Dangerous Minds and Boyz ‘N’ the Hood

When we look at the representation of the ghetto and ethnic teenagers we can understand the messages and values (ideology) that are in the film. I shall look at whether these representations are similar or different in both films and therefore what the messages in each film. Representations of people and places are created through a variety of media codes, including the narrative and the technical codes and iconography. In the two films many codes are used to represent the ghetto to suture the audience into the film, but with different effects.

In Dangerous Minds the codes used are firstly iconography of the setting and props that are used. For example the graffiti on the walls and of the homeless people on the street show a stereotypical setting in a ghetto that we can then relate to the characters as we already have a stereotypical view of what they are like. Also the colour codes are used as the starting footage is in black and white as it shows that their world is so distant from our own. There are also sound codes used to represent the black teenager.

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The non-diegetic sound track of ‘Gangsters Paradise’ shows a one-dimensional view of the ghetto problem of money and crime rather than there being an social problem that had been caused by the failure of the American government. Also the representation of the characters in done by the black gangster males and there lifestyle of murder, sex and drugs, which is glamouirsed to make it look like a good thing, and that they had made the choice to become what they are not that it’s the American governments fault that they are in there situation. Also the technical codes represent the ghetto problem.

This is done by a panning shots of the ghetto that sutures the audience from a distance and creates a view of its there own fault; there own problem and not ours. To summarise the establishing codes in Dangerous Minds represent the ghetto as a ‘Gangsters Paradise’. It has given us a stereotypical view of the ghetto but from a safe distance the effect of this is that the audience can see the massive difference from their world to ours that the audience can relate to. The codes used in the opening sequence of Boyz in the Hood contrasts significantly, although the representation of the ghetto is also stereotypical.

For example the iconography used is stereotypical for example the graffiti and the homeless people that scatter the streets of the ghetto. However, the codes used at the start of Boyz in the Hood represent the ghetto as more immediate and real to the audience because of its realism and the way the audience are sutured into the ghetto with no safety bubble, but instead they’re placed into the ghetto so that that they can experience the problems of ghetto life with the characters to get a better feel for what daily life is like in the ghetto.

To start of being given facts about the world of the ghetto for example ‘1/25 black males will be murdered in their lifetime’. This creates the audience to sympathisis with the characters; the audience tries to relate to the hellish life of the ghetto. It also says ‘Most will die at the hands of another black man’ this in turn describes the disequilibrium of the social disorder that surrounds the ghetto of pointless murder and crime. The audience is sutured in to the film by the use of sound codes. We start of with the non-diegetic sound of gunfire, screams, sirens and helicopters.

In effect the audience is sutured into there world compared to Dangerous Minds were the audience sees the ghetto from the outside looking in. Added to this is the diegetic sound of police sirens, which brings realism to the film that creates the audience as being in the film not the spectators of it. What’s also effective at the start is the low angled zoom in shot of the red stop sign. This is been done to great effective as it emphasizes that the murder must be stopped and that it is a problem that needs to be dealt with now not later.

Also the symbolic code of the stop sign being red emphasizes the bloodshed that litters the ghetto. The opening of the two films, although using stereotypical iconography of the ghetto differ in the way suture the audience. This is because the institution’s/director’s intention in Dangerous Minds is to create a large mass audience and the institution’s/director’s intention in Boyz in the Hood is to emphasis the problems and the poor quality of life that black people have when living in such a ghetto like the one featured.

In Dangerous Minds character functions are used to suture the white audience into seeing the black ghetto world by the use of a heroine. However our perspective is from that of a white female. It has done this, as it is a high concept film. It has a female as a heroine to produce a female audience. Also the actor herself ‘Michelle Pfeiffer’ connotes sex appeal which would create a much larger male audience. Another reason a white female has been used is to suture the audience into the film, as they would see it from a white perspective.

However, in Boyz in the Hood, the ‘hero’ is form within the black community. Fureus, Tre’s father, guides his son through his teenage life to make the right and true decisions and become a man. Fureus goes against the stereotype of an average black father as he is responsible and cares for his son unlike the stereotype were, as he really couldn’t care about his son. What more Fureus has done this without the help of a mother figure. He has steered his son away from the ghetto and into freedom.

The effect of this is that it causes the audience to think about whose fault it is actually why the ethnic groups live in such ways like the ghetto. And that it’s the American governments fault not the individuals themselves. The representation of a ‘good’ male role model changes the stereotype of black fathers and shows there are different values in this film to Dangerous Minds. The film describes the wider problem of the American society and not just their own ghetto problems.

An example of this is when Fureus gives a speech about the new houses that will be created in the ghetto and how the American government are the ones who are making life in the ghetto the way it is, but that they themselves can stop this by trying to escape the ghetto. In contrast in Dangerous Minds we have a white Institution’s perspective of ghetto and ethnicity and seems to suggest it needs an outsider in order for ethnic groups to sort out their problems. Both films have quite different endings and this clearly shows the differing messages and values (ideology) that are present in each film.

As Hollywood films, the narrative in each does have a new equilibrium, however Dangerous Minds has a very positive equilibrium. This is due to the fact of audience satisfaction as it is a high concept film. What also pleases the audience is the nature of the ending as if something has been accomplished, and this has been emphasized by the use of sound codes, NVC, lighting codes, camera codes which all add to a typical Hollywood ending. Boyz in the Hood ends quite differently with two new equilibriums that are combined. With one utopian ending and one dystopain ending.

Towards the end of the film there are many ideologies that are given across to the audience. The film is effective in emphasising its ideologies as it has associated the audience with the characters. For example Doughboy. During the film the audience is suture into the film and associate themselves with this character, but at the end it explains how Doughboy dies because of his actions, killing his brothers murderers. This shows that there is a vicious circle within the ghetto because more than likely some of Doughboys friends will kill his murderers and so on.

We also learn from Doughboy that drink and drugs don’t do you good as at the end he throws his bottle of drink to the floor, as it was the fault of the drink and drugs that killed his brother and has put the constant war inside the ghetto. The ending also has a basic Hollywood ending, with Tre and Brandi go to college and get reunited, but with a twist because of Doughboys death. This was done because of the director. I say this as the director was black and showed his views of real ghetto life and that when living in a ghetto nothing is ever perfect.

In conclusion it is clear that both films have represented ethnic teenagers and the ghetto in quite different ways. An example of this is the contrast of ideology as Dangerous Minds seems to put the blame on the black individuals but Boyz in the Hood points the blame at the American government and there failure to help. The reason for these differences is due to the institution and directors. Dangerous Minds is a Hollywood major, it was created to get a large mass audience, and by doing this it used almost false ideology to create a wider interest in the film.

On the other hand there’s Boyz in the Hood that was directed by a black director. I prefer the film Boyz in the Hood because as I believe it is more effective in its ideology as it uses a realistic view of the ghetto world. It doesn’t use a happy Hollywood ending and by doing this it creates the audience to have more feeling towards the characters and we start to relate with them as we feel sorry for the way in which they like compared to our trouble free life’s. Prefer the ideology as it is describing the ghetto as being a trap and vicious circle or murder and drugs.