Billy Elliot Analysis

Submitted By jacobwilliams28
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The film Billy Elliot, directed by Stephen Daldry, focuses on the life of eleven year old Billy Elliot and his struggle to become a ballet dancer. The social problems surrounding Billy when he is living at home are labor strikes and especially gender norms. His father and older brother were on job strike and the film depicts how hard it had already been for his father to pay for Billy’s boxing classes, yet alone “waste” that money on ballet. Ballet was considered to be feminine, not because females were born dancing in tutus, but because society made ballet and dance feminine. At the same time society made being tough and doing physical sports masculine. In one particular scene during the beginning of the film, Billy is in boxing class in a match while his dad is watching. Billy is distracted by the music from the ballet class sharing the gymnasium and is knocked to the ground by the other boy. The boxing coach tells Billy that he is a disgrace to his gloves and his father. Because Billy is not good at doing what is considered manly, he is considered a disgrace to his father. His father, who holds the same gender norms, feels the same way about Billy’s boxing inabilities. This film portrays going outside of gender norms not only by Billy but by others in the surrounding society as well. When his father finds out about Billy attending ballet classes he puts an end to it and explains to Billy how he should be doing things like playing football, boxing, and wrestling because “that’s what lads do.” Billy’s father and brother constantly follow gender norms through the movie. They are constantly swearing and fighting the police for increased wages, Billy’s father even punches his brother in the face in one scene of the film. These previously listed are all considered to be masculine things to do. Other characters in the film who find out about Billy’s ballet call him names like “sissy” and “a poof” which translates to “fag”. All of these things are telling Billy that he shouldn’t be doing ballet and he even calls his friend Michael “a poof” for helping Billy warm his hands inside his jacket. Although Michael was doing nothing more wrong than Billy, he still went outside of gender norms and was criticized for doing so. The social problem is accurately portrayed in Billy Elliot by all of the men in the film being involved in either mining or on the police force. Both of these are masculine in society today and the women and young girls in the film are portrayed doing ballet. These are gender roles that society has assigned to the individual sexes. This separation between what men and women do for a living is occupational sex segregation. Occupational sex segregation is the sex typing of jobs and the concentration of women or men into most fields (as explained in the class lecture on Oct. 10, 2013). The fact that most ballet dancers are females and most miners are male is a fact that is depicted accurately in this film. However, since objective data, such as that in the powerpoint presentation from class on Gender Inequality, shows wage gaps favor work given to men by occupational sex segregation.There is no objective data that supports harm to society by Billy being forbid to do ballet. Women on average make 75% of what men make on average. But in this film, ballet, a woman’s role, is considered more prestigious and has a higher wage compared to his other option of being a miner, especially after the union gave in to the lower wages. There are certain things that a society expects of men that are different from what they expect of women. That is why Billy’s friend, Michael, tells Billy about how his father dresses up in his wife’s dresses and puts on makeup when he thinks that everyone is out. He does this because it’s something that he enjoys and there is no objective harm behind him doing it but because it is seen negatively by society, he tries to his cross dressing so he will not be criticized.