Saturday, February 13, 2010

Generational Gaps (Slight Spoiler Alert)

Ah, generational gaps ... also known as "Hey, Mom! We need to show Grandma how to use the computer!" or "Dad, MTV stopped playing music videos AGES ago!" or "Mom and Dad, I'm dating someone from England ..." ... or something along those lines.
As of late, I've seen two movies (one for the second time and clips of one) that do an excellent job of looking at and exploring the gap between the younger and older generations ... Generation X and Y, perhaps? Or are there different generation names now? Never mind that.
Let's start with the classic "The Graduate" ... the one I still have to see all of ... ANYWAY! From the clips we watched in my Cinema class, it clearly shows how different Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) and his parents are. His parents want him to socialize with their friends when he'd rather sit up in his room and ruminate over things. They dress him up in a scuba suit which they got him as a graduation gift and they parade him around the backyard in it, much to their amusement and the amusement of their friends. Needless to say, he finds solace on the bottom of the pool. He is cut from a different cloth, so to speak. He doesn't want to be a part of their suburban cookie cutter lifestyle.
Now, let's look at a more modern and recent flick: "Up in the Air". Seeing it the first time, I noticed the generational gaps outlined, and viewing it for a second time solidified the divide between those gaps. Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is a man who is set in his ways and is slowly becoming antiquated. He fires people in the flesh. He talks with people and develops relationships in the flesh. Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), on the other hand, is the plugged-in woman of the future. She creates a new method of firing people: via webcam. It's personal, yet impersonal at the same time. While on the road with Ryan to gain experience at actually firing people in real life, she talks with her boyfriend via what is most likely Skype. Something happens between them and she ends up being dumped via a text. Whatever happened to a call or a face-to-face breakup? ... ANYWAY! She ends up getting her new-fangled creation up and running, but Bingham's boss, Craig Gregory (Jason Bateman), pulls the plug after one of the people Ryan and Natalie fired in Detroit kills herself. Natalie quits her job via text message. Again, what happened to a call or a face-to-face resignation? ... Where was I? Oh! Yes! Generational gaps!
So, "The Graduate" and "Up in the Air" present you with two different generations: the older "set in their way" generation and the younger "movers and shakers/apathetic" generation. The question: which do you choose? Which do you want to be associated with? ... Albeit, the generations are portrayed differently in both films. ... Let's look at this through the lens of "Up in the Air": would you rather be the personable guy who is somewhat old-fashioned and set in his ways, yet can still function well in the modern world or would you rather be the impersonal guy who is up on the current technology and other such things? Me? ... Honestly ... there's nothing wrong with being old-fashioned.

Allons-y, Alonso.

- Jason


Danielle said...

A 'personable' old-fashioned man who believes that relationships and family and everything just drag you down? Versus a woman who travelled across the country to be with somebody she loved, admittedly a bad move, and is just trying to do the best she can?

I think I prefer to have relationships and family...and believe in things.

Jay said...

See, the thing is, Ryan becomes a bit more open to relationships. That's his character arc.
And Natalie's is whether or not she can handle modern relationships.