Pleasantville Character Essay

Pleasantville Character Essay-41
If you have seen it, but need some reminders, there is a pretty good synopsis on the Wikipedia. My take differs, of course.]Old black-and-white sitcoms do tend to blur together in memory.I can locate the episode of “Father Knows Best” where Mr.Then Mary Sue teaches her Mother about sex (a deliberately ironic role reversal), including how to masturbate, which turns Mom technicolored and lights the tree outside afire. The crowd that throws rocks through the painted window of the soda shop doesn’t change color; the scene is taken from news footage of civil right riots.

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They’re all looking for a way out, and they finally find it, in sex, in art, in the act of becoming more than what they are supposed to be.

So we were children and our world was small, narrowly circumscribed. It was several concerted accidents of history that made it all seem of-a-piece.

She’s mortified, and can’t talk in person without the stutter—until they ask her about her radio rig, and suddenly the speech impediment disappears. I can easily remember a dozen 50s-early 60s sitcom plots that could never have appeared on the imaginary .

But that’s because Pleasantville isn’t about 1950s sitcoms, any more than it’s really about suburbia, or the 1950s generally, or even about childhood and adolescence.

In fact, everyone has that journey offered to them; each of us takes it to varying degrees. I hope it has resonance for a broader group than us aging Boomers. But I do so wish, given the wry ironies about Bud’s “colored girlfriend,” and the use of images that obviously emanate from civil rights marches and sit-ins, that there had been some actual black people in Pleasantville at the end.

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Try as I might, however, I couldn’t think of a way to do that without it seeming forced.Anderson gives Bud a a week allowance (quite a sum in those days) with the stipulation that Bud can only spend the money on himself.He soon finds that it alienates him from all his friends, so he goes back to doing chores for a smaller allowance that has no strings.It was an interesting little parable on the downside of wealth, among other things, and I pinched the seed of the idea for my story “Heart’s Desire/Anything You Want.”I remember the next one also as being “Father Knows Best,” but it could have been “My Three Sons.” The teenage son (Bud? ) is experimenting with ham radio and talking to his friends, when a mysterious (and sultry) female voice shows up, teasing them etc.They rig up a direction finder and track her down—discovering that she’s the shy girl they all know with the bad stammer.Skip misses a basket during basketball practice and everyone treats the ball as if it were radioactive; no one had ever missed a basket before, nor had they ever lost a game.But sex spreads and saps the energy from the hitherto perfectly sublimated athletes, and they lose a game, again, a first.What distinguishes Pleasantville, however, is the device used to show the transformation: the slow-ripple change from black-and-white film to color.It's one of the most ingenious visual devices ever conceived for a mainstream movie, and certainly makes for one of the most inviting preview trailers in a long while.He introduces his soda fountain boss to Art, and the boss’s artistic tendencies blossom. The book burners are also in black and white; the scene has been compared to 1930s Germany, but burning Beatle albums are just as good a comparison.Bud has read the books that have previously been blank, and as he recounts the stories, the pages fill in with text. Mary Sue changes color not when she has sex, she’s done that plenty of times in the “real world.” She changes when she dons her Pleasantville glasses and begins to read (D. The Mayor never gets angry; when he does, he loses his shades of gray, and loses control of the town as well.


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