Shawshank redemption resistance of dominant ideology.

The film “Shawshank Redemption” is an American classic that has topped the IMDb’s top movies list since 2008. Despite it’s positive ratings, the movie completely failed at the box office upon its release in 1994 (it had a production budget of 25 million dollars yet the domestic total gross only got up to 28 million after 3+ years) . I believe that the cause of this is the political opinions of critics (there will be more detail on this in the next paragraph) during 1994 and the slow/long pace of the movie. The movie tells the story of Andy, a banker who was wrongfully accused of murder. He is thrown into a prison and is forced to adapt to this environment. The movie is a critique of the American justice system and its treatment of inmates and prisoners, Most stereotypes on prisons display them as a place where only the strong survive. This setting of extreme violence gives people the idea that most prison inmates are the worst people on the planet which is a subtle strategy of dehumanisation. 

From the 1970s to the 1990s, the justice system was focusing on a new threat of men of color coming from the inner cities and lower income residential districts. This made the justice system focus on extreme strictness on law breakers which led to the skyrocketing prison populations and the mass incarceration of criminals, no matter the severity of the crime. The movie did not fully describe prisons at the time of the release date (for example, the movies prison population was mainly made up of white/caucasians) but it was still a criticism of corruption in prisons. Despite this, public support for being “tough on crime” was high at the movies release date and most people did not care about the inhumane treatment of law-breakers because of the common belief that this kind of harsh and difficult treatment was necessary for rehabilitation (spoiler: it was not). Since it was a movie critical about the justice system in an era when people wanted tough on crime policies, a movie humanizing criminals was bound to have some negative critics. 

The other reason this movie did not do well in the box office is because people are less interested in slow paced emotional movies. Prison movies especially are often made to show  violence and action between prisoners in a theme where only the strong survive. In addition to this, prison is a relatively unknown place to most ordinary civilians (and movieviewers) so media and movies created the general opinion that prison is such a horrible place. This may explain why the existence of prison in a film is often also the location where violent action happens. The shawshank redemption, despite fully criticizing the use of violence, abuse, rape, and psychological torture in the prison environment, unlike some other films does not make the audience focus on these harsh aspects of the story. It still showed how it could happen, but instead of completely focusing on these things (like most action movies would), it still focuses on the main characters great achievements. This made the movie unique but also extremely unconventional when comparing it to most prison films. For example, midnight express, another popular prison break film, shows a man sent to prison for reasons that are unfair, yet this movie made back much more money than shawshank. I believe this is because because unlike The Shawshank Redemption, which criticizes the united states prisons, Midnight Express criticises turkish prisons and a foreign government, making it much less controversial in hollywood upon its release.  The story of Shawshank Redemption may have simply been too new of an idea in the film industry to have the overwhelming success that it has now. 

The movie criticizes multiple points about prison: the cruel treatment of inmates, the corruption of authority figures in the prison/justice department, and the ways in which the prison exploits others for its own benefit. Throughout the film the audience is presented with the following: two deaths caused directly by the guards and warden, food in the prison cafeteria filled with worms or maggots, prisoners are not being given the resources to properly rejoin society, (this leads to one of the characters to commit suicide once he leaves prison due to his lack of experience or knowledge with the real world), severe beatings by guards, and torture by use of solitary confinement. The movie also shows a warden who uses the people in his prison to gain money. This is especially obvious in the case of the main character who is almost forced to help the warden and the guards financial situations once they discover he has skills in banking. Andy later has evidence for his innocence and demands to have another trial but the warden does not let him because andy is the one person who is aware of all the bribes and financial transactions the warden has received over the years. Despite all of these horrible things and events, the movie somehow manages to divert our attention from them. While the events of the film create a negative opinion towards multiple characters, the movie almost always moves past these dark moments and show the audience how Andy cleverly solves all of the problems he encounters. This is how the film resists dominant ideologies of the time when it was released.

The ideologies behind “The Hate U Give”

Over time the American culture has been seen as many things, but there are good and there are bad. A big discussion in American culture that is often neglected is the talk about racism and how it is still at work today. My artifact is the book The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This book shows a different side of the story, which is often pushed to the side to make the white man look good. This book talks about how even though the world thinks we are all equal, we clearly aren’t. This book talks about how the killing of a black man is justified by the protection of the white cops and the issues everyone is talking about. This reflects resistance against ideologies by showing racism is still a big part of our country. Most other ideologies are about black men selling drugs, black men and women doing drugs, black men being a danger to the society, and black people being THUGs. Thomas supports and rejects ideologies against black males and females. 

Thomas supports the ideologies that black people are dangerous, that black people are thugs, and that black people sell and do drugs. She supports these ideologies by showing all the riots the black people start and how they lose control of themselves and start breaking and messing up the environment around them. She shows that black people are thugs because of the gangs and gang wars that go on within the story. Ms.Thomas also supports the ideology that black people sell and do drugs when she says in the story that one of the main characters name Khalil is selling drugs. She also supports the ideology that black people do drugs when she says in the story Khalil’s mother was doing drugs along with half the town. 

Angie Thomas rejects some ideologies such as all black people do drugs, all black people know what they are doing and sell drugs because they want to, and that black people are poor because they don’t do what they need to do to succeed, and that black people are dangerous, and that black people are thugs, and the She rejects the ideology that all black people do drugs by showing the families fighting to get the drugs off the streets of their hometown. She also rejects what I think is the most dominant ideology which is black people know what they are doing but they just choose to sell drugs. Thomas proves people wrong and rejects that ideology by taking us through the life of people who struggle. For example, in the story two main characters were talking Starr and Khalil. Khalil walks into the party with new clothes “looking good” as the ladies at the party says and Starr asks him how he got the money for all of that stuff he had and he says “ I took on a new job” meaning he was selling drugs for the biggest ganglord by the name of King. What Starr didn’t know and later found out was that Khalil’s mom stole from King and the only way to save his mom from being killed was to sell for King. What most white Americans don’t seem to realize or want to realize is that black people are living in a world made to go against them/us.

