Cynicism in Ghost World

Terry Zwigoff’s film Ghost World (2001) conveys a sense of cynicism towards American culture formally as well as in the attitudes of the main characters.
The characters are most cynical about their inability to connect with and understand other people so a contrast between the main characters, Enid (Thora Birch) and Seymour (Steve Buscemi), and the other people at the bar is established in this scene.

The establishing shot of the bar, a crowd of sports fans in baseball hats cheering, is followed by a shot of Enid and Seymour sitting at a table watching a musician playing live music.  Seymour comments,” they can at least turn off their stupid sports game until he’s done playing,” revealing his cynicism towards the contemporary American culture.  Later as Enid surveys the people in the bar the film cuts between the people and her judgmental glances.  First we see a young male bar patron looking the female cocktail waitress up and down with a smirk on his face followed by a close up of Enid as she gives a disapproving glance to his open objectification of the waitress.  Then the film cuts to a man in a Cowboy hat as he belches only to cut back to Enid rolling her eyes at his rude behavior.  Cutting back and forth between the cynical Enid and the different bar patrons gives Enid the power to inform the viewer on how to react to each bar patron.  By giving Enid this power the film is encouraging a cynical view of the general American population pictured in the bar.


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