Compare and Contrast Images of Los Angeles

Compare and Contrast Images of Los Angeles

The State of California is one of the most popular states in the United States (U.S.) and is widely known as a “melting pot” due to different races living with in it. California has a diverse culture which also raises different issues and problems within the society. These issues are reflected in various films and stories. For the purpose of this paper, the movies that will be reflected upon are Material Girls, Real Women Have Curves, and Little Ms. Sunshine.

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Movie Summary

Several films made by Hollywood producers take the subject of lavish living in the U.S. and the endless spending of people—mostly teenagers. For instance, the movie Material Girls starring the real life sisters, Hailey and Hilary Duff, shows how materialistic the youth of this generation are. As daughters of the owner of a big and popular cosmetic company based in Los Angeles (LA), they were raised to a luxuriant way of life. Both of the girls’ priorities are shopping, dating, and themselves. Their life of glamour and excessive spending meets its end when a sudden investigation regarding a scandal in their cosmetic company was held after their father died. As a result, all their assets were frozen. This leaves them somewhat helpless (but still in a glamorous way). These series of unfortunate events is followed by another catastrophe, as their house is suddenly caught on fire. The screenwriter puts on a hilarious scene wherein the two sisters try to save their things. Ava (Haylie Duff) prioritized her clothes while Tanzie (Hilary Duff), who loved his father very much and holds her memories of him dearly, took her dad’s TiVo and some of their clothes.

Produced by HBO and won an audience award in the Sundance Film Festival, the film Real Women Have Curves is a story about Ana Garcia—a Mexican-American teenager living in LA with her family. Migrants from Mexico, her parents longed to provide a brighter future for their family. Thus, they moved to the U.S. and stayed in a Mexican Community in LA. Because Anna grew up in LA, she had imbibed the liberated culture and tradition of the American Society. She is often misunderstood by her parents (usually by her mother) because of her actions, desires, and beliefs which are very different from them. Anna often argues with her mother because of her weight and her ideas. Her mother keeps on telling her to lose weight because she might not find a husband or even a boyfriend. Behind her parents back, however, she is often seeing a white American guy.

As a member of her family, Anna needs to learn the sweatshop business of their family. However, she does not like to be involved in the business because she believes that she is worth more than that. Ironically, she works there later on, and soon realizes that she can easily relate with the women working in the shop.

When Anna tells her family that she is going to Columbia University to continue her studies, they hold her back. Being conservative, her family thinks that their family will be ruined if she goes away. Still, in the end, Anna makes up her mind and leaves her family to go to college and pursue her dreams.

Unlike the film Real Women Have Curves, Little Ms. Sunshine is a lighter film to watch. It received awards for Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor from the Academy Awards. The movie is about a family with financial concerns who travels with their old Volkswagen T2 Microbus for a children’s beauty pageant. However, the movie does not dwell on the financial struggle of the family. Rather, it highlights the “personality struggle” due to the differences and priorities of each family member.

The family is composed of a heroin addicted grandfather, a life coach father, an obsessive mom, two children (1 teenage boy who has pledged not to speak until he pursues his dream of becoming a pilot, and a girl who got in as a contestant for a children’s pageant), and a suicidal homosexual father. When the girl (Olive) gets accepted at the beauty pageant, her family decides to go with her to support her. Due to lack of financial funds, however, they settle for riding their Volkswagen to go to the pageant.

Comparative Analysis: Images of LA in the Movie

LA has a diverse culture, as it is a city where people of different races reside and socialize with one another. The movies show the different sides of LA. The first movie mentioned features the socialites (Material Girls). The second one presents the migrants (Real Women Have Curves). The last one highlights the dysfunctional American family (Little Ms. Sunshine).

The movie Material Girls features a life that everyone wants to achieve—a life of glamour and nothing else. The sisters in the story did not go through any difficult times in their lives, but in reality, many people need to strive harder just to provide their family’s needs and wants. Ana Garcia’s family in Real Women Have Curves, for example, struggled to give their children a better life. Ana had to work in the sweatshop to help her sister; She need to obtain a scholarship to assure that she will have a better living condition than what her parents provided. In the film Little Ms. Sunshine, although lack of enough funds for the family’s wants is not as highlighted as in the second film, it can be observed that the family traveled long miles just to make it to the pageant. Material Girls is very far from the Los Angeles that is known in both the other films.

In another light, Material Girl as they say is the typical girly movie based on its script and plot. It depicts the life of Barbie in real life; it is a dream for everyone (mostly for girls) to become like her. Girls want to have all the clothes and live glamorously. However, if the situation is analyzed from outside of the U.S., the film creates a mask for LA. It veils all the negative things and presents a light of hope and luxury to the viewers, most especially those who come from developing countries. It also increases the chance that LA would be more popular to different people due to the alluring lifestyle that everyone dreams of. But the other two films discussed show the reality of living in LA—no special treatments for the middle class and no sophisticated lifestyle.

At some point, due to the influence of films and media, the society is slowly transforming, depending one what crowd or social class a person belongs. The lifestyle of the rich and famous could be compared to the movie material girls. In Hollywood, sisters such as Paris and Nicky Hilton present themselves as such—heiresses who do not care about other things. Gradually, the society is catching up to their lifestyle. Magazines, paparazzi, and gossip shows are clamoring to get the latest scoop of what the Paris sisters are wearing and where they hang-out. Hence the impact of media greatly contributes to the transformation of not only LA but the whole country as well, as society becomes materialistic. This is especially evident in daily TV programs (mostly reality shows such as Laguna Beach, The Kardashians and a lot more).

            The different movies discussed earlier in the text represent diverse societies in LA. It is evident that it is not only filled with glamour but also of regular people that are faced with challenges and hardships in life. It is clear that LA, just like others states, is filled with various societies, each of which cultivate its own culture and face different adversities that should be focused and addressed such as discrimination due to weight, financial difficulties, and materialistic desires.

Works Cited

IMDb. “Material Girls.” IMDb : The Internet Movie Database. 2008. 24 May 2008.


IMDb. “Little Miss Sunshine.” IMDb : The Internet Movie Database. 2006. 24 May 2008.


IMDb. “Real Women Have Curves.” IMDb : The Internet Movie Database. 2002. 24 May

2008 <>.

Little Miss Sunshine. Dir. Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris. Perf. Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin, Toni Collete, Steven Carell. Big Beach Films.2006.

Material Girls. Dir. Martha Coolidge. Perf. Hailey Duff, Hilary Duff, Maria Conchita Alonzo.

            Maverick Films & Patriot Pictures. 2006.

Real Women Have Curves. Dir.Patricia Cardoso. Perf. America Ferrera, Lupe Ontiveros &

Ingrid Oliu. HBO. 2002.


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