Good Essay On Waterpark Scene In “Malcolm In The Middle”
Integrity is indeed a complex and interesting concept, since there are so many aspects to its definition. “The building’s integrity in hurricane-force winds” is very different from, “The police officer’s integrity on the witness stand.” In fact, I found a long philosophy definition dedicated to the meaning of integrity, and I’m sure there are more. After careful consideration of the many definitions I found on the internet, and of my own sense of integrity and my own behavior, I have developed the following personal definition of the word: “Integrity is the quality of being honest and having and acting from strong moral and ethical principles, in a predictable and reliable way, never wavering.”
If my definition is used to analyze the events in the “Malcolm in the Middle; Waterslide Episode,” then practically the entire episode is “out of integrity.” I shall now proceed to analyze each scene in greater detail.
“Hal and Lois's decision to procure a babysitter--any babysitter--for Dewey so that they can have fun at the park.” This decision was definitely “out of integrity.” One choice that Hal and Louis might have made instead would have been to have waited to go to the waterslide until everyone was feeling well, so that Dewey could have gone along too. Dewey is already feeling sad and left out when the-babysitter-from -Hades arrives. She
will not allow Dewey to do anything at all, until midway through the episode, when she apparently has a change of heart and exhibits pretty crazy behavior. Hal and Lois were being very selfish when they decided to go have fun without their youngest child, and they did not act from a place of integrity.
b) “Hal's decision to smuggle a pint of rum into the park.” Again, this act was way out of integrity. It was not only unethical and immoral, it was illegal. And to make it worse, Lois responded very positively herself, commenting something like, “I just love it when you smuggle liquor into places like this!” This was purely a selfish act.
c) “Hal and Lois's decision to ignore their two sons and concentrate on each other.” This entire day Hal and Lois have been acting in a very selfish way. At a “family waterslide park”-- emphasis on “family!”—they have decided to stage their own little tropical mini-vacation and try to pretend that their boys are not even there. When the boys do come along and interrupt, Hal and Lois act very annoyed. This whole day, their integrity and commitment as parents is missing from their behavior. They just want to be alone together—but this not the right venue for that.
d) “The behavior of the attendant at the top (entry point) of the monster water ride.” The attendant’s behavior was not all that prominent, but he was “out of integrity” too. For one thing, he let Malcolm break into the line ahead of lots of other people when Malcolm raced to the head of the line to escape his mother. He also let the two boys stand in the water together, and then their mother too, greatly compromising the safety of the ride. Overall, he just didn’t seem to care very much.
e) “The decision by Francis and Spangler to deliberately lose each game of pool that they play against each other.” This one is a little more complex and multi-faceted. Neither wants to show the other up, and neither wants a string of losses either. Both are—obviously—very good pool players who are deliberately holding back with each other. If this is “out of integrity,” it is more subtle than the other examples are. Spangler clearly has the power, and Francis is deferring to it, but this is hard for him. Their true integrity would be to play the best game that each of them could play, but they are not doing that, for a complex of reasons. This sub-plot is worth a whole episode in itself, I think.
f) “The fact that after the elderly babysitter is taken away via ambulance, both the emergency medical technicians and the neighbors fail to realize that Dewey has been left home alone.” Poor Dewey, allegedly sick, has had a very strange day. First the babysitter acts like a martinet, then she gets totally out there and crazy, and then she takes a fall or has a heart attack or stroke or something, and an ambulance comes to take her away. Dewey has been left alone now, and the EMT’s and neighbors are greatly “out of integrity” not to check up on his status. He ends up in what appears to be the edge of Chinatown, first chasing a balloon, then an empty paper bag—and then the show fades out. Actually, Dewey is one of the few characters who does act out of integrity that day. When his babysitter tells him to be quiet, he complies and remains quiet. He is bored and sick and lonely, but he follows instructions. One’s heart goes out to him as he wanders down the street, lonely, at the end of the show.
In conclusion, I repeat that practically the entire show is a demonstration of people acting without integrity. Malcolm’s parents are particularly guilty of this. They seem to be very selfish parents who have lost sight of the needs of their children. Only little Dewey as he wanders the streets alone could feel proud of the way he performed that day.
Agsous, Amina. Malcolm in the Middle; Malcolm and the Self-Quest. “Culture Exchange,
Cox, Damian, La Caze, Marguerite and Levine, Michael, "Integrity", The Stanford Encyclopedia
of Philosophy (Fall 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL =
Leonard, John. The Littlest Freudian. “New York Magazine TV Reviews.” (No date.)
“Malcolm in the Middle: the Waterslide Scene.” Historical television; date of first showing
unknown. Fox Broadcasting.
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