“Ma Vie En Rose” and Judith Butler

In the movie “Ma Vie en Rose” Ludovic had gone through some experiences, too confusing for a child his age to bear. He felt transgendered and many near him didn’t understand. Ludovic did not try to make sense of it either, because to him it was natural. He felt like a girl and expressed himself as one. He took on some gender roles that he acquired through his society, but not necessarily in a way that was accepted by society.

He took interested in the things that his mother and sister wore and did, and he was drawn to certain toys and television show. Society disapproved and as a result so did his family. Although Ludovic’s intentions were innocent and natural to him, he was forced to repress his personality. Due to situations like this it reminds me of Judith Butler’s theory on “gender troubles,” who states that gender is socially constructed and there shouldn’t be such clear cut categories to gender and that there is really no truth to sex. It is because of strictly defined constructs, Ludovic had to face those issues.

Sex is taken as biologically given and Butler would argue that it shouldn’t be. For instance, as time went by Ludovic tried to question it, because he didn’t want to give his family any trouble. He asked his sister if he was a boy or a girl and said that he scientifically figured it out and that everything would be okay. He imagined that God just accidently dropped one of his x –chromosomes, but was forced to coherence. His parent cut his hair and made him dress a certain way because they associated that with masculinity. Butler believes that the words used to categorize people have a form of power and we have used them negatively to describe history, and hence makes people who don’t fit those categories sub-human or like a hierarchy. Ludovic family almost dehumanized him by separating his from the family as if he was a diseased monster. The experience made him almost robotic by acting out every personality trait that was assigned to him.

 

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Foucault in Ma Vie en Rose

Darien Morla

Idea of repression is present throughout Ma Vie en Rose, comparing these ideas to Foucault. Foucault talked about repression for Victorians, around 19th century England. For Foucault, it wasn’t just what was being said, but what wasn’t being said. He said it’s not just speech, but what people were dying to say. In Ma Vie en Rose, the parent’s entire ego depended on how they appeared to their neighbors. This failed parents trope reoccurs throughout the movie. The opening scene sets up showing all the couples helping their spouse get into their dress. It showed an example of how their marriage was and revealed how much they care about their appearance over how happy their marriages were. They had to put on a face, the case of Albert, about how happy they need to appear to the neighbors. The sexual deviant couple and the happy new couple seemed to be the least sad. Victorians couldn’t stop talking about sex.

They talked about sex in their actions, when it came to strict school dress codes and divisions in gender. Woman covering up so much shows how little skin would need to be showing to make people think about sex. The constant emphasis on it made it always on people’s minds. In Ma Vie en Rose, when all the other parents signed a petition for Ludo to be kicked out of school, his parents were surprised and angry that the last time they saw their neighbors they were friendly. They had all come to an agreement behind their back about kicking out Ludo from the school, calling them hypocrites. Which is ironic since they themselves are hypocrites when it comes to their own child. They had all grouped up on them for not doing a good enough job of fitting in. You could feel the visual representation of drowning when the swarm of parents waits outside after the Snow White event. It’s the visualization of the community all talking about something while being silent, giving the word it’s power.

Just because you’re able to talk doesn’t make you liberated. You’re still confined by the constraints of society; discourse, knowledge, and power. This idea of giving words strength parallels the transition from religion to the science of sexuality. To have power, a word needs to be in discourse and you having to have knowledge of it. Sex for example was talked about all the time in the Victorian era, simply in body language and the refusal to talk about it openly. Those gave the idea of sex the power it has. For Ludo, his idol is Pam, and in his fantasy world, getting married would make him happy. He doesn’t see a problem in just marrying a boy since Ludo identifies herself as a girl. In order to escape the reality, she enters her imagination where she was free and happy and everyone would be happy for their marriage. It’s an escape from reality into a world where she’d be accepted as herself. Ludo’s parents don’t concern themselves with her happiness, but their appearance to the neighbors. Yet, other neighbors aren’t pure as they appear. There’s a couple that has sex in public; which is also sexual deviance. Albert and his wife don’t do much sexually or romantically, and she’s always thinking that Albert wants to cheat on her. They band together in their hate of different things to focus on Ludo and his family. The transition from religion to the science of sexuality gave people knowledge of sex and men and woman’s biological differences. No idea can have power without the other two; they’re almost mutually exclusive. The only idea that has power despite not being talked about or known about would be death. The idea of death as an escape resonated with Ludo’s mom. When Ludo hid in the freezer, almost freezing to death, and only after that is when his family seems to care about Ludo’s needs. So when Ludo’s mom sees the visual image of the stairs leading up, reminded of the show Ludo loves, using mis en scene, it’s almost like a tunnel of white symbolizing death. For a moment, Ludo’s mom allows herself to be in this imaginary world, intruding on Ludo’s happy place. Death has power whether or not we talk about it. It’s kind of excluded from this Foucault philosophy. People from all races and time have talked about death at length, but we have no knowledge of it. The lack of knowledge of what happens after death is part of what gives the idea of death power.

