Thursday, 21 October 2010

What does the film lock stock and Two Smoking Barrels tell us about male identity in Britain in the 1990’s?

The film in question was produced in 1998 by Guy Ritchie, since then it has been argued whether the male profiles presented in the film were a reflection of the males in Britain at the time; or whether the film influenced male identity during that time.Critics claimed that the film only reflected what was going on at the time whilst projecting themes that were widespread amongst British males at the time. The purpose of this essay is to identify “what it meant to be male” during the nineties; and how the Guy Richie film, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels conveyed this. The characters all seemed to have the same reckless attitude with no sense of responsibility or balance rushing from one extreme to the other. Based on the fact that there was no “in-betweener” in the cast I believe Richie was trying to make a statement. I would say that Richie was trying to cast an image of what a “Bloke” should be; by creating characters how seemed to have no limits or morals, this is displayed in the strip club scene when we are shown the conversation between the northerners and Hatchet Harry right hand man in the strip club from a males point of view. The “lads” seem to be incapable of concentrating and often find them selves drifting between the stripper on the pole and the conversation at hand. This scene alone encapsulates Laura Mulveys theory which states that women are placed in films just to capture the gaze of males; thus objectifying females them. All in order to make males seem more powerful. So far this follows the underlying theme of the film which has all male cast with the exception of a semi conscious girl, the previously mentioned stripper and a card dealer.

Whether we want to admit it or not, films are a cultural representation of what is occurring in society. May they be grossly fictional or loosely based on real events; what we see on television and in the cinema are direct reflections of our aspirations, fantasies and even our realities. Personally I believe if a film is to obtain any success, the audience have to be able to relate to the majority of the cast and the situation they are in. If the audience can’t find any middle ground; effectively it would have no audience.Slightly off topic, in one weekend,(now remember a weekend consists of only two days) the film in question earned 143,321 dollars. Hold on! I forgot to add this was the turnover gained from the movie whilst it was being shown in just eight American cinemas. Now in case you have forgotten, our American cousins (by nature) find British culture “quaint” and can rarely make sense of anything that is spoken in an English accent. So why would they flock to the cinema to watch a film which depicted a somewhat sideways (gangster light) look at British gangster culture?I would say it was because at the time during the tail end of 98; deep down inside the most rational and balanced male there was a burning desire to break away from the politically correct profile that had enveloped the country which no longer classed homosexuality as a disease. A country which had a new breed of male who had “had enough of feminist ideas of what a man should be”-Mary WoodBefore I continue I must say that by no means were these emotions felt by all males as a classified group; however they applied to enough for Guy Ritchie to make a “hit” film, which was warmly accepted by Britain thus making it a domestic blockbuster.What does this film say about male identity in Britain during the 90’s? If we were to use theory to describe why this movie was so successful, I would say that this film fitted with the Fisk’s school of thought; which would argue that the entertainment industry will only produce material that they know will be accepted as a reflection of current culture. In other words, Guy Ritchie’s Lock, stock and Two Smoking Barrels was only successful due to Britain’s appetite for senseless and often unrealistic acts of violence.

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