In the Movie “Erin Brockovich” -A description of his/her followers, including their predispositions/attitudes towards the leader and situation. For example, is the challenge with him or her?...

In the Movie “Erin Brockovich” -A description of his/her followers, including their predispositions/attitudes towards the leader and situation.

For example, is the challenge with him or her?

  • Why are the followers resistant? Are they afraid? And if so, what are they afraid of?
  • What is their inability; for example are they ill-equipped for success?
  • Are they naïve?
  • Are they unskilled but motivated?
  • What is the particular challenge?
  • What must happen for them to be successful?
  • What must the leader do to create success in this film?

Asked on by ranger1980

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kipling2448's profile pic

kipling2448 | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Before proceeding, it is important to emphasize that the people who translate true stories to film routinely alter and change key points and portray “real-life” individuals inaccurately for dramatic purposes.  That is the nature of the film industry, and is a widely-acknowledged fact.  The goal among film makers is generally to portray history in a more entertaining light than the actual story may warrant.  Selling tickets and advancing political agendas is the priority, and historical accuracy tends to take a back seat.  That said, the setting and general parameters of “Erin Brockovich” provide a reasonable context for a discussion of the dynamics between the film’s protagonist, Brockovich, and those on whose behalf she was working.

Both the real-life story and the film take place in Hinkley, California, a remote desert community with an uneducated and generally unsophisticated and lower-income population – the type of population that is temperamentally ill-equipped to confront a major energy company over environmental and health issues.  To the extent that Brockovich encounters resistance and anxiety among that population in her efforts at pursuing justice on their behalf, it is because this is a community of families that is not naturally inclined to confront powerful forces like the government or a major energy concern.  As the character Erin Brockovich herself points out in one exchange in the film:

“They may not be the most sophisticated people, but they do know how to divide and $20 million isn’t shit when you split it between them.  Second of all, these people don’t dream about being rich.  They dream about being able to watch their kids swim in a pool without worrying that they’ll have to have a hysterectomy at the age of twenty. . .”

The community Brockovich’s legal team represents are unfamiliar with the world of megamillion dollar lawsuits and high-power legal firms and are simply overwhelmed.  They are uncomfortable confronting powerful forces, and are unprepared for the publicity and pressures such confrontations entail.  Brockovich’s success in making personal connections among them is the key to her ability to properly represent them.  Brockovich has to earn their trust by relating to them on their level -- a task the film makes clear is entirely natural to her given her own background.

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