Human Emotions and Human
Rights: The Narrative Structure in
the Selected American Films

9/19/2013

Dr.Jayshree Singh, Uda...
Theme of the paper
• The research study in my paper attempts to
focus on the self-perception and the right
perspective of ...
Constraints
• But in the system of social hierarchies,
patriarchal conventional structure and in the
capitalist economy, t...
Components
• The study also investigates that selfinquiry, self-knowledge; self-awareness and
self-enhancement are the nec...
Challenges in the theme
• the dream of utopian human rights society is
interrogated in the selected films,
• the study of ...
The Characters of the Film Erin
Brockovich
• Erin Brockovich (Julia
Roberts) the damsel in
distress depicts
feminization o...
Ed Masry (Albert Finney)

9/19/2013

He is the blood
sucking, back
stabbing, scum-bag
attorney. He is one of the
prominent...
George (Aaron Eckhart),
He is the neighbor of Erin
and the smooth biker
dude, who loves to be
with kids and play the role
...
Donna Jensen (Marg Helenberger)

9/19/2013

She is the proposed seller
of the land to PG&E
Company. Her
expressions
metaph...
The PG&E Company
• The company was
accused of
contamination water
supply by Hexavalent
Chromium. The
company then sold lan...
Hinkley’s Desert town

9/19/2013

The non-human character of
the film i.e. the wasteland is the
core of subjective discour...
Characters of the Film- The Color
Purple Celie Johnson (Whoopi
Goldberg) in the film evokes
sensitivity of human nature
th...
Nettie (

9/19/2013

Akosua Busia)
Celie’s closest companion and
younger sister. She is the brightest
hope of her dark lif...
Mr. Albert (Danny Glover)

9/19/2013

He projects disregard for
the identity of women
among the black
community people; hi...
Sophia (Oprah Winfrey)

9/19/2013

Her character shows that the human
nature is sensitive to the human
tumult, anger, squa...
Shug Avery (Margaret Avery)

9/19/2013

• She depicts a new wave of
black feminism and a
radical voice to extend the
hope ...
Miss Millie (Dana Ivey)
She is a White American
women symbolizes the
cultural baggage of not
only belonging to
superior an...
The Film Erin Brockovich (2000):
Women and Ecology at Work

9/19/2013

Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur

18
The picture of a modern, chick, middle class woman
in the American patriarchal humanist society.
She is divorced twice and...
Tension of poverty gets more severe than the adversity
of being single, married, divorced mother of three kids.

9/19/2013...
Her constraints and encounters
• Her emotional stress is reflected in the shots – she picks up
her kids from the daycare. ...
Breaks gender stereotypical office
norms

9/19/2013

Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur

22
On being completely dashed she fights inequity
• She finds tough to tackle the things on conventional and stereotypical wa...
Counters a stranger

9/19/2013

Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur

24
Center of Controversy uncomfort and internal grumbling among
the staff of Ed Masry’s office due to her skimpy and immodest...
The gender representation regarding
conduct, conversation and code of dress is shot in the
camera.
Ed Masry: In a law firm...
What is significant to note the political consequences
of gender difference here? It is the political
objectification of c...
The filmmaker indeed adds mise en scene to
connect screen-spectator relationship
The film radically drives on the liberati...
details of the records of sale deed and purchase
deal as well as the medical records of Hinkley’s
water supply

9/19/2013
...
It creates a sphere for intellectual and popular
discourse as regards conditioning and control of
women in films.
• If we ...
The two females indicate their concern for the
family, for the health and for the environmental
pollution

9/19/2013

Dr.J...
Through the inquiry of Erin, the film debates the
spectatorship vis-à-vis environmental issues
• Donna Jensen as a common ...
emotional outbursts and emotional
pressures on her and on her kids,

9/19/2013

Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur

33
New situations and challenges constantly
threatens her emotional strength as mother
They are looked after by a stranger Ge...
overwhelming toughness

9/19/2013

Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur

35
Her concern for humanity’s welfare. Her
subjectivity is considered as weak as her female
body.
• There were moments of emo...
Erin Brockovich: By the way, we had that water brought
in especially for you folks. Came from a well in Hinkley.

