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Stand by me is a coming of age story about four friends going on a journey to find a dead body outside of their town in hopes of becoming heroes. On their journey, we get to discover the personalities of these four characters as the story goes on and learn about their development as children in their adolescent years. Although the story focuses on the four characters, Gordie is the main focus as he is the one narrating his experience with his childhood friends.
Throughout the movie, we are given some glimpses into the lives of the four characters. Chris Chambers is the leader of the group and Gordie’s best friend. Although Chris is kind and compassionate, he comes from a bad family. It is indicated multiple times in the film that Chris’s family was bad and everyone in the town expects Chris to turn out bad. According to a report written by the department of health, there are four types of child maltreatment, physical abuse, child neglect, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse. Chris falls into the physical and emotional abuse category as him and his older brother Richard are abused by their father and although Chris might not have turned out bad his older brother Richard hangs out with a delinquent gang and runs around vandalizing the town. This act of rebelliousness that Richard displays is a way of him releasing all the anger and hate built up within him from his abuse. One example of this, is a scene where Richard and his friends bullies Chris and Gordie by taking Gordie’s hat that his brother gave to him and allowing his friend to pin down Chris to the ground while holding a cigarette next to his eye. This kind of behavior stems from the environment that Richard had been raised in which manifests in his delinquencies.
Another character who is also exposed to an abusive family is Teddy Duchamp. In the film it is implied that Teddy’s father was in the military. This however is not good because Teddy’s dad is a presumed alcoholic and a crazy person who burned Teddy’s ear in a fit of rage.
This reminds me of the topic explored in the textbook which talks about the context of abuse. There is no single factor that causes child maltreatment, a combination of factors come into play like substance abuse, stress, socioeconomic status, and social isolation. In Teddy’s case his father might be dealing with the stress of being in the military and using alcohol as a means of escape however this makes him angry and abusive towards his child and this rubs off on Teddy as he is quick to anger, impulsive and generally acts in a manner that makes you think he does not care about his life. One example of this was when Teddy decided to stand in front of a train and wait till the last second to dodge it however Chris stepped in and carried him out of the way before he could get hit. This behavior of risk taking and impulsive behavior is a result of the environment that Teddy is exposed to at home. According to a journal of research on adolescence, children who are abused as kids have a higher chance engaging in delinquency, violent romantic relationships, risk taking and substance abuse (Trickett, 2011). This fact is in line with the movie, because at the end of the movie it is said that Teddy spent some time in jail and works odd jobs for a living. This shows the effect that of the environment Teddy was raised in.
Vern Tessio is the comedic element of the group. He is sometimes picked on because of his weight. Although he does not let it get to him, obesity is a very important factor in the development of a kid’s development and this subject is one of the topics explored in the textbook. Obesity is a growing problem for children in America and according to the text, “The percentage of young children who are overweight or at risk of being overweight in the United States have increased drastically in recent decades.” Vern is a perfect example of how some young children who are obese are usually teased and ridiculed in movies and in real life.
Finally, Gordie who is the main character of this story, has a very interesting development in terms of psychology. After watching the movie, I noticed a couple of concepts that were explored in the textbook. The first concept was Diana Baumrind’s parenting styles that children are exposed to growing up. In this movie, Gordie is exposed to the neglectful side of parenting. Diana describes this parenting style as uninvolved in their child’s life. Children who are exposed to this parenting style are developing the sense that other things in their parents’ life more significant than their own lives. This is the case with Gordie as in the movie Gordie explains that in his household, he was the invisible child. On the other hand, Gordie’s parents adored his older brother as he was more important than Gordie because he brought recognition to their family as he was a football star. In Gordie’s eyes his older brother was the only thing that his parents cared about and he just happened to be born. This kind of parenting style makes Gordie see himself as inferior just because he is not as talented as his older brother. Although Gordie’s parents did not love him, his older brother did and it was the only love he got so it was a shock when his older brother was killed in an accident because now Gordie has no one that will love him like his brother did because his parents did not care about him in the first place and the death of his brother only made the matter worse.
Another concept that I recognized in the movie was Gardner’s eight frames of mind. This theory suggests that there are eight frames of intelligence, verbal, Mathematical, Spatial, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, and Naturalist. In this movie, I noticed that Gordie was very verbally intelligent as he is a good writer. Chris is also verbally intelligent as he goes on to become a lawyer in the future. Teddy was a naturalist as he goes on to be a forklift operator at a lumber yard. This concept plays an important role in Gordie’s life as his older brother Denny is more Bodily-Kinesthetic as he was an athlete and his parents found that trait to be more important than Gordie’s verbal intelligence. This contributes to Gordie’s neglectful environment as his parents do not care about his writing abilities. One example of this was a scene where the family was at a dinner table and talking about Denny’s achievement and Gordie tries multiple times to tell his dad to pass the potatoes but nobody pays any mind to him like he did not exist until his mom indirectly passes him the potatoes. Gordie’s dad does not like the fact that he writes and thinks it is stupid and this influences Grodie to think that his writing is stupid when in fact it is far from it. The only people that appreciates Gordie’s talents are his brother, and his three friends. This is an example of how some children are treated in real life and this movie did an excellent job of showing the viewers the struggle that Gordie faces in his adolescent life.
Overall, this movie demonstrates some of the struggles some children encounter in their daily lives as they try to figure out what their place in the world is. Stand by me is a masterpiece that was put together competently by director Rob Reiner as he understands how to adapt a well told story.
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