Instructor name Date Cross-Cultural Female Identities in Joy Luck Club The idea behind what shapes and creates a person's identity has been discussed maybe even since the beginning of time. Even as early as the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, people were discussing how a person's identity, the way that they thought about themselves, was partly determined by internal ideas and partly the result of external expectations (Cohen, 2004)…
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A great deal of what society expects is framed within the messaging portrayed through media and film, such as in Hollywood's version of Joy Luck Club. Hollywood has a continued tendency to only feature idealized images of thin, young, blonde, and mostly obedient to someone images of the female and is mostly blamed for unhealthy attitudes, but scientific theories have indicated that the process of shaping female identity, like any other concept of belonging or 'right' social thought, is a reciprocal process (Yglesias, 2005). Even though films portray the idealized concept of what a woman should be, it is up to women in the 'real' world to define what they really are in order to help change the images they see in film to more accurately reflect reality. However, an examination of a film that focuses on women and female identity, such as Joy Luck Club, illustrates that issues of female identity are much bigger in reality than they are shown on screen. This is made even more complex when women must consider issues such as tradition and self-fulfillment as they transition between two different cultures, as they do in the American-made film Joy Luck Club. An important concept to understand in such a study of cross-cultural female identity in film is the idea of the sociological imagination. This term is used to discuss the process through which people internally determine their place within society and helps shape how we will behave in different situations (Mills, 2000). As we play this cyclical game of determining our place in society and determining how we should behave in relation to that idea, whether we decide to act according to what is expected of us or completely against it, will play a significant role in how we create our own identity. When we internally link our personal experience with what we understand of cultural expectations, we begin to classify ourselves and others into different social groups according to those beliefs. This sociological imagination builds upon three observable aspects of being which include class, race and gender (Mills, 2000). Race and gender are pretty self-explanatory, but class may need a bit more definition. According to Mills (2000), the person's profession, their income level, their education, and several other elements considered desirable by a given culture can factor into the concept of class. Within the Western European and American cultures, for example, class is given to people who have a high level of education, dress in expensive clothing, and who have a career conducted from within a private office are considered to have more class than people who don't dress well or who have trouble articulating their thoughts. Since it doesn't necessarily follow that people who dress well and speak clearly make more money or have more power than people who dress poorly and struggle to make their ideas clear, class is considered to be a highly flexible and imprecise measure. The idea of class plays a significant role in the forming of female identity, though, as can be seen in Joy Luck Club. On a micro-level, the many female characters in the film can be
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