Sunday, January 21, 2018

Blog Prompt #1 -- Super 8


     Movie Plot and Theme:

I watched Super 8, a Sci-Fi drama set in 1979 Ohio. In this movie, a group of young friends are in the process of producing a zombie film when a train derails, setting an extra-terrestrial free in their little town. As the town sheriff works overtime to uncover the secrets behind the event, the young friends set out to find their missing star actress, finish their film, and in the end, send a very frustrated alien back home. The movie closes with the message that "bad things happen...but you can still live," which parallels the main character's ability to "keep living" after the tragic loss of his mother.

     3 Stereotypes:

1. The Pyromaniac. This stereotype is personified in Cary, the friend who loves explosives. Cary often carries sparklers in his pockets, and ends up saving  his friends when he distracts the alien with a bunch of fireworks. This stereotype stems from the fact that kids often become more adventurous in their middle-school years, trying new things that are risky and testing the boundaries. However, ALL middle-schoolers are not this way, and they certainly do not all carry explosives around with them...

2. The Nerd. This stereotype is personified in Preston, the friend who spouts off random facts and is scared of everything. This stereotype probably stems from the reality that when smart or introverted kids enter middle-school, they stand out and are often picked on for being weird or afraid to try new things. While there are certainly kids like Preston out there, it is probably not the norm.

3. The Hero. In this movie, Joe Lamb is both the main character and the hero. He is level-headed, smart, and kind, and in the end he gets the girl and faces an alien with unnatural confidence. In reality, although many middle-schoolers aspire to be different (and recognized for it), it is highly unlikely that a character like Joe would exist in real life.

Who Was I?

The character who was most like me in middle-school is Alice, the only girl in the group. When I was in middle-school, I was playing video games and riding four-wheelers in my backyard, so I tended to get along better with boys my age. I also had somewhat of a rough home-life at that time, similar to Alice in the movie. 

   

School of Rock


Summary: The movie is about a wannabe Rock Star, Dewey Finn, who gets kicked out of his band for being over the top when it comes to his guitar solos. At the same time his roommate Ned and Ned’s girlfriend, mainly Ned’s girlfriend, pressure Dewey for rent money. With Dewey not being able to get the money, since he got kicked out of his source of income, he decides to impersonate Ned and take a substitute teaching job at a prestigious private school. It is clear he anticipates this to be an easy job where the students only do recess all day. But after he hears some of his students playing in music class, he begins to formulate a revenge plan. He will put his own band together, using the students that have musical talent and other skills that could prove useful, they will play at battle of the bands, show his old band what is what, and give his roommate the rent money. Everything goes according to plan, the students are on bored, the principal even allows them a field trip (though she didn’t know it was for an audition), but it all comes crashing down when Ned receives a paycheck for a job he was not doing, Ned’s girlfriend called the cops and they got involved during parent’s night. Dewey flees the authorities leaving the students upset. Despite everything, the students decide that they still want to perform in the battle of the bands. They sneak out of school and get Dewey in a school bus. They play Zack’s song at the show. They don’t end up winning, but they all have a good attitude about it, even Dewey. The students end up losing their substitute, because he has no license, but Dewey starts an after-school music program that they all attend.

Stereotype 1: Zack

Zack is the typical student who has parents with outrageous expectations and put all sorts of pressures on the kid. The stereotype is that they are the cool kids who are in everything and do well in school. The reality of that is the students probably aren’t happy because they never get to do what they want to do and are constantly worried about not living out their parents expectations and failing them.

Stereotype 2: Tomika

Tomika is an African American who sings gospel music. The truth of that stereotype is that in the African American culture gospel music is a big deal, but that doesn’t mean every black middle schooler loves gospel music or sings gospel music.

Stereotype 3: Lawrence

Here we have a smart, musically gifted Asian kid. Lawrence fits both stereotypes of being smart Asian- good at math and the sciences, and an artsy Asian- drawing Anime or playing every musical instrument under the sun. The truth of this stereotype is that some Asian kids are good at math-just like every other ethnicity, and some Asian kids are talented in the arts-just like every other ethnicity.

