Writing Assignment #2 – Movie Analysis
East Central University
Kung Fu Panda, a movie by the DreamWorks, demonstrates the theory of Hero’s Journey. The movie is about fat and lazy panda calls Po, who always dreams of being a kung Fu master, is unexpectedly chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy. Po’s dream comes true when he starts to learn Kung Fu from the greatest Kung Fu master and becomes friends with his idols, the Legendary Furious Five – Tigress, Mantis, Viper, Monkey, and Crane. Finally, he protects the whole valley by defeating Tailung (the antagonist) by using what he learns. This movie represents an example of socio-psychological entity through the process of the hero’s journey, by showing the separation of hero’s ordinary life, the initiation in his adventure, and his return after the deeds. In the meanwhile, the movie shows how the attributes of social psychology affect Po in achieving his dreams.
The Self as a Social Object
As the movie starts, it first tells about the ordinary world of the panda. By introducing the protagonist, who is also the hero, audiences get to know the normal life of Po before his adventure: working in noodle restaurant with his dad, dreaming of becoming a kung Fu master every day. Po keeps himself to be in a circle of stereotype threat. He loves Kung-Fu more than working on his father’s restaurant but he cannot commit. Po casts a fast-acting, self-fulfilling fear of being judged based on negative stereotype for loving Kung-Fu from his father when his father asks him to sell noodles in the ceremony at Jade’s Palace. Here, we can see the pattern of treating one’s self as a social object.
There are many situations in our life where we are being driven down by the circumstances. We don’t show the courage to elevate our self-esteem and make people listen to our self-choice rather we tend more towards stereotypical threat and social comparison, a process of evaluating thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and abilities in relation to similar others. Like in the movie, the panda has a positive illusions for himself but he does not state it instead embraces a false recognition as a noodle maker. My cognitive response tells me it is better to have more positive and high self-esteem. There have been experienced many cases when a person performing a self-serving bias is more likely to be a delinquent. In the movie, the antagonist, Tailung, is introduced to the audience showing his history of being one of the students of Master Shifu, and how he turns evil later on.
Person perception refers to the processes by which we use social stimuli to form impressions of others (King, 2013). “Beautiful is good” stereotype, or generalization of physical attractiveness is being clearly used in this movie. Physical attractiveness has been recognized as a powerful social cue. In the movie, when Shifu says, “That flabby panda cannot be the answer to our problem” (Black & Stevenson, 2008). Here, Shifu is using this generalization view of physical attractiveness by referring to the panda as a big-fat or flabby based on his physical appearances. No one in his academy is able to accept that a fat panda like Po can be a dragon warrior and can defeat Tailung which later turns out to be false when Po actually trains hard and turns out to be their hero.
We often stereotype people based on their physical appearances, personally or professionally. A stereotype is a generalization about a group’s characteristics that does not consider any variations from one individual to another (King, 2013). Here, I relate to the panda because as in the movie I don’t envy the physical attractiveness rather I believe in my own deeds and hard-work. Po was made fun of by his own allies and called him fat, unworthy of learning Kung-Fu by his own master but he never envied upon those who had better physical attractiveness. Instead he starts to make efforts; he trains himself by waking up early and stretch on his own. He also claims that the real dragon warrior never quit. Po gradually gains trusts of the furious five, by showing his determination. When he is injured and hurts by in the training, Mantis and viper tries to help him relief his pain through acupuncture. In return, Po makes noodles for them and they finally start to accept him. By looking at the panda’s determination, those who stereotyped him first calling him fat and flabby were able to trust him and be his ally. At first I felt bad for him being disregarded and stereotyped among all other characters, but later his determination contradicts the generalization of physical attractiveness.
There are plenty of scenes in the movie where we can see the discrimination being performed. Discrimination refers to an unjustified negative or harmful action toward a member of a group simply because the person belongs to that group (King, 2013). Since the beginning of the movie, Po is being discriminated for teaching Kung-Fu by his Master and fellow warriors because he was a panda, an oddball in the group and he came from an ordinary world fantasizing about Kung-Fu legends but not having any skills. There is a sign of discrimination being used at the end of the movie as well when Tailung, an antagonist hesitates to fight with Po over the dragon scroll.
