Identity in American Film Essay #3

As a member of the younger generation I personally identify with the movie, The Namesake, because I feel that it adequately displays how all teenagers feel about older generations. In the movie, The Namesake, Gogol Ganguli played by Kal Penn, the son of Indian immigrants wishes to forgo his chosen name and be recognized by Nick instead; just one of the many ways he is torn between his modern lifestyle and his parents’ traditions. While watching this movie I developed a strong personal connection with the main character, Gogol in many ways. I, myself have a rather unique name, and have also been made fun of in the past, and was also raised by parents who were conservative in nature, who sheltered me from the world.

All teenagers go through the phase of rebellion; however how this manifests itself can vary. In some teens it is the refusal to embrace traditions, or the creation of more modern traditions, sometimes ones that their culture forbids. Specifically for immigrants it is often the loss of traditions that their culture once employed out of need that younger generations see as unnecessary or outdated.

In one scene, Nick formerly known as Gogol says to his girlfriend, “I don’t care what they want, this is what I want.” This is very typical of my generation, or at least of people of a younger age; we are selfish and often not holding traditions as near and dear to our heart as those of our parents or of their parents.  We no longer live just down the path from our parents and in-laws, but usually far away, in our new found homes.

But as teenagers and then as young adults, we fail to realize that just as we have changed our traditions and forsaken others, so have our parents. In another scene, Nick formerly known as Gogol is speaking with his father, and his father is yet again explaining why his son’s name is Gogol, this time a little more in depth. I believe during this scene is when Nick or Gogol realizes that like he has changed some traditions, his father also changed traditions, specifically that of not continuing to live in India.

Similar to Gogol, I have a unique name and have often resented my parents for picking something so obscure. In addition, I also have something else in common with Gogol, the fact that I do not have the same traditions as my parents, like they did not keep the same traditions as their parents, and neither will the next generation after me. But, that tradition in itself is okay, because that is how our culture evolves. The movie The Namesake, thus gives the audience an accurate representation through the media of film a glimpse into whom we are during this snapshot in time.

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