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pleasantville


            
             Pleasantville: Gender Roles and Humanism .
            
             Projected in a black and white 50's sitcom, Pleasantville portrays the parable of a totalitarian society inflicted by racial discrimination. With deliberate echoes of the Renaissance, the Civil Rights Movement, and books such as "1984" and "Brave New World", Pleasantville makes clear that the rigid controls of both religious and political authority run contrary to human nature. In exploring one society's instinctive response to such authority, the movie specifically addresses the concept of gender roles. It is of noteworthy importance that the director selects women as the primary instruments of change and corruption. Luring man from his flawless and noble behavior, women are presented as the lustful corrupters of 1950 ideals.
             This cynical depiction is largely influenced by a historical pattern which has continuously placed women as the root of all evil. Since ancient times women have been linked with the bodily desires and drives of humankind. Moral dilemmas, often represented through the body of a women, are understood to be the punitive outcomes for the consumption of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Presenting numerous biblical references of women's first corruption, the entire movie is, in fact, loosely structured around the Garden of Eden in Genesis. One scene is even devoted entirely to the "picking of the apple" when Bud and his new girlfriend first drive to Lover's Lane. Representative of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, Bud's girlfriend curiously picks a shiny red apple to give to him. Bud, though originally opposed to altering their "pleasant" way-of-life, commits man's first sin when he accepts a bite. In this scene his girlfriend is very literally viewed as a parallel to Eve and an instrument of corruption.
             On a more general level, Mary-Sue is, in fact, the true Eve of the film. Thrown into a 1950's suburban utopia, she sows the first seeds of discord and introduces a newfound freedom that literally changes the way the world looks.


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