Global Communication in movie "The Great Beauty"

| April 22, 2014

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A presentation on the film and research I am using for my final paper. (I copy it down) This is meant to fill the class in on my paper and help explain the different phenomenons of global communications in different regions. Think of it as teaching the paper to the class.
Make it clear and interesting base on the paper.
Global Communication Final Paper
The Great Beauty
The Italian film The Great Beauty is a spot-on summary and condemnation of what can happen when a person lives a life of excess, hedonism and instant gratification over a life of substance, solid relationships and a life of purpose. Jep shoots to fame after a single novella is published and uses his arc of fame to live a life of pleasure and happiness, at least so he thought. As the twilight of his life approaches in his mid-60’s, he soberly realizes that his life’s path had no real substance or meaning. While Jep’s revelation speaks not only to his introspection and evaluation about his life, it also and more profoundly speaks of how culture, art and other factors greatly feed and create global communications around the world and this has been true for centuries and not just in the modern age.
The Great Beauty is a great test case for the idea that pleasure and freedom to find love and pleasure in all its forms is sometimes a practice in futility and wasted time and years. It asserts quite forcefully and adeptly that “if it feels good, do it” is no motto or credo live by. The main reason for this, of course, is that people bent on instant self-gratifications are not loyal or trustworthy, more often than not, and are mostly in the hedonism game for their own benefit and not anyone else’s. Most often, the people engaging in these behaviors care not (or very little) who they hurt or how. There is also the social ills, perceived or undeniable, that these thought patterns tend to feed including drug use, prostitution, stealing and other immoral acts that one does not need a Bible or other religious edicts to prove as being hurtful and/or harmful to others. Jep learns this lesson quite abruptly at age 65 when he realizes and takes stock of the endless beauty around him that exists in Rome (IMDB, 2014)(Guardian, 2013)(Ebert, 2013).
The lessons being taught in The Great Beauty can be misconstrued but it’s fairly basic and it by no means gets preachy or too judgmental. It could have certainly gone that way and it’s ironic that the movie is set in Rome at any point because of the excess and hedonism that existed in that day. However, even with that being the case, the point being made by the film still holds true and that is a life of substance is generally not found solely from lavish parties, nightclubs and the socialite life. Indeed, it is possible to have a bit of fun here and there but descending too far into a life of instant gratification and self-pleasure can quite easily lead to someone not realizing what is truly important in life and/or to lose such relationships that are already present or at least starting to blossom.
There is also the specter and force that is the so-called underbelly of society whereby sex is used as currency, people are victimized and otherwise sell their proverbial soul and how this feeds from one culture to another and from one country to another in terms of literature, art and historical records in general. The argument for or against the point made into the movie quickly strays into the religious versus the people that just want to do what they want to do and care not (or try not to care) about the judgments or opinions of others. For most arcs in life, including going to nightclubs and such, this is a fair statement and people should indeed be allowed to do what they wish. However, just because something is legal does not mean it is moral and it also does not mean that it will lead to a fulfilled life. Indeed, some hedonistic actions such as prostitution or drug use as well as abuse of alcohol or not paying enough mind to work and family can lead to devastating consequences up to and including living on the streets as a bum or even death (O’Reilly, 2013).
In an age where sexually transmitted diseases spread with ease, drugs like methamphetamine and crack cocaine are ruining/ending lives right and left, and people are consumed by sex or alcohol, to say that these are victimless crimes is folly at its finest and one need not invoke religion at all to prove that in spades. When children are being born out of wedlock and/or never know their mother and/or father, to rest on one’s laurels and say that “it’s not my problem” and that it’s not illegal belies the fact that it’s morally unconscionable to engage in such solipsistic and selfish endeavors. Having indiscriminate sex with partner after partner may seem like a birthright to some but it ruins families and fuels the sex trade (with some of the women involved being minors) every day. There are countries that seem to be epicenter for the child or female sex trade and global communication mediums like the internet and such feed this greatly.
