Friday, May 20, 2011

The Outsiders: A Struggle to Belong

Francis Ford Coppola’s 1983 remake of S.E. Hilton’s classic novel, The Outsiders, paints the dismal picture of a social struggle that many teens still face: the desire to fit in and truly belong as a member of society. As the motion picture follows these efforts of the teenage protagonists, known as the ‘Greasers’ – personified by the star-studded cast of C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, and Emilio Estevez – it is made clear through the continuing failures of their attempts that the social divide between them and the wealthy ‘Socs’ of the town’s South Zone is one that will not be broken.


Although the stress of the Greasers’ futile struggles finally amounts to be too much for them – culminating in the disheartening downfall of the group – the viewer is left with a very positive and powerful message: the desire to fit in socially is not fulfilled through one’s acceptance into the popular or wealthy crowd, but by the natural acceptance that is demonstrated by true friends. As stated by the Soc, Randy: “You can't win. You know that, don't you? It doesn't matter if you whip us, you'll still be where you were before, at the bottom. And we'll still be the lucky ones at the top with all the breaks. It doesn't matter. Greasers will still be Greasers and Socs will still be Socs. It doesn't matter.”

Thematically, violence plays a very pronounced and significant role throughout The Outsiders. While fights between the Greasers and the Socs are used to depict the initial struggles of the Greasers in breaking the social divide, the vehemence of their violent struggles increases with each progressive confrontation between the groups. As this ultimately results in the deaths of three teenagers (the Soc, Bob; and the Greasers, Johnny and Dallas), the severity of the effects that this social divide has had on the conflicting teenage groups is illustrated – showing that the intensity of the conflict between the groups has effectuated three deaths. Overall, it is clear that these deaths are implemented for one reason: to highlight the uselessness and waste that is so present in divides created in teenage social contexts.

Johnny kills a Soc:

Overall, I would highly recommend this movie, as it is both thoroughly engaging and enlightening. Furthermore, as one is truly able to watch the characters develop with the film’s progression, the effects that social divides can create in teenage society are fully manifested – resulting in both a decidedly entertaining and enlightening film.

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