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CRM312: UNIT 6 - (Nov 4th) Crime Entertainment.docx

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Ryerson University
CRM 312
Stephen Muzzatti

CRM312-011: “Crime Entertainment” th November 4 , 2013: UNIT 6 - Postmodernism analysis: makes Alison Yong’s argument straightforward; systemic wrongs of postmodern society - Pro-fascist vigilante VS hero concept - Film: “Falling Down” (Michael Douglas as main character) SCENE ONE: Traffic Jam scene - Summary: Michael Douglas is stuck in traffic, the noises are intensifying and overwhelming (people yelling, honking, bus full of children screaming, etc.) & weather is too warm and there is a fly in the car with him  These factors eventually drive him to simply leave his car and walk away  Symbols of late-modernity are present: financial problems, religion, irritability (makes the ordinary extraordinary)  And especially narcissism: where everyone is looking out just for themselves. SCENE TWO: Variety Store scene - Summary: Michael Douglas enters the variety store to get change for a phone call, the owner says he must buy something first so Douglas chooses the cheapest thing one would assume – a can of coke. The shopowner ‘overcharges’ Douglas 85 cents, so that he would not have enough change for the phone call he wanted, and this makes Douglas outraged (Douglas believes it should be 50 cents, so he can still have money for a phone call)  This is a sign of capitalism and monopoly: the shopowner holds the power to sell at the price he names and the customer would be hopeless against it - Summary (cont’d): Douglas then asks: “Do you know how much my country has given your country”  The shopowner was Asian (ethnic minority), and Douglas thus claims America as his country  When the shopowner confronted Douglas by asking “do you know how much money?” Douglas does not know (uses the aforementioned claim out of narcissism, as if “his country” giving money was equivalent to him personally helping the shopowner) - Summary (cont’d): Douglas speaks out, tells the shopowner is overcharging, and they start to argue. The shopowner goes to grab a baseball bat, which Douglas grabs and wrestles away from the shopowner. They knock over the American flag (symbolism). The shopowner, now cowering on the ground yells for Douglas to “take the money, just take the money”  Douglas is then extremely offended at the implication he was a thief – no, he was standing up for consumer rights  The film deliberately sets Douglas, the epitome of the average American, as a type of “role model” for everyday citizens to stand up for their consumer rights; on some level, he is supposed to represent “everyone”  Douglas found his power – but in confrontation with a racialized body – is that a coincidence? Also, the argument of “self-defence” comes into play – did he have the right to fight back because the shopowner provoked him?  At one point, he says “speak English” in reference to the shopowner’s accent - Summary (cont’d): Douglas then states “I am not the thief. You are the thief.” He goes on to take the baseball bat he acquired and walks to the donuts claiming it’s a “price rollback to 1965” *the good ol’ days+ He asks “How much?” When the shopowner responds with the price, Douglas smashes the entire display. He repeats this process with several items, showing the shopowner what he thinks of the prices, and eventually demolishes the store. When he reaches the counter again, he points to the can of coke and asks “How much?” The shopowner, resigned, says “50 cents”. Douglas then operates the register himself, puts in his dollar and takes the 50 cents change, leaving the store.  Reality is, customers have no say in the prices, he uses “my rights as a consumer” being violated as a malaise that he needs to eradicate -> the message is that consumers, if you just stand up for your right, you can take it for yourself - CONTINUUM: On the continuum of pro-fascist vigilante to hero, where would Douglas fall?  His intentions argue for hero (trying to make life better/more fair for consumers), but his actions were vigilante-like (targeting a small store doesn’t actually have an impact; it would have been different if it were in a big chain or highly public store) SCENE THREE: The Hill scene - Summary: Douglas is sitting on top of a graffiti-covered rock, inspecting a classified ads section of a newspaper that he keeps in his shoe to cover up a hole. Two racialized bodies (“gangsters”) approach him and use *what they consider to be Douglas’ language+: “You’re loitering, you’re trespassing on private property” (cop-language) Douglas says “is this your property? I don’t see your name on it” to which the gangsters respond that it does (points to the graffiti, supposedly their “tags”). Douglas says “Maybe I’d have known if you wrote it in fucking English”  Again it is this concept of language, and “speaking English” when in reality both the shopowner and this gangster are speaking English, just with a different accent or slight of words than Douglas (technically we all speak with accents) - Summary (cont’d): This which provokes the gangsters. Douglas then offers to leave (seen as having manners). The gangsters demand his suitcase as payment, which Douglas absolutely refuses to give up. There was a dispute over the suitcase, to which the gangsters take out a butterfly knife and Douglas produces his bat again. A fight ensues where Douglas, untrained and with a bat, manages to fight off two offenders, supposedly street-trained with a knife  Again it is against these racialized bodies that Douglas finds his power. Is there a notion of white supremacy? - After the two scramble off, Douglas mutters in disbelief “couldn’t let a man just take 5 minutes to rest, you piece of shit” and notes that their hill is a “pissing ground”. He then picks up the knife to replace the discarded bat.  This is much like a video game, where you “upgrade” your weapons - Summary (cont’d): He walks away from the scene shouting “I’m going home” and “clear the path” - CONTINUUM: In this instance, he falls closely to the “hero” side of the continuum; because the “gangsters” are considered a social problem, Douglas portrays the average citizen standing up for himself and is helping eradicate the problem of these gangsters (much like police work that he is doing as a citizen) and therefore is considered a role model for the public  This is because his role is the “regular guy” standing up for his rights against victimization by strangers -> portrays fantasy that most victims of street crime have by turning the tables; this scene actually plays upon victimization unrealistically SCENE FOUR: The Neighbourhood scene - Summary: Douglas is on the phone with “Beth” (who we can safely assume is his ex-wife and mother with sole custody of their daughter Adele). In this heated argument she is very defensive saying “this is my house, you don’t pay the bills, you don’t even pay child support, you can’t come here” and Douglas is extremely persistent, confident that he will show up to see his daughter.  With this new found power he has, he is showing more of it. - Summary (cont’d): The gangsters are back for revenge and decide to do a drive-by shooting. The women in the passenger seat acts as a “voice of reason” telling them not to do it. She is ignored as they proceed with the plans. They have high-powered weap
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