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    Slums of Beverly Hills Essay (1506 words)

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    In the film, “Slums of Beverly Hills,” Vivian Abramowitz, the main character, is a young woman who is living in her own crazy world. She is growing up in Beverly Hills during the late seventies. As she beings her sexual coming of age she has an extremely difficult time understanding and accepting these changes, she even tends to question her sexuality and the people that are around her. During the film, the characters struggle with their finances, which many people even today can understand.

    Also it seemed as if teenagers became part of a subculture, of their own. Slums of Beverly Hills represent the struggles and conflict of everyday Americans, all at the same time watching Vivian understand more about her. The first scene opens up to Vivian and her father in the mall attempting to get a fitting for her first ever bra at the age of fifteen. By looking into the film with a sociological view, I found it interesting that the older women pointed out that Vivian is a “tomboy”. Right off the bat, her sexuality is showing through.

    She seems to be nervous about her dad being with her, and even the sales associate is very amazed that this is the first time she has ever come to get one. Throughout the entirety of the film Vivian has a difficult time accepting who she is, and how her body is transforming into something quiet different then what she is clearly used to. Relating her experiences to the real world of others, I believe she never had any guidance due to the lack of a female figure within their household. Typically, within specific family configurations there is a correlation related to adolescent sexual intercourse experience.

    A study that was done on women aged 15-19 found that, “teenage young women who have been raised by a single parent are more likely to have non martial sexual intercourse than young women from intact marriages” (Miller). This study can relate to Vivian because a single parent too has raised her, since her parents divorced and her mother moved to the other side of the country. Vivian had no one to talk help her understand what was going on with her body, and I felt like she was more curious that interested in Eliot, her neighbor who lived next door.

    That’s why she would always say, “It was just a building thing. ” Teenage years can be fairly awkward, and frankly pretty uncomfortable. During this time, everyone can notice and see the changes that a girl goes through, while a boy is nearly never marginalized because of his changes. Boys don’t change visibly too much when they reach teen hood, but this movie showed that is it socially okay so criticize and point out when girls are become busty, and even siblings begin to stare at their developing sisters chest.

    Looking into the ideas of puberty, “obvious signs of development, such as budding breasts, pubic and underarm hair and body odor are appearing sooner in girls. But there has been only a slight shift in the age of menarche (the first period) over the past four decades. In the United States, the average age is 12. 5 years, down from 12. 75 in 1970. ” (Etheridge) Next, when Vivian’s sexually liberated cousin Rita, whom is a pregnant drug addict, soon moves in with her and her family she beings to be an “anti-role model. This is because she truly does set Vivian straight, even though she is someone who has no idea what she wants to do with her life as a twenty-nine year old. In today’s society and even in the late seventies, where the story line of this film takes place, people tend to struggle with paying their bills, and having enough money to support their families. During the film, Murray Abramowitz, father of three has a hard time keeping up with paying each of their apartment rents.

    So him and his family would move from one gaudy and tacky apartment to the next to dodge landlords and to avoid loosing out on the educational school system in Beverly Hills. Murray is not alone, “just thirty-eight percent of renters faced unaffordable housing costs in 2000, but that has risen to a full fifty percent of the renting population nationwide. The combination of stagnant wages, a prolonged unemployment crisis, mass foreclosures, and a shrinking pool of affordable housing options has pinched the renter market from every direction in recent years, pushing prices up across the board” (Pyke).

    With this being said, even though we are thirty years ahead, we are still struggling with paying for our houses, and paying our rents. Though Murray went the wrong way about doing so, by jumping from apartment to apartment, he represents many Americans, and how they are constantly feeling. Like we talked about as a class, I believe Murray struggles with role conflict. He wants to be a good father to his children, but at the same time he lusts for a partnership, and struggles to keep up with the bills.

    One thing that surprised me greatly about Murray was when he and his family when to the Sizzler restaurant for some steak. A subculture typically explains the behaviors of a specific group. People of different subcultures more often then not have their own values, practices and beliefs. There seems to be an entire subculture that stay put in Beverly Hills but they actually have no money. When the viewer meets Eliot, the boy who Vivian is interested in, I found much interest in the fact that he was wearing a Charles Manson t-shirt. Why would the producer have him wear a shirt with this particular person?

    Charles Manson was a terrible man, “in 1969, he and his “family” of followers killed innocent people in an attempt to start a counterrevolution in the United Statesthe Manson murders brought the end to an era of free love, peace and happiness. ” (Atchison). Having Eliot wear this shirt, it very mind boggling, this is due to the fact that Charles Manson killed so many people, and not even ten years later and Eliot and wearing a shirt with his face placed on it. This makes it seem to me as if Eliot is agreeing and is accepting of the cruelties that Manson was guilty of. Next Ben, Vivian’s older brother was also part of a certain subculture.

    He, like many other teenagers of his time smoked marijuana. As a viewer it actually amazed me that he was so open to talking about smoking his pot, even in front of his younger brother Rickey. Clearly, he is invested in smoking, he even tried to make a bet with Eliot, sand “Give me a discount and you can have my sister” as if he’d do anything just got get his hands on the drugs. According to one study, “bongs have become a staple of youth marijuana subcultures. Popular references to bong smoking arise in films and music lyrics. Youth seem to primarily engage in bong smoking when there are groups” (Kelly).

    One last part of a subculture I came to understand was the way Murray felt about African Americans. Though this movie takes place in the late seventies it was still evident that he had strong opinions potentially about slavery and people of this ethnicity. During their time at dinner, Murray begins to whistle at a young African American man that was working at the restaurant. He then calls him ‘Jackson’ in hope to receive service. Right then, a generation gap is evident when Ben and Vivian both start what their dad is doing, and they continuously tell their father that he cannot do that anymore.

    The film, “Slums of Beverly Hills,” is a fictional story line; there is some level of reality within it. Male or female, teenagers have a difficult time adapting to their new bodies and emotional understandings while, accepting the roles of the opposite gender around them. Lastly, subcultures played a role within the film they help the viewer understand that there are people who view many different topics, and have different beliefs. Overall, I enjoyed this movie very much, and I liked how I was able to take a look at with a sociological view.


    Atchison, A. J., & Heide, K. M. (2011). Charles Manson and the Family: The Application of Sociological Theories to Multiple Murder. International Journal Of Offender Therapy & Comparative Criminology, 55(5), 771-798. doi:10.1177/0306624X10371794

    Etheridge, P. (1970, January 1). Early puberty: Growing older sooner. CNN. Retrieved May 6, 2014, from

    Kelly, B. C. (2005). Bongs and Blunts: Notes from a Suburban Marijuana Subculture. Journal Of Ethnicity In Substance Abuse, 4(3/4), 81-97. doi:10.1300/J233v04n03-04

    Miller, B. C., & Bingham, C. (1989). Family Configuration in Relation to the Sexual Behavior of Female Adolescents. Journal Of Marriage & Family, 51(2), 499-506. Family Configuration

    Pyke, A. (2014, April 15). Rising Rents And Flat Wages Mean Americans Can’t Afford To Live In Cities. ThinkProgress RSS. Retrieved May 1, 2014, from

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