Social and Political Themes in the Movie Milk Paper
Extra Credit Assignment MILK 1. What are the main themes, politically and socially, that are portrayed in the film? Milk is a biographical film based on the triumphs and struggles of Harvey Milk. He was a gay rights activist and the first openly gay elected official in California. Socially, the film addresses the discrimination homosexuals faced on a daily basis. “(T)he normal majority”, as labeled by Anita Bryant, inflicted prejudice upon the homosexual minority. “The Castro”, the name of a street in an area often inhabited by homosexual bars and such places, portrays the clan like social groupings.
The entire neighborhood however was not friendly. A fellow merchant on Castro Street refused to allow Milk to join the Merchant’s Association and even threatened to call the police and have his business license revoked on no legal grounds. Homosexuals were often portrayed as social deviants and often faced severe police brutality. The film addresses many political issues, as it is centered on the gay rights movement. Milk faces multiple loses at the voting polls before making it as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. The quote, “I am not a candidate, I am part of a movement.
The movement is the candidate”, Milk said and that resonated with me. In the face of defeat he often said that its not only about winning, it’s about making a statement and getting the attention needed for change. Milk just wanted fair and equal representation, he didn’t necessarily have to be the one to be in office. 2. Discuss the overall significance of the events portrayed in the film and how they relate to changes in American society. In the film, Harvey Milk stated, “almost everything was done with an eye on the gay movement”. He compared it to the civil rights movement of the African Americans.
He said that they had a leader and a successful movement and it was time for homosexuals to have the same. Like other civil rights movements, the gay rights movement created legal and social reform. It brought awareness to inequality among equal beings. Milk also stated that he didn’t want to limit himself to gay rights. He also wanted to include blacks, Asians, and the disabled in a human rights movement. 3. Choose 2 scenes from the film and discuss what is important about them. I was very bothered by the comments Anita Bryant made during a televised speech that was shown in the film.
She was an orange juice sales woman who was working to repeal laws that protect homosexual human rights; specifically in employment and housing. She described homosexuality as “tearing down the foundation of the family unit” and compared gays to prostitutes and thieves. She tried to convince the public that the traditional family was being threatened and that practicing or accepting homosexuality was blasphemy. Although the scenes of Harvey Milk recording his voice were split up throughout the film, I felt it to be the most powerful.
Not only does he address the substantial probability of being assassinated, he does so calmly and courageously. He stated that, “a gay activist is the target for someone who is insecure”. As he did throughout his encounters with all kinds of people, he also stated that he often broke the tension when giving a speech to mostly straight men by telling a joke. Milk accomplished a lot for the gay rights movement, one that is still fighting today, and he did so with integrity, hard work, and sporadic humor. 4. What did you like best/ and or least about the film? What I liked best about the film was Milk’s personal character.
He was stubborn and kind at the same time. He also exudes his kindness in both his personal relationships and political affairs. His angry and determined moments on the campaign were balanced out by his romanticism in his personal life. 5. What did you learn that you did not previously know about the time period of the film? I was shocked to learn of the police brutality during this time period. In the very beginning of the film, as the credits are running, newspaper headlines are shown in the background. The articles were about people being arrested for absurd charges. For example, a bartender was arrested for serving alcohol to homosexuals.