Judith Butler and Ma Vie en Rose

Gender is more complex than sex. “Assuming for a moment the stability of the binary sex, it does not follow that the construction of “men” will accrue exclusively to the bodies of male or that “women” will interpret only female bodies (Butler 6).

Ma Vie En Rose is the exact embodiment of this quote. Throughout the movie Ludovic is seen expressing himself through his desired gender. What Judith butler is saying is that sex and gender are two different entities. Even though her argument is that sex is not to natural and gender is not to culture but that our bodies is free space and we are able to take on any society based traits we like. Ludovic understands that “boys don’t marry boys” and that he shouldn’t play dress up but in his mind he is a “girl.” His parents are trying to keep him in this box society has set out for him and it constantly backfires. Ludovic tries to fit in he tries to be his predetermined sex but it doesn’t work out the people around him look at him like he is strange and he is not allowed to be himself because society says a man supposed to act a certain way. Ma vie en Rose is an interesting take on gender roles and a look into how society reacts to those who do not fit inside the box. It goes to show that the world will not fall apart when the biological sex does not follow the rules of society.

Final Blog Post.

Ma Vie En Rose is a very powerful movie about a boy named Ludovic who wishes to be a girl. Throughout the film, Ludovic struggles to fit in with everyday society. One of the best scenes that fully exploit this is one of the school scenes. The teacher asks one of the students why he doesn’t want to sit next to Ludovic and he replies, “I’ll go to hell.” Ludovic’s mom is very supportive of him, but his father is not.
In Warner’s article, he talks about being “queer” in society. “Being queer means fighting about these issues all the time, locally and piecemeal but always with consequences.” Warner is trying to say that being queer or gay means standing up for what you really believe in. Many people in today’s society are scared to face the world because of their sexual orientation. Ludovic was the exact opposite of this. He knew that he was born a boy, but still chose to continue being the person he wanted to be. His father unfortunately, did not want to hear the criticism his son got for wanted to be a girl. Ludovic’s father was one person that wasn’t helping the situation.
“Because the logic of the sexual order is so deeply embedded by now in an indescribably wide range of social institutions, and is embedded in the most standard accounts of the world, queers struggles aim not just at toleration or equal status but at challenging those institutions and accounts. The dawning realization that themes of homophobia and heterosexism may be read in almost any document of our culture means that we are only beginning to have an idea of how widespread those institutions and accounts are.” Warner seems to be saying that this is just the beginning of the sexuality problems in our culture. “Queers” have a hard time facing these problems the most. Families must be supportive of someone’s decision so that more people can live the life they truly want. Ludovic’s father definitely doesn’t like that his father cannot accept him for what he wants to be. The community doesn’t want any part accepting Ludovic’s choice of being a girl. The problem with society is that, Ludovic’s choice isn’t their problem or concern. Their lives aren’t being affect at all. The kids that act cruel towards Ludovic get their behavior from the parents. That’s where it always stems from.
Ma Vie En Rose isn’t a movie that is a nail bitter or one that’s full of action, but it’s real. People face the same problems that Ludovic is dealing with. The main reason why gay people are scared to fully express themselves is because of the backlash they might receive from the community. That shouldn’t stop anyone from being what he or she wants to be.

