In Taxi Driver, we see the crises of the American Male in the 70’s through the eyes of Travis Bickle. The idea of what a man is supposed to be changes in the 70’s. Many of these men were Vietnam war veterans, who returned home not to glory and adoration, but scorn and pity. This caused much distress for these men, whose ideals of what an American hero should be were being utterly erased from the American memory. Travis feels lost with no real identity, he is always on the outside looking in. This causes him to feel a true contempt for modern society, specifically in New York, for which he feels he does not participate in. Travis cannot idly sit by any longer and watch these events unfold, so he decides to take action in a negative way.
The turning point in the film, is when Travis shoots a man attempting to hold up a grocery store in his neighborhood. Travis felt as though he was doing a good deed, but it was not portrayed this way in the film. When watching the scene you feel extremely uneasy, and you find yourself question Travis and his intentions. Travis’ actions are not glorified here, but strewn with gore. Travis herein makes his transformation into the antihero of the film. Travis becomes increasingly violent and demented and his actions come to a head in one of the films final and bloodiest scenes in a ‘showdown’ style shootout. Instead of being celebrated, it is portrayed in an extremely disturbing manner, further instilling the idea of the antihero. Travis was a man with no direction, and when given no path you are often forced to forge your own. However, within the boundaries of an unstable mind, the path is bound to be twisted.
In the film Taxi Driver, Martin Scorsese presents several different characters, with different personalities and understanding how their interactions affect one another. One of the quotes that stood out throughout the film is “Shit…I’m waiting for the sun to shine.” Its a very significant quote because the meaning behind it pretty much identifies with the main character.
Scorsese presents this complex character that isn’t easy to decipher. Coming home from a war that wasn’t agreed with the masses, Bickle returns home trying to find out where he truly belongs and trying to rebuild his life. In this quote “Shit…I’m waiting for the sun to shine.” It presents this ideal way that many people have been thinking. Although in the film, Scorsese presents two different characters that appears to have it all figured out. For example Iris believed that she is meant to be a prostitute and Betsy knew that she wanted to help run a campaign. The fact that they got their lives figured out is great. But what Travis stated that he is waiting for the sun to shine, hes saying that he might be civil in where he is now but it doesn’t mean that he is happy with what life has to offer him now. I believe Scorsese uses this technique to contrast Travis’s “unstable” state of mind to two characters to appear to have it all together.
I think this quote is very true and appropriate for this time period. Presented with constant issues of life changing experiences and the struggle to adapt to constant change, its hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Travis Bickle appears to be stuck in this place where he is trying to find where he belongs and although it appears that he has done a lot through his life and appears to have a stable job and life, hes trying to learn how to be happy.
“God, you’re square.”
After listening to Travis’ lecture on what the correct thing is, the only reply that Iris has for Travis is one sentence stating that he is a four-sided polygon with no interesting features. Through her one line reply, we can tell that Iris thinks of Travis as a boring man and that he has no authority in deciding what is best for her. For someone who believes that she is independent and capable of doing whatever she wants, Iris refuses to listen to anything he says. But, what does a twelve year old prostitute and runaway know about real independence and the true nature of life in the city? Certainly after running away from her parents and dropping out of school, she believes that she has demonstrated independence, but she is sorely mistaken.
By running off to the city, Iris wants to demonstrate her newfound independence by taking care of herself and finding a better life than the one she left. But, there isn’t much that a twelve year old girl can do in a big city like NYC that was filled with drugs, junkies, and other scum in the 1970’s. In such a corrupted society, Iris falls victim to the Sports, a man whose only concerns include money and sex, and uses prostitution as her own method of earning some pocket change. She genuinely believes that Sports loves her and that he does everything he can for her own good, but he is actually limiting her independence and corrupting her soul and body.
During the final scene, Travis decides to take away Iris’ false sense of independence and she returns to her family. After leaving the corrupted society, it is unclear what exactly has happened afterwards, but through her parents’ letter, she seems to have changed for the better and have become truly independent.
“[W]hen I’m not stoned, I got no place else to go. So they just, uh, protect me from myself.” – Iris
In the 1970’s , women’s rights were on the rise. No longer did they have to rely on men; they could go work their own jobs and live their own independent lives. Men no longer had all the power they used to have, and so, some resorted to all sorts of lows to regain some sense of that “power.” One of their methods was prostitution. Naive girls like Iris were exploited to give men pleasure and a feeling of dominance, while the girls were fooled into believing that selling their bodies like so was a sort of women’s rights. They were manipulated into thinking that they were the ones making decisions, that they were choosing what is best for them.
