The main thing that the movie Pleasantville pointed out was discrimination.
Discrimination is the unequal treatment of various categories of people. When color was present in Pleasantville, it revealed that the citizens and the towns are undergoing change. Hence, the citizens felt free and they broke out of the daily routine. When the objects in the town started to emit color, the elderly people resisted the change. The Pleasantville mayor Big Bob had a meeting with the people of no color to discuss the current situation.
They started putting signs up saying no colored people, similar to the situations the African Americans dealt with prior to the civil rights movement in 1954. Also Pleasantville is a visual representation of what America has been going through for the past 50 years. Racism, women’s rights and more.
They harassed all people of color on the streets which they could do because that was not frowned upon. They also heavily vandalized Bill Johnson’s shop because they windows were filled with beautiful,vibrant colorful art. Also the big meeting with the non colored people of power, draws similarities betweens Nazism and their beliefs. Another big theme is this movie is gender roles. The movie shows how men are more superior and the women are lower than men. This also leads to a glass ceiling is subtle discrimination of women which effectively blocks the movement of women into higher positions. SInce people see women less than men, it will be very difficult for the women to move up in their world of Pleasantville.
George and Betty are a perfect example of sexism. Sexism is a belief that one sex is better than the other. Everyday Betty cooks and cleans for George while he is at work making money for the whole family. When George comes home again towards the middle of the movie he said ” Honey I’m home” but there was no response. Then when he said “Where’s my dinner?” there was no dinner. This shows that women are supposed to give the men a nice warm greeting every time they come home and cook for the family. This displays the “stay at home cook and clean” wife stereotype. A stereotype is when a exaggerated description is applied to every person of the some category.
Another example is when George tells Betty to put on makeup because her face has some color on it. When she said no George got very frustrated because this is normal behavior of Betty. This is another example of how the men are supposed to be more dominant than women. This movie could be summed up in two words, social disorganization, which is a breakdown in social order caused by social change. When the mob vandalized Bill Johnson’s shop, that was an example of social disorganization. Color was starting to show and spread quickly throughout the town. The way we can look at the change in Pleasantville is through symbolic interactionism.
Symbolic Interactionism is a perspective which society is made up of symbols that is use to established meaning, communicate with one another and help evolve the way the view the world. This theory was developed by Charles Horton Cooley and George Herbert Mead. Symbolic interactionism also puts an emphasis on parenthood and affection. We expect love and intimacy guided by emotional highs. Unfortunately, this sets us up for shattered hopes as a disaster in marriage is inevitable, the husband and the wife blame each other for the lack of satisfaction.
In Pleasantville there is no lack of love until changes start to take place which then the love starts to disappear. The meaning of parenthood is providing for your children with clothing, providing them with food, shelter and teaching them moral values. Usually in a normal world, responsibilities of parenthood puts a burden on today’s couples.
In Pleasantville however, the kids are provided with food, shelter and moral guidance but they parents do not have this burden because they live in a perfect world. Another way to look at this movie is through the perspective of conflict theorist. This certain perspective concentrates on the society promoting change and competition. An example is the black and white people against the colored people. When violence was raised upon each other, the black and white people destroyed the colored people shops and homes. They even put in racist laws because they viewed the colored people as different because they were welcoming change. The black and white people against the colored people is conflict theory because of the change that was happening and the racism towards the colored people, the closing of the library and Lover’s lane.
Another example is when Betty inner conflict. Betty accepts the change but is to frightened to show it. She loves Mr. Johnson but she has a choice to either follow her heart or stay loyal to her husband.
This is an example of conflict theory because the wife is starting to rapidly like not making dinner for George, not going to sleep at the same time as George and lastly not using makeup and staying colored. The last perspective is functionalism. Pleasantville perfectly demonstrates functionalism because Pleasantville is the ideal society. People know their role and they carry out their task immaculately. In Pleasantville every adult female is married and stays home to cook and clean. The husbands have no idea on how to cook or do any sort of house work because there was no need to learn how. When some changes are introduced, some of the housewives started to experience enticing things outside of the home. Hence, chores at home was ignored.
A little interruption in the household like this cause a butterfly effect away from the home. Pleasantville was a conservative town until two liberals came into town. Pleasantville before David and Jennifer was conservative because Pleasantville had a set routine everyday and they stuck to their traditional values.
Even though there is no government involvement in the movie, when there was a social problem, it was up to the individuals of power to “solve” the problem to the change. That is the conservative policies, to emphasize empowerment to individuals to solve problems. An example is when Big Bob says “The way I see it, to make this town pleasant again we need to remove what is unpleasant” This was conversatism expressed as fascism. When David and Jennifer magically teleported into the world of Pleasantville, they began to liberate certain people. These two characters we conservative at first but then they started to accept change therefore making them liberals. For an example when Mary Sue explains to Betty what sex is, Betty “experiments” which liberates her from her devotion to her husband.