Sociology Assignment: A Film Review On Freedom Writers
Sociology Assignment Task: Your task is to select a movie and present a detailed review on the chosen movie using various sociological theories.
Social issues have been present in the environment at various aspects of life. The purpose of the sociology assignment is to present a film review of the chosen movie “Freedom Writers” with the help of various sociological theories. In this regard, the report has pointed out key social issues displayed in the film and analysed them through theories and concepts. The movie belongs to three genres of biography, crime and drama involving a young teacher who motivates students at risk in their class by teaching them about tolerance, applying themselves and pursuing education beyond high school (IMDB, 2021). The movie is based on the book “The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them written by Erin Gruwell. It was directed by Richard LaGravenese and starred Hilary Swank, Patrick Dempsey and Imelda Staunton in major roles. This movie has portrayed various social issues like racial discrimination, social oppression, social injustice, social class, relationships and others (Nugroho, 2017). The main issues that have been discussed in this report are racial discrimination, social class and oppression andsocial injustice with the help of theories like sociological imagination and critical race theory.
The movie Freedom Writers was inspired from the true story of gang violence and racial conflict occurring in New Port Beach, California in the year 1992. This violence largely affected the behaviour of students and their daily activities at the school (Nugroho, 2017). During that time, Erin Gruwell was appointed as one of the teachers of Woodrow Wilson High School because of the integration program. She was disrespected by the students for being a white teacher and further because those students were always under the oppression of the white race. The students’ behaviour gradually deteriorated to cruelty and brutalness, fighting amongst themselves on trivial matters and were on the verge of killing each other for revenge. This was mainly because of the social conditions in which they lived under the oppression of superior class and white race. They constantly lived under pressure and never found a good place for growing up. These issues were significant in front of Gruwell who decided to find a solution for these marginalized students to ensure their psychological and social benefits. For this purpose, she further decided to teach and educate them by creating a conducive situation and overcome those hardships in their lives.
In this movie, various social issues were prominent. The most significant issue was racial discrimination between the black and white people that the students faced. Besides, the supremacy of white people in the society also resulted in other issues like social oppression, social injustice and social class inequality (Dargis, 2007). These issues were present because of the oppression going on over the lower class or race in the society. Social injustice was displayed from the portrayal of how those students had no proper place for growing up while the class inequality was also present in their negative attitude towards the white teacher.
Critical Analysis of Social issues
The social issues portrayed through the film can be analysed with the help of sociological imagination. This framework emphasizes on the role of four fundamental factors like historical, cultural, structural and critical for better understanding the underlying issues in the society (Germov & Poole, 2011). Historical factors imply the past events influencing the present. Racial discrimination and inequality amongst the blacks and whites have been present in the Western society for quite a long time. Such inequality and class supremacy enjoyed by the whites over the blacks was evident from the movie as the students expressed their hatred towards the white teacher in the school. It clearly represents the social differences and inequalities present in the basic amenities of life alongside with opportunities of employment, education and others (Germov & Poole, 2020). However, despite this difference portrayed in the movie, it was also shown how the teacher addressed the same.
Furthermore, the cultural factors include tradition, values, customs, principles and belief systems that vary based on various cultural backgrounds. These also determine the behaviour and social interaction of people. Cultural differences were greatly present in the school shown in the movie as students belonged to various backgrounds, like, Asians, Latinos, African-Americans and whites (Yulinarni, et al., 2020). This put the oppressed races or the blacks at risk. Their behaviour became more violent and resorted to gangs anddrug addiction because of being underprivileged. However, despite the divided class members, the teacher tried to ensure breaking down their walls and exposing their prejudice.
The structural factors include forms of social institution that affect lives of people. From the movie, it was clearly evident that the whites enjoyed racial supremacy over the blacks because of them belonging to the upper class (Krieken, et al., 2016). This supremacy also let them enjoy more benefits over the oppressed class because of the social class distinction present within the society. The movie portrayed how the students from marginalized races and classes did not have proper places for growing up or education (Western, et al., 2011). This shows that belonging to the lower class these students were deprived of some of the basic amenities of their life.
Critical factors represent the benefits and disadvantages generated from the status quo. Multiculturism present in nations because of different races and ethnicities often put the marginalized or minority people in a disadvantageous position (Arvanitakis, 2016). This has been evident in the movie Freedom Writers as well. Social injustice, inequality and oppression were prevalent amongst the multicultural people who were not white. They had to face various discrimination and inequalities for being black people that increased their hatred and discontent for the white teacher. This was addressed by the teacher by providing them with proper education, thereby displaying the benefits they could gain from the same.
Moreover, the critical race theory also helps in understanding the movie from the view of social issues. In this regard, whiteness was portrayed as a property belonging to the superior white people enjoying more privileges of the society (Delgado & Stefancic, 2017). This resulted in social injustice towards the oppressed class of black students getting no amenities for living. Furthermore, the racial identity developed between these two groups of students were also evident in the movie through the characters of colour, where the students were taught by the white teacher.
The report aimed at providing a review of the movie Freedom Writers from a sociological perspective. In this regard, various social issues were identified from the movie, such as, social injustice, racial discrimination, social oppression, racial discrimination and class inequality. These issues have been present in the society for a significant time, thereby, discarding the status quo. The marginalized and oppressed people of the society have always been inferior to the superior class. This creates social issues that have been analysed in this report. In this regard, various literature was used about race and ethnicity, social differences and inequalities, power of the state and others. Those issues presented in the movie were further analysed with two frameworks sociological imagination and critical race theory. Thus, they helped in better evaluation and the implications of those issues in the society.
Arvanitakis, J. (2016). Sociologic: Analysing Everyday Life and Culture.
Dargis, M. (2007). To Ms. With Love: A Teacher’s Heart Fords a Social Divide. https://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/05/movies/05free.html
Delgado, R., &Stefancic, J. (2017). Critical race theory. New York University Press.
Frederic &Brussat, M. A. (2021). Sociology assignment Freedom Writers. https://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/films/reviews/view/16443
Germov, J., & Poole, M. (2011). The sociological gaze: Linking private lives to public issues. Public sociology: an introduction to Australian sociology, 2-18.
Germov, J., & Poole, M. (Eds.). (2020). Public sociology: An introduction to Australian society. Routledge.
IMDB. (2021). Freedom Writers. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0463998/
Krieken, R. V., Habibis, D., Smith, P., Hutchins, B., Martin, G., &Maton, K. (2016). Sociology, 6th edition. Pearson Education Australia.
Nugroho, A., 2017. A Creative Teacher for Problematic Students: An Individual Psychological Study on Freedom Writers Movie. JURNAL TRANSFORMASI, 12(2).
Western, M., Baxter, J., &Germov, J. (2011). Class and inequality in Australia. Public Sociology: An Introduction to Australian Society, 206-229.
Yulinarni, A., Asridayani, A., & Efendi, D. (2020). Racism and Its Effect in Freedom Writers Film by Richard La Gravense: Sociological Approach. Krinok: JurnalLinguistikBudaya, 5(1).