Aurora O’Bryan Prof. Kaufman 11/6/2007 Textual Analysis Knocked Up Intended for the enjoyment of the present-day youth generation, the 2007 comedy film Knocked Up deals with more than just comedic issues. Technically introduced as a romantic comedy, this film serves more to its comedic orientation. With awkward romance and stoner mannerisms, the laughs are plentiful for the intentional audience of Knocked Up. However, as the audience is served its fill of laughter, issues are presented that rarely grace the silver screen.
The director of this film, Judd Apatow, utilizes his dominion and influence over the audience to introduce the dominant ideology of Knocked Up. As seen in his previous film, The 40 Year Old Virgin, it is evident that the good guy can get the girl and in doing so may come along some unexpected complications. Apatow’s use of comedy in this media context to present such complications leads the audience to conclude that they too should adapt to his alternative approach to unplanned pregnancies in this present day. Set in present day 2007, Knocked Up centers around two adults in their mid 20s who could not be any more different.
After a work promotion, the beautiful, career-minded Alison (played by Katherine Heigl) celebrates at the club where she meets reckless, unmotivated Ben (played by Seth Rogen) and the rest of his stoner friends. As one drink leads to another, Alison and Ben wake up to each other in bed the next morning. As a result, eight weeks later, Alison finds that she is pregnant with a slob who disgusted her when seen through sober eyes. Despite her unforgiving views of Ben, Alison affirms her decision to keep the child and to begin the journey that will bring these two unlikely partners together.
Ben and Alison’s worlds are turned upside down as each deal with the responsibility of parenthood. Alison may have put her progressing career at stake and discreetly hides her pregnancy. All the while, Ben struggles to even pick up a career, as he must turn away from his lackadaisical lifestyle and friends. Knocked Up documents the turn of events that have resulted from Ben and Alison’s irresponsible decision to engage in unprotected sex. As an appeal to today’s youth, the time period of this movie is set in present-day and demonstrates the hardships of unprotected, casual sex.
The character of Alison is presented as a hardworking young woman, making her easily accessible to the younger demographic of women who are also on the same career-minded path. On the other hand, Ben is presented as a lazy immature guy who occupies his time ripping hits from his bong and surfing the net for soft-core porn. This character representation makes Ben accessible to the younger demographic of men and women who not only perhaps relate to Ben, but also value the comedic worth of such a character.
Apatow deliberately contrasts these two characters and brings them into a mutual complication that seemingly brings them together. Apatow’s contrasting characters make the movie relatable to two totally different audiences. Furthermore, integrating aspects of cult stoner movies and aspects of traditional romantic-comedy movies, this film engages audiences from both types of films. Usually of a younger age, these audiences are exposed to the alternative views that Apatow presents regarding the pro-life choice Alison makes after her one night stand.
Knocked Up entertains audiences while introducing to them certain thematic values that play a significant role in the ideology conveyed from the creators of this movie. The creators of Knocked Up may have produced an apparently crass and vulgar movie, with explicit sexual scenes and language, however they also developed some excellent moral value. Perhaps the most admirable is the discussion of abortion in the film, which is immediately shot down. Receiving praise from Christian groups for its pro-life choice, Knocked Up advocates making a relationship work between mother and father.
While making a true attempt to make such a relationship work, the film deals with the theme of parental responsibility and love. In addition to such themes Knocked Up clearly addresses the issues of casual sex, abortion, and commitment. Entirely dismissing the option of abortion, undoubtedly, the creators of Knocked Up purposefully built their story around the responsible, pro-life choice made my Alison. Especially in today’s heated debates for or against abortion, this film institutes itself as an ideological state apparatus to support ro-life decisions through the positive encouragement illustrated in Alison and Ben’s working relationship. Reaching conclusions about the consequences of casual sex, as portrayed in this film, the creators chose to make evident these hardships to the audience. With intentions for the audience to reflect upon, to learn from, and, perhaps, to incorporate such morals into their own lives, Alison and Ben are made an example of in this film. In the end criticizing Ben’s drug usage, the film may also be said to be opposed to such a drug-induced lifestyle.
Despite the explicitness, Knocked Up demonstrates particularly high thematic value. The thematic value that is made palpable in Knocked Up is subject to assessment within the historical context surrounding the production of this film. Through the ideological analysis of Knocked Up, these values and beliefs are expressed in relation to the present-day, historical context that they are produced within (White 163). According to the supposition that Knocked Up was produced by and for a specific social group, the social expression of this cultural work can be easily understood. Ideological analysis aims to understand how a cultural text specifically embodies and enacts particular ranges of values, beliefs, and ideas” (White 163). With this in mind, the thematic value previously discussed is dependent upon the cultural framework surrounding the creation and production of this film. Heavily based off of Marxist theories, ideological analysis is an incorporation of many applications to assess the meaning a cultural text. Not only is the meaning of the text assessed, but also how the meanings are understood by the audience.
