Monthly Archives: April 2016

TBT To The Philadelphia Story

In The Philadelphia Story, one of the main causes for conflict is when Dext allows the journalists from Spy Magazine to involve themselves in Tracy’s life, the day before she is going to get married. The humor lies in the way Tracy acts when the reporters are there, she acts in such a way that she thinks that the reporters see her since she is a member of ‘high society’ and these people are seen in a different way than others (See Rich Girl- Hall & Oates).


Spy magazine was a tool used to cover exciting news topics; mainly celebrities with egos bigger than their heads, and rich social elites from high societal rankings (See Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous- Good Charlotte). Spy magazine quit producing in 1998; however the legacy lives on. With the upcoming presidential election and many Americans feeling particularly opinionated, Spy magazine has made a little comeback.

Trump is a popular figure in culture today and the presidential campaign. Lately, there has been much controversy surrounding Donald Trump. For example, when Marco Rubio was still in the race (forever in my heart) he commented on Donald Trump’s hands. Donald Trump had responded by saying that nobody ever said he has small hands (along with defending the size of other body parts)… SPY magazine took this as an opportunity to bring their magazine back. They made a magazine cover displaying a baby with tiny hands but the large head of Donald Trump.

Watch this, it’s one of my favorite SNL skits:

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So, I guess we, as voters, just need to be careful as to what we see as the truth. Are our favorite candidates just putting on a show for us to fit the part they think we see them in? Or, is it the corrupted media that we need to be cautious of? It’s hard to say; however, it is obvious that voters should try to stick to reliable sources, not SPY magazine. We see the deception throughout The Philadelphia Story and the same thing in media sources, today.

Sarah Polley: Someone Who Actually Really Matters

So I have always had this odd view of documentaries as “not mattering.” Well, that’s not true. What I mean is that they never mattered to me. They always seemed low-budget and low-impact. Feature-length movies always appealed to me more. So when going into this movie, I didn’t really expect anything. What a pleasant surprise to see that I really enjoyed it. But more than that, I found this weird rabbit hole of Sarah Polley’s importance to film and my own personal film enjoyment.

So first off, in the movie, when they’re talking about that point where she gets a phone call but she was dressed as a Neanderthal, they mentioned that it was part of the movie Mr. Nobody. At that point, I had one of those big “wait really?” moments. Mr. Nobody is one of my top 10 movies, but the only actor in it whose name I ever remembered was Jared Leto, but that’s just because he’s everywhere nowadays. Then I found out that she is one of the three girls in Nemo’s life, meaning she had a huge role. So kind of weird that I never knew about her.

That led me to her IMDB page, and for someone who has been in so many things I’ve seen, she definitely should be a name I at least sort of knew. She was in the more recent remake of Dawn of the Dead, which say what you will about it, was at least pretty cool. But she was a main character in that movie. Also, she was in that HBO John Adams series which I think everyone had to watch at some point in their junior high career. She was Nabby Adams, the daughter that died, which was kind of a major plot point.

This brought me to Sarah Polley’s Wikipedia page, and she’s won so many awards. Her first real directorial debut, Away from Her, won her an award for achievement in direction and a nomination for an academy award for best adapted screenplay. Stories We Tell won the Toronto Film Critics Association award for best Canadian film of the year, which is a $100,000 prize.

So, I kind of give a little more cred to documentaries now, considering that they can have some big deals associated with them. Also, a lesson to you all. Searching IMDB pages of actors and actresses is another rabbit hole that will ruin an entire day’s worth of work.


This blog was written along to CarpetlandFluxCollective’s new EP. Give it a listen and support local music.

