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The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a movie based on the novel written by Stephen Chbosky. It features a socially awkward boy named Charlie trying his best to fit in at high school, after a traumatic childhood. Perks is a coming-of-age movie which outlines many issues that teens face today. Some of these issues include peer pressure and the desire to conform, the various elements of abuse, and sexuality.
Peer pressure is one of the main themes that is constant throughout the whole novel, as well as in many of the characters. Two characters who have specifically fallen victim to peer pressure are Charlie and Brad. Charlie, in order to be accepted by Sam and Patrick’s group of friends, does multiple drugs, as well as taking up the habit of smoking and drinking. Because his friends Sam and Patrick smoked and did drugs on a regular basis, he did the same, wanting to conform into their group of friends. Patrick was also uneducated about various drugs, which caused some serious detriments for him. An example of this is when he took LSD at a Christmas party, which landed him in a hospital after he passed out on the snow. Brad, conforms into society by refusing to acknowledge his sexuality. Unlike Charlie, however, his situation bares more harm for his life if he chooses to come out and alienate himself, as his friends and father are homophobic.
The consequences for both trying to repress his sexuality and exploring it with Patrick comes at the expense of not only him but Patrick as well. When his father discovered Brad and Patrick in bed together, he became enraged and beat him like a lunatic. Brad then, ashamed and humiliated, lashed out at Patrick. He was influenced by peer pressure to fight with Patrick along with his friends. In this movie we see multiple characters involved in peer pressure, some do the pressuring while others are being pressured. Most of these characters give in and conform instead of alienating themselves because of their morals. which is realistic for the majority of teenagers. By depicting Charlie and Brad suffering consequences by giving in to peer pressure, it can have an effect on the audience who are currently facing the same issue.
One of the most popular quotes in the movie is “We accept the love we think we deserve.”. The reason as to why it’s so infamous could be because many people relate to that quote. Either they or someone they know has been in a relationship where they are capable of so much better. In the movie, Charlie’s sister Candace is slapped across the face by her boyfriend. Instead of reporting this action, however, she excuses his abuse, saying “he’s not usually like that” or “I was egging him on” so on and so forth. In actuality, one in three teenagers report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped, choked, or physically hurt by their partner. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, Februrary 2005). This movie approaches this issue by showing the audience that any type of person is capable of being an abusive partner. Chbosky represented Candace behaving in the way that most teens would act had they been abused, which is to forgive their partner. Seeing how unsuccessful that was for Candace, the adolescents in the audience will have second thoughts about the concept of domestic violence.
One of Charlie’s friends, Patrick, is openly gay. Along with being harassed by his classmates. he is also in a secret relationship with Brad. Adolescence is a time when teens explore their identity. They might find that they fancy the same sex, or both the same and opposite sex. A school environment with other teenagers can be either helpful or harmful to homosexual students. They are often discriminated against and struggle with being comfortable with their sexuality. In this case, Patrick is an openly homosexual character, and he faces discrimination based on sexuality in his school. In the movie, Patrick was involved in a fight against Brad and his friends. Patrick is visibly losing the fight, until Charlie intervenes. The movie highlighted the fact that LGBTQ identifying students are often bullied based solely on their identity. By Charlie defending Patrick, the audience, particularly the adolescents, are encouraged to stand up to the aggravators and protect the outnumbered.
Many of the issues presented in this movie aren’t solved like other coming-of-age films, with the protagonist rising above all problems. In fact, Chbosky creates characters who act upon what regular teens would do. Although the content proves to be slightly overwhelming at times, it truly deals with the problems that adolescents are exposed to in reality. Three of the issues that teens face in their lives which were represented in the film was peer pressure and exposure to drugs, dating violence and abuse, and sexuality and how one is treated.
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