Monday, December 27, 2010

"Winter's Bone" and class warfare

A. O. Scott writes in yesterday's Sunday New York Times of Hollywood's Class Warfare, citing the film "Winter's Bone" as one of many examples of movies in which protagonists are trying to transcend class boundaries--to get in or get out of a particular class. He writes of the "Winter's Bone" protagonist:
Ree Dolly, the Missouri teenager in “Winter’s Bone” — wants out, just as surely as Zuckerberg [portrayed in "The Social Network"] wants in. What they want into and out of are the closed systems defined by custom and kinship that demarcate the ends of the social spectrum.
Scott acknowledges the "special status" of the privileged classes, "defined not only by wealth, but also by a vestigial mystique of aristocracy," yet he also recognizes the "countervailing mystique [that] clings to ... the hollows of Appalachia and the Ozarks."

Citing Ree Dolly's desire to join the Army as a path of escape, Scott writes:
Family ties and longstanding traditions, which in the modern world of “Winter’s Bone” and “The Town” have come to include methamphetamine production and bank robbing, are what complicate and sometimes doom any effort to escape.
Calling Dolly and other film characters of 2011 "consistently exotic, always other," Scott concludes:
What they all really want is entrée into the middle class, which is why these movies can set them up as objects of audience sympathy and identification.

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