Reading Film (Fall 2011)

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Revised “Investigated Proposals” #5 by Steven Rengifo

October 25th, 2011 by Steven Rengifo · No Comments · 3 Investigative Proposal

Steven Rengifo

October 29th, 2011

English 110-13 “Reading Film”

Manhattan: Woody Allen’s Neglect on Diversity

            Woody Allen is a well-known award winning filmmaker and screenwriter, for making movies that mainly feature the point-of-view of one specific culture and race. Woody Allen spent the 1980’s mainly focusing on shooting his movies in Manhattan. The first Woody Allen movie I saw was “Crimes and Misdemeanors”. Though I knew who Woody Allen was in name, I was impressed with the movie and loved it from the start. I loved it because the setting takes place in Manhattan, a borough I enjoy going out every other weekend. The film displays qualities of a typical Manhattan intellectual, like the New York accent, living in small apartments or lofts, wearing pea coat jackets and wool V-neck sweaters, and stressed out from their demanding jobs. The island of Manhattan is very unique because of the diversity that exists. Downtown is the financial capital of the world, midtown is the place to shop and hang out, then uptown is the home to wealthy residents, and after that you have a completely different transition from upper-class homes to then lower-class homes. I was born and raised in this city and it seems ignorant of the fact that Allen fails to portray diversity in his pictures. Many people living above uptown are of African American and Latino/Hispanic descent. How does Woody Allen control race when he uses Manhattan to represent white upper class intellectuals instead of Latino/Hispanic intellectuals in his movies during the 1980’s?

But why does this argument contribute anything to his films? My transition from middle school to high school was huge because of the amount of diversity my high school had. The experience of attending a high school with students of many different backgrounds made me proud of whom I am as a Latino in this city. It is hard to believe that such a well-known director somehow forgets that Latino’s even exist in the island of Manhattan. The topic investigates whether Woody Allen is a racist or just ignorant that African American and Latino also live in the culturally and economically diverse borough of Manhattan.

Approaching the subject with an urban studies point of view, I will be able to examine further into why Mr. Allen features a similar race in his motion pictures from the 1980’s. This method will decipher the reason Mr. Allen controls the common race that is seen on screen, in a huge urban environment. The borough is home to many people including people from the highest elite in the Upper West Side, to the homeless person living in Bowery. This allows me to examine the reason why his characters are mostly doctors, lawyers, writers, or anyone related to show business. Manhattan is the home to over 1 million residents and from many diverse backgrounds. Woody Allen tends to use modern Jewish traits in his characters on film. Portraying Jews in his movies is most likely his “mode of operation”, but why not take the chance of portraying Latino/Hispanics on camera? If I wrote and directed movies, I would also want to portray my culture as a Latino in this city, but at least, I would take the chance of making a movie of different cultures.

Developing the research will allow me to identify several resources. Secondary sources such journals on Mr. Allen’s films from the 1980’s and analytical essays on race in movies will be essential to solving the question that I posed earlier in the proposal.

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