Budd is a representation of Socrates in Pleasantville. The main reason for drawing this conclusion is that in ancient Athens, Socrates stood for principles that were not favored by society, which ultimately led to his death. In Pleasantville, Budd also stood for something, which was of course against the ideals of society. The norm in the film was for citizens to live a “perfect” life, where everything flowed smoothly. In a way, this contained the citizens and restricted them from living life differently and administering any type of change they preferred. Things like art and literature were obsolete in this society, which kept the truth hidden. Budd, much like Socrates, who stood for something different, encouraged the citizens to open up and separate from their ordinary daily life. He introduced art and literature, which wasn’t allowed previously. Similarly, many of Socrates teachings were prohibited in his time and were said to have been corrupting the youth. In this way Budd’s character is very symbolic of Socrates. Budd proliferated change throughout Pleasantville. Similar to Socrates, Budd also stood for himself in the courtroom. However, Budd was successful in trial.
Question 2: SHOULD HE HAVE BEEN PUT ON TRIAL FOR CORRUPTING YOUTH or SHOULD HIS SISTER?
Personally, I think Budd’s sister, Jennifer, should have been put on trial for corrupting the youth. She was the start of all the change that Pleasantville underwent. After she had sex with Skip, Skip noticed the red rose, the first instance where we see color. This led to many couples going to lover’s lane and having sex. Jennifer even had to explain what sex was to her mother, showing us that sex was an unfamiliar topic of discussion in Pleasantville. Jennifer was the source of change and eventually Budd was convinced that Pleasantville could really benefit from this change. Jennifer having sex with Skip was the first move that differed from the normal life in Pleasantville. It was the catalyst to many later changes to come. Jennifer also introduced, to her mother, how to pleasure herself. Additionally, Jennifer introduced the word “cool” to her friend. This was revolutionary in changing how the citizens conversed. In the beginning of the film, Budd was resistant to changes and even tried to convince Jennifer to let the people be and allow them to live their routine lives. In summation, Jennifer should have been put on trial instead of Budd because it was really her who caused all the change. If it weren’t for her, Budd wouldn’t have even pursued any change in Pleasantville.
Question 3: COMPARE PLEASANTVILLE TO ANCIENT ATHENS IN THE TIME OF SOCRATES.
In this film, Pleasantville was portrayed as an idealistic society where everything was picture-perfect. Everyday everything was essentially the same. The weather was always sunny, basketball players never missed a shot and people were always smiling. There was no such thing as change. Similarly, Athens, in the time of Socrates, was considered an idealistic society as well. It had a strong military, great art and an extraordinary system of government for the time. Citizens had equal political rights, freedom of speech, and the opportunity to participate in politics. This political system represented democracy. Both Pleasantville and Athens were societies that were considered utopian. In the Golden Age of Athens, everything was flourishing, from art to philosophy to literature. During this period the Parthenon was built. Everything seemed to be flowing smoothly in both Athens and Pleasantville.
Question 4: IDENTIFY AND EXPLAIN WHERE YOU FOUND DIFFERENCES AND SIMILARITIES IN EACH STORY?
Both Pleasantville and Athens, being considered idealistic societies, its quite straightforward to point some of the similarities. However, there are also many differences that can be shown as well. One huge similarity between the 2 societies is how the people are portrayed. In Pleasantville, the characters were all shown to be very happy and blissful with their daily lives. They would all be extremely pleased with their black and white daily routines. In Athens, it can be inferred that the citizens were content with their lives as well. In a period of prosperity, it was said that all citizens were given equal treatment and equal opportunity. One main difference between the two societies is that Athens was known for its great art, architecture and literature, while Pleasantville didn’t allow for literature or art to be shown. It seemed like creativity wasn’t allowed in Pleasantville. This is a huge difference; individuality wasn’t prevalent in Pleasantville, while in Athens it was known that there were different artists, philosophers and writers who created their own unique works. Both societies were portrayed to be perfectionistic, but how each society attained this status were completely different.
Question 5: AFTER WATCHING THE FULL MOVIE, IF YOU WERE SOCRATES, HOW WOULD YOU HELP YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS FIND KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM IN THEIR LIFE?
If I were Socrates, I would initiate change similar to how Budd did in the film. To help my fellow citizens find knowledge and wisdom in their life, you have to first expose them to different sources of knowledge and spike their curiosity. Budd did this by exposing Bill to art and also by exposing all the students to literature. Once a person is first exposed to something, their curiosity grows in that area. The Socratic method of teaching dealt with asking questions to the students rather than just spoon feeding answers. If a student asked a question, Socrates responded with another question. This draws the student into the discussion further, allowing them to explore their own curiosity and exposing them to much more rather than by just giving them an answer and ending the discussion. For example, if a fellow citizen asked me a question pertaining to art, I would answer him/her with a specific question, forcing him/ her to research and find the answer to both the question on his/ her own. This is how citizens would effectively gain the most knowledge and insight. In Pleasantville, Budd simply presented Bill with the book on art. It was Bill who really delved into art and learned more about it and eventually applied his knowledge into his own creations. This was instrumental in the film. Curiosity began to rise, leading to everyone changing from black and white to color.
Question 6: WHAT IS THE SOUL?
The soul is simply one’s spirit. According to Socrates, the soul is considered the essence of a person. It is who we are. It determines our being. Socrates stated that even after we die, our soul lives on and is continuously reborn in different physical bodies. Many different religions tend to interpret the meaning and existence of the soul differently. A common theme seems to be that the soul is something that is immortal. The Ancient Greeks believed that the soul had 3 parts.