Sport tells Iris that he loves her, and she believes him wholeheartedly, but it is apparent that Sport isn’t in love at all. Iris is simply a means of getting what he wants – money, business, and most likely sex. But, she stays with him, thinking that he’s treating her well and protecting her from herself. She doesn’t believe she has anywhere else to go. When Travis goes to take her away, she doesn’t understand what she needs to be taken away from. “I can leave anytime I want to,” she tells him. This is obviously not true, though. If she really were to leave one day, she would most likely be dragged back like she was outside the theater that night. She has this false sense of independence, of thinking she could come and go as she wishes. Ultimately, she’s just being used. But, Iris is oblivious to this. To her, she is right where she wants to be – in the “love” and protection of Sport.
“Hey I’m not square. You’re the one that’s square. You’re full of shit, man. What are you talkin’ about? You walk out with those fuckin’ creeps and lowlifes and degenerates out on the street and you sell your, sell your little pussy for nothin’ man. For some lowlife pimp – stands in a hall. I’m, I’m square? You’re the one that’s square, man. I don’t go screw and fuck with a bunch of killers and junkies the way you do. You call that bein’ hip? What world are you from?”
In a scene in the movie, Travis attempts to save Iris. In doing so he finds himself determining what is right from wrong in her situation accompanied by his age and morality. Iris readily accepts this notion of being cared for when he does step up to rescue her from a “poisonous existence.”
Iris is a merely a child in a society filled with corruption and misery. The life she settles for as a prostitute under the care of pimps, is a life she seems to be content with. It somehow appeared to be as though she found It thrilling to live around men calling her names and abusing her.This life being the closest she might get to a thrilling life away from the conventional suburban one that she left behind in Pittsburgh. New York, to her is where the people who really cared for her lived, she was independent but nonetheless had someone who she thought she could rely on (Sport, her pimp). She tried beyond reach to prove her womanhood. Although while conversing with Travis, her obvious juvenile identity is revealed by her childlike table manners. To her, Travis is a father figure, a person who by means of civility takes up the responsibility to make her a better person in a society as such. The attempt that Travis makes in saving her, gives him a sense of fulfillment. Saving her makes up for the lost lust that he could have gained from Betsy .But his heroic act at the end of the movie doesn’t seem relevant anymore because she believed that Sport genuinely cared for her outside being her pimp.
Iris is portrayed as a damaged young girl seeking attention in a corrupt environment, she needs a place in society and therefore settles for the one that comes to her easy.
Travis Bickle, an ex-marine, lives in an era that was revolved around prostitution, crime and garbage. He is left alone to battle his own physiological thoughts of what society should really consist of. Being mentally challenged, he comes to the conclusion that there must be a hero to stop the corruption of the society happening in the 1970’s. Bickle believes he is the designated one. Designated one to help Besty and Iris get away from their supposedly “sorrow”, designated one to erase the corruption done by the government, and the designated one to cleanse the sidewalk of the trash.
A scene that depicts this idea was the scene where Bickle decides that it is time to go rescue Iris from her misery. Bickle shoots Sports along with the other two gangsters and gets severely injured in the process. But is it morally right to do so? In his perspective, he is acting as a hero that is trying to protect Iris and lead her down the right path. But in other peoples’ perspective, he might be portrayed as an insane man that is fed up with the chaos of the society and becomes a madman killing people.
Travis served in the United States Corps during the Vietnam War. He was controlled by rule and experienced killing people in the war. This experience made him more suffer to live in society even more in his job, a taxi driver. In the beginning of the movie “taxi driver”, Travis Bickle says “Someday a rain will come and wipe this scum off the street”. A job of taxi driver has no choice but to see the dark side of society. And he was tried to keep his temper all the time, when he saw crimes, prostitution, etc. It was most bothering thing to him, because he was a taxi driver. It means that he does not have any power to distinguish between right and wrong or make them correct. He just endured. This gap between his though and act made him to be suffer from insomnia.