Final Blog Post: Ma Vie en Rose and Warner

When we are born, we are born into a world that is very decided on gender and sexuality. When a boy is born, there are blue balloons, clothes and toys waiting for him. When a girl is born, everything for the girl is pink. This common ideology of gender norms are widely spread and maintained. However, this is mostly due to the fact that babies can’t choose their favorites colors, or gender. In the film by Alain Berliner, Ma Vie En Rose, the subject of gender and the roles boys and girls are suppose to uphold are strongly tested and explored. In the film, Georges Du Fresne plays a transgender girl living in a boy’s body named Ludovic. Ludovic lives a tough childhood in that she is confused on why she is forced to live life as a boy but feels that she is a girl inside. Her family is very non-accepting of her behavior, as she likes to wear her hair long and dress up in girl’s clothes and is constantly reprimanded by her parents. In the writing, Fear of a Queer Planet, Michael Warner describes this struggle by saying, “In the everyday political terrain, contests over sexuality and its regulation are generally linked to views of social institutions and norms of the most basic sort. Every person who comes to a queer self-understanding knows in one way or another that her stigmatization is intricated with gender, with the family, with notions of individual freedom, the state, public speech, consumption and desire, nature and culture, maturation, reproductive politics, racial and national fantasy, class identity, truth and trust, censorship, intimate life and social display, terror and violence, healthcare, and deep cultural norms about the bearing of the body. Being queer means fighting about these issues all the time, locally and piecemeal but always with consequences.” In the film, Ludovic experiences much of this throughout the film. At one point she begins to fall in love with a boy in her class. One day after school, they stage a play marriage at the boy’s house and they get caught in the act by his mother. The boy’s father, who is also Ludovic’s father’s boss, ends up firing Ludovic’s father because he is fed up of Ludovic playing with his son. In my opinion of the film, I thought everyone was misunderstanding Ludovic’s situation as they thought she was a homosexual. They are not considerate to Ludovic’s feelings and they believe that she is able to change her natural feelings by attending therapy. They keep on pressuring her to change her ways and tell her things like boys don’t marry boys. It is hard for Ludovic to understand this, as she feels she is a girl at heart. Warner touches on this when talking about how gays and lesbians deal with similar problems, “Probably most lesbians and gay men have at some point encountered the obliterative heterosexual rationale in which it is asserted that if everyone were queer, the race would die out (i.e., so don’t be queer).” This is very similar to Ludovic’s parents ideology. Both works deal with the idea of pushing the boundaries in regards to gender and sexuality.

Ma Vi en Rose & Judith Butler

In the film Ma Vi en Rose one can clearly see themes within Judith Butler’s Subjects of Sex/Gender/Desire. The main character of Ma Vi en Rose, a young boy whom wishes he was a girl, is a divisive character throughout the entirety of the film. One can see how the neighborhood which the young boy and his family live is not accepting in the slightest to his lifestyle. The neighborhoods, and his parents at first, are unable to come to grips and be understanding to Ludvic’s state of mind. Throughout the film we see several characters, such as Ludvic’s grandmother and his parents, trying to instill their own will on Ludvic, thinking that their action could “fix” him. This theme of trying to fix Ludvic is a complex idea which Butler writes about. She writes, “In either case, the body is figured as a mere instrument or medium for which a set of cultural meanings are only externally related. But ‘the body’ it itself, a construction, as are the myriad ‘bodies’ that constitute the domain of gendered subjects.(8)” Butler’s concept of the body is incredibly relevant to Ludvic’s situation. Though he is a boy physically, this is only the vehicle for himself, while in actuality he strives to be a girl. Butler expands upon this idea of “the body”, stating, “Within those terms, ‘the body’ appears as a passive medium on which cultural meanings are inscribed or as the instrument through which an appropriate and interpretive will determine a cultural meaning for itself.(8)” The importance of the metaphorical yet literal body is really the story of Ludvic. He is trapped both in his physical body and trapped within the societal standards of his neighborhood. Though he may someday be able to physically change his body there is no telling he could change the mindset of his old neighborhood.

