Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Clockwork Orange (Response Paper 1 of 2)

Society At Its Most Destructed State
The movie A Clockwork Orange is about a fifteen year old boy named Alex and his gang who spent most of their time getting high, lying, robbing, raping woman and treating the people around them very poorly through severe abuse (mental, physical and emotional abuse). The movie starts off by these group of kids spotting a drunk on the street singing. They stop and deicide to make fun of the drunken man by kicking him in the stomach. It is at this point where one of the themes of the movie is revealed: the younger generation controlling the old and how law and order has diminished. This youth is clearly full of violence and has no fear of punishment. Randy Martin suggests a societies central cleavage would be played out along the lines of risk. Those who are able to live life with always taking risks are masters and leaders of their own lives, but those who are not capable of being risky is the population that is “at risk” and the target of all types of domestic wars like drugs, crime, kids and culture (Martin 2 ). From the beginning to mid- way through the movie, the population that represented risk was Alex and his gang. They were very much into the world of misconceptions, where physical desires become the one and only priority. However, towards reaching the end, the story has a certain twist to it because the population that is “at risk” turns out to be the group of individuals who lived in intense evil manners. The reason being that they were the ones involved with the drugs, crime and the lack of culture. It only makes sense that what Martin describes (concept of risk) is the moral of the movie. The moral being that although risk is thought of in a positive spectrum the reality of it is that if “risk” is abused than it brings forth a lot of conflict that many times leads to wars.
Althusser suggests that our values, desires and preferences are inculcated in us by ideological practice, the sphere which has the defining property of constituting individuals as subjects. Ideological practice consists of an assortment of institutions called Ideological State Apparatuses (ISAs), which include the family, the media, religious organizations and, most importantly, the education system, as well as the received ideas they propagate (Althusser 3). There is, however, no single ISA that produces in us the belief that we are self-conscious agents. Instead, we derive this belief in the course of learning what it is to be a daughter, a schoolchild, black, a steelworker, a councilor, and so forth. This is to say that Alex in A Clockwork Orange did not notice one day that he can be a powerful leader and can find ways to get easy money and sleep with woman all day long. If Alex is put into the context of Althusser’s belief, then Alex realized the life he could be living when he slowly started to include activities such as robbing and raping into his daily life. As always, there are consequences for social practices that are considered “immoral”, especially when it reaches a point where the government gets involved. Although many different people would tell Alex that he is a murderer, he would not understand it to be a negative connotation. Alex received 14 years in prison and yet he did not understand what he did wrong. It was not until the doctors made him watch scenes of rapped scenes when he started to feel sick and disgusted by what was being seen. However, he tells us near the end that the sick nausea that he felt was not because he was cured by science but because Beethoven’s 9th symphony would be playing every time. This scene is an obvious example of classical conditioning. Everytime that Alex saw a woman, he had to act upon his desires, therefore was not used to resisting his temptations. However, for him to be “cured” he needs to resist what he normally wouldn’t and this causes the nausea/ withdrawal symptom, just like a person laying off of drugs. He couldn’t stand anything that linked back to the older generation. The movie comes to show us that he did realize what he did wrong but instead decided to go along the same path. As a whole, the movie emphasized the inviolability of free will, the inherent evil of government, the necessity of commitment in life, good versus evil, commitment versus neutrality, man versus machine, man versus government, youth versus maturity, and intellect versus intuition, to name some of the most prominent ones. The two readings by Martin and Althusser were definitely relatable to the movie because the readings were about a society where the government is a big machine that the people had to be at constant war with. The two readings and the movie connect to this idea of not being able to reach a utopian society as long as we have the language to communicate with others the way we wish to.

Works Cited
Martin, Randy. “Where Did The Future Go?”
Althusser, Louis. “Ideolgy and Ideological State Aparatusesses”. La Pense. 1970.

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