...engaging and discerning culture, as a way of life...

April 05, 2007

Finding Forrester - 5

I watched this for a class- Education and Culture. We discussed the film in the context of an article written critiquing Hollywood's representations of education and the redemptive narratives of teacher saving students. The story is about a young black man, Jamal (Rob Brown), who lives in the hood, but is academically and athletically gifted. He runs into an old, agoraphobic, recluse author, William Forrester (Sean Connery), and becomes friends and a student outside of school. Along side of this is that Jamal has just transferred to a college prep school with a lot of white rich kids. The climax of the film is that when he is accused of cheating, Forrester shows up to the writing contest and reads Jamal's words, and then tells everyone that he deserves his spot at the school. Forrester uses his social and cultural capital to "save" Jamal from his social class and his neighborhood. All of this implies the bias of Hollywood that it is bad to be black and living in black neighborhoods where the schools are bad. But for most audiences this film has the opposite affect, inspiring in them a sense that if they work hard enough they too will be seen as the genius that they are. As a study of education, this film is a good example of how education is often misrepresented in film as an unbiased savior (irrespective of race, class, gender, culture, location, etc), helping out all those who work hard and pursue learning from the oppression of their circumstances and poverty of mind and body. Half Nelson is a good counterpoint to this film.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remember watching this back in the theaters. It's harmless enough and directed well enough, but if memory serves it's so slight in its pedagogical treatment of education as to be neglegible, In terms of having to watch it for an Education class, it's kinda like "Dead Poet's Society," where you go, "...and?" Plus, the Paquin character just totally disappears.

I think Half Nelson works beautifully as a counterpoint, ascribing an actual pedagogical framework (Hegel's dialectics) even as it knows that such outside-the-box teaching for high school will be damaging to the principles that the school wants covered.