“Movies do not merely offer us the opportunity to re-imagine the culture we most intimately know on the screen, they make culture.”—bell hooks, 1996
For this assignment, you are to write a paper based on one of these films: “Family Affair” (2010), a documentary, “Monster” (2003) starring CharlezeTheron as Aileen Wournos, or “American History X” (1998) starring Edward Norton. As a warning, all of these are extremely graphic, violent, and disturbing. All the films reveal so much that is worthy of our examination in our study of conformity, deviance, and social control. All of these films are worth seeing at some point in your life!
You should go well beyond plot summary into a creative and critical analysis of how what we have studied in the course applies to the film you are choosing. In fact, I am most interested in your understanding of the sociological concepts embedded in the film you choose. Create a strong and unified thesis statement related to conformity, deviance, and social control that you can then support and substantiate. Buttress your claims and elaborate on your points using readings, theories outlined in the book, class concepts, and class discussions.
You will want to consider questions of who and what is considered deviant and why. You should carefully evaluate the contradictions, nuances, and paradoxes in that in terms of the film you choose. I recommend that when you view the film you take careful notes and even take down significant, pithy quotations that you can then use in your paper. Combined with quotations drawn from readings and comments made in class discussion, the quotations from the film you watch will become important data for your paper.
You need not address all of the issues outlined below but these will give you a springboard for thinking and will give you a sense of each film:
- Family Affair (2010) is an award winning film that was screened at Sundance and then purchased by the Oprah Winfrey Network. It gives you an opportunity to think about one family’s experience with incest. The filmmaker, Chico Colvard, does in depth interviews with his three sisters who experienced sexual abuse at the hands of their father. We are faced with issues such as: shame, secrecy, silence, labeling, the crisis of disclosure, vocabularies of motives, primary and secondary deviance, conflict theory of crime, etc. (Available on YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, and Amazon Video, $1.99 – $3.99; Vudu for $9.99)
- Monster (2003) gives you an opportunity to think about issues of gender, stigma, anomie, labeling theory, feminist theory, prostitution, sexual orientation, domestic violence, rape, constructions of crime, deviant careers, and the issue of serial killers—it is debatable as to if Wournosactually fits the definition of a serial killer. This would be an interesting focus of a paper, for example.(Available on Hulu[subscription,] Amazon Video, YouTube, and Google Play Movies and TV. Cost ranges from $2.99 – $3.99)
- American History X (1998) gives you an opportunity to think about issues of intense racism, anti-Semitism, backlash on immigration, stigma, anomie, differential association theory, domestic violence, and deviant careers.(Available on YouTube, Amazon Video, Google Play Movies & TV$2.99; Vudu $9.99)
Each film will give you rich material for thinking about themes in our class. Because of the popularity of a few of these films, you may have already seen them prior to this class on your own; if so, I suggest that you see the movie again if you have seen it before so you can think about the sociological implications of it for our course.
Your paper should be three pages maximum. It must have page numbers, be double spaced and in 12 point font, Times font only, in black ink, and with one inch margins. Be sure to put your full name on the file and on the actual paper.
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