The point, and indeed the message of The Great Beauty, is that there is so much more to life than shallow relationships and mindless pleasure-seeking and many people seek to champion a counteraction to this on a local and global scale through the use of printed word and television as well as the internet. This is something that can be applied in Italy but can also easily be ascribed to other regions of the world like Australia, the United States and South America and the ebb and flow of communication and media that transmits between the countries and continents reflects that (McPhail, 2010). There are so many wonders of the world, both obvious and less prevalent, that one can see and experience and to do so in the confines of a true and secure family and/or friendship is always going to surpass any fleeting high from a drug, a buzz from alcohol or the rush of a sexual encounter with a stranger. When the acts and habits of more secure people are used entirely too casually and quickly, it quickly becomes empty and without substance and this can be soul-crush when (not if) the person either crashes hard, dies or otherwise realizes that they made a grave miscalculation in their life’s path. Even if that self-realization and self-honesty comes too late, the people that can be left in the wake of such depravity are left wondering why they weren’t loved more, cared for and/or treated as the friend and/or family that they thought they were.
The problem, as insinuated before, is that there are two divergent points of view. One is mostly (but not entirely) borne of religion and morality while the other insists that a person’s lifestyle or choices are no concern of anyone else. Despite the black and white abstract dichotomies that may exist with some people, there are certainly differing viewpoints and shades of gray that have to be taken seriously. For example, prostitution (something covered in “The Great Beauty) is often seen by many as a victimless crime and is just a transaction with the barter being money for sex. However, the treating of a woman’s body as an object or as currency is demeaning and crass to many and the spread of disease as well as the wrecking of families can wreak a lot of havoc. Marriages can case to be, children can be left behind and so forth. The crime is only victimless if no one involved or affected believes nothing wrong was done and that is rarely the case and the issue is that the person doing the act knows full well what will likely happen if/when they are discovered. However, there are indeed some sitautions where marrying off one’s child (literally) is acceptable and using sex as currency is acceptable. Even so, global communication has made the reactions and interpretations of this much quicker and much more visceral in nature and this has manifested in all corners of life and art.
Another vein that should be mentioned is how culture and religion so strongly correlate and what happens with differing viewpoints clash. A good example of this would be the current tit for tat that exists in the United States regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts chain that operates in that country, made arguments before the United States Supreme Court asserting that they should not be required to cover employees’ healthcare costs relating to the use of the “morning after” contraception pill as they view that as a form of abortion and thus against their belief structure. The American government asserts that such religious stances run contrary to the law in question and that Hobby Lobby should not be allowed to impose their religious values on their employees, who obviously are not all going to be Christian or even religious to begin with (Mears, 2014)(Shore, 2014).
To apply this to The Great Beauty and the dynamic in play here, it would be akin to the Italian government banning nightclubs or going even further and outlawing casual and/or non-marital sex in general. However, doing so in the modern age would not only be obvious and visible within Italy, but would also be reviewed and either condemned or applauded by people around the world. Even if the intentions were good and even if religion was not invoked, the clarion calls that would scream out of the ether as a reaction to that law would condemn “prudes” and “religious nuts” that are trying to enforce a cultural standard that not everyone believes in. One can argue until they’re blue in the face that the aforementioned “morning after” pill would not be necessary if proper contraception was used during the sexual encounter while the opposite side would argue it’s not the prudes’ business what goes on and abortion can/should be allowed in whatever reasonable forms necessary, especially for things like rape, incest and so forth. Regardless, it is seen by many as which evil is lesser and which one is more profound, whether it is the abortion itself or an unwanted child being born.