Furthermore, Travis is a symbol of people who live in New York City. People who live in the city are agree that modern products have improved the quality of our lives but they feel lonely between people and feel of alienation from human society. These city people’s lonely and sense of alienation portrayed as the taxi driver. Travis came in contract with many people, but they became strangers after they arrived at their destination. He could drive anywhere in NYC, but it was just outside of the city. He did not connect with other people. His suffer would be represented by his saying, when he catch a holdup man. He said “A man takes a job, you know and that job becomes what he is.” Therefore, a lonely and isolated taxi driver became himself. Also, when we ask about who is he/she; we answered his/her job rather than description of him/her. This is well represented of 1970’s society.
In the movie Taxi Driver, 1970’s New York is portrayed as a totally different city than what we see it as today in 2013. The city is filled with “filth, scum, dirt” and mainly – prostitutes. Girls at the age 0f 12 are being sold and treated with absolutely no respect and it is completely accepted in the society. The short dresses, half naked bodies, flirtatious looks are all just to get some money and make some business. Girls are being drugged and end up “stoned” in random taxis which they have to be escorted out from in a very suspicious way. Our main character, Travis, was completely conscious of what went on in his taxi when a pimp – Sport- took out Iris, yet after a 20 was throw down, Travis kept his mouth shut. The big difference between modern New York and 1970’s New York is the mentality of people.
You would believe that the prostitutes hated the way they got treated, yet when Travis kills the main people in the pimp business, Iris, the 12 year old prostitute, cried over the blood bath. Does that tell us that she enjoyed it? She wanted to stay out of school, dress slutty and make money the un-orthodox way? The movie clearly seems to hint so. In 1970’s prostitutes were easily identifiable on the streets, especially New York streets. Not to say there are no prostitutes on the streets now a days, but they are not as widely seen. Iris, seemed to even enjoy her job. She was not very reluctant to run away with Travis, go back home and go back to school. What the 1970’s society missed is that she enjoyed her job. Travis was rewarded as a hero who saved a poor 12 year old from big scary men, yet in Iris’s eyes, Sport was the hero. The New York society was clearly aware of who the pimps were, where their houses were and although they tried to crack down, Sport could easily try to brush the police off and joke around with them. This wouldn’t fly in today. Prostitution was a subject nobody talked about, yet it was widely used – like that big elephant in the room. We all know its there, we just won’t acknowledge it.
Overall, the streets of New York have changed. They are cleaner. They are more friendly. Less suspicious. But mainly, they are more safe (granted, some parts still might not be, but for the most part New York is a safe city). And girls like Iris, at 12 years old, will be in school, with parents or guardians, and mainly – not openly allowed in the prostitution business.
In the 1970’s many young men were returning home from the war in Vietnam. Many of these men were drafted into service before they could finish or even start college. As a result, many of these veterans could not get a good paying job and were forced to work low paying jobs. Many of these troops also had psychological problems due to experiences during the war. Also being in the war lead to these men having a distorted view of what was “normal”. The main character in Martin Scorcese’s classic film Taxi Driver, Travis Bickle, is in this situation.
At the beginning of the film, Travis Bickle walks into a taxi depot trying to find some work. One of the questions the boss/dispatcher asks is “Education?”, to which Bickle doesn’t give a straight answer. Bickle, like other war vets at the time, had little to no education and a psychological issue (insomnia) that essentially outcasted him to his own world. Travis volunteers to work the midnight shift since he can’t sleep at night. After fighting for his country, Travis came home to a city and nation that rejected him. Travis epitomizes the experience of war vets in the 1970’s after the Vietnam War.
Travis Bickle is an ex-marine who has little to no education and a very little options. He becomes a taxi driver in order to cope with the long, sleepless nights as well as make some cash. As a taxi driver Travis witnesses the crime, prostitution and corruption in New York City during the 1970s. Every night Travis witnesses these things firsthand in the back of his taxi cab. After a while, Travis becomes sick of the scum that lurks around New York City and decides to take matters into his own hands.
The scene that I found to be important was after Travis went into the grocery store. At that moment a robber walks in with a gun in order to rob it. At that moment Travis decides that he needs to step up and become a hero in that corrupted society. So Travis shoots and kills the robber. This scene shows Travis Bickle as a violent dogmatist. As a person that who wants to become a hero who can reform society and “wash the trash off the sidewalk.”