When I stepped inside one of the portables, I took the seat that’s closest towards the front. I wasn’t keen on wearing my corrective lenses. We were halfway through the semester and in the middle of watching the end of The Maltese Falcon, before the teacher introduced us to the next film in the class. It was another Humphrey Bogart film. Casablanca. I took this class in high school. I was fascinated by how much film has changed over a century worths of hard work. The class made me fall in love with the artistry that the directors has had put into their work.
During the summer of my senior year of high school, I spent most of my time watching motion pictures made during the Classic era of Hollywood, especially the Film Noir genre. From watching these Film Noir, I learned how to describe a scene using words and imagery instead of telling the reader what is going on to a character in the scene because a scene from these films always leaves the viewer wanting to know more and what happens to the characters’ lives next. However, from what I can remember from watching films from the Film Noir genre is that life is full of mysteries. It’s full of ups and downs, twists and turns that everyone deals with.
Every roadblock that is presented in a Film Noir is almost the same as the roadblock presented to a senior in high school trying to figure out what they want to do in life. The truth is no one knows what they really wanted to do unless they have known that what they wanted to do is something that they truly love to do.
A friend of mine told me during a New Year’s Eve party that she decided to reconsider and to rethink her college major and said that it was a waste of money that her parents has spent her college savings on. She then told me that Nursing wasn’t the field for her. I knew where she was coming from. Because at such a young age, I always knew that I wasn’t going to be just like my mom and go for a field of study that she wanted me to do. Inside, I knew that it wasn’t a very typical Filipino move from me to do or anyone for that matter. I grew up in a household that is very Filipino and stereotypically Filipino in ways that can not be explained in words but can be explained through a series of photographs. I felt like the damsel in distress of the story. I felt trapped inside racial stereotypes that society has implanted in people’s brains about the Filipino culture, just like those females in a Film Noir. They were trapped in doing the same thing, while the men were free to do anything that they wanted in the story and they weren’t breaking any mold that society has placed them into.
The Film Noir genre uses society’s stereotypes on women to tell the viewer the dangers in stereotyping people within a certain gender or racial quirk that they have within them, but that is just characteristics and how Film Noir characters are formed. It is not what they are capable of doing. I should know.
If Filipinos were to open up their doors to a community of other Filipinos, you see that everyone is divided, more or less separated in a form of a hierarchy of different age groups. The kids are altogether in one room. The teens are together in one room, shattered but on their cellphones. The mothers are together in another room gossiping about their children. The fathers are together in a room either talking about sports or playing a quick game of poker. I made several attempts to relate to teenagers because I’m stereotypically being categorized as a teenager by the mothers but I can not seem to find a common ground with teenagers as much as I do with the kids and the parents, nor did I consider these teenagers as my friends.
I spend most of my time walking around the place and wondering what topics that people are talking about. My mom found it pretty annoying that I don’t sit still at a party. Typical. I’m not a carbon copy of her, nor do I like to sit still at parties. I like to listen into conversation and figure out what they talked about. I was curious about how the older generation socialized. Somehow I knew that I was my mom’s Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard creating some sort of social suicide for her. I wasn’t the Gilda Mundson Farrell from Gilda that will gladly put the blame on a city that created her as the other moms are pushing their children into becoming something that they’re not. I think that’s primarily because she wants me to be the stereotypical and perfect Filipino teenager that the other moms are talking about or being obsessed about. My mom was stereotypically Filipino around her friends. All that she wanted to do was talk about her daughter’s achievements. I didn’t want her to. I wanted to keep my achievements to myself. I hardly told her anything during high school. I hardly tell her anything now.
“Gilda! Are you decent?” A man asked the woman as he walked into her dressing room.
She lifted her head and replied, “Me?” Gilda’s smile turned into a half frown as she continued, “of course, I’m decent!”
From what I’ve learned from Film Noir is that obsession kills the innocent, it means that a person’s cover isn’t what they want people to know but its the pages that they pushed themselves to write, which is the main driving force of a Femme Fatale. Each character has a purpose depicted on the silver screen by the actors who portray them. They have their own story to tell and a driving force that pushed them to where they wanted to go.
When I turned nineteen, I began to realize all the things that my mom has been telling me to become. She wasn’t forcing me to be just like her but a version of her that she can tell her friends about because she was her own force of nature. She was her own Kathleen from The Dark Corner. Her own aid to stop society from killing her children’s aspirations in life.
Film Noir has a funny way of telling the viewer that whatever stereotypes that are placed on you aren’t the person who you are going to be in life.
Stereotypes are placed on people by people because those are the qualities that they are jealous of. Right now, I think that I should find the Norma Desmond in me that will prove to people that I’m the girl who is determined to succeed in what she chose to do. I should find the Gilda Mundson Farrell in me who wouldn’t care about what people thinks of her interior. I should find the Kathleen who will become her own aid in life. I should write my own story; a Film Noir tale, even. I should find the social stereotypes that I’m placed in society and use them to my advantage.