The Problem of “Rewriting” History

While re-watching Lincoln in class the other day, I kept thinking about the historical inaccuracies in the film.  I understand that the film needed to change things in order to have mass appeal but I still feel like the rewriting of history causes many problems. First, most people don’t know a lot about history and gain a lot of their knowledge of it from popular media.  Through films, such as Lincoln, and various popular television shows people think they are learning the truth about history.  However, much that is shown is either dramatized or simply created to express the director’s vision.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 08: Actor Daniel Day-Lewis (L) and director/producer Steven Spielberg arrive at the "Lincoln" premiere during AFI Fest 2012 presented by Audi at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on November 8, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images For AFI)

HOLLYWOOD, CA – NOVEMBER 08: Actor Daniel Day-Lewis (L) and director/producer Steven Spielberg arrive at the “Lincoln” premiere during AFI Fest 2012 presented by Audi at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on November 8, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images For AFI)

This is an issue though, for Steven Spielberg’s version of history is not accurate and now the general public believes it to be true.  Historical accuracies are overlooked for dramatic appeals.  Even when the things that do occur in the film actually happened, such as Lincoln saying ““I am president of the United States, clothed in immense power, and I expect to you procure those votes.”, the context, manner in which it was spoken, facial expressions cannot be historically known.  Thus the acting is also used to interpret history in a certain way.

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The film also changes facts in order to better fit its message.  For instance, the race to the 13th Amendment was not portrayed accurately at all.  The film went even so far to change the voting record in the film, with it showing that Connecticut representatives voting against the Amendment, when in actuality all four congressional representatives had voted in favor of the amendment.  The fact that something as simple as this was changed for the film unsettles me because it shows the liberty that was used in choosing details.

lincoln 3 Lincoln from “Birth of a Nation”

There is some value in viewing historical films such as Lincoln because it allows the greater masses to gain some sort of historical knowledge, as there is some truths in the film.  I think the thing that bothers me the most about historical films, is that it allows history to be portrayed by those making the film, not as it occurred.  This allows for so many different interpretations, take for instance Lincoln in “Gone With the Wind” and “Birth of a Nation”.  Their Lincolns differ greatly from Spielberg’s and show that history is distorted to use the desired message.  I think that it diminishes the actual truth of the time and makes me question what will be “rewritten” about our time period.


It takes a village

As I was sitting in class and watching Lincoln (2012), I repeatedly kept thinking “Hey, I recognize that actor/actress” but for the majority of the cameos, I could not remember either their name or which movie/TV show I recognized them from. We all know how annoying it is to recognize someone but not know their name, with this twinge of annoyance constantly being in the back of my mind as I watched Lincoln. If you were like me (constantly distracted by the cameos) then be relieved because I am about to reveal the top 10 actor cameos in Lincoln, and how you might possibly recognize these actors.

  1. Adam Driver as Lincoln’s telegraph operator 
    • Okay, we’ll start off easy. If you’re an HBO person, you’ll probably recognize Driver as “Adam” from Lena Dunham’s show Girls. If you’re the large majority of the population who saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens, you’ll recognize him as Kylo Ren, the tantrumming Solo who just wants to be Darth Vader.
  2. Walton Goggins as Democratic congressman
    • Though the name does not look familar, if you are a fan of Quentin Tarantino, you have definitely seen Goggins on the silver screen before. Goggins has been in two of Tarantino’s films: Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight.
  3. David Constabile as Republican congressman James Ashley
    • If you’re a Breaking Bad fan, you’ll recognize Costabile as Gale Boetticher, a chemist and Walt’s lab assistant. If you’re a Suits fan (like myself), you’ll recognize him as Daniel Hardman, a founder of Peason-Hardman law firm and a man who used his dying wife as an excuse to steal money from the firm.
  4. Gloria Reuben as Elizabeth Keckley
    • You probably recognize Reuben from her role as Jeanie Boulet on the show ER.
  5. David Oyelowo as Corporal Ira Clark
    • Though Oyelowo had limited screen time in Lincoln, most individuals will recognize this actor for his powerful work as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr in the 2014 film Selma.
  6. Dane DeHaan as second white soldier
    • Again, DeHaan had relatively brief screen time, but I hoped someone recognized his creepily blue eyes and remembered that he played Harry Osborn in the Spider-Man reboot sequel The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
  7. Elizabeth Marvel as Mrs. Jolly
    • This cameo irritated me the most, mainly because during her two minutes of screen time as Mrs. Jolly (the woman who says she would part with slavery to end the war) I was racking my brain about why she was so familiar. For all the House of Cards fans, this actress portrayed Heather Dunbar, the former United States Solicitor General turned Democratic candidate.
  8. David Strathaim as Secretary of State, William H. Seward
    • Strathaim is most known for his roles in Goodnight, and Good Luck (2005), The Bourne Legacy (2012) and Godzilla (2014).
  9. Lee Pace as Democratic congressman Fernando Wood
    • One might recognize this jack-of-all-trades actor for his role as the piemaker who can ressurect people through his touch in Pushing Daises, Thrainduil the Elvenking in Lord of the Rings or as Ronan (the moping bad guy) in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014).
  10. Boris McGiver as Democratic congressman Alexander Coffroth
    • Our last cameo is another House of Cards veteran, with McGiver being best known as Tom Hammerschmidt, the former Herald editor who just wrote a damning piece on Frank Underwood in season 4.

