Culture in “Savages”
According to sociology culture is the totality of learned, socially transmitted customs, knowledge, material objects, and behavior. Inside the larger culture of a society there is subculture. Subculture is a segment of society that shares a distinctive pattern of customs, rules, and traditions that differ from the pattern of the larger society. Inside the broad subject of culture there are norms, sanctions, and values that distinguish what is normal and accepted in a particular culture or subculture. The movie Savages shows many good examples of the clash between culture and the different norms and values accepted in each culture. Subculture
There are two main subcultural groups in the movie. One example of subculture is with the Mexican Baja Cartel. The Baja Cartel is one of the biggest drug manufactures and distributers in Mexico. This subcultural group is involved in drugs, murder, and rape all of which is considered normal in their particular group. For people to survive in this particular subculture that consists of mainly men, they have to be extremely tough, emotionally strong, and unafraid of death. The other example of subculture is with Chon and his best friend ben. Chon and Ben are two weed manufactures and distributers in California. Chon and Ben made it to the top of the weed industry in America simply by making the best possible weed. In their subculture there is no use of violence. They portray a very hippy life style that runs on love and freedom. Cultural Shock
When the Baja Cartel demands a partnership in Chon and Ben’s business the two best friends simply deny the offer because they enjoy their small California business. The Baja Cartel use threats of violence and kidnaps there mutual girlfriend in order to make the two do what they want. The two experience extreme cultural shock when being dragged into their violent world. The two men felt disoriented, uncertain, out of place, and very afraid of the Baja Cartel’s unfamiliar subculture. Norms
Norms are the established standards of behavior maintained by a society. The two best friends Chon and Ben both openly share a mutual girlfriend Ophelia who they both love. Ophelia is happy being shared by the two best friends and mutually loves them both. Ophelia believes the two complete each other; Chon being a powerful and strong lover and Ben being a soft and gentle lover. In their particular small California subculture this is normal and acceptable to them. The larger society of America would consider this to very wrong. Throughout the movie sanctions such as comments are made towards them on how weird and wrong it is, trying to make them feel like outsiders because it doesn’t follow their particular norm. Sanctions
Sanctions are penalties and rewards for conduct concerning a social norm. The Baja Cartel had a young member whose job was to watch over Ophelia while they held her captive. The young boy had a hard and felt sympathy for the captive girl. One day one of the leaders sanctioned the young boy by shooting him in the head simply because he was to sensitive and emotional. Some norms in the Baja Cartel were rape, murder, and extreme hatred. The boy was killed because he simply had a heart and didn’t follow the violent norms of the cartel. Values
Values are collective conceptions of what is considered good, desirable, and proper- or bad, undesirable, and improper. It is what people in a particular culture find morally right and wrong. The entire film expresses value from beginning to end with both the cartel and the best friends. The one thing the Baja Cartel valued most was business. They considered it to be morally right to take someone’s life as long as it benefited or protected their weed manufacturing and distribution business. To the outside society both their particular business and murder would be considered morally wrong. As for the best friends, business was not as important to them. They were willing to give up everything they had worked hard to build in order to save the life of their shared lover Ophelia. They valued love the most and whatever they had to do or give up to get her back was the right thing to do. The value of someone’s life was more important to Ben and Chon then their business. Conclusion
The movie “Savages” shows great examples of the differences between two subcultures. The cultural clash between the two groups really help to show the differences in each group through norms and values.