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In an article entitled Thematic Paradigm, Professor Robert Ray discusses the importance of the American film industry to the portrayal of a world based on patterns and ideas. He dwells on the general traits of American film heroes. According to Ray, motion pictures are plentiful in various kinds of brave characters, that is, the official hero who is more of a family guy and the outlawed hero who is more individualistic. He often distinguishes a hesitant individual who is always opposed to being taken to action (Ray). The ideals and values assigned to the various kinds of heroes portrayed in the films have had a profound effect on society, considering the contrasting identities they represent. The author's view of the heroic characters in American movies is correct and makes a good judgment on how film reflects the community through audacious personalities.
Different courageous personas are vividly portrayed in various American motion pictures. For instance, an outlaw hero is described in the movie “Con Air.” Nicholas Cage, the main character, observes that “somehow they managed to get every creep and freak in the universe on this plane” (West). Since Cage is among the criminals, his qualities are viewed as that of an outlaw hero. Cage plays a dangerous criminal that somehow manages to save some of the prison warders and crash lands the hijacked plane full of convicts. Also, in the film 12 Monkeys (Gilliam) Bruce Willis who is a prisoner is selected to travel back in time to get the cure for the deadly virus that is almost wiping out humanity.
The American film industry has undoubtedly been inspired by its social culture, hence the repeated employment of classic heroes. For instance, in the film Die Hard (McTiernan) John McLane features a reluctant heroic persona whose only interest was to celebrate the Christmas Eve with his family. He is, however, drawn to action by Hans Gruber who is a former West German radical political group. Consequently, in the Commando movie (Lester) Arnold Schwarzenegger fulfills the reconciliatory pattern of success that is expected of a hero by defeating the alien. By creating contrasting characters for both the hero and the villain, the mentioned above films have achieved fundamental social psychological patterns among American viewers.
Professor Robert Ray’s observations on how society influences the American motion pictures industry are, in my opinion, justified. Many traditional films set in America often portray both the official hero and the villain. The former is frequently described as being civilized and a family guy. The latter, on the other hand, is presented as individualistic. In Raiders of the Lost Ark (Spielberg) Indiana Jones acts as a typical American hero traveling and embarking on various adventures during his archeological expeditions. Indiana Jones flies to South America, Egypt, and Tibet to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant. He portrays heroic character that is keen to outsmart Nazis villains. Once again, the audience expects the hero to win in every occasion. Toht, from the film, observes that “You, Americans, are all the same. Always overdressing for the wrong Occasions” (Spielberg).
Taken together, Robert Ray’s view of the influence of American society on its film industry is easily traceable in various movies recently produced. However, the impact seems to go both ways. Some films, for instance, science fiction movies have also influenced the way the American society views futuristic issues such as the apocalypse.
12 Monkeys. Directed by Terry Gilliam performance by Bruce Willis, Universal Pictures, 1995.
Commando. Directed by Mark L. Lester, performance by Arnold Schwarzenegger, 20th Century Fox, 1985.
Con Air. Directed by Simon West, performance by Nicholas Cage, Touchstone, 1997.
Die Hard. Directed by John McTiernan, performance by Bruce Willis, 20th Century Fox, 1995.
Raiders of the lost Ark. Directed by Steven Spielberg, performance by Harrison Ford, Paramount Pictures, 1981.
Ray, Robert B. “The Thematic Paradigm.” Np, nd Web (2005).
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