So there you have it, the top 10 cameos made my recognizable, but not too familiar actors. Though some cameos were more memorable than others, they can now all say that they were in a Spielberg film. What I personally take away from these findings is that in making a large film like Lincoln, it truly takes a large village of supporting actors to fill the smaller roles.

A Still-Relevant Take on Politics

Lincoln is the first film that I can say I saw before taking this class. I saw it in the State Theatre for my freshman year Rhetoric and Civic Life course, in which my professor emphasized the line about the compass not warning you of swamps, etc. I thought it was a poignant line that was very relevant in our age of extreme political partisanship. Now, a few years later, I still feel that it is relevant, especially with the presidential election coming up later this year.

Though there is a lot of interesting stuff happening in the (modern) Republican party, I’m going to focus on the Democrats since that’s what was mentioned during our class last Wednesday. I should preface this by saying that I haven’t been following the election very closely, and I am in favor of Bernie at the moment. We mentioned in class that Lincoln is the pragmatist, more comparable to Hillary. In that case, Bernie would be the idealist, like Stevens. The latter comparison is a fair one, I think. Bernie has lots of great ideas, but they can sound too good to be true. It would definitely be difficult to implement something like free college in the next four years, that’s for sure. However, I think comparing Spielberg’s Lincoln to Hillary is a bit more complicated. In the film, Lincoln believes in very lofty goals, but he is willing to compromise on the means to make the ends a reality. To outsiders, it may look like he doesn’t really believe in the equality of the races. Perhaps similarly, the current criticism that Hillary faces is that she doesn’t share some of the Democrats’ lofty goals and is now simply backtracking to win the primary. For instance, as far as I know Hillary has changed her opinion on such issues as LGBT marriage, the Keystone Pipeline, etc. Was she just compromising when she talked about those issues before? Did she really have a change of heart? Or, the worst option, is she just trying to win votes? It’s hard to say.

I would argue that, unfortunately, we can’t really know Hillary’s ideals without knowing her more personally. Perhaps if I read her book and paid more attention to the election, I’d feel differently but right now I just have mixed feelings. I can’t vote in the primaries anyway, so maybe my opinion isn’t as important, but I hope everyone who can will be voting in this coming election and gives some thought to this question of politicians’ true intentions.

Historical Accuracy in Film

I personally do not care about historical accuracy in film. I can’t completely cast it off though because as Dr. Jordan pointed out, there are practical considerations with historical accuracy such as when filmmakers might make up facts in order to propel a dangerous message inconsistent with history. But I am talking more in terms of quality. Historical accuracy or inaccuracy never changes my view of a film. Whether a film is true or not should not affect its actual quality.

Now, I have probably lost some people already who think teaching history can be a valid purpose for a film. I, on the other hand, have the base assumption that film is art and should not be confused with nonfiction. If a movie’s purpose is to teach, then it should no longer be a film but a video essay. Film is a very inefficient medium with which to teach. I think everyone can agree that Lincoln is not a great movie to teach the history of Lincoln’s presidency during the passing of the 13th amendment. Even if it was entirely historically accurate, it is still a small part of the picture, all that can be fit in in two and a half hours. And of course all of the filmmaking techniques that make the movie a spectacle remove it from being in any way unbiased.

Why should we be more invested in a film just because it is “based on a true story”? If the film was entirely the same but those five words were taken out, would you like the movie less? The Coen Brothers played on this with Fargo, by putting those words at the beginning of the film, even though it was entirely fiction.

