This paper focuses on the movie Stand by Me. The movie demonstrates the magnificent quest of four friends (Chris, Vern, Gordy, and Teddy), looking at the boyhood stages, growth, and development of teenage boys. The boys agree on searching for their friend’s (Ray) dead body. Vern is aware of the risky search and informs his friends about the same, as he knows where the body is. This adventure can be deemed appropriate as it modifies the personality of these characters. As depicted in the movie, the search was initially perceived as a playful adventure by young and spirited youth. However, later on, the trip turned out to be a serious discovery, and Gordie, the film narrator, found himself to be the first boy to grow and develop rapidly and break away from the teenage stage.
This paper will briefly review the movie Stand By Me. The review will address various issues of human development, concepts, and theories portrayed in the movie. The analysis will center on Erickson’s Theory of Socio-emotional Development, concentrating on the three characters that are described in the movie. It will evaluate the characters in socio-emotional stages of development and how such stages affect the characters’ plight.
Developmental Issues, Theories and Concepts
In the film Stand By Me, there are various developmental theories and concepts that have been illustrated. They range from socio-emotional theories, adventure to maturity/process of maturation that is depicted as painful, fun, compassionate, and discovering of self. Stand By Me is an exceptional movie since it depicts children and their innocence, as well as the nature of diverse experiences and how such experiences can have intense effects on individual characters. At the start of the movie, Gordie, who is illustrated as a grown-up, remembers this specific time when he was a teenager, and to him, this turns out to be a long-lasting memory. The movie illustrates the stereotypical grouping of the boys, whereby one of the boys (Vern) is overweight, another (Gordie) is wiser and more mature, still other (Chris) is a bad boy, and the last one is an untrained risk taker (Teddy). These friends’ innocence, which has been portrayed in the film, can be deemed appropriate.
The personalities of the characters and how they came to a decision of handling Ray’s body are also featured. During the adventure, the other side of every character, which is less revealing, has also been illustrated. Stand By Me shows fun, sensitivity, and how the characters explore themselves. The consumption of cigarettes and alcohol displayed and implied violence, as well as plenty of profanity that has been portrayed in the film. Although stories regarding parental emotional and physical abuse are not depicted in Stand By Me, they are often mentioned and they are central to the movie. From the movie, it is apparent that Young Gordie is rejected and criticized by his father after Denny, his elder brother, who was also a football star, died. Gordie received more attention from his brother Denny, as compared to his parents. In fact, the attention of parents is a key factor that affects the growth and development of the children. While growing, children need to be guided by their parents, to be loved despite failures. The parental attitude impacts their socio-emotional and psychological growth (Naber et al., 1998). In addition to this, all children should be treated equally, although some parents have the tendency of loving some kids more than others. As depicted in the movie, the development of a teenager is partly based on the quantity and quality of parental attention obtained. According to Cooney (2000), the level of attention, parenting style, and the advice showed by parents to their teenage children has a great effect on the development of such children.
Failure to obtain much attention from the parents, as well as being rejected by the father, has made Gordie spend substantial amount of his time with his friends. Apparently, these friends are from different backgrounds and families that are involved in various practices. To give an example, Chris, comes from a family of alcoholics and criminals, although he does not follow the stigmas and views linked to his family. Teddy, on the other hand, is peculiar and scarred after he was abused physically by his mentally ill father. Although these children come from different backgrounds, all of them are going through difficult situations related to their families.
Children are swayed by a number of factors whilst interacting with individuals not related to them, particularly their peer friends. According to studies, peer influence grows stronger as a child grows, whilst parental influence grows weaker (Myers, 1998, p.125). In Stand By Me, Chris and Gordon are influencing one another’s life, as matched up to their parental influences, implying that peer pressure is much stronger in the development of a teenager, just like parental influence is much stronger in the life of a child.
A positive and strong parental feedback and attention is evidenced to affect positively the development of a child. According to Cooney (2000), genuine and focused parental attention may assist a teenager to succeed in a painful or tough situation. The early years of an individual are evidenced to contribute greatly to how the individual acts, perceives things, and lives his/her entire life. The development of a child’s esteem and self-image is, at a great extent, influenced by the parents. According to Myers (1998), the attachment of children to their parents starts at the early stages and is very powerful. It is evident that parents are vital to the lives of their children, as they assist them in building their self-worth and self-image (Naber et al., 1998). In the Stand By Me, this linkage is illustrated. The self-image of Gordie was seriously damaged as his parents did not give him any attention or interest. The social and cognitive development of a child is impacted greatly by parental feedback and attention, especially during the formative early years.