Ma Vie En Rose and Gender Trouble in Society

The Belgian film Ma Vie En Rose, directed by Alain Berliner has a connection from the Sex/Gender/Desire section from the book Gender Trouble by Judith Butler. In this movie you deal with a boy named Ludovic who is born as a boy, but does not identify with begin one. Instead, he believes he is a girl, and therefore expresses his sexuality in a female matter by playing with dolls as well as dressing up in women clothing without being aware of the fact that such a behavior is frowned upon in the society he lives in. Identifying as a female, he struggles to survive in a society that that forces him to comply with the gender norms that the public deems is the right way to live. Anything else means that he would be shunned away. Similarly, Gender Trouble attacks the idea that there exists an identity and a subject that requires representation of politics. Butler talks about the hypocrisy that appears in society and the problematic perception of gender being a social construct. Then she examines works from Beauvoir and Irigaray where they explore the relationship between power and how it correlates to sex and gender. In order to control people they need to have gender construction, which makes it difficult for others like Ludovic to establish and accept their own identity when society constantly pushes down there throat their own views all the while mocking them for being different. A scene that represents this is in the very beginning when Ludovic dresses in his mothers clothing and puts on make-up and then enters the neighborly party. Everybody laughs at him and his parents completely put him down basically saying not to do such silly things anymore. That was the first instance out of many when you realize people don’t want to accept him for who he was. Another scene was when Ludovic stands in the school play as Snow White without anyone’s approval, which ultimately ends up shocking everybody one more. Requirements of how to you are expected to behave triumphs identity of who you really are, which is something that Gender Trouble touches base on. Identifying the way you want to be is completely disapproving in the society Ludovic was a part of. This is why during an act of desperation Ludovic’s mother, Hanna, decided to cut his hair in hopes of “fixing” his perception about who she expects him to be. All in all it is about submission to authority and the way society set up gender roles.

Freud and Ma Vie en Rose

In the movie Ma Vie en Rose directed by Alain Berliner, we have a boy named Ludovic. Ludovic is a boy who is very confused about who he is exactly. Physically he is a boy  but internally he feels very different. He feels that he was born I the wrong body. Ludovic feels as if he should have been a female. This ultimately brings an over whelming feeling of fear. We can only image how it feels for your own body to betray you, unless you have experienced it yourself. The author that I believe would best fit with this movie would have to be Freud. Freud brings up the concept of repression. Repression is when one keeps their feelings and thoughts and keep them hidden from others and also even from themselves. Since we are dealing with a boy who is confused with who he is, out of fear he keeps it from his family because he would feel like  outcast if his family knew.However, keeping such a secret makes him an outcast already because he is hiding from his self. Though of course he breaks out of his shell and begins to b who he wants to be. His parents try to find him “help” which is not really needed. But of course ignorance breeds fear.

Final Post

In this post, the scene from Menace to Society will be analyzed using theories from Sigmund Freud’s Civilization and its Discontent to demonstrate a theme of violence as a vicious cycle due to stressors that affect both society and individuals; using the specific scene(s) where Cane gets fake assaulted by his O-Dog and then when he beats up Illeana’s cousin. Moreover the assault of Cane to Illeana’s cousin, will be presented to be a neurotic(sick) repetition of the violence that Cane himself is subjected to.

When, however, we compare the cultural process in humanity with the process of development or upbringing in an individual human being, we shall conclude without much hesitation that the two are very similar in nature, if not in fact the same process applied to a different kind of object.

Freud mentions that ‘cultural process in humanity and the developing of a human being’ is ‘the same process applied to different kind of objects’. What Freud means is that the pressures and stresses (process) that define a culture(such as assaults), are the same stresses and pressure that are applied to the individual of such a culture. At the beginning of the scene where Cane beats up Ileanas’s cousin, he arrives in his new car and then he gets out of the car to check his tires, as he is bending down, his friend O-Dog approaches him from behind and presses a gun against his head and says: “Hey [n-word], give up the car right now” . We are given Cane’s ‘scared straight’ face until he realizes it’s his buddy that is holding the gun and relaxes. This event portrays how, in Freud’s term, the individual(Cane), is subjected to the ‘processes’ (the assault) of his culture. Cane’s culture/society incorporates and deals with these stressors( killings, assaults, drive by) as it’s ‘process’ of realization(development) or as a ‘process’ of regression, (if the culture does not progress from that violent state). Likewise, Cane is also subjected to these stressors as part of his own maturation process. Thus events such as assault and drive-bye are ‘processes’ that both the individual(Cane) and his society/culture must contend with.

