The massive fanbase of heroes and heroines from blockbuster movies such as Superman, Batman, and Iron Man illustrates people’s close relationship with movies. The accessibility of different movies and television networks has influenced popular culture from our attitudes and behavior at both individual and macro levels. I was surprised to discover the massive similarity of my experiences with the famous characters in movies such as Leon by Luc Besson. From years of watching movies, I could not agree more about the significant impact on my attitude and behaviors. Whether we agree, movies can make one’s life better, destroy it, or have no effect. After reading Blumer’s piece, I particularly resonated on how watching movies and television can make an individual imitate the characters in real life. From a personal perspective, being bullied as a child made me view movies as an “alternative” to the cruel real world. The experiences have made me believe that dealing with an enemy is through standing up for myself, even using physical force.
Movies are the mere reflection of prevailing attitudes, acceptable behaviors, and beliefs in society. A film such as Leon introduces the audience to the topical social issues of drug trafficking, corrupt authority, and murder with the sole purpose of influencing opinion and a change in attitude for people who are considered as “hitmen.” The protagonist Leon finds a young girl whose entire family has been murdered by a corrupt Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent and adopts and teaches her how to use a gun to take revenge. The movie was relatable because it depicted a “weak” person finally deciding to stand up to the evil and mean people in society, which resonated with my childhood experiences of dealing with bullies. Blumer states that the copying of mannerisms and gestures by older boys and girls “extends down into childhood experiences” (35). Being a victim of bullying as a child, watching a movie where a young girl takes a drastic decision to protect herself and take revenge against a person responsible for her misery resonates with my earlier desire. Although I learned to defend myself from bullies, movies such as Leon were instrumental in building the courage to walk away or avoid trouble. Therefore, my childhood experiences have made me an avid action movies fan because they always show one person standing up for the goodness of others.
The reading contained numerous examples of how to recreate their looks and mode of dressing by imitating movies’ favorite or desirable characters. I particularly found it relatable when Blumer asserts that “selection of details for imitation is relatively easy for the interested observer” (36). Watching my favorite characters, such as Jean-Claude Van Damme or Arnold Schwarzenegger, made it easier to adopt their defensive mannerisms, which I believed made me appear tough and masculine. For instance, in the movie Leon, the protagonist is a male who wears dark shades, long suits, and a briefcase, representing confidence, masculinity, and danger for his enemies. My experiences made it easier for me to become observant of characters such as Leon, which made adopting mannerisms and looks easier. Growing up, I idolized Sylvester Stallone’s “Rambo” because he had an intimidating body. Still, he never used it to fight the weak but bad guys, which correlated with my bullied experiences. I wanted to have a big body with protruding muscles because they represented security and personal safety in the movies.
As I became older, I understood the deep meaning of the action movies and the massive violence portrayed as a mere representation of the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that were increasingly becoming acceptable in society. My behaviors and attitudes have been influenced by the deep love I have for movies, but one of the films that had a massive impact was “Bully” by Lee Hirsch, who explores the lives of five students who face constant bullying in school. The documentary spoke to me because of the constant bullying I had to go through as a child. Although the documentary ends with the tragic death of two students who commit suicide. The rest employ other tactics tic pe with the bullying, adopting the confident and tough mannerisms depicted in most action movies. According to Blumer, the fact that an adolescent often finds himself “confronted by a type of life for which he is not prepared by training or experience, one can understand that copying forms of conduct seen in the motion pictures may adjust himself more easily” (38). I have discovered that looking or dressing in a certain way makes you at a greater risk of being a bullying victim than others. Therefore, adopting trending mannerisms and dressing codes from movies and trendy television shows can help adolescents avoid behaviors that make them appear weak or as a “nerd,” which are the primary recipe for being bullied.
Overall, I have learned so much from the media, especially in movies which have helped me abandon behaviors and attitudes that are more mainstream and acceptable by my peers. I think films reflect what is happening in society. Still, I do not feel that watching violent movies has profoundly impacted my life because I have never engaged in a physical fight with anyone. However, the deep meaning from action movies and documentaries, such as learning to protect oneself by building a defensive mechanism, has been instrumental in helping me avoid being bullied. Although I know I cannot ben assertive as most of my movie idols, I have learned that having a bog body or height is not the only way to deal with bullies or enemies. I have discovered that the best thing is to adopt mannerisms that bring out your personality and not diminish who you are because it would be similar to trading your entire life for a fictional character.
Blumer, Herbert. Author’s Preface in Movies and Conduct. New York: Macmillan & Company: (1933): xi-xii.