The panda in the movie is shown as a submissive character. He was discriminated for being fat and idiosyncratic. Even though he trains hard and puts his effort to be the dragon warrior, later it can be seen that he himself rejects or denies to the prophecy done by Oogway when the time comes to battle Tailung. This concludes that discrimination can also hinders self-esteem.
Even though the panda was being discriminated and out casted by his own allies and master, he did not give up. Instead he trains harder. The discrimination was not a big of a problem here. However, there are many cases in life I have witnessed where discrimination causes to bring many negative as well as positive consequences. It is not irrelevant to say that there will cause this phenomena of disbelief or discouragement within an individual’s self because of discrimination. This might not be true in all cases. Some tend to acquire more positive determination; they grab an ego whenever they face a determination. That is one way to deal with it.
Contact Hypothesis of Prejudice
Prejudice is an unjustified negative attitude toward an individual based on the individual’s membership in a group (King, 2013). Prejudice legitimizes discrimination because it apparently justifies one group’s dominance over another. However, there has been a hypothesis which states that under appropriate conditions, interpersonal contact is one of the most effective ways to reduce prejudice between majority and minority group members. This hypothesis is called the contact hypothesis. In the movie, Shifu luckily figures out a new strategy of training that suits Po, which is using food as lure to evoke Po’s potential. Shifu happens to unravel the hidden kung-Fu skills of panda when Shifu shows Po the treat that was 10 feet from the ground and begins to show interest on Po. Master Shifu and all other furious fives takes the panda in their group. They all train Po together to defeat Tailung with the support of the master and all the villagers. Finally, the prophecy comes true and Po defeats Tailung. Everyone in the village and in his group acknowledges Po afterwards.
Studies have shown that contact is more effective if the people involved think that they are of equal status, feel that an authority figure sanctions their positive relationships, and believe that friendship might emerge from the interaction (Pettigrew ; Tropp, 2006). In the movie, Po not only dissatisfies Shifu and the furious five, he also failed in all his training. Po loses his confidence and begins refusing the call to adventure. Po says, “Maybe I should just quit and go back to making noodles” (Black ; Stevenson, 2008). Po is now frustrated and he rethinks his decision of being the Dragon Warrior. When Po is losing his mind and about to give up on Kung Fu, he meets the mentor who encourages him and helps him to gain back confidence. There has been experiences in my life when a simple interpersonal contact has helped me blend in with the group. To feel good about ourselves, we need to feel good about the groups to which we belong (King, 2013). For an instance, if you attend to an unknown party, you feel awkward and you start to build prejudice to the groups if you don’t know anyone but at the same time, if any stranger comes to talk to you and now you got a friend, you feel little comfortable. In this case, the in-group resolve the complexity.
In brief, the movie clearly and accurately presents the three stages of the panda’s journey (separation, initiation and return) and it shows the audience how the protagonist grows and improves to be the hero. The movie uses several attributes of social psychology. Po is once a daydreamer, who refuse to face the reality and enjoys dreaming about being a Kung Fu master. Learning Kung Fu seems irrelevant to him at first because of the discrimination and stereotype attitudes from his allies and master. However, his passion and consistence lead him to encounter the chance of making his dream come true. During the training, he has hesitated, and considered giving up; nevertheless, he is inspired, allied, acknowledged and encouraged to regain his confidence and refuse giving up.
King, Laura A. (2013). Experience Psychology Second Edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
King, Laura A. (2013). Experience Psychology Second Edition PowerPoint slides.
Pettigrew, T. F., ; Tropp, L. R. (2006). A meta- analytic test of intergroup contact theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90, 751–783.
Stevenson, J. (Director), ; Black, J. (Writer). (2008). Kung fu panda Motion picture. United States: Paramount Pictures Corporation.