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My contention is that Wes Anderson makes use of the cognitivisim and postmodernism theories in Rushmore to highlight his characters in a manner that is food for thought about placing the movie in only “teen comedy” genre. In psychology, the cognitivist hypothesis fundamentally contends that there is a need to open and critically analyse and understand the “black box” of the mind. In a way, the person undergoing this learning process is taken to be like a computer processor that processes the data provided to it. (Kracauer, 1960) While the cognitivist hypothesis took over from behaviourism in the second half of the twentieth century, it is relevant to serious students of psychology and media studies to this day. The idea is that our human mind is complex and only upon a close look at the way it functions and the thoughts and processes that actually make a person are we able to determine what drives a person and how human beings work. (Bazin, 2004) Moreover the changes that a person experiences in ones behaviour come about due to certain actions that take place and which in turn formulate the person’s thoughts. Cognitivism, hence, is essential in allowing researchers to learn about outcomes of human thoughts and experiences. Rushmore makes an interesting study of this technique, in the form of not only the protagonist, Max, but also Herman Blume, the depressed, rich, industrialist, among other characters. Early on in the movie the audience is treated to a montage of extracurricular activities that Max is involved in at Rushmore. The montage is itself quite telling of the way Max considers things to be fleeting and haphazard – even though he’s on a scholarship at Rushmore, he is one of the most unsuccessful students at this private institute and thus enrols in activities that border on the crazy. It also goes to show the disconnection Max experiences with the world he is a part of. (Kempley, 1999) Things that his fellow students and friends take seriously or consider important in life find are of little interest to him. Max goes on record to tell everyone that his father is a neurosurgeon – it may appear to be a harmless lie (his father is actually a barber) but this lie is another element that cements the fantasy world that Max participates in and would like to see as the truth. The unusual friendship that strikes between Max and Blume is extremely telling, not only in relation to the two characters but also of the American society on the whole. As earlier mentioned, Rushmore is more than just a ‘teen comedy’, it takes pains to highlight the way teenagers are acknowledged in the society as well as the consequences of issues silently eating away a person and ones inability to do anything about it. (Arnold, 1999) Anderson makes use of the postmodernist technique in this effect to give greater meaning to his film. The articulation of postmodernist ideas through visual medium is what categorizes a postmodernist film. Generally the characterization and narrative structure conventions are disrupted in a manner that also disrupts the willing ‘suspension of disbelief’ that the audience puts itself under while watching a film. (Denzin, 1991) The friendship between Max and Blume is unusual on a number of accounts. Firstly, they have a good amount of age difference in between, but that’s not everything. As the film progresses, through small telling actions, it becomes apparent that Blume seems in Max the energy of
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