Exploring the Social Imagination

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What does it mean to be Divergent

What does it mean to be Divergent? To answer this, let's look at the recent Hollywood movie "Divergent".  Before answering the question posed and providing my own opinion of the film, I firstly have to say that I was shocked or to say the least very disappointed to see so many parents of various ages and racial/ethnic backgrounds attending this movie with very young children and even a few had babies in tow. As a sociologist, violence is harmful information for young social minds. As a Christian, my view is that by parents introducing/offering violence to their children (when parents introduce information to their children they are saying that this information is 'good'= it is safe and can be trusted... 'good' information is what a child looks for and needs from a parent), so again as a Christian, the problem with parents doing this, introducing violent information to their young children, is that they have now let Satan have a window or door of opportunity into their child). The non Christian/secular humanist argument is that it is their right to decide what their child sees. And, even some Christians will say this and worse make the argument that they 'those parents' did not have babysitters (either unaffordable or unavailable that evening). However, as a parent myself and person of higher education, that is not a good argument... to subject young children to violence. Oh, but they will say like the manager of the cinema 'theater' told me the film was rated PG-13 as if that should be a reasonable excuse that should make me think better about those parents. FYI... PG- 13 means that children under 13 must be accompanied by a parent because most of the material is unsuitable for young viewers. If we as parents understand what that means and we should, young children should not be in tow with parents. Why, because the adjective 'most' is used in the definition of PG-13.
As I sat there next to my spouse, I saw an older toddler on the lap of a parent and she was shaking her head back and forth during the shootouts and violence toward people as if to show her boredom or horror, rather the later. The little boy behind me was in diapers and sucking his thumb. An infant cried in the left section of seats and another toddler a few rows up yelled from shear terror, at least that is how it sounded.
Perhaps, as a mother I was overreacting; however as a sociologist and Christian, violence (statistically) begets violence and our country is becoming visibly more and more violent. What about the rating, isn't someone higher up with some sense making this decision? I would hope so, but apparently not. Given the rating, we would have to suppose that they think parents know their child's cognitive development (not- most parents have no clue) and those rating people must think that such parents who bring young children to a PG=13 film talk during and after the film to their young children about this film (parental guidance)... I can't imagine having an ethical or philosophical discussion with an infant/toddler or young child. Why? because most children under 7 cannot reason and many are late bloomers and reason does not come into their life til much later and then it goes out again when they hit puberty. What is true for most young children is that they know and trust just one thing to be true and that is that mommy and daddy care about them and take care of them, protect and love them and because of that mommy and daddy would not take me to something bad... they show me only those things they like. Get the picture!

I would say that this film should be rated 17 for the amount of violence.  As for older children attending including teenagers, I would certainly hope that they with their parents can have an intelligent conversation about the film's attempt to illustrate a future utopia gone bad or at least an attempt by the film to illustrate current and future social relationships between classes; especially, the elite in relation to all other groups/classes.

Nevertheless, Divergent, the film, was attempting to understand class conflict and propose a solution. The solution being the design of factions as a means to orchestrate social hierarchy (basing on the one thing that people have an aptitude for) that will allow for peaceful existence. As a sociologist, I can tell you that social hierarchy is an essential aspect of society, without it there is no society. And, socialization process is lifelong it is ongoing and social actors change as their socialization process brings new social 'information'. Just read something you wrote or thought last year and find yourself thinking 'who wrote that/who was that'...?
The problem for social scientists when it comes to finding solutions for social problems for society to exist, is the acceptance of a naturally and or legitimately arrived at social hierarchy.  Max Weber recognized this in his work. Many people today and in Weber's time think/thought that it is not fair when someone has charge over someone else and or that those who get to the top or are at the top through unfair practice. But I can tell you that not all people want to be at the top, as not everyone has the will / desire to lead, to be charismatic and to take charge. I saw this in my own classrooms when I asked for volunteers. It was more interesting to observe the proposal of one or two by by others who nominated those that they thought of as leaders or just different from them. Being different is normal and not always fair... because whose measure do we use?
The down side of this movie was the non existence of workers to maintain the functioning (nuts and bolts) of the system... like garbage crews, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, nurses, teachers, maids, hairdressers, etc. The film had designated groups which I suppose is how the current intelligentsia imagine what a legitimate society should be composed of... lawyer philosophers, leftist righteous, happy servants, and dauntless military.
I did like the film only because it had divergent people, the rebels, the different from the mold, the standouts who want to free people from their enslaved mindset.  Those who think it is best to live and let live... which includes those that don't think like you! Now, given 'live and let' motto suggests that I should not have a problem with parents bringing young children to a violent film or let's just say highly intellectual film after all, live and let live.
However, living and let live is a problem for the common good in this way. Boundaries 'physical and psychological' are necessary for cohesive society to enjoy as much comfort/safety and well being as possible; and thus given obvious cognitive development aspect of a child, we should question if such material is appropriate. As a Christian sociologist, good parents wait til their child is ready for such material ... in that they are clearly able to have an intellectual discussion afterwards about the film's topic and presentation to the audience. 

1 comment :

  1. While I enjoyed the movie as a refreshing way to look at an ordered society using the strengths of individuals to avoid a class-based society centered on wealth with all it's obvious issues, and the problem of what to do with those that stand-out, the fact that I see more and more adults bringing very young children to very violent movies is a sign of real trouble ahead. Hollywood refuses to take any responsibility for their films saying it's just entertainment ( as though this gets them off the hook). the Threater claims that they don;t have any responsibility to monitor those that see the movies and enforce the rating system, and the parents just don;t seem to give a damn about their own children. With this situation I can see Big Brother using this behavior as another excuse to tighten control of citizens, removing the power of parents to raise their kids and the collapse into a totalitarian nightmare where kids are raised by the government.
    there is enough blame to go around for our current social collapse, but someone somewhere needs to grow the stones to admit that maybe their part in it needs to be addressed and not foisted over to someone else's responsibility. because eventually the responsibility will be taken by those that want power and control over everyone!