9/19/201...
[at the meeting with the PG & E lawyers]
•

Ms. Sanchez: Let's be honest here. $20 million dollars is more money than
thes...
The film centers around the axes: Erin’s realization of strength
and self-esteem in her work and the realization of disres...
the beauty pageant Miss Wichita
• There is parallelism in the text and subtext. One text is embedded in
another text. Erin...
the precondition of human dignity and
ecological harmony in the world.
George as the auxiliary
support shows radical
alter...
Erin Brockovich: NOT PERSONAL! That is my WORK, my
SWEAT, and MY TIME AWAY FROM MY KIDS! IF THAT IS NOT
PERSONAL, I DON'T ...
Interrogating personal subjectivity against
universal consciousness
• Human nature and human condition are indeed reflecte...
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Final presentation-Human Emotions and Human Rights: The Narrative Structure in the Selected American Films

  1. 1. Human Emotions and Human Rights: The Narrative Structure in the Selected American Films 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 1
  2. 2. Theme of the paper • The research study in my paper attempts to focus on the self-perception and the right perspective of human existence. These are the attributes of expressions, emotions and experiences. They involve the values of dignity and desire to live healthily and happily. These are the inherent and natural rights. 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 2
  3. 3. Constraints • But in the system of social hierarchies, patriarchal conventional structure and in the capitalist economy, these human values are suppressed, oppressed, exploited and marginalized. The effects fall upon women’s lives, children and on the ecological balance between man and nature. 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 3
  4. 4. Components • The study also investigates that selfinquiry, self-knowledge; self-awareness and self-enhancement are the necessary ingredients for ecological and environmental balance and to live life with dignity. 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 4
  5. 5. Challenges in the theme • the dream of utopian human rights society is interrogated in the selected films, • the study of the films questions the forbidden areas, prohibited spaces through the signs and signifiers relationship, • to examine the universal and unhistorical contexts that construct emotions of selfdignity and self-enhancement in the cultural process of human condition. 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 5
  6. 6. The Characters of the Film Erin Brockovich • Erin Brockovich (Julia Roberts) the damsel in distress depicts feminization of poverty but she is a strong woman in man’s world. 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 6
  7. 7. Ed Masry (Albert Finney) 9/19/2013 He is the blood sucking, back stabbing, scum-bag attorney. He is one of the prominent figure to surface the corporate mismanagement of the environment with the paralegal help and toughness of Erin Brockovich. Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 7
  8. 8. George (Aaron Eckhart), He is the neighbor of Erin and the smooth biker dude, who loves to be with kids and play the role of affectionate caretaker as well as the he is the reinforcement to Erin’s crusade to seek justice for victims against Chromium contamination. 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 8
  9. 9. Donna Jensen (Marg Helenberger) 9/19/2013 She is the proposed seller of the land to PG&E Company. Her expressions metaphorically symbolises the unawareness of the common people towards the rights for natural resources that comes under the property rights. Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 9
  10. 10. The PG&E Company • The company was accused of contamination water supply by Hexavalent Chromium. The company then sold land to Donna Jensen and it again proposed to purchase it from Donna Jenson in $66, 500. The objection against it, the emission of chemicals pollute the groundwater resources. 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 10
  11. 11. Hinkley’s Desert town 9/19/2013 The non-human character of the film i.e. the wasteland is the core of subjective discourse in the filmic text. The PG&E Company due to its emission of Hexavalent Chromium polluted the drinking water supplies and caused health hazards. The PG&E Company was given the clean up and abatement order by the Hinkley Town’s Regional Water Board. But no penalty imposed on its Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur Chromium contamination. 11
  12. 12. Characters of the Film- The Color Purple Celie Johnson (Whoopi Goldberg) in the film evokes sensitivity of human nature that symbolically expresses the sorrow, loneliness, ignorance and darkness on one hand and on the other side joys of contentment, simplicity, togetherness and winning the hardships. 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 12
  13. 13. Nettie ( 9/19/2013 Akosua Busia) Celie’s closest companion and younger sister. She is the brightest hope of her dark life. Nettie fled away from her father’s house and then Celie’s husband, threw her out. The reason she was the object of lustful gaze. Nettie got befriended with a missionary couple, went to South Africa. She came to know that the missionary couple who used to have two adopted kids, they were her sister’s Celie Kids. She looked after them as aunt and got them back to her sister, when reunion of the family occurred. Her character always rendered a moral support to Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 13 Celie.
