West Side Story Gender Roles

Words: 1883
Pages: 8

When West Side Story was released in 1957 there were several different prominent problems in society; like the Cold War, the Civil Rights movement, gang violence, and juvenile delinquency. However, there were other issues that were ignored, considered irrelevant, and disregarded as worthless like the discrimination against homosexuality and people who identified as transgender, transsexual or gender-nonconforming. The composer of West Side Story, Leonard Bernstein manage to subtlety expresses the endeavor of being recognized as other then other by the norm of society. There were appropriate labels for people like Anybodys;the occasionally irritating tomboy who wants desperately to be accepted into the Jets and Bernstein however, such terms …show more content…
The other male Jet members never take her seriously and rather than see her as a transgender or transexual character she is shown more as a defective woman. Perhaps the purpose behind Anybodys lack of a parallel to any character in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is because her true parallel is to the treatment of Bernstein as a composer. According to Elizabeth A. Wells, West Side Story: Cultural Perspectives on an American Musical wrote about how tension is found in the way gender roles are depicted, expressed particularly in the character Anybodys. You can see this especially in the scene in the beginning of the movie, after Officer Krupke thwarts the possible fight between the Jets and the Sharks, as the Jets walk away from the court Anybodys tells Riff “Didn't you just see me? I was smash! I'm a killer, I wanna fight.” Riff does not bother to respond, ignoring her and A-Rab take the incentive to respond for Riff “How else’s she gonna get a guy to touch her?” the gang gives her the defected girl role and show that the only way she can be useful is by becoming desirable to the opposite sex; the only way she can be accepted is by becoming normal. Similar to the scene before Tony dies, Anybodys finds him yelling the street “Chino!” but Anybodys attempts to stop him from commiting suicide but Tony responded with animosity and tells her “You’re a girl! So act like it and beat it.” all while pushing her away.. Moreover, if there is anything that The Leonard Bernstein Letters tells us, it is that he mostly led the life he wanted to lead and did the things he wanted to do so it wouldn’t be such a surprise if Bernstein decide when writing “Gee, Officer Krupke” and dealing with Anybodys that he would incorporate outside influences, according to Susan T. Fiske and Stephanie A. in “Introduction Social Cognition Research and Small Group