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Expression


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Expression Essay, Research Paper

John Byers

Ideology is an ever-present factor in our everyday lives. A good amount of the information we receive is tainted by ideological values. These values, unique to the source of the information are windows or reinforcements on their standings regarding any number of topics. When we receive the information at hand it is then subject our own individual ideological beliefs and values that we hold true. Ideology in film is such a powerful factor that in my opinion it is the biggest factor that should be consider when analyzing the information of the film. When it comes down to it film is a direct result of what someone is ?showing? you. What that person is ?showing? you is what they want you to see and what they don?t want you to see, tainted by their own ideological standings.

Oliver Stone?s explicit left-wing film Natural Born Killers uses ideologies as an underlying theme being examined by the bi-polar categories of Relative versus Absolute, Secular versus Religious, and Outsiders versus Insiders. In this paper I hope to dissect and explain the bi-polar categories regarding ideology. In the film Natural Born Killers Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis are Mickey Knox and Mallory Wilson, two young, attractive mass murderers in love in Stone’s wild-eyed satire on the American fascination with criminals. After killing Mallory’s loathsome parents, the pair perform a ritual “marriage” and take off on a “honeymoon” killing spree that wipes out 52 people pursued by a bad cop just as criminal. Bloodthirsty t.v. reporter Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Jr.) reports their every move to an adoring public. While warden Dwight McClusky (Tommy Lee Jones) is only too eager to welcome such celebrities to his prison for his own gain. The underlying ideological expression of Stone in this film is what I thought made it so powerful. Comparing the bi-polar category of Relative versus absolute and the film I come away as seeing it as a left-wing approach. Mickey Knox feels a just in his actions because he sees moral values as merely social conventions. He does this by asking the question, what?s the difference between animals killing each other, us killing animals and him killing others. In the film Mickey says the line ? a lot of people are already dead, there just waitin? for their time to come, I?m that time? an backs this up using examples of the animal kingdom. Who has the right to kill and how they exercise that power is another ever present thought. Mickey?s view is that media is the real demon by exploiting all the death and destruction. This film also examines the good guy (bad cop) and just how good is that person himself. In comparing the film to the bi-polar category of Secular versus Religious I see it as a left-wing secular approach. Stone? attacks general religious beliefs by showing the contradictions within itself and showing them as just social intuitions. The film portrays Mickey as the angel of death in dialogue mention and comparison throughout the film. Stone goes as far to give him a red and black supped up mustang. Stone non-verbally conveys black representing death, red representing evil, and the mustang car representing the red horse in which the angel of death rode. The point of killing being accepted on ancient religion and looked down upon in most situations in modern religion is brought up. Also he shows religion as a controlling factor by saying it is wrong to kill and then killing for ones religion and country is honorable. The use of the bi-polar category of Outsider versus Insider is a dead giveaway in this film. Left wing in that romanticizes the rebels/outsiders (Mickey and Mallory) in putting them in the role of the protagonist. Most people would be disgusted

with the behavior these two have, but in the way we are shown their story we ultimately side with them.

Ideology in film is such a powerful factor that in my opinion it is the biggest factor that should be consider when analyzing the information of the film. Using ideology values and elements Oliver Stone was able to create a great film. I had to watch it multiple times before I could recognize and decipher between all the ideological elements and standings. When watching any film I always keep in mind that it is an art, a form of self-expression reflecting the ideological standings of the one expressing. Through the use of bi polar I am better able to recognize and decipher between ideological standings.

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