How do you relate the 2007 movie Hairspray to identity?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the concept of identity is an important element to the film.  On one hand, Tracy has a firm conception of herself and what her passions are.  She goes to school, and then she and her friend, Penny, live to watch the Corny Collins show and love to dance.  Throughout the film, Tracy's identity changes in terms of recognizing the social injustice of racism and seeking to remedy a structural problem through local action.  Tracy's sense of identity becomes linked to this cause, and in the process, she both recognizes and represents that which is right in the face of practices that are wrong.  Tracy actively seeks to fight for the cause of racial equality and integration as part of her identity. The individual carving of identity has become something larger and more universal in Tracy's evolution.  Her passions have become merged with this larger component, and this is something that she expects out of the people around her.  In the end, her "dream" of racial integration accomplished, Tracy's identity is displayed as something that proves to be both self affirming as an adolescent and one that is representative of the strong sensibilities of a democratic order.

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