Yes I do understand that there are very famous black people out there that are rich, but whenever someone brings that up they never ask such questions as: What did that person have to endure to get to where he is? What hate was shown towards him? What racism did that person face just to be accepted? How many times was that black person knocked down? And how many times did they have to get back up? There are many things black men and women have accomplished and i will say many are recognized for that, but the one thing that is truly never recognized is the journey it took for them to get there. Another major Ideology that Ms.Thomas rejects is that all white people understand or know when they are saying something racist. She shows this in her story when Starr and her friend Maya get into an argument because Maya was saying racist comments but didn’t understand what was wrong with what she said. She says that she feels bad for the cop being hated on and his family for killing Khalil, but the bad part about that was that she never once mentions Khalil’s family. She told Starr maybe Khalil deserved to die. I think this rejects the ideology that all white people know what they are doing because Maya clearly didn’t know what she was saying was wrong. That just showed how racism is taught at home and how it’s being passed from parent to child in every generation.

Most people use THUG as an abbreviation. It was originally said by Tupac “The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everyone” This can mean so many different things to so many different people but to most black people it means whatever the world set us up with or gave us as kids is what we give back when we are older. That means the hate, the anger, the feeling of being singled out and hunted. These ideologies have been used and spoken of for a while but most never listened. This book was written to all people. It was written to the black people to show that they aren’t in the wrong for any protest they want to do. But it’s also written to the white people to show that this is what goes on in the real world, and that we have a chance to stop it but it’s up to all of us as a whole. Although some ideologies are supported, many others are rejected. We can clearly see that some ideologies still remain out there but it’s time for the younger groups to step up.

Cultural Analysis on Telltale’s “The Walking Dead”

Telltale’s The Walking Dead (the video game) came out on April 24, 2012. Although Telltale’s “The Walking Dead” shows and supports the stereotype that men have to be the protectors and that they have to protect children and females and that females are supposed to stay in the background.They broke that traditional stereotype by having a young female lead the story, raise a kid, and lead groups to safety. Telltale slowly resists the dominant ideology that men are the protectors and providers. It shows how after “Lee” died, Clementine provided for herself for years and even raised a kid during an apocalypse at a young age.

Telltale’s “The Walking Dead” reinforces the dominant ideology that men are the protectors and providers. The games shows this by showing how “Lee” and the other men provided for their groups, protected them and made all the decisions. For example, “” says that “Lee commonly displays throughout the series is the ability to be compassionate and altruistic, primarily portrayed in his relationship with Clementine, devoting most of his actions, and eventually his life, to ensure her safety. Lee can direct death threats toward anyone he believes is a danger to Clementine and can be generally aggressive to most characters.” According to “” it says that “Over several years, she becomes a guardian to Alvin Jr. (AJ for short), a child whose parents died in the apocalypse, and comes to raise him as Lee did with her.”

“The Man You Could Smell Like”

The popular Old Spice commercial: “The Man You Could Smell Like” was released on February 4th, 2010. The 30-second commercial has a muscular man as the main focus point talking about how you should smell like a man and not a woman, but you can only do that by wearing Old Spice. While the Old Spice commercial does break some stereotypes of what the perfect man is, it primarily reinforces damaging ideologies about expectations for men in American culture; because the commercial is saying that all men have to smell the same.

The commercial does reject the idea that the perfect man in America has to white and strong because in the commercial the main focus is an African American. However, the commercial promotes the stereotype that you smell like a man, and all of these great things happen to you. As seen in the commercial the man used old spice and he ends up on a boat with a handful of diamonds. Then right before the commercial ended the man says, “Stop smelling like a woman and start smelling like a man,” implying that all men in the world have one smell. The commercial also has a comedic manner to it so making fun of what the perfect man should be.

These ideologies of a perfect manare now used in many other commercial and not just body wash, such as Axe, Degree, Gillette, etc, The creators of these commercials get an attractive human being put the product in their hand and tell to tell other people to buy it on camera.


Welcome to the blog for our American Studies class. We will use this space to continue conversations from class and to start new ones. Here is where we can be critics, builders, and even just consumers of American history and culture.

So, what’s a blog? And how will we be using it class? For information on blogging and how to join and post to our blog, see “All About Blogging.”

We’re looking forward to a great year.

Make sure you check your e-mail for your invitation to join the blog. Also – and this is very important – the first step you should take after you accept the invitation is to edit your user profile so that you control how your identity and your communication preferences.  Click on the icon in the upper right corner of the browser and edit your profile

You can fill out as much of it as you want, but the only requirement is — under “Identity” — make sure your “Display name” is your first name and last initial only — so we provide some anonymity while still allowing your classmates and teacher to be able to identity who you are. For example, change “Bernie Heidkamp” to “Bernie H.”

The Old Blog is Dead! Long Live the Old Blog!

For many years, we used the Blogger platform for the American Studies blog. Since it is owned by Google, it integrates pretty seamlessly with your Google accounts — which made it easy to use, in some respects — but it is a very limited and bug-ridden platform. So this year, we have decided to construct a new class blog from scratch using the most more powerful and stable WordPress platform.

If you are interested, though, in seeing what past American Studies students have been thinking and writing about, feel free to wander over to the old blog.