To me, it is irrelevant whether the events in a film actually happened or not. Film is an art, and it is most successful when instead of just articulating facts, it attempts to convey deeper, universal truths. These truths are independent of any specific events. They still exist even if the story that conveys them is made up. Werner Herzog has talked about these ideas before and employs them in his own films. He says that what is more important than facts is “ecstatic truth” and fabricating reality is okay if it contributes to an ecstatic truth. The result may not be true under a factual analysis, but it is true in a deeper way.

This discussion applies to documentaries too. Documentaries, like dramas, are not the best way to actually teach topics. For me, the best documentaries are good because they are just inherently good movies regardless of whether the events in them are wholly true or fabricated. I judge documentaries as if they are fictional movies. Why should they be held to lower standards just because their content is supposedly true?

SENSATIONALISM in Digital Media – Causing Death and Destruction?

Do you Obtain News From Social Media?

During a class discussion, we realized not a single student (including myself) had
personal access to cable news. This
made me wonder – How are people engaging news? Check out how millennials engage news here (LINK)! The general trend is shifting their news engagement to social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat…) or online forums. In response to the blog, someone commented –

How do the economic urges to create sensational – let’s call it buzzworthy – content impact the digital media platform?

This blog post is aimed at addressing this complex question, and hopefully getting a better idea of the effects of dynamic viewership. Notice my insane article title – thats exactly the type of clickbait that many online news forum must use to garner the interest of online news forum. For example, Here are the top headlines from 2014 –

Officer Darren Wilson kills Michael Brown, Ebola in America, Obama declares war on ISIS, Donald Sterling loses Clippers, NFL flubs Ray Rice punishment, Russian-backed separatists blow up plane over Ukraine, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappears, Israel vs. Hamas, School shootings, GM recalls

With the majority of top news stories overwhelmingly negative, online news forums have to compete to attract increased viewership – often they use sexy article titles.

Example 1) The World Health Organization released a report on Oct. 26 stating that certain processed meats are carcinogenic. In response, The Guardian’s Sarah Boseley published, “Processed meats rank alongside smoking as cancer causes – WHO.” This comparison is mockable, as meats do not have nearly the association with cancer as smoking cigarettes, which she even mentioned in her own article! She choose to frame the article as smoking and eating meat are similarly carcinogenic to attract viewership.

Example 2) In my sensationalist article title, “SENSATIONALISM in Digital Media – Causing Death and Destruction?” I simply found an article, investigating the increased rate of copycat suicides after a media outlet reports on an influential celebrity committing suicide (LINK). In fact the researchers recommend working with news media outlets to reduce the coverage of suicide in celebrities in hopes to lower the amount of copycat suicides. They frame this mechanism as social learning theory – one learns troubled people can solve problems with suicide, and may copy their suicidal behavior.

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Top 12 News Podcasts

Personally, I found my solution through long-forum podcasts that investigate an issue through many different perspectives. Especially in comparison to hard-hitting TV news, “Lets Discuss Poverty in African Americans in a 2 minute segment – only two perspectives the “Democratic” vs. “Republican.” This type of one-liner and simplistic outlook on complex issues has been reflected in debates by young democrats and young republicans all over the country (and internet forums). However when presenting these same advocates in a long forum discussion, you (and hopefully them) realize that many mainstream news outlets are polarizing because they are only superficially discussing issues.

Works Cited:

The Graduate vs. Titanic

After viewing The Graduate, I knew that I had seen a movie with a very similar plot centered on coming of age, familial rebellion, and fulfilling parental expectations. After muling over a myriad of films for several weeks, it finally dawned on me – Titanic! When analyzing the films side-by-side, I found similarities in the overarching themes and character development. Though 30 years apart, the parallelism between these films is truly amazing.

Meeting Expectations

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When comparing Ben to Rose of Titanic, it is easy to identify the harrowing expectations each of their families impose on them. Ben’s parents groom him and present him in a way that highlights his accomplishments and depicts him as the ideal son to their friends. They expect him to marry Elaine, attend graduate school, and perpetuate the materialistic lifestyle that he was raised in. Similarly, Rose has been coached by her mother all of her life on what it means to be a proper young lady in society. She is arranged to marry for wealth, and she is expected to be present and pleasant at lavish dinners. Both Ben and Rose object this luxurious lifestyle, and have no interest in living the lives their parents are painting for them.