  14. 14. Mr. Albert (Danny Glover) 9/19/2013 He projects disregard for the identity of women among the black community people; his image suggests maleoriented hierarchical code of living for women. He is unaware of his strengths. He used all his energy in primitive and savage manner. Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 14
  15. 15. Sophia (Oprah Winfrey) 9/19/2013 Her character shows that the human nature is sensitive to the human tumult, anger, squalor, oppression.. The human emotions undergo trauma and intense desire to free themselves from the forbidden areas. Such prohibited spaces, if not meanwhile are constructed with some auxiliary support, hope, positive notions of self-awareness, self-capacity; then metaphysical depression obstructs the significance of human existence in the face of crisis. Yet her bold and Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur strong image grants radical voice15
  16. 16. Shug Avery (Margaret Avery) 9/19/2013 • She depicts a new wave of black feminism and a radical voice to extend the hope and the sense of selfcentering among the black women, who have survived Black maleoriented community‘s oppressions, violence, abu ses and injustices. Her attitude to self-sufficiency images her character in man’s world, different from other normal black Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 16 women.
  17. 17. Miss Millie (Dana Ivey) She is a White American women symbolizes the cultural baggage of not only belonging to superior and civilized class, but suggests the sufferings from segregation and its dystopia. She represents the collective blackness of whites who expected blacks to be subservient. 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 17
  18. 18. The Film Erin Brockovich (2000): Women and Ecology at Work 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 18
  19. 19. The picture of a modern, chick, middle class woman in the American patriarchal humanist society. She is divorced twice and has three kids to rear. Her earlier two husbands were financially not sound to look after the family and they proved useless in raising them. The young lady Erin Brockovich is the lone caregiver, yet not privileged with amenities of financial resources to look after the kids and deprived of gender specific opportunities. She faced inequity when she met with an accident on account of the other car’s driver fault. She lost the case during the trials and could not get her medical treatment properly. She could not pay the bills as she herself was not insured and there was no health insurance policy in her name. As she is married and divorcee, she is granted welfare payments by the federal state, yet these are not enough to lift her family out of poverty. She lives in public housing. The film text narrates the story of a woman’s journey to selfsufficiency, self-esteem and self-reliance against the odds of her being unskilled, half-educated, three kids to feed, to negotiate her home affairs with the strangers and to win the suffered victims as clients in large number against the $ 28 billion dollars PG&E Company. 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 19
  20. 20. Tension of poverty gets more severe than the adversity of being single, married, divorced mother of three kids. 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 20
  21. 21. Her constraints and encounters • Her emotional stress is reflected in the shots – she picks up her kids from the daycare. She is told by the daycare in charge that she will not be able to look after the kids as she has been bought a house at some other place by her daughter. She has no one in the house to take care of her kids, her little baby girl gets knock down on her head by Erin’s own chin; then the sudden appearance of coackroach from under the stove spills the hot water which Erin needs to prepare baby’s food. She goes through employment newspapers to mark the jobs that may suit to her ability. She contacts the employers through her residence phone and through telephone booths. Nobody considers her necessity. She is short of finances and time to carry on with the everyday requirements for her children, 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 21 then fuel for her car, and many bills to pay.
  22. 22. Breaks gender stereotypical office norms 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 22
  23. 23. On being completely dashed she fights inequity • She finds tough to tackle the things on conventional and stereotypical way. So she adopts an exclusive alternative to join the office of the lawyer without his permission, although she has not recovered from the strain in her neck. She owes lot of money to him, as he pursued her car crash case in the court. Her argument with her lawyer shows the reluctance of Ed Masry to keep her in his office, but she ends the conversation with scoop: • Ed masry: What makes you think you can walk in there and find what we need? • Erin Brockovich: They’re called boobs, Ed. • Ed Masry: I'd love to help, Erin, but I'm sorry, I have a full staff right now, so... Erin Brockovich: Bullshit. If you had a full staff, this office would return a client's damn phone calls. Erin: I’m smart, I’m hard working, and I’ll do anything, and I’m not leaving here without a job-----don’t make me beg. 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 23
  24. 24. Counters a stranger 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 24
