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Pay It Forward

By AustenSpeirs1 May 08, 2013 917 Words
In the movie Pay it Forward there are many key points that can be touched on. In my eyes the movie was truly inspiring and it shows many examples of how one person can really change society for the better good no matter what their age. The whole concept of pay it forward is quit astonishing, it starts with one person trying to find 3 people in need. When you find one person you need a good unannounced deed that changes their lives for the good and when they ask why you did you just say pay to them just make sure you pay it forward. After that the person you just did the deed for will return the favor to someone else and the cycle will keep repeating itself. This whole idea of pay it forward was created by Trevor McKinney who plays an 11 year old 7th grader. Trevor was inspired by the idea of pay it forward by his social studies teacher Eugene Simonet when he asked his students on the first day “what can you do to change the world”. When Trevor’s first attempt at pay it forward fails with jerry a homeless man Trevor try’s to help out his 2nd person and his own teacher Eugene. He tries to help Eugene out by setting him up with his own mother Arlene and after some hesitance at first by him there relationship grows and the 2 become very close. This is until Trevor’s father and Arlene’s ex-husband shows back up to the house when everything that Trevor worked for falls apart again. When Arlene later tries to explain her choice to Eugene, you learn how Eugene's burns were the result of terrible child abuse by his father. Eugene is concerned not just about the abusive and violent nature of Trevor's father, but that the simple absence of a loving father is detrimental to Trevor's well-being.

Sociological imagination is the ability to see the intersection between individual lives and larger social influences. Throughout the movie Pay it Forward there are many examples of this going on. Trevor has many interactions with individuals in which he helps them single handily by doing this those people are helping other people which effects society on a large scale. Trevor understood the concept of sociological imagination even if he didn’t know what it meant. His professor Eugene wanted to make a difference in his social study class so he introduced this concept to his students without them really knowing what he was trying to do. He asked them if they could change the world by themselves. He then asked if they were important in society and the kids answered no but the truth is everyone is important in their own subcultures, and one person can change that culture.

When Trevor first started pay it forward he had no idea that the impact of it would spread 100’s of miles away from where it started, and he had no idea that it was going to affect that many people. What happened with Pay it Forward was collective behavior which is the spontaneous and unstructured behavior of a large number of people. When Trevor developed the help 3 strangers they returned the favor and did it 3 more times and so on and so forth. A direct example of this is when Trevor helped the first person he meet a homeless man named jerry, he brought him in his house and gave him a shower and food. When jerry left at first he didn’t help anyone but he finally realized he had to keep pay it forward going. So when the opportunity arose he seized it by helping a woman of a bridge who was on the verge of committing suicide. By doing this Jerry kept the process going and spreading father away from the source.

Pay it forward can be considered a social movement which is a large and organized activity to promote or resist a particular social change. Pay it forward was 100 percent becoming a social movement people were spreading the word of what was going on and they were starting to organize themselves to try to make this a movement. A prime example of this when Arlene and Eugene are later watching a television news report about "pay it forward" and Trevor's death, and learn that the movement has grown nationwide. Venturing outside, they see hundreds of people gathering in a vigil to pay their respects to Trevor, with yet more people arriving in a stream of vehicles visible in the distance as the movie ends.

I believe that symbolic interactionists would agree with the pay it forward movement. Even though they examine culture through micro lenses, they are most interested in understanding how people create, maintain, and modify culture. I would have to say that pay it forward modified the culture in and around Las Vegas, by encouraging its citizens to do good deeds to random people spontaneously. At the end of the film when Trevor dies and the story breaks that it was him be hide pay it forward people realized that he had almost created a new form of culture where strangers are nice to other strangers. Micro approaches are useful in understanding what culture means to people, in the case of pay it forward it meant doing random acts of kindness to complete strangers just on the sole facet that they’re going to repeat the activity to someone else.

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