One part functioned as a:
The second part was a:
Lastly, The third part of the SOUL was :
Before Budd, the people of Pleasantville did have a soul. Every human has a soul. Budd just helped in bringing it out. The people of Pleasantville were so used to living a certain way. Since birth, these citizens only knew of one way to live, which was deemed perfect. Everything was impeccable, including the weather and how the athletes played basketball. Every individual’s soul represents who he or she is; it is unique to everyone. When Budd and Jennifer came along they introduced individuality into Pleasantville. Budd spread the wisdom that it is okay to undergo change from a routine lifestyle. Through this form, Budd introduced that everyone in Pleasantville had a soul. Everyone had their unique being. Not everyone had to be the same and live in the same manner. In great example of this in the film was when the dad came home and was expecting dinner to be prepared by his wife like it had always been done for him. Then, when he went to the bowling alley to see his friends, it became known that all men lived a similar life, in that they expected dinner to be prepared for them. The idea that Budd introduced was that not everything has to be the same for everyone. Everyone had a soul in Pleasantville; Budd just helped individuals discover their own.
Question 8: NO ONE EVER DIED IN PLEASANTVILLE. SO IF THEY DID NOT HAVE A SOUL, WERE THEY IMMORTAL?
No one died in Pleasantville because everything was portrayed as dandy and swell and nothing wrong or bad ever happens. The people of Pleasantville did have a soul, although they needed to discover it. After watching the film, we see that the people were very much capable of discovering who they really and how they really wanted to be. Much of the truths were hidden in this society. For example, books were blank and art was in theory forbidden, hiding the concept of conflict from its people. There was literally no color in their lives. These examples can lead us to believe that the concept of death was in fact hidden from the people, much like sex was. However, we weren’t give any insight as to what happens to people who age and end up dying and how this was handled in Pleasantville. Obviously, no human being is immortal but in the minds of the citizens, they were immortal in theory because they were unfamiliar with the concept of death. They lived life as if they were immortal and after a certain length of life, the idea of death probably doesn’t cross their minds. This may have been a scheme to hide the idea of death from the citizens, along with hiding a great deal of other important elements of life.
Question 9: DID THEY SACRIFICE IMMORTALITY FOR ENLIGHENMENT?
Yes, in theory, the people of Pleasantville did sacrifice immortality for enlightenment. Since birth, these people have been convinced that everything in life is perfect and there is no such thing as conflict and no such thing as death. By the end of the film, Budd helps to enlighten the people of reality. He helps them uncover many of the truths of life and of people that were hidden, in a scheme to keep the citizens naïve and almost baby-like. Budd aided in this maturation process. Not everything is perfect or black and white. Things have color, some brighter than others. We can assume through this enlightenment that the citizens learned of the concept of death. They sacrificed this naivety, that everything is perfect, to live a colorful and individualistic life. They were now able to read literature that was once nonexistent. They were able to view and create unique pieces of artwork that were heavily frowned upon, as seen from what happened to Bill’s artwork. They gained wisdom and insight into numerous fields that were once covered as a way to shield the people from realities that exist.
Question 10: WHERE WOULD YOU RATHER LIVE: IN A UTOPIAN WORLD THAT NEVER CHANGES? OR LIVE IN A WORLD THAT CHANGES AND CHALLENGES PEOPLE TO SOLVE PROBLEMS FOR THEIR MUTUAL EXISTENCE?
I would rather live in a world where that changes and challenges people to solve problems for their mutual existences. I can’t possibly think of living in a world where everything is perfect and there is only one emotion that exists. I can’t see myself living in a society where I’m told how to think and act and where everything is the same every single day. This kind of environment can drive someone to insanity. There is no such thing as personality and distinctiveness. Imperfection doesn’t exist. Mistakes don’t exist. Reality is hidden away and everyone is left naïve for the rest of his or her lives. Also in a Utopian society, there is no such thing as freedom. There is no freedom to choose a job or choose a spouse. There is no freedom to live the way we want to live. I would prefer to live in a realistic society, where there are constantly changes and conflicts occurring, much like our world today. Without change, conflict and uncomfortable circumstance how can possibly discover who we really are, let alone grow. Without constant change there is no character development. We can never reach the best version of our self. We have to be challenged and tested to grow. It is always said that making mistake and overcoming obstacles is how we become better people. Learning and acquiring knowledge is imperative for human progress. A Utopian society would prevent learning and attaining knowledge by hiding the reality of the world. From watching Pleasantville, we see how a Utopian society functions. Everyone does the same thing, the weather never changes and everyone is always happy. People don’t realize that they are being restricted of many freedoms and progress. From birth the citizens are told how to live rather than given the opportunity to discern how they would want to live. It is obvious that living in a Utopian world has its disadvantages outweighing its advantages.
Question 11: WHICH OF THESE WORLDS WILL MANKIND EXPERIENCE HAPPINESS?
When discussing the Utopian society versus a society completely opposite from it, it is quite evident that a society that challenges and presents conflicts is the society that will ultimately lead to mankind experiencing happiness. In Pleasantville, the portrayal of all the citizens being happy is misleading. The citizens don’t attain happiness; they are born believing that happiness is the only thing they are allowed to show. Everything has to be perfect and all the citizens have to be happy in Pleasantville. There is no relationship between the citizens’ expression of happiness and the citizens actually being happy. On the other hand, in a world where there is change and challenges and all the truths of reality are uncovered, people are given the freedom of opportunity to discover who they are and even discover how they can attain true happiness on their own. For example, a man can be born and from birth be told that he will be a teacher. His whole life he constantly told that he has to be a teacher and is given no other alternatives. On the other hand, the man can be born with choices when he grows up and can choose to be a teacher, a doctor or an athlete. In societies where there is freedom, there is a greater chance of finding true happiness. This is one of the main reasons why people immigrate to America.