Loss of Control and Blank Stares

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Both Ben and Rose lack control of their lives; just as the airplane takes Ben on a journey he does not wish to embark on (back home to be subject to the expectations of his parents), Rose is trapped on a ship, pulling her to a life she does not wish to live. Both yearn for a deeper meaning to life, but are forced to go with the motions and listen to what Rose refers to as “mindless chatter” among their materialistic and vain families. Rose even states that she, “…saw [her] whole life as if [she’d] already lived it,” underscoring the notion that her fate is already determined by someone other than herself. The result – Ben and Rose feel empty, helpless, and discontent, as shown by the drawn out shots of the two blankly staring in their forced environments.


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It is interesting to note that while Ben finds solace floating above water — above the expectations and the life his parents have planned for him — Rose looks to escape the confines of the floating ship and her meaningless lifestyle by taking her life and jumping under the water’s surface. Nevertheless, both Ben and Rose are quite literally drowning in their parents’ expectations. Ben’s parents disapprove when he shows hesitation to attend graduate school, just as Rose’s mother disapproves when Rose shows an interest in Jack over her arranged fiance or straying from the pristine image she is forced to uphold.The ship can also serve as a metaphor for the pressure Rose is facing, as the weight of it sinking pulls her down and nearly drowns her. Neither seem to have a voice among their families in both films. Ben is unable to speak in the scuba suit that his father insisted he wear, and Rose nearly takes her life because dead or alive, no one seems to hear her. The lack of fulfillment and meaning in their lives leaves both of them nearly lifeless.


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While it is ambiguous if the relationships between Ben and Elaine and Jack and Rose are based on love, rebellion, or a mix of the two, both couplings emit a sense of betrayal against their families. Elaine’s parents would of course never support the marriage of Ben and Elaine after news of the affair surfaced, just as Rose’s mother would never approve of Rose marrying a third-class freelancer. Furthermore, Ben’s relationship with Mrs. Robinson was founded on rebellion as well, as any form of love is completely absent between them. The stringent expectations outlined for both Ben and Rose encourage them to break free and literally run from the confines of their parents’ wishes.

The Significance of Cars

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One last detail that I almost overlooked was the symbolism of cars in both movies. Ben has his first meaningful conversation in the car with Elaine, as they are both far from the suburbs, and Ben is finally behind the wheel of his own life. Similarly, Jack and Rose make love and confirm their relationship in the automobile on the ship, representing that together they have the control to steer their lives in the directions they wish.

The parallelism between the two films remains even at their conclusions – in both cases, rebellion does not lead to eternal happiness. Ben and Elaine are on a bus bound for the life they can’t seem to leave behind, and Jack dies from hypothermia, leaving Rose alone and heartbroken. Both films do not tell us how one can successfully paint his/her own life.

Method Acting Gone Too Far: Daniel Day-Lewis

We learned about Method Acting  back with On The Waterfront. It’s the idea of tapping into what the character would actually be experiencing at the time so that the acting can be “real.” It seems like a cool way to make the movie just that much better. But you know who takes it WAY TOO FAR? Daniel Day-Lewis.

Let’s look at Lincoln. He took a year off before filming so that he could read every book on Lincoln he could (over 100), work with a makeup artist to perfect the look, and working on his accent. And that accent was important. Daniel Day-Lewis is British by birth, so he doesn’t have that accent like in the movie. So, he refused to let anyone with any sort of accent that wasn’t American speak to him so that it didn’t mess up the way that he talked. Also, for the entirety of filming, he had everyone refer to him as Mr. President, even when they weren’t shooting. Imagine going up to craft services and he’s standing there as Lincoln and you have to refer to him as Mr. President. But he won his third Oscar for Best Actor for it, so whatever. Even though I will point out that Lincoln was described as having an extremely shrill voice, almost like a teapot, and that never happened.

