Topics: White people, African American, Pleasantville Pages: 5 (1661 words) Published: November 20, 2005
The decade following the Second World War brought about a new sensation of the ‘perfect housewife' and her duties at home. Men being drafted and shipped oversees during World War II had taken a lot of women out of the kitchen and put them into the workplace. This was the biggest movement thus yet of women changing roles in society and moving away from domestication. This movement was thwarted by returning soldiers, their moving back to the workplace, and the repositioning of women in the home. The baby boom followed the Second World War, furthering the encouragement of women to stay home and be the ideal mother and wife. Television greatly reflected this attitude. Sitcoms about the ideal family emerged left and right. Shows like ‘Leave it to Beaver', ‘Ozzie and Harriet', and ‘Father Knows Best' portrayed the happy and satisfying life a woman could lead by fulfilling her duties. Gary Ross's 1998 feature film Pleasantville examined the differences between the 90s and the 50s image of family by transporting 90s characters into the ideal black and white image of the ideal 1950s family of a mother, father, son and daughter. Not only did this movie explore ideas in feminism, but racism as well. When a character of the original Pleasantville was exposed to something new, they turned from black and white to an image of color. This separation between those in color and those not, there began a racism much like the segregation there used to be between African Americans and white Americans.

The concept of the ‘perfect family' emerged largely after the baby boom when women were forced back into their old ways of domestication and the birth of suburbia. Pleasantville is the perfect title for the suburb portrayed in the movie. This is a community with no problems. The women keep the house neat and have dinner on the table every night for when their husbands come home from work and chant the infamous ‘Honey, I'm home!' The children, which every family has, do well in school and maintain the perfect balance between social time and family time. The movie focuses on the family of the Parkers. Mom Betty and dad George have the ideal son and daughter, Bud and Mary Sue Parker.

The movie begins in the 1990s, displaying a rather dysfunctional family, the Wagners. Jennifer Wagner, played by Reese Witherspoon, was a troubled teen who liked to experiment with sex and popularity. David Wagner, Jennifer's brother, played by Toby McGuire, is picked on in high school and also has an unusual obsession with reruns of a show from the 1950s called ‘Pleasantville'. The siblings lived with their divorced single mother working to support two children and dating someone nine years younger than herself. Somehow, during a fight over the remote control, Jennifer and David get teleported into the Pleasantville world where they assume the roles of Peggy Sue and Bud Parker.

The world of Pleasantville is set in black and white in the 50s. The Parkers live in a suburban neighborhood, complete with their own soda shop run by Mr. Bill Johnson, played by Jeff Daniels. A key to the film is when Mary Sue or Bug help the characters of Pleasantville realize something about themselves they had not seen before, they or something they see turns from black and white to color. The color symbolizes ‘thinking outside the box' and many of the movements that came following that decade, especially women's empowerment.

The first instances of color occur from sexual experiences, something that had been unknown the town of Pleasantville, where married couples slept on separate twin beds and boyfriends and girlfriends held hands, once they had been steady for a while. Mary Sue first introduces her boyfriend, Skip Martin played by Paul Walker, to his first sexual experience. While driving home, he sees a rose in a bush that is "real red". After this occurrence, Skip tells his teammates on the basketball team of his experiences, after which they all...
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