Monday, September 26, 2016

Boyhood and The Representation Test

Griffin Conboy
Professor Jackson
Intro to Composition
September 26, 2016
Boyhood and The Representation Test

In a single phrase, the movie "Boyhood" is a timeless piece of art. The movie uses the same actors over the course of 12 years, and creates a sense of understanding for the audience of character flaws and development. There is no doubt that Boyhood is an amazing film, but does it truly pass "The Representation Test"?

To first determine whether or not the movie "Boyhood" passes "The Representation Test", we need to first review the movie plotline. As an audience viewer, we begin the movie in the wide and blue skies of Texas. We meet a young Mason Evans, a mere 6 year old boy, in his early days of kindergarten. The adolescent Mason experiences a distraught childhood. Through his parents divorce, moving to new places, and dealing with an abusive step-father, Mason isn't well off through the time of his youth. During this period in his life, Mason is accompanied by three characters: His mother (Patricia Arquette), his father (Ethan Hawke), and his sister (Lorelei Linklater). These characters remain consistent throughout Mason's life, and emotionally support him through the good times and the bad. As time goes on, we watch Mason experience the joys of growing up what some would refer to as "a typical boy". The audience catches glimpses of Mason "ripstiking" and listening to "Soulja Boy", slowly becoming more interested in women, taking short-distanced trips with friends, and eventually discovering his passions.

During Mason's adjustment from adolescent to adult, his mother never seems to retreat from her state of immaturity. The undeviating nature of her relationships with men eventually lead to her emotional break down. However Mason's father, who was once the soul searching, premature, and childish antagonist of the story, develops to be a man of good character. Over time, he learns the value of being a father, and in turn, he develops a better sense of understanding. This allows for him to offer better advice to his children, and to become closer with them.
This brings us to the end of the movie, where Mason has driven off to college. He's left seen talking with a girl, backed by a picturesque Texas sunset. The movie finishes with Mason's full maturity on display, and the audience is left in a moment of wonder, as they have just experienced a childhood development of emotional intensity.

According to “The Representation Test”, the movie scored a “B” grade. Even though the movie title is “Boyhood”, I found it interesting that the movie could score with such a grade. In the first category of the test, the movie only missed two checkmarks out of the seven listed. The movie passed the Bechdel Test, as the leading actress (Patricia Arquette), talks with her daughter and her close female friend about her current standing on where she will be living for the next couple of weeks. At the beginning of the scene she talks about her ex-husband, but the conversation matter is changed, and the resume talking about other things.

In the “Men” category, “Boyhood” missed only one checkbox. The film actually depicted a scene with an abusive step father, and was particularly blunt in showcasing him as an awful person. This could also serve as portraying a man in a non-stereotypical role, because men in films tend to be the heroes, the good guys, or the involved parent. However, this character was completely distant from those characteristics.

The final characteristic the movie passed was that it broke racial, ethnic and culture stereotypes. Most children do not grow up with Mason’s childhood. Yes, one in two marriages end in divorce. However, most boys do not experience the childhood Mason Evans did.

I believe that this method of grading movies is perfectly fair. It covers most if not all of the controversial subjects in Hollywood films today. Also. It represents every person in an equal unbiased way. I personally would not change anything with “The Representation Test”, because I believe it showcases the best of the disputable issues in Hollywood films today.

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