I was most like Summer in middle school. I think this because during that time in my life I was still figuring things out, but what I knew I could do for people to like me or take notice of me was to be good at school and to please all the adults around me.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Stand By Me

"Stand By Me" is a coming of age story of four 12-year-old boys: Gordie, Chris, Teddy, and Vern. The best friends go on a journey to find the dead body of a young boy that went missing in their town, in order to become town heroes. Along the way, they have a run-in with a man and his dog, the local gang of delinquent boys, leeches, and trains. On the way there, they discover more about themselves and each other, that alters their perspective forever.

One stereotype that was heavily dramatized was the insults that middle school boys throw at one another. In the film, the boys are always trying to one-up each other in the insults they hurl at one another, particularly about their mothers. In fact, the narrator, Gordie makes it a point to tell the audience, that as middle schoolers, they had to find cool new insults about their mothers. Another stereotype the film builds on is the idea that in middle school you can't back down from a challenge because your pride is the be all, end all of your identity at the time. As Gordie and Chris go to meet Teddy and Vern, they run into the local gang. When Ace, the head of the gang, takes Gordie's hat it's Chris that stands up for him, to the point that he was practically pummelled to the ground. The third stereotype that this movie embodied was the mentality of 'the pack': a group of boys that are best friends. This was so exaggerated with this group of friends. Chris was the tough guy from the wrong side of town, with a good heart who wanted to do better for himself and also happened to be the leader of the pack, always protecting everyone else. Gordie, the kid that has everything going for him is, actually trying to throw it all away because he has a chip on his shoulder, oh, and he's also just lost his brother that was more like his father than his actual father. Then there is Teddy who is the loose-cannon of the group; he's got a had in the psychiatric hospital and seems to like in an alternate reality. Lastly, there is Vern, who is the chubby friend, and no surprise is afraid of everything. This was the typical 'group' of friends the directors came up with.

As we know, though stereotypes are based on truth, they are not always correct. In actuality, no matter how great of a friend you might have, it's never okay to insult one's mother. Especially in middle school, when kids are super sensitive, boys would only take for one maybe two jokes. After that, it would be a brawl. The second stereotype that this movie projects is that of the mindset of a typical middle schooler thinking they are indestructible. But as we know, that is not the case, in fact, they show that in the film itself, with the dead kid the friends are searching for. Thirdly, the typical pack doesn't exist, especially in middle school when all the kids just want to hang out with the other kids that are the same as them.

In this film, I think I most resonated with Gordie when I was in middle school. I had the same sort of mindset. I didn't think that school was really going to get me very far. I so badly wanted to be in the same classes as my friends that I never signed up for honors classes.

Friday, January 19, 2018

13 Going on 30

The movie, 13 Going on 30,  is about a girl by the name of Jenna Rink. She is in middle school, feeling like an outsider, awkward, smart and just an average girl. She wants to be in the popular clique, The Six Chicks, but isn't pretty or cool enough to be a part of them. She has her best friend Matty by her said who secretly likes her and gives her quite the gift for her birthday. He built her her dream house and wishing dust. The night of her birthday party, the Six Chicks pulled a prank on her leaving Jenna in the closet where she cries and keeps repeating the wish, "Thirty, Flirty, and Thriving." After making this wish, it jumps her to life at 30 years old where it is the complete opposite of the life she envisioned for herself. Yes, she became the leader of The Six Chicks, went to prom with her dream guy and was at the top of her favorite magazine, Sparkle. It also meant a life where she was no longer best friends with Matty and wasn't close to her parents anymore. She got her "Thirty, Flirty, and Thriving" life but not the way she envisioned it.

