expressed his desire and struggle to understand this topic and how to answer a few questions which have no definite answers. As I suggested in class, I believe a journey paper would be the best choice for Mylan on this topic and for his to utilize these movies as a way to understand how heterosexual males can reconcile being accepting of male homosexuality without jeopardizing their masculinity or reputations. I applaud Mylan for his courage attempt to differentiate the causes and ways to better deal with these hard issue. I feel that while our class has presented hard topic, unsolvable issues such as how to reconcile new and different thoughts and lifestyles with your own beliefs and lifestyle.

Thank you to both Stacy and Mylan for these very interesting and insightful presentations!

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2 Responses to Questions Without Answers

  1. kleind says:

    Unfortunately I haven’t been able to attend classes this week, so I do not know what is already been said. I wanted to comment on this post, because I found the topic of Stacy an interesting one. I think it is really interesting to look beyond the films and look at how they correlate with the stadia of the actress’ life. I do not know if Stacy considered other movies, but I immediately thought about Fear (1996). In this movie Witherspoon plays an innocent girls that falls in love with a sadistic boy. He abuses her, harasses her family, kills her friend, but spoiler-alert… the end she kills him (with the help of her dad). It is not an Oscar-worthy film, but it does show a transition of a weak Witherspoon to a strong Witherspoon. Also it shows Witherspoon in the early days of her career, before Legally Blonde, Cruel Intentions, Sweet Home Alabama, and Election.

  2. merrillem says:

    I thought that the topic of Reese Witherspoon’s many roles to be an interesting one. In relation to Stacy’s question, I do not think that it undermines the power of women that men are always involved. I think this because in the real world, the population is 50% male, so females will inevitably encounter men. They will be tested and perhaps hindered by them, but nonetheless men will always be around. Not all men are “bad” so I don’t think that it is a negative thing that men help women find their power. On the flip side, some men are bad, and these obstacles can help women find the strength that they didn’t know they had. For instance, in Legally Blonde, Elle Woods is hit on by one of her law professors. This makes her really upset, and she begins to question whether she has only achieved because people like the way that she looks. She is able to overcome this fear, however, and becomes very successful in the courtroom due to her knowledge of feminine topics. I do not think that femininity is a negative thing. I think that embracing this, but keeping in mind that women can be strong and powerful is very important.

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