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The Blues Brothers
The Blues Brothers in my opinion can be classified as a subculture movie. “A group within a
society that has its own shared set of customs, attitudes, and values, often accompanied by jargon or
slang. A subculture can be organized around a common activity, occupation, age, status, ethnic
background, race, religion, or any other unifying social condition, but the term is often used to
describe deviant groups, such as thieves and drug users.” This is a definition from the site
dictionary.com. A sub-culture is certainly, according to some dictionaries, treated as a group that
participates within the dominant culture, while engaging in original and different behavior. Talking
about the scenes, there is one particular scene in the movie, where Jake and Elwood try to mess with
Matt "Guitar" Murphy. The brothers go into a food restaurant. One ambiguous viewer could notice
rather original clothes of the brothers. Something like a suit of a gangster, everything in black even the
sunglasses and just a white shirt, with tattoos on their fingers, which says their names. These clothes
are just a thing that not only separates them from the normal, regular society but also shows that they
are rebellious. During the course of years there have been movies that have influenced the popular
culture, or that were influenced by the ongoing events of their times. Films released throughout the
ages of America have greatly related to the culture of their time. In this case it was The Blues Brothers
– where director John Landis put some good actors, such as John Belushi who sadly passed away in
1982 because of the overdose of speedball and Dan Aykroyd who still plays in movies(Ghost Busters,
Driving Miss Daisy), sitcoms with Jim Belushi(According to Jim) the younger brother of his friend
John and still loves blues, to create the story of Jake and Elwood Blues.
The story of the brothers struggling to get the band back together and have five thousand dollars to pay
the tax for the St. Helen Orphanage, where they were raised, since the orphanage was not funded by
the church anymore.
Critics saw it as a movie about two funny brothers with the mission from God and in fact, it
participated in the vast majority of contemporary American culture a lot. It creates many different
relations and expressions of the working class of the great country in the beginning of the eighties that
many viewers would be familiar.
Not surprisingly the 1980 movie related to a great deal to many Americans of the working class of the
time what was rather obvious. Even in the comic book’s there was nothing worse for the working
class, then a businessman. So even in the 80’s the writer’s in DC Comics changed Lex Luthor who
was presented in the Superman series from a mad scientist to a multibillionaire. Those two brothers,
Jake and Elwood along with the members of the band are always fighting for their hard money, for
their life, the decent life just like the Americans in the 80’s. These brothers have constantly been
against the law but at the same time they were searching for redemption. Jake Blues is just released
from jail, where he was put away in for robbery on a gas station because he wanted to get money for
their band. Elwood Blues lives in a tiny, stinky motel with very small space dedicated for him. The
members of the band that used to play together, now are working in many different places and low
paid jobs since the band was separated. Among them being such jobs as, a diner cook, and performing
small music gigs, the maitre de of restaurant. Jake Blues is the aggressive one, Elwood is more calm
one. Throughout the movie Jake misguides everyone including himself that there is in fact nothing to
worry about and that he has everything in control. Religion plays a big part in his life.
There is a scene where Curtis says “You boys get down to the Triple Rock Baptist Church. You listen
to Cleophus James, the preacher there. You boys listen to what he's got to say.” The brothers go there
and they stand by the door. James Brown plays the preacher at the church. The preacher gives an
inspiring speech which appealed to Jake and then he was enlightened by God.
So the misguided Blues brothers finally felt they achieved a "God-given mission" and that
they will pass all of the trouble to complete the task, which is to save the orphanage, the place of their
youth. Later on when the Blues brothers went through all of that trouble they feel that they are worthy
of existence and know that they can’t fail anymore, because God is with them.
The movie showed us the struggle of many Americans faced in the seventies and eighties.
There are many different methods and not all of them are fairly legal, but the brothers use them to try
to get big gigs and earn the necessary money they actually need to save the orphanage. One scene in
the movie, involved creating a con in order to get their band a real great gig, in a local country bar, and
they pretended they actually were the Good Ole Boys. What was so special about that scene was the
fact that at the end of the night, when the band wanted their money, the owner informed them that they
had a bigger bill to pay then they have earned for me it is a American behavior and typically
Americanized attitude. In Poland the artist almost always have the food and drinks free from the
owners or from the people who are making the party. So yet again the brothers and the band had to
escape from their troubles with no money. This situation was actually familiar for many Americans,
since in many times it was difficult to earn a living. Many Americans of the working class could easily
relate to these familiar problems that were there presented.
The Economy – treated more like a person than an abstract object - in fact, was rough and
lives for many working class Americans were fighting every day. In the late 1970’s and in the 80s,
during the making of the film and later on, during its release, President Jimmy Carter was in office.
His presidency was met with the biggest economy troubles ever created.
There was still a recession present and many other problems along with it, the biggest were such as
inflation and high unemployment.
Almost everyone had problems with work and money, many people could not even get a job
which was devastating in many aspects. The time of the release of The Blues Brothers was a time
when almost anyone who was at the time visiting the cinema, could in fact easily relate to the main
problems in it.
In the movie there are many different issues. At the church there is a lot of positive energy.
Chaos and destruction is shown in the shopping mall when Elwood drives into it. The guys are arguing
because Elwood lied to Jake because he wanted to cheer his brother when he was in jail. The Nazis are
a symbol of discrimination in the 80’s. It is Jake's religious redemption which makes him a better man,
not a good man but a better man. I’m saying this because Jake and Elwood are on a mission from God
but they still break the law and are almost all the time chased by the police. At the end they are
surrounded by the police when they have their gig in the hotel. But after the concert they escaped
chased by the police and they managed to pay the tax. They did it but at the end, the brothers were
taken by the police. They caused this anarchy and chaos to achieve a great goal which was to save the
I think this could have been a metaphor for the Americans in the 80’s that if you try hard you
can achieve something or you can help the ones you. After the film was released, the economy was
eventually bouncing back into stable productivity and unemployment decreased. In fact, Americans
did not need to face as many of the problems seen in the film as they might have before the movie was
released. Almost any person in the working class who has ever had to deal with money problems or
troubles finding work would be eventually able to relate to this film, as those aspects of American
culture are expressed in the movie.
The Blues Brothers movie
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Documentary’s about comics and American culture.