In this movie, the first stereotype illustrated in this film is Lucy, a.k.a. Tom-Tom. She is the leader of The Six Chicks, she matured physically faster than others, and ruled the school. Every girl wanted to be in this popular group, including Jenna. Being in middle school is all about wanting to be liked, building relationships, and never really being yourself. When Jenna jumps to being 30 years old, you learn how insecure Lucy really was. She became the jealous one over Jenna because instead of Jenna becoming a follower, she became the leader and was above her even working at Sparkle. Lucy is the typical bully who puts herself on top by tearing down those around her and belittling them. She cares about how she looks and even though she is a bully, she cares what everyone thinks about her.

The second stereotype would be Matty. The typical boy-likes-girl-but-girl-doesn't-like-boy scenario. He is Jenna's best friend, dorky, awkward, sweetheart, and loyal. He likes music that other people don't like, like the popular kids. The great thing about Matty though is that he knows he is different and not popular but he doesn't care. He doesn't care about being liked, he doesn't care about being popular, and simply likes himself for who he is. He would do anything for Jenna and stuck by her side until she pushed him away in her futuristic life.

The third stereotype would be Jenna. She's an average girl who wants to fit in and would do whatever she could to fit in to The Six Chicks clique. Like I mentioned before, middle school is all about being liked and whether we want to say we don't care what people think, we always will care what people think. I don't think her character was over exaggerated. She was naive, she just wanted to be liked. She tried to hurt the people she loved to be popular and that is true to this day. I think that overall, this movie does a pretty good job at depicting life in middle school.

If I had to pick any character that I was like in middle school, I would compare myself to Jenna. I didn't actually attend a middle school because I was home-schooled but I was still a middle school kid who cared what people thought of her, who was bullied like Jenna and never fought back because I wanted to be like and accepted. It was when I learned to love who I was just like Jenna that I stopped letting the bully control me and stood up for myself.

The Great Bambino!

The Sandlot is a reminiscent movie about a man named Scotty Smalls looking back on the summer he met his best friends. The movie begins with Smalls moving into a new neighborhood with his mother and stepfather. "Smalls" as he is called, isn't exactly the idea of cool. He stumbles upon a the neighborhood kids playing baseball at what they call "the sandlot". Benny Rodriguez the clear leader and all star athlete embraces Smalls regardless of his lack of talent. After Benny hits a home run and rids the group of their last and final baseball, Smalls claims he has one at home. Smalls comes back with his stepfather's signed ball by Babe Ruth. Without anyone realizing it, or Smalls even thinking anything of it they begin playing with it and lose that ball. Smalls then tells everyone that the ball was signed by Babe Ruth in one of the more memorable scenes as the group simultaneously corrects his pronunciation from Baby Ruth to BABE RUTH. The gang explain to Smalls during a camp out the story behind the junkyard where the ball lays and the beast that lives there, a hyperbolic canine who eats little boys. The boys then spend the summer and rest of the movie camping out and trying erroneous tactics to get the ball from the other side of the fence. Eventually they muster up the courage to go over and ask the "evil dog owner" for the ball, they find out he used to play with Babe Ruth and goes and gets the ball from him. The boys spend the rest of the summer playing ball and the movie ends with a beautiful montage of each character as they fade away from the field because of growing up or moving away. The movie ends with Smalls as an adult calling a professional baseball game while Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez steals home and looks up as they wave to each other. I am getting goosebumps just typing that.

Three types of stereotypes of middle schoolers in this film are, they exaggerate or dramatize, push the limits, and run in cliques. This whole plot of this film is based upon exaggeration and dramatics. The truth is incredibly far from the reality of the situation through out the whole film. The boys literally try and build a robot machine to catapult the baseball over the fence rather than just ask the owner to grab the ball, if that isn't dramatic then I am not sure what is. Away from the plot of the movie, the scene where the play the other baseball team is the epitome of dramatic as well. During that summer, that is all that mattered to those boys, their crazy quest for the ball and that game. Even the way the director shoots that scene heightens the dramatics of the actual scenario, you begin to think that this baseball between two unorganized baseball teams is the battle between good and evil as well. Lastly, their camp out and Squints' the beast origin story is all I have to say about over exaggeration. I think a lot of the examples of dramatics and exaggeration are fairly accurate in this film. For example, I bet a lot of students in Mr. Butler's classes see his 150 facts as a baseball in the beast's yard, its the end of the world for them as they know it. Yet they are surprised to find out that they are much more capable than they thought.

