What is identity? Can it simply be found when someone asks “who are you? ” have any of you ever considered what it is that shapes our identities or even the role that people around us play. In my 2 chosen texts; the movie “Catch me if you can” directed by Steven Spielberg and the artwork “ Self Portrait (but I always wanted to be one of the good guys” by Gordon Bennett both the protagonist and the artist show people struggling with their true identities. Identity can be forced on a person.
As seen in the film “catch me if you can” the protagonist ,Frank Abagnale Jr, played by Leonardo DeCaprio, steals the identity of numerous people as a means to pay back the money his father had lost. These changes in characters is seen by his constant costume changes and his identity changes just be means of simple accessories like a brief case. People take on new identities as a means of escape. Frank Abagnale jnr ran away from home when his parents divorced and it can be seen that this event instigated his first check forgery and ultimately lead to him becoming a master of deception.
However these numerous identities were only a smoke screen to hide his true inner turmoil. He felt he was forced to take on other different identities because of his home situation. it is ultimately easier to run away from the truth and pain of the real world and live in a world of make believe and ‘made-up’ people. Towards the end of the movie Frank decides to stop running and it can be heard in the despairing tone in his voice when he says “I DON’T WANT TO LIE ANYMORE”. Proving that in the end hiding showing the importance of staying true to your own identity instead of trying to hide it.
Similarly the Self Portrait painted by Gordon Bennett also portrays an identity struggle. However while frank chose to take on multiple identities, Bennett’s identity struggle was forced upon him and caused by society stereotypes. Gordon Bennett uses colour in his artwork to show the repression of his aboriginal identity in favor of his white-European one. The contrasting colours of black and white symbolize his ‘dual’-identity, as he was a half aboriginal and half European Australian. While the white takes up the majority of the canvas the black in the artwork is being repressed.
This technique has been used by the artist to show that although Bennett’s mind and body has been effectively colonized by western culture, his aboriginality which has been historically, socially and personally repressed, is still an integral part of his personal identity. The words placed on either side of the image- “I am light” and “I am dark”. while the two are opposites, for Bennett they are same. It is the placement and separation of the sentences that portray his identity struggle. A struggle that forces him to be one of the “good” guys and deny his aboriginal identity in order fit in and avoid bigotry and discrimination