But this isn’t his craziest moment. He spends so much time doing wild stuff just to be more realistic for movies. For The Last of the Mohicans, he went full survivalist. He taught himself how to hunt and live off the land, and for the entirety of filming, refused to eat anything that he hadn’t personally killed.And then he went off and learned how to build a canoe.

In The Name of the Father had our boy putting himself into solitary confinement for multiple day stretches, just because. When he was getting ready for the interrogation scene in that movie, he stayed awake for three days and nights. And, to make the “prisoner being tortured” role a little more accurate, he told crew members to randomly throw water at him.

For Gangs of New York, Daniel Day-Lewis refused to break character. At all. Liam Neeson hated him for it because they’d go out after a day of filming and Daniel Day-Lewis would still be in character in random bars and restaurants. He apprenticed as a butcher and would stay in character by sharpening knives when he wasn’t filming. Once, it was raining on set, and he refused to wear a warm jacket because it wasn’t period-accurate. Then, he got pneumonia. And he refused treatment because medicine wasn’t period-accurate.

Seriously, watch out. The desk you’re sitting at could actually just be Daniel Day-Lewis getting ready for his next role. Paul Dano quit There Will Be Blood  because Daniel Day-Lewis started throwing bowling balls at him, so just imagine what he’ll do to you.


The Graduate is drowning in water symbolism and this water is a very important aspect in understanding the film as a whole. Ben’s parents have a set viewpoint that he is their ‘trophy’ to show off to everyone. In a suburban setting much like that of this film, people like Ben, who try to get out and seek something more than this world they’re living in, often have trouble doing so since they are surrounded by people consumed by suburbia and the plastic lifestyle.

Ben is on a journey seeking freedom from this lifestyle. The water presented throughout The Graduate shows the audience a simple symbol of the inescapability of modern day suburbia and falling victim to the plastic lifestyle. It is a recurring visual presented throughout the film to emphasize Ben’s problem, oftentimes demonstrating this through the representation of ‘drowning’ and submersion. He lives day to day just going through the motions of a mundane lifestyle and the water in The Graduate really shows this in a unique way.

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In this scene, We are presented with the image of Ben as if he is in the fish tank. It is important to note that Ben’s head is positioned in a manner such that it appears as if he is, in fact, underwater. In addition, we see a scuba diver in the fish tank. This is a visual aid demonstrating the oppressiveness that he is facing from his parents. The viewer must remember this particular prop later in the film, since it will be important in the recurrence of themes.

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Water was shown in a particularly interesting manner in this scene. It appears that at this point in the plot, Ben is caught in the trap that Mrs. Robinson has presented him with and is, in a sense, being sucked into suburbia. It could be interpreted as if Ben is just drifting along through this suburbia. This is interesting as the entire movie, he is trying to choose his own destiny and escape this exact lifestyle. Is this a representation of Ben falling victim to the plastics and just going with the flow of what is surrounding him, or is this showing us that he is exactly where he wants to be, above water, above the oppression and suffocation that has been coming from his parents? I guess it’s up to whoever is interpreting it!

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The H2O in this scene is important! It starts off from his view of the outside world from within the mask gives us the image of Ben’s constant feeling of entrapment. Even when he is trying to come up from underwater, his father pushes him back under and ‘buries him’ in the suburbia. Ben is being forced to ‘drown’ in a world of his parents creation and he now serves as a token of their accomplishments. The way the image of a scuba diver is presented twice is curious. Being presented a second time, this image really made me think of a trophy. The way the camera zooms out at the end of this scene shows how small Ben is compared to the water. I love that he is standing in a stance that just makes me picture a trophy. He is under so much pressure from them, again represented by the heavy weight and vastness of the water suffocating him, that he is made unable to find a passion or something truly amazing and unique in his life even if his parents can still use him as a focal point for conversation.

In my professional opinion as a lifeguard put on this world to save lives of distressed swimmers, I can tell you that the message presented with the different ways that the audience is presented with water in this film is crucial to the overall understanding of The Graduate.

Sum 41 had views similar to Ben… “I don’t want to waste my time become another casualty of society. I’ll never fall in line become another victim of your conformity.”