Specifically considering the advertising within Knocked Up and its influence over an audience, the infrastructure or primary mode of production is continuously built upon as the advertisements perpetuate the economic foundations of today’s cultural society. Product endorsements occurred throughout Knocked Up. Advertising for companies such as Google, Xbox 360, and Corona Beers, among many others, the creators of Knocked Up specifically chose these product placements in relation to the particular cultural context of their film.
Moreover, the cultural context of this work plays upon the social class of each individual audience member. The ideology of each individual is subject to the individuality of each person’s own experiences. These experiences place individuals into certain social rankings, each playing a role in how the society works and to whose advantage it is in. Leading to a certain ideological application, false consciousness is the view that the lower ranking classes adopt the generalized interests of the higher ranking class, which are promoted through cultural texts such as Knocked Up.
Stemming from false consciousness, ideological analysis “enables people to understand the way the system help perpetuate their oppression” (White 165). Through ideological analysis, many criticisms arise against false consciousness. Such criticisms have led some theorists to adopt alternative views about ideology, such as subjectivity, uneven development, and hegemony. “Subjectivity refers to the understanding of individuals as a composite of forces and structures that constitute them as individuals, centrally including language, social class, and family organization” (White 166).
Opposed to the limited account false consciousness gives to the emphasis it places upon media outlets and the expressions conveyed through these outlets, subjectivity accounts for coexisting and contending ideological positions and how individuals understand these positions in relation to their own social standing. Subjectivity also accounts for the entertainment value of media outlets, as false consciousness fails to do so. For example, in the film Knocked Up, the basic set of beliefs of the film are subject to the social relations of each individual audience member.
As one individual may grasp the pro-life message apparent throughout the film, another may mistake Alison and Ben’s silly misfortunes as negative reinforcements, encouraging the option of abortion. The ideology of the film is contingent upon each individual’s own status quo, whether dominant or alternative. Uneven Development is the belief that although the infrastructure and superstructure are dominated by the ruling class, alternative social forms are also apparent, along with the dominant. Additionally, “these contradictory and conflicting perspectives are not evenly distributed” throughout the cultural text (White 167).
Unlike false consciousness, uneven development addresses the option for alternative readings to be perceptible within a cultural text. According to uneven development, by conveying ideological suppositions that are not in accordance to the dominant interests, certain cultural texts have the capacity to challenge the current state of affairs. In Knocked Up, Ben is portrayed an immature stoner who initially advocates his drug usage. This is an alternative reading compared to the dominant view that Alison represents as a diligent, young working-class woman.
These contrasting perspectives play off each other throughout the film and are extremely imbalanced. Hegemony is used to “explain the complex ways in which the dominant class maintains its control over society” (White 167). Hegemony allows for the alternative views of the lower social classes to be perceived , but primarily emphasizes those of the ruling class. The political and ideological interests of the ruling class are of prevailing importance within a society. Similar to false consciousness, hegemony also holds the interests of the dominant class prevalent to the lower social rankings.
However, false consciousness fails to allow for any alternative voice to be heard regardless of the understood prevalence that the dominant would have over it. In Knocked Up, the set of beliefs according to the lifestyle of Ben and his friends is accounted for. However, this set of beliefs proves to be of inferior standing when compared to the lifestyle put forth and encouraged by Alison. These dominant and alternative observations both play a role in this film, establishing an evident example of hegemony. Certain ideological applications reinforce the basic ideology conveyed through the particular cultural art form, Knocked Up.
Assessing certain inconsistencies of false consciousness, ideological analysis and the applications thus included, play a significant role in the deconstruction of this cultural text. Once evaluated it is evident that Knocked Up was created and produced for certain social groups, making it subject to individual cultural perceptions. As Knocked Up is regarded within the romantic-comedy genre, the intended audiences are expectant of certain static elements, such as Ben’s sluggish character and the humor hence created.
The static elements that surround this particular genre are used as supports to address certain thematic issues to the young demographics watching Knocked Up. Guised as a comedy film, Knocked Up aims to expose audiences to crucial ideologies that are of importance in the present-day. Works Cited 1) White, Mimi. “Ideological Analysis and Television. ” In Robert C. Allen (ed. ), Channels of Discourse, Reassembled: Television and Contemporary Criticism (second edition). Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992: pp. 161-202.