Belonging

Belonging to a community or a group can impact someone through their attitudes, behavior and habits. It can also affect them socially as it may prevent them from revealing their true identity and in some cases may allow them to broaden their beliefs. A persons place in the community affects the entire community and their actions can affect the community in a positive or negative aspect. These ideas have been reflected in the texts Strictly Ballroom, Neighbors and Drifters.

Strictly Ballroom directed by Bag Lurching shows a young man, Scott Hastings, who ballroom dances’ but wishes to change his style of dancing. This goes against the authority and the federation and affects the whole community. In Neighbors written by Tim Winston, illustrates a married couple broaden their beliefs about belonging to a place through acceptance from the community which allows them to create their own identity within the community. However, Drifters written by Bruce Dade represents ideas of both belonging and not belonging to a community and how it can affects people differently.

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In the movie Strictly Ballroom, Scott is portrayed as a semi- professional ballroom dancer which is reflected as his identity in the community. The ballroom community prevents Scott from expressing his own way of dancing in which he can mirror his feelings allowing him to create his own identity within the community. This restriction results in him going against the federation to create his own identity within the community ultimately allowing him to express his dancing from the heart instead of choreographed steps which relate in no way to the true meaning of the songs to which he dances.

These steps are highlighted through close- ups to his movements to exaggerate that he is different from the rest and also to his ace revealing his true feelings about his way of dancing, which is of happiness and excited imaged through his enthusiasm and dedication for dancing. However, the result of Coot’s actions are revealed as Barry Fife, the head of the Federation, as Barry Fife eliminates Scott from the Groper competitions for not following the demonstrated steps of professionals.

This scene is underlined by extreme close-ups to Barry Fife’s face to convey his dominance over the ballroom community and also his anger is pictured as his face turns a bright red due to Coot’s rebellious actions. Ultimately, elimination affects Scott in no way as he is motivated by the audience especially by his father and Franc’s family. Their clapping is symbolic as it encourages both Scott and Fran to keep on dancing and forego the expectations of the authority. This builds a new identity for Scott and Fran and a new meaning of ballroom dancing in the community.

In comparison to Strictly Ballroom, Neighbors illustrates a view of belonging yet not belonging to the community. The married couple in the poem view the perception of belonging to be “neighbors were seldom seen and never eared” which conveys that they had never been accepted within a neighborhood. The validity of the word ‘never’ indicates that they had no connection or interaction with their neighbors throughout their stay in their previous town which, subconsciously, affected their attachment with their town.

The alliteration used in the phrase points out the word ‘seldom’ highlighting that even if they were seen there was still no interaction. However, their views of belonging changed gradually as time indications of the barriers, preventing the married couple, breaking down and allowing them to come closer to their neighbors and building a relationship twine them. The connotations of coming closer build as the neighbors start to interact reflected as they find “themselves smiling back at the neighbors”. The verb highlights that they were becoming a part of the community and felt themselves creating their own space within in the community.

Ultimately, interaction between the neighbors started to become common as they “told barely-understood stories” signifies that their differences were overlooked and eventually the married couple “found themselves shouting” which is ironic as they criticized the Macedonian family for shouting when they first came to this town. Shouting is symbolic as it represents the married couple embracing the Macedonian lifestyle and allowing them to identify their individual’s sense of self with their neighbors and creating their place in the community with their neighbors.

In comparison, Doug from the movie Strictly Ballroom has no belonging to the ballroom community nor his family as his role in his family is of the submissive, always quiet and self-reserved. This prevents him of creating his own identity, which is of a professional ballroom dancer who gave up his dream for dancing to create his own identity instead of a superficial one who dances he steps of the corrupted federation. Ultimately removing his name from the ballroom dancing past, he leads himself to having no identity in the ballroom community or his family.

This is reflected in the scene in which Liz throws her bag and Doug catches it. He is seen merely as the record player sitting on the side and listening to people’s orders. The close-up in this scene shows Doug and his facial expression of shock as he sees not the bag flying to him but Scott dancing the steps of the federation, this highlights Dogs role as he is not in shock of the bag. The lour brown connotes the feeling of sadness and isolation which in Dough’s case is highly accurate. Doug behaves submissively to cause no disruption in Coot’s carrier for which he forgoes his identity of being a professional dancing.

The irony that Scott is following Dough’s path in life is what allows Doug to identify himself, again, as a dancer and to dance freely in the community. The stereo-typical legend of ‘like- father-like-son’ is the theme demonstrated to indicate to Doug that his dreams of dancing in the Groper competitions through the use of his own steps can be achieved by his son. Finally allowing him to reveal his true identity of a ballroom dancer and to reclaim is position in his family and in the community.

Similarly, belonging to a community has not been possible for the drifters as they constantly move to different places preventing them from connecting to their new homes’ or allowing them to adapt to the new environment. This affects the family identity as their short stays in towns avert them from planting their name or place in the community, ultimately not allowing the members of the family to have a permanent identity. “She’ll go out to the vegetable patch and pick all the green tomatoes from he vines” reflects her place in the community as the green tomatoes are symbolic to her place within the community.

She hasn’t had enough time to completely adapt to the environment of this still new community and hasn’t had enough time to build its roots strong enough to stay here permanently and engrave her name in this environment. This is contrast to her oldest daughters’ feelings as she had adapted to tears”. The use of emotive language help create the image and reveal that the oldest daughter wants now to be stable in this community and wants to create a throng bond with this environment, Just as she did when she first came to this new town.

Ultimately, this has no effect on the decision made and leaves on memories of this town, reflected as “she’ll only remember how, when they first came here… ‘Make a wish, Tom, make a wish”. The use of repetition symbolizes unfulfilled dreams and her eagerness to create a permanent identity for her and her family. In essence, belonging to a community or group has a significant impact on an individual’s sense of self and the community as it may affect the individual to create their own identity or even prevent them from creating their identity.

In cases such as in Strictly Ballroom belonging to a community may not be valid as it may cause isolation and sadness, in reference to Doug. Similarly, in Neighbors was demonstrated a similar theme of superficial aspects of belonging however they eventually resolved into a silent understanding of differences allowing the neighbors to connect and accept each other for whom they were. In association to these texts, Drifters represents a view of not belonging to the community as they were drifters, always moving preventing them from creating an attachment with their new home or building any permanent roots.

Jesse
from Nandarnold

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