Regarding pushing the limits, the two scenes that stand out to me in this movie are obviously when Squints kisses his bride to be Wendy Peffercorn and when the boys try chew and then get on a ride at the fair. These boys want to push the limits, see how close they can get to the edge before they get kicked out of the pool or throwing up over the side of an amusement park ride. I think this accurately represents the limits and boundaries middle schoolers seek to push, however it might not be as daring as Squints and the gang, but they are looking to explore those boundaries with their parents and teachers. Kids in middle school are given freedoms they have never had before and are curious to explore where those freedoms end.

Lastly, kids in middle school are very clique and group oriented. Right away in the beginning of the movie you see Squints not wanting Smalls to play with them because he wasn't very good. Kids like to hangout with other kids who share the same interests or have the same abilities. However, that could also form rivalries with kids that do the same things like the other baseball team. Both teams were very group oriented and loyal to the collective. Throughout the whole movie the focus is either on Smalls, Benny, or the group. There are no other narratives or shots in the film where all of them aren't together. In fact, the meta narrative of movie was ultimately about friendship. Once again, I think this movie does a good job at accurately stereotyping middle school students, however I think some myths about the stereotypes in the disdain that kids feel for those who are different. I don't think kids clique up out of malice but rather insecurity, it isn't about harming others, but rather securing your own place out of fear of standing out.

In middle school I was very much Alan "Yeah Yeah" McClennan. Yeah Yeah doesn't have a main role, but he is certainly memorable with his wise cracks and spunky personality. I wasn't the leader of any of my friend groups, but I was also by no means a follower or someone that blended in to the group. I was an affiliate with my own distinct character and personality but also contributed a great deal to the group. Plus Yeah Yeah is always mouthing off, and it would be a lie to say I wasn't at that age.

"You bob for apples in the toilet... and you like it!"

            The movie I decided to watch again, after noticing that every available movie I had already seen, was Sandlot, which in my opinion has to be one of the greatest films of all time. The film centers around a bunch of misfit kids that spend nearly every waking minute playing baseball. Unfortunately, they only have 8 players until Scottie Smalls moves into the neighborhood and is invited to play by Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez. After proving that he is coachable and given the nod by Squnitz, he joins their sandlot team During one of the so called practices that Benny was leading they went into some batting practice and Benny hit the ball so hard that he knocked the covering off the ball. After realizing that they didn’t have enough money to buy a new ball Smalls tells the boys that he has a spare ball at home. However, it wasn’t just any spare baseball, it happened to be a baseball signed by a man known by many different names: the Sultan of Swat, the Colossus of Clout, the King of Crash, the Great Bambino, or as most people know him as… BABE RUTH! Unfortunately, Smalls didn’t know who he was and the rest of the team didn’t look close enough at the baseball before Smalls stepped up to bat and crushed a monstrous home run that flew into old man Murtle’s backyard, the meanest old man that ever lived. Most people would have just jumped the fence to retrieve a ball but in this case there was no way they could do that because the backyard was patrolled by “The Beast,” a junkyard dog that, according to Squnitz, is responsible for killing any and all trespassers. The rest of the movie is the 9 trying to get the ball back without attempting to physically enter the backyard. They give it three attempts with different strategies and all three fail at the last second, keeping the ball the beast’s possession. Eventually Benny decides that the only and last option is to pickle the beast by jumping the fence, retrieving the ball and jumping back over, and it would of worked too had the beast not broke his chain and ran through the fence. Benny then leads the beast on a wild chase throughout the city that eventually ended back at the lot where they started. In the end fence fell on the beast trapping him underneath until Smalls and Benny lifted the fence off of him and freeing the beast. The movie ends on a high note when Mr. Murtle gives Smalls a replacement ball, the Murders Row ball, which contains Babe Ruth’s signature along with multiple other Hall of Fame baseball players.


