Gummo – Movie Critique The film Gummo is intended to be a symbolic movie in which fantasy and reality intertwine. Initially, the film opens in a small town in Ohio after a tornado has swept through and destroyed it. Economically the small region is wrecked. Like the buildings around them, the social fabric that is holding the town together is coming apart at the seams. Whatever traditions and values this town has held in the past seem to no longer exist as the line between the sacred and the profane has been obscured beyond recognition.
While it is difficult to know outright the attitudes and convictions of any social group, based on what the film shows there is little, if any, social solidarity in this environment. The foundation for this statement can be seen in the lack of any authoritative figures in the film. The town is seemingly void of any structure, law, or government, and the actions of its residents seem to reflect this. Individualism seems to reign supreme in this community, if it can be called that. Admittedly social bonds such as friends and family still exist, but as a whole individual pursuits and interests still override any pretense of collective purpose.
This fact, however, doesnt truly deviate at all from what is considered normal, true it does take on a much uglier face in Gummo, but individual goals and pursuits are commonplace practically anywhere in the United States and around the globe. On the other hand, it must be realized that in most instances natural disasters do have a history of bringing communities together in times of hardship, something that is not at all seen in the film. In short, the social order, much like the town itself, is in shambles, with little or no social solidarity. Gummo is meant to be entirely symbolic in one way or another. One of the more notable symbolisms is that of cats and their murder.
The function of their deaths is rather straightforward: in a town such as this, there appears to be very little to do. In fact one thing that is never seen in Gummo is the playing of any kind of sport or recreational activity. It appears as though the teenagers are suffering from extreme cases of boredom and, because of the demand at the butcher shop, they can be paid and entertained through the murdering of these animals. Also it looks as if they the animals as targets for their unfocused frustration and aggression. The symbolism of the cats is, to say the least, extremely ambiguous.
Cats by their nature are very individualistic and independent animals. Unlike canines it is very difficult to train a cat to sit, jump, roll over, or even to stay off the counter. It is already well established that there is an utter lack of social solidarity in this town so perhaps the teenagers who slaughter these animals are venting the frustration they feel about their own individual thoughts and nature by removing a symbol of that individualism: the cat. With such an unstructured environment around them, this is probably one of the methods people use in order to overcome the feelings of anomie in chaotic environment such as this. Even as I watched this film many peers around me scoffed in disgust at the way the inhabitants of this town lived their life. Unfortunately even I know that while we may mock the people in the film, there are people who think the same of us.
The American Dream is a belief, not an everlasting reality. Fantasy and reality conflict constantly, sometimes brutally, but the American Dream still exists. Grounds for ambition, that is all the American Dream truly is: the ability to be successful and free. Fantasy is Little House on the Prairie, but the American Dream is, in its rawest form, very much still a reality. Ambition will always exist, as well certain extents of freedom, and this Ohio town seems to be on the verge of anarchy; which itself is the truest form of freedom. The American Dream exists, and while it is not the amber waves of grain, type ideology that we all want it to be, it still exists even in the town like Gummo.