iconography and conventions of social realism films
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Group idea and generic conventions Robert Larwood
Social realism conventions and our film Our film concentrates on a variety of
contemporary issues, including homelessness, gang culture, alcoholism, and the segregation of social classes in contemporary British society. Similarly, social realism films typically exhibit these themes. ‘Kidulthood’ reflects contemporary gang and youth culture in West London, in addition to issues like crime, drug abuse, underage sex and teenage pregnancy and alcoholism. Other films like ‘The Full Monty’ address further issues, such as racism, homosexuality and obesity, unlike our film, where our focus lies elsewhere.
Social realism conventions and our film Our film occurs in a more backstreet setting as
it develops (inner city areas of Brighton), highlighting the inequality of social classes within shockingly close boundaries. The businessman (Charles) is wealthy and of the middle-class, while Joe is homeless, and appears to be much less than working class. Other social realism films also highlight these inequalities, ‘Kidulthood’ mainly occurs in the council estates, alleys and backstreets of working class London, whereas it concludes at a young boy’s house party in a more suburban and wealthier area.
Social realism conventions and our film The focus of our film lies with Joe, who is part
of a marginalised group that is often iconic of social realism films, as are the hardships that the characters face, in terms of economic difficulties (lack of housing and employment), and social difficulties (separation from society, loss of family and loneliness). Films such as ‘Kidulthood’ confront these hardships head-on, therefore conveying a sense of realism to the audience, as they focus on aspects familiar to our surroundings, particularly gang culture, which although is familiar in most cities, is stereotypically based in London.
Social realism conventions and our film We have considered our target audience for our
film, and due to the inclusion of middle-aged characters as the main protagonists, our target audience will be an equally older audience. However, the inclusion of a gang and contemporary issues may intrigue some 17-25 year olds. Typically, a social realism’s target audience corresponds with the age of the main characters, as the audience has someone and their difficulties or situations to relate to. For example, ‘The Full Monty’ directly relates to working class members of society who have gone a substantial amount of time without a reliable income or employment, similarly to Joe (the homeless man) in our film.
Social realism conventions and our film Charles (the successful businessman) and Joe
(the homeless man) are complete contrasts in our film, with Charles inheriting a pathway to economic gain, not needing to work particularly hard to achieve success. Joe, conversely, has worked diligently throughout his life, but fails to earn his rewards. This seemingly unjust paradox is reminiscent to our own contemporary society. ‘Dirty Pretty Things’ also exhibits this paradox, with the immigrant hotel workers having multiple occupations to earn enough money to pay for the necessities, whereas Juan, the hotel manager, organises an underworld criminal organisation which is involved in the black market, yet he seems to be very successful.
Social realism conventions and our film Many social realism focus on the stereotypical
aspects of society, such as the aggressive, violent and criminal culture of young people in ‘Kidulthood’. However, some films exhibit atypical aspects of society, such as the value and intelligence of immigrants in society in ‘Dirty Pretty Things’, whereas the stereotypical view is that immigrants are unintelligent and are worthless in our communities. Similarly, the stereotypical view is that homeless people are worthless and helpless in society, whereas the character development of Joe represents him as having the capacity to assist a business with his intelligence and potential value.
Social realism conventions and our film Like many social realism films, ours examines the
difference between standard of living and quality of life. While Charles’ standard of living is exceptionally high, with a high income, a lovely home and luxurious goods, he is a loner and suffers depression. Joe shares a poor quality of life, suffering with alcoholism and loneliness, with an equally low standard of living, suffering homelessness and has no employment. Therefore, the audience will be attracted by the relationship between two very contrasting yet similar characters. Other films, like ‘Kidulthood’ exhibit something similar, such as the bullied girl with a wealthy upbringing, who commits suicide; while some of the less wealthy characters seem to be enjoying a better quality of life, although they may be antagonistic in some way.