Ideology and the Thorny Path to a Dignified Life – Final Comparative Essay

Everyone has a different ideology, or they might be the same with various tweaks here and there, but for the most part, we all see ourselves in a different light. Watching, analyzing, and discussing our favorite mediums or our not so beloved mediums is how we in real life can relate and have a conversion with one another with something that’s not about the weather. Going into a film can be a rough time for some though, meaning that the director’s vision or ideology that they put in their film might be an entirely different interpretation for viewers of said film and that’s okay. Not everything in life can have a happy ending, but in the films, I will be discussing in this ideology essay at least try. They are Billy Elliot and Moonlight.

In Billy Elliot, we see a boy who wants more out of life and is getting tired of the same old route, who discovers a hidden talent for ballet dancing and pursues a goal of being a professional ballet dancer. There is just one big problem; he first must face the ideological thinking of the coal miners’ and their strike in 1984. It’s hard for Billy to show how he really feels because his father and brother are on strike (and you’re either with them or against them), everyone in town has been doing the same thing for hundreds of years, and his only real inspiration and muse is his loving mother who was dead before the events of the film. Billy is a smart kid, and he knows that he can do something with his life while everyone just lives a hollow gray life.

It’s only when two people come into his life that burst the bubble of that times ideological and show him he can be more than what everyone considers to be the norm of nothingness. Billy’s dance instructor Mrs. Wilkinson doesn’t have a single care what anyone else thinks and is entirely independent as the show also buy her husband and Billy’s slight rebel love interest. While also including Billy’s best friend Michael who openly comes out to him wearing  his mother’s clothes. It’s with the support of his friends and teachers that he eventually breaks the ideological thought process of his family and the town he lives in.

In Moonlight, we follow the three chapters of the life of Chiron, a black man living in Miami under the pressures that society puts upon him. He can’t seem to get out of trouble, but he is never the problem. Nobody ever sticks up for him until he meets Juan and Teresa. The ideological views they hold are the same. They respect one another, take care of one another, and treat people the way they want to be treated. Chiron never got any of that, not even in the slightest. Multiple times throughout the movie, he ends up giving his mom drug money, so she would just leave him alone. His mom would always be with another man selling herself, and Chiron has always been the last thought in the back of her mind.

During the first two chapters of his younger years, he had one best friend, Kevin, who would always hang out with him and tell him things nobody else would hear except him. Kevin see’s Chiron in this depressive state, and eventually, after trying everything possible to try and cheer him up, Kevin realizes the one thing he needed that he never got from anyone else; love. Chiron never forgot that night on the beach with him, and it would follow him all the way up to the end of the movie. Later, circumstances did arise where the high school bullies pinned them against each other which would tear them apart for a number of years but something so intimate like that night on the beach would never leave Chiron’s mind. Kevin, Juan, and Teresa made Chiron the man he is today and broke the ideology that he can’t be whoever he wants. It’s not as much the ideology of the society and the people around him, but he can now face them knowing that he survived.

Now, for the most part, these films are pretty realistic, or they could happen, and I know they definitely could happen. Living in a world now where I feel like I’m an outsider looking in is kind of cool. I feel like I’m at a salad bar and there are just so many things going on that I feel like I want to try all the options, but I wait instead and see what others pick. I take my time to be shocked and amazed at what I can find or do. With Billy Elliot, there is a Magic realism to it. Where there are scenes that just seem so fantastic that this shouldn’t be real while in fact, it emphasizes the point of the film, which you can be and do whoever you want to be. However, they do pull from Gritty realism as well showing us how wrong, messed up, and one-way thinking the world can be and that no matter what, there is always someone trying to push against you and your dreams.

In Moonlight we get a mix of that same Gritty realism while also dropping Italian neo-realism as well. We are thrown in a story about Chiron, played by three actors we don’t really know much about to help us develop new thoughts about these actors by the roles they take on. Which in return gives us a unique perspective on what we might be in for when watching this film. The raw emotions and the sadness in Chiron’s life are “real, ” and it could happen to anyone. When the characters are happy, we can feel that even if it’s still sad to watch or hard to understand but that’s where our ideology feeds in too.

Knowing genre’s and if you are an active movie watcher, there is genre predictability, meaning that if the movie says it’s a comedy we see where in it for some laughs and that’s probably it. If it says it’s a gangster movie we know we’re going to get the usual gangster stuff, dead bodies, cool black guns (or sometimes white or gold ones too), and someone would probably have a bomb duct-taped underneath there car somewhere. It’s easy to spot these consistencies, and we use those to predict what the movie is about and probably how it will end too. However, Billy Elliot, a comedy-drama, and Moonlight, a drama, takes their labels and throw them out the window because these films are more than just another “movie.” Going into Billy Elliot, I had no clue what the movie was about other than those labels. I didn’t know it would be about ballet dancing and how he wants to fight for something more real in life. Same goes for Moonlight. There are so many dramas out in the world that some are bound to be the same movie just with a different title, but Moonlight showed me what it meant to be to become a man in Miami and how tough you need to be but who you are will never change.

Lastly, interpellation is where I take the ideologies and the ideologies of the people around me and put them on me creating a subject to my thoughts. If I take the ideological positions of Bill Elliot and Moonlight, I can see myself in those roles, meaning that I can see the idea of me being both of them, with different subject matter of course. I want to do what I want with my life and not having to struggle and come to the same tedious job every day. I want nothing to hold me back, and I’m not going to let them. Every time I see something I like or find mildly interesting my questions is, “why can’t I do that?”

With these types of films, they help open people up to reality, when in fact they might be living a lie themselves. It shows them that they are no neatly packaged, wrapped up in a bow tie ending because that it’s real and that you are your own person so be whoever you are and do whatever you want to do because that is what’s real; But that’s just my personal ideology speaking.



Edgard, Robert, et al. “Ideology.” The Language of Film (Basics Filmmaking), 2nd ed., Fairchild Books, 2015, pp. 100–117.

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