Stand By Me portrays the painful maturation procedure that has for many years plagued the adolescents and the youngsters. In a number of ways, the end of the expedition denotes the conclusion of childhood (or innocence) for the standards, as it is apparent that after finding the body, the boys become quite different. The movies’ intensity eventually lies in the comprehensive devotion to the absolute rules of realism. Stand By Me significantly classifies the issues and precisely depicts the pressures that result in the disenchantment and disillusionment of adolescents all over the world. The characters have a firm sense of friendship and uncontainable spirit which guides them via an immense hardship that is eventually admired and all together detested (Bee and Boyd, 2009).
Stand By Me has various implications for families. From the above analysis, it is true that the development and growth of children is a vital factor that should be put into consideration. In the process of development, children learn many things and the way they are brought up, what they are taught, see or encounter, determine their adulthood to a great extent (Myer, 1998). In this case, families may talk concerning the drives that induce teenagers with an aim of seeking refuge in irresponsible behaviour. Besides, families should discuss all matters with their children including death, be it a stranger, sibling, or relatives, and how it impacts the members of the family.
Characters Depicted in the Movie
As indicated above, the movie Stand By Me clearly demonstrates many of the issues in regard to the development of human beings, as stipulated by Erikson’s theory of socioemotional development (Cooney, 2000). In this movie, the older generation is encouraged to carefully take care of the young generation, especially those in middle childhood. There are four main characters in the movie. They include Gordie Lachance, Teddy Duchamp, Chris Chambers, and Ven Tessio. The four boys live in a small fictional place known as Oregon town. At their age, their social world enormously widens and they start making personal initiatives for themselves. For instance, Vern and the other boys undertake a two-day journey to get the body of a boy alleged to be hidden in nearby woodlands. Prior to undertaking the journey, the four boys lie to their parents they are staying in each other’s houses, thus avoiding any form of suspicion from them. In the movie, it is evident that Chris is highly affected by his background, as most of his family members are alcoholics and criminals. Consequently, this realization makes him feel inferior and inadequate among his peers, thus reducing his level of self-esteem and competency. Teddy suffers a physical deformity on his ear inflicted by his father, who is mentally unstable, thus forcing him to wear hearing aids. Vern is timid and overweight, thus easily picked on by others. On the other hand, Gordie is a well-composed boy, though highly rejected by his family. As indicated by the theory of socioemotional development, parents have a key role in shaping the self-esteem and self-image of their children. Throughout the movie, it is clear that the potentiality and abilities of Chris and Gordon are hindered by the poor attention they receive from the parents (Myers, 1998). For instance, after they locate the body of the dead boy, Gordon vividly remembers how his father hated him after the death of his brother who was a footballer. In all his stages of development, Chris thought of himself as a common criminal, as he fully believed in what the older generation thought of him (Cooney, 2000). With a lot of assistance and encouragement from his friend Gordon, he was able to go to school where he succeeds and becomes an attorney, as seen at the end of the movie.
People in the life of a child have fundamental effect on the development of that child. Certainly, to a higher degree, parents influence their children in their early stages of development (Naber et al., 1998). Nevertheless, the persons who the child socializes and interacts with also become significant influencers to the psychological development of that child. In general, all persons determine how an individual develops psychologically.
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- Cooney, R. (2000). Parenting styles. Lecture to Introductory Psychology students at Creighton University, Omaha, NE.
- Myers, D. G. (1998). Psychology. Holland, MI: Worth Publishers.
- Naber, S. J., Halstead, L. K., Broome, M. E., & Rehwaldt, M. (1995). Communication and control: Parent, child, and health care professional interactions during painful procedures. Issues in Comprehensive Pediatric Nursing, 18, 79-90.
- Scheinman, A., Evans, B. A., Gideo, R. (Producers), & Reiner, R. (Director). (1986). Stand by me.