To come back to The Great Beauty, the author of this report does not believe that the moviemaker was trying to say that excess and hedonism should be outlawed. Instead, the point is made that there is a potentially huge price to be paid if such pleasure-seeking is not balanced out with a life of substance and this is in terms of relationships, deeds and the overall arc of one’s life. Having moments of excess can actually be fine from time to time. For example, getting blitzed on alcohol after a big job promotion and then turning back to responsibility and good work after that is probably going to be relatively to completely harmless. On the other side, momentarily separating from a partner to gain some perspective and then making an informed and calculated choice to stay together or not can be a good thing. What is exceedingly unwise is to engage in a protracted life of ignorance and excess and/or to act too impulsively. On top of that, people are very much unable to act in a vacuum and some actively know and embrace that by putting their lives on the internet for the country and even the world to see through social media and other international online venues like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The other main point that is made The Great Beauty is that part of what makes life enriching and flavorful is not the excess of drugs, alcohol and sex but is more related to the great works of art and beauty, both created by man and created by nature, around the world. Of course, one of the main global epicenters of manmade and natural beauty of the world is found all over Italy with Rome perhaps being one of the more prescient and perfect examples of this. At the same time, people in the realm of art, which is something that can certainly be said of Jep as he is a writer, can sometimes get self-involved and full of themselves and simply cannot handle fame in a reasonable and responsible way. Just because someone is famous or otherwise revered does not give them license to think or believe that the normal rules of good behavior and morality (religious or non-religious, depending on one’s perspective) do not apply to them. Family is family and friends are friends and people that glom onto another due to fame are usually not doing it for noble reasons. Whether it be latching onto someone’s star or just using them, the attraction is usually only valid and ongoing for as long as interest is held and then it is over.
The point is that regardless of what leads to one’s excess or inflated ego, they should not lose sight of what is truly important and what they truly are (and are not) as a man or a woman. Also, it is much easier to publish this ego and this can make the consequences and blowback much more protracted and severe. Even the artists and stars of the day are not worth any more as a person than the regular people who take in the art and are awed by it. Jep perhaps realized fully that his one major treatise, his novella, had faded into the past and because he didn’t really continue to work on and hone his craft, he lost out on the immortality of Rome itself and the artists that made it as beautiful and timeless as it was and still is. Rather than at least try to secure a lasting legacy, Jep basically just wasted his life. This is not to say that his legacy would have happened even if he tried is best as not everyone can be Michelangelo or Caesar. However, even if that turned out to the case and he was just an average writer in the grand scheme of things, he still would be able to reach 65, unlike what happened in the plot of the movie, and realized that he did a pretty good job and that he was happy with his life as he would be valued by those that knew and loved him and he would not need validation from anyone else, family included, to know that he lived a good and fulfilled life at the end of the day.
To put a fine point on and to end this report, it is clear that one need not invoke religion or be prudish to assert that lives of excess and hedonism rarely end well and often end early. Those that do not end quickly, at one point or another, often turn into a slow hell and/or a detachment from reality whereby a person is so involved with themselves or otherwise morally/mentally deficient that they do not hold themselves to the standards that most everyone else knows they must, or at least should. Just as the Romans learned the hard way that excess and depravity can have massive consequence and any empire can and will fall eventually, Jep learned a lesson fairly late in his life that there is so much more to life but at least Jep had some time to realize what that truly means. While the global communication implications are not explored all that much in this movie, the possible outcomes and happenstances that could be construed when factoring that into the proverbial moral equation are not hard to see. It becomes even harder to defend one’s actions, no matter how noble, when global communication pathways allow for more people to see what you are doing even if that is not your intent or thought process at the time. Something shared on a Facebook account, just as one example, can turn one moment of hedonism and fun into a massive crisis or controversy.
Brooks, X. (2013, December 20). The 10 best films of 2013, No 2 – The Great Beauty.
The Guardian. Retrieved April 1, 2014, from
Ebert, R. (2013, November 23). The Great Beauty. All Content. Retrieved April 1, 2014,
IMDB. (2014, April 1). The Great Beauty Synopsis. IMDb. Retrieved April 1, 2014, from
McPhail, T. L. (2010). Global communication: theories, stakeholders, and trends (3rd
ed.). Chichester, West Sussex, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell.
Mears, B. (2014, March 23). Justices to hear ‘Hobby Lobby’ case on Obamacare birth
control rule. CNN. Retrieved March 31, 2014, from
O’Reilly, B. (2013, April 13). Bill O’Reilly: Don’t refer to drug abuse as a victimless crime
– it’s not. Sun Sentinel. Retrieved April 1, 2014, from http://articles.sun-
Shore, J. (2014, January 30). Christian Companies Want to Own Your Body. The
Huffington Post. Retrieved April 1, 2014, from
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