The Hidden Homelessness In Sean Baker's The Florida Project
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The following line from The Florida Project best sums up the film: “You know why this is my favourite tree? Cause it’s tipped over and it’s still growing.” Spoken by Moonee while eating jelly sandwiches with Jancey on the trunk of a lush, collapsed tree, the line draws a perfect similarity between the fallen tree’s continued growth and the motel residents’ efforts to trudge through poverty despite their representations in society. Sean Baker’s The Florida Project depicts Moonee, a six-year old living at the Magic Castle (a dilapidated motel just outside Walt Disney World) with her unemployed mother Halley. It takes place during the summer, where Moonee spends her time causing mischief with her friends Scooty and Jancey. Baker’s intention with the film was to illustrate the juxtaposition of poor families living on a weekly basis in motels near Walt Disney World, the supposed happiest place on Earth where tourists enjoy their vacation. This essay will examine Baker’s depiction of the hidden homeless, along with the representations of race and class that limit their mobility while perpetuating their circumstances.
The residents of the Magic Castle and nearby motels are considered to be the hidden homeless, known as those with temporary living conditions and lacking the prospect of guaranteed residency. The hidden part of the term refers to their non-use of homeless supports and services, even though they may truly need it. While choosing to not recognize themselves as homeless,