  25. 25. Center of Controversy uncomfort and internal grumbling among the staff of Ed Masry’s office due to her skimpy and immodest outfits and conversational style 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 25
  26. 26. The gender representation regarding conduct, conversation and code of dress is shot in the camera. Ed Masry: In a law firm you may want to re-think your wardrobe a little. Erin: Well as long as I have one ass instead of two I’ll wear what I like if that’s all right with you. You might want to rethink those ties. • The filmmaker here captures woman’s expression of her own subjectivity as an effective galvanized woman, who is not bothered by the gaze of other’s especially the males. • The logic of this perspective in the narrative structure is to base social-cultural context in radical manner that explicates substantive change in the women mindset, consciousnessraising towards the egoistic perverted attitude of mankind towards womankind in the workplace and at home. • The director presents the truth in pleasant disguise, it is for the spectators to derive the meaning of the production. 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 26
  27. 27. What is significant to note the political consequences of gender difference here? It is the political objectification of collective fantasies and desire. 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 27
  28. 28. The filmmaker indeed adds mise en scene to connect screen-spectator relationship The film radically drives on the liberation aspect of mindsets from duality as regards women. It is this style of dress that got enabled her to procure details of the records of sale deed and purchase deal as well as the medical records of Hinkley’s water supply resources from the Lohatan Regional Water Board at Hinkley’s desert town. But if we read the true autobiography of the legal firm advisor Erin Brockovich, it was not true, it is all fabricated in the film in order to attract the lustful gaze of the viewers towards the film. But it is important at this juncture to view the image of women not as site/sight of object of exchange between men, but it also reflects the society’s choice and the social construction of women. 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 28
  29. 29. details of the records of sale deed and purchase deal as well as the medical records of Hinkley’s water supply 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 29
  30. 30. It creates a sphere for intellectual and popular discourse as regards conditioning and control of women in films. • If we talk of the women spectators, they are strategically essentialist to judge the authenticity of the representation of women in film, because implicitly it is the ‘given order of things’ of the patriarchal order (Lapsley and Westlake, 1998, 25). The image of woman in this movie breaks the gender stereotypical norms of the conventional portrayal of women as romantically sensual and subjective. Here the heroine appears as insubordinate and confident to construct her identity and image. Some critics say that she used her cleavage to attract and get the records from the remote office of water board at Hinkley town. On screen it constructs the affirmation of her awesome sexuality , but it is the orientation of viewers through film art and industry. 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 30
  31. 31. The two females indicate their concern for the family, for the health and for the environmental pollution 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 31
  32. 32. Through the inquiry of Erin, the film debates the spectatorship vis-à-vis environmental issues • Donna Jensen as a common person ignores the intensity of contamination of drinking water on human body, she is seen to be worried more about the insurance and pay bills. She avoids the reality of the Chromium effects and PG & E company’s corruption in misusing her property rights. At the same time she is unaware that protection of natural resources is included in property rights. She like other Hinkley town people does not want to involve herself in this problematic issue of materialistic power-plays. • This film envisions a paradigm shift in the narrative by positioning the desire and the right to live with dignity. It vindicates that women, children and nature are the vulnerable factors to be exploited and misused by men. 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 32
  33. 33. emotional outbursts and emotional pressures on her and on her kids, 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 33
  34. 34. New situations and challenges constantly threatens her emotional strength as mother They are looked after by a stranger George, because he loves those sweet kids. Erin in her crusade misses the first utterance of her baby girl i.e. ‘Mom’. Her son and daughter get angry at her late night shifts at work, this consciousness is all the more gets tensed when her new boy friend leaves her place as he feels that she is too erratic and personal to the work and the environmental issue and neglecting all in the family for the other’s sake. She utters: • Erin Brockovich: For the first time in my life, I got people respecting me. Please, don't ask me to give it up. 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 34
  35. 35. overwhelming toughness 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 35