Furthermore Freud States:
If the evolution of civilization has such a far reaching similarity with the development of an individual, and if the same methods are employed in both, would not the diagnosis be justified that many systems of civilization- or epochs of it- possibly even the whole of humanity- have become neurotic under the pressure of the civilizing trends?

Freud is here saying that since the individual and his environment/community are both  (similarly)subjected to the stressors and processes, as formerly explained, of assaults, street fights, and other such violence; would it not be justified in saying that this civilization and its individuals(humanity) have become ‘neurotic’ ( sick, violent, etc) under these stressors? In other words, applying it to the case of Menace to Society, Freud would be saying that both Cane as an individual and his society are getting sick under the stressors of civilization such as violence, the need to have success, the need to live up to society’s expectations etc. This sickness alluded to by Freud is given manifestation in the street fight of Cane with Ileana’s cousin.

As Cane is about to enter his grandfather’s house he is confronted by Ileana’s cousin who seeks to confront Cane about his evasive behavior towards Illeana. Cane then proceeds to assault Illeana’s cousin who is just trying to do right by her. This reaction, is what Freud means when he says that “humanity [has] become neurotic under the pressure of civilizing trends”.  At the beginning of the scene, Cane is assaulted by his friend, as a representation of the trends of his community; Cane, in turn, assaults Illeana’s cousin. Thus ” the same process” of violence and assault experienced by Cane (as represented by Cane’s fake assault at the the beginning of the scene)  has made Cane neurotic, because he seeks to inflict the same violence to Illeana’s cousin. Thus violence is hereby reconstructed to be a cultural process or stressor felt by Cane and his culture that then is projected to Illeana’s cousin.

Ma Vie en Rose and Foucault

The movie Ma Vie en Rose is a movie about a child that has to deal with transgender issues. We “Other Victorians” by Foucault touches on the idea of sexual repression. Even though sexuality and gender identity are not directly the same thing, they are interchangeable in the sense of how they are treated negatively in a social matter. Even though Foucault focuses on the social disapproval of sexual expression, many of his points could easily be applied to gender identity as well. Foucault states that sexual expression has been frowned upon by the public and should be kept private. Foucault mentions that there are two outlets for sexual or gender expression, other than keeping it in a private setting in your own home, that is socially acceptable. It is through prostitution and through a psychiatrist. The movie was able to show this through Ludovic. As Ludovic was having issues with his gender identity, any actions done by him publicly was almost always viewed negatively. His parents for example never wanted to hear anything about Ludovic’s problem until he started seeing a psychiatrist. It was only then that openly speaking about Ludovic’s gender issues became acceptable. Even to the public, the neighbors became a bit more accepting of Ludovic when he started seeing the psychiatrist. It although eventually fails when Ludovic started expressing his gender identity publicly once again. A perfect way that this movie shows repression is not even anything that is played out in the story but instead through how the movie is rated. The movie was set to be rated R even though the movie didn’t show anything that would warrant such a rating. A PG-13 rating would have probably sufficed for this movie. This just proves Foucault’s theory of sexual and gender repression. This goes to show that it is so socially unacceptable to speak about these issues that even a movie is given a R rating just to lower the viewer count. Foucault questions why it is so hard for people to talk about these issues and how talking about it could free us. In the movie, it is shown how Ludovic is unable to speak about his issue because of how it has been negatively affecting his family and he doesn’t understand why. In order to cope, he has to make a fantasy world where he could feel free from all his problems. According to Foucault, by allowing ourselves to talk about these issues, it would lead to a better and freer life for people especially for those that are having a hard time with their sexuality or gender identity.