Saturday, 2 October 2010

Is Max Fischer a stereotypical teenager?

When asked to describe a teenager, there are several stereotypes that spring to mind. In Britain, the word teenager is often associated with ASBOs, ‘Hoodies’, binge drinking, smoking, drugs, graffiti, vandalism and other sorts of anti-social behaviour.  There are other stereotypes that differ from this, such as Goths, nerds, wannabes and emos; however there is a general idea that teenagers are disrespectful, naive and conform to the same ideas. There are supposedly ‘cliques’ into which teenagers fit in and this idea is shown a lot in American teenage films, such as Mean Girls, 10 things I hate about you, The breakfast club, Clueless and Juno. However, it can also be seen in British films such as St. Trinian’s or the TV series Skins and it has translated into people’s perceptions of teenagers today.

Looking at the montage of Max it is pretty much obvious from the start that he does not fit into the teenager stereotype. After watching it several times you can clearly see the clues Wes Anderson leaves for us to grasp what the character is like and how un-stereotypical he is.  The very first shot of the school book shows pictures of bees on the cover. This indicates that Max is a ‘’busy bee’ or the ‘bees knees’ of the school, which links with younger schools and it reminded me slightly of stickers you used to get as rewards when you were younger for finishing first. Whether this was intended by the director or not it also links in with who we see surrounding Max in the montage.
In the vast amount of clubs he takes part in, either the majority of other members are clearly younger than him or he is on his own. This tells us not only that Max doesn’t really fit in with his age and that he is lonely but also that he actually probably sees himself as above his fellow students, which could explain why he chooses to mix with those younger than him; because in his head this supports the idea of him being superior.
Another thing that is obvious after watching it a few times is how Max is almost always in the centre of the shot. This and the fact that he plays a main role in almost every club lead us to think that these clubs very much revolve around him. You could also view this as Max thinking he is superior. For example the first club shown is the Yankee review and Max as the publisher walks in the middle with two boys on either side. It is also in slow motion for a few seconds which reminded me of the programme Entourage. Although this programme aired after Rushmore was released, Entourage carries off this shot to show how ‘cool’ the characters are and this is how Max views himself in the clubs he is part of.

However when around people his own age, or older like on the lacrosse shot we see him take a lower position on the screen, suggesting that in reality he is socially below them.

From the montage we also see how Max dislikes who and what he is, which although can be seen as typical teenage behaviour, what he dislikes is very un- stereotypical. The best example of this would be how he is Russia in the model united nations. He wants to emulate the country who at the time were the most powerful along with the US, interestingly he doesn’t choose to be America; this could be because he doesn’t fit into its society. Russia was also communist, so we see that Max likes to be in charge and the most superior, which is also shown by the two countries on either side of him (Mexico and India) which are clearly not the most powerful of countries.  This is also seen with his clear interest in France, from being overly appropriately dressed for French club to the beret he frequently wears. This shows how he thinks of himself as cultured, which again makes him different to the stereotype.  So overall, in this montage we are not given the impression that Max is a stereotypical teenager.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent work Becca. You make good use of technical vocabulary as well as specific examples from the text.

    I think you should aspire to get an A grade at AS if you keep up this level of work and continue to improve.

    This YouTube video provides a clear example of the style of Wes Anderson, note the obsession with tracking shots, symmetry, slow mo, zooms (in and out) and whip pans.

    Well done.