  36. 36. Her concern for humanity’s welfare. Her subjectivity is considered as weak as her female body. • There were moments of emotional upheaval and mental anxiety. But it was her sweat, self-dogged determination, trash sensibility, passion for justice, outspoken verbal defenses lead her to effectively handle the business and homely affairs. With her quirks she counters the advocates of PG&E Company who wish to wind up the deal of compensation to less number of victims of Chromium contamination in few thousand dollars without legal jurisdiction. Through her resourceful enterprise and networking, she gets as many as 654 victims as clients against the company’s irresponsible action towards the common people’s right to have sustainable natural resources. Later her boss, who seems baffled at her work, joins in the deal. 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 36
  37. 37. Erin Brockovich: By the way, we had that water brought in especially for you folks. Came from a well in Hinkley. 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 37
  38. 38. [at the meeting with the PG & E lawyers] • Ms. Sanchez: Let's be honest here. $20 million dollars is more money than these people have ever dreamed of. • Erin Brockovich: Oh see, now that pisses me off. First of all, since the demur we have more than 400 plaintiffs and... let's be honest, we all know there are more out there. They may not be the most sophisticated people but they do know how to divide and $20 million isn't *shit* when you split it between them. Second of all, these people don't dream about being rich. They dream about being able to watch their kids swim in a pool without worrying that they'll have to have a hysterectomy at the age of twenty. Like Rosa Diaz, a client of ours. Or have their spine deteriorate, like Stan Blume, another client of ours. • Erin Brockovich: So before you come back here with another lame ass offer, I want you to think real hard about what your spine is worth, Mr. Walker. Or what you might expect someone to pay you for your uterus, Ms. Sanchez. Then you take out your calculator and you multiply that number by a hundred. Anything less than that is a waste of our time. [Ms. Sanchez picks up a glass of water] Udaipur 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, 38
  39. 39. The film centers around the axes: Erin’s realization of strength and self-esteem in her work and the realization of disrespect towards nature and human values. The inter-textual meaning that nature and woman nurture and care humans, but both are dominated by men. 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 39
  40. 40. the beauty pageant Miss Wichita • There is parallelism in the text and subtext. One text is embedded in another text. Erin, who was declared as the beauty pageant Miss Wichita in her young days, realizes the significance of the words that she spoke on the stage. She took at that moment the oath to save the world from environmental disaster and to do service for the welfare of humanity. She forgets that memorable moment of her life, while being in family life. The work that she undertakes in law firm to help the victims reminds her long-forgotten promise. • The filmmaker coordinates her memory, desire and dignity with this beautiful symbolism. She leaves no stone unturned to accomplish her task and her dream. She gets success, money and esteem all together after her hard work for the values. 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 40
  41. 41. the precondition of human dignity and ecological harmony in the world. George as the auxiliary support shows radical alternatives to emancipate both men and women by way of exercising the full range of their human capacities i.e. love, cooperativeness, trust and a nurturing emotional life in general.(Biehl 50) George, as caretaker of kids dismantles the logics of gender stereotypical roles. 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 41
  42. 42. Erin Brockovich: NOT PERSONAL! That is my WORK, my SWEAT, and MY TIME AWAY FROM MY KIDS! IF THAT IS NOT PERSONAL, I DON'T KNOW WHAT IS! 9/19/2013 Erin Brockovich: Ya know why everyone thinks that all lawyers are back stabbing, blood sucking scum bags? cause they are! and I can not believe you expect me to go out, leave my kids with strangers and get people to trust you with THEIR lives while all the while your screwing me! You know, Ed, it's not about the number! It's about the way my work is valued in this firm... [She looks at the two million dollar bonus check] Ed Masry: Like I was saying, I thought that the number you proposed was inappropriate, so I increased it. [Turns to walk away and turns around to her] Ed Masry: Do they teach beauty queens to apologize? Because you suck at it! [Long pause, as Erin looks at the check] Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 42 Erin Brockovich:: Uh, Ed... Uh... thank you...
  43. 43. Interrogating personal subjectivity against universal consciousness • Human nature and human condition are indeed reflected by this film, yet the benefits , income along with dignity are the attractions that have been conversely dealt as the necessity. The utopia of social-ecological order is based on human concern and outlook, but the question is : Can nature and women in this material world be saved from exploitation? Can they survive man’s greed? The movie answers a little of this query, that tragedy of natural resources and commons can be prevented by people working together and be collectively conscious about the misuse. The market value cannot sustain longer, unless the human nature eliminates imbalances against the natural laws of humanity and nature. 9/19/2013 Dr.Jayshree Singh, Udaipur 43
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