            Throughout the film the writers do a good job of creating realistic middle school stereotypes that, although can be exaggerated at times, tend to reflect middle school pretty well. One that I noticed early on is when Squintz immediately does not want Smalls to play ball with them because he wasn’t very good when given a couple opportunities. Middle schoolers can be quick to judge and the athletic ones especially don’t want anything to do with kids that are not athletic when it comes to sports. Another stereotype I observed comes when the boys try chew for the first time. This portrays that middle school kids enjoy experimenting at this age, which in many cases is accurate, however, the level of experimentation varies. Lastly, one final stereotype I noticed is the rivalry and disdain that middle school kids may have for other social groups or those form different schools. This comes into play during the scene when Ham faces off in an insult match against a kid from a different, well funded, baseball team. Kids may not go to the extreme to insult and belittle other kids of different ability levels or socioeconomic backgrounds, but they will sometimes tend to avoid and stay away from them. Unfortunately, I would have to say I was more of a Yea-Yea kid in middle school. I tended to go along with what others said and did without truly thinking for myself. You see throughout the movie that Yea-Yea tends to just go with what the popular opinion is at the time, regardless of the consequences or if it seems right or wrong. I was that kid. I enjoyed going with the flow and avoiding having to think for myself. Something I absolutely regret about my childhood when I look back and reflect on who I was then and who I am now.

Middle School in "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader"

In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the Pevensie siblings are split up.  Peter and Susan are with their parents in the United States, and Edmund and Lucy are in the UK at school.  The worst part of the whole situation is the fact that they have to live with their aunt, uncle, and cousin.  Their cousin Eustace is an annoying, arrogant, little know-it-all and he doesn't like Lucy and Edmund either.  However, when the painting of the ship in Lucy's room starts to move and Lucy and Edmund are taken back to Narnia, Eustace accidentally comes too.  Through the movie the siblings and Eustace go through adventure after adventure alongside Prince Caspian and the crew of the Dawn Treader, and Eustace learns what it means to work as a part of a team and how to get a long with others.

Eustace embodies quite a few stereotypes of middle school.  First of all he is pretty arrogant.  He obviously feels like he knows everything, and as a result has no qualms about correcting people he has deemed to be wrong.  I believe that this behavior is caused by another stereotype of middle school: insecurity.  Eustace is very insecure.  He wants to fit in and so he tries to show everyone how cool he is and how much he knows.  He wants to connect, but is trying a little too hard to prove that he is absolutely perfect.  The last stereotype of middle school he portrays is the awkward coming into himself that happens for a lot of kids.  Granted, this part happens when he is a dragon, but he eventually comes around and starts functioning as a part of the team.  He really goes from me-focused to us-focused.  He even fights the temptation to go back to his old ways and decides to put that last sword on Aslan's table.  He makes a conscious choice to put everyone else first, and as a result he is finally able to get a long with the rest of the crew.

Eustace was the only character in middle school and I was too shy to be him, but I was very awkward.  I got good grades, but I tried to be as invisible as possible because 6th grade was my first year in public school.  I didn't know anyone, and needed to watch how people interacted before I could feel comfortable really getting to know anyone.  I did embody the insecure part of Eustace's character though.  The difference there is that I coped with my insecurity by making my walls higher.  My thinking was that if I didn't let anyone in then no one would know anything was wrong with me.  I did not enjoy middle school, but I can look back now and know that it really was a pivotal time in my development.  I wouldn't be the person I am today if I hadn't gone through middle school.