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Marx, Media and Society

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To gain an idea of how this ideology actually applies in the working world, it is helpful to take a closer look at a representative film such as Trading Places. The movie opens making the distinction between classes as it displays credits on a changing backdrop depicting scenes of opulence and privilege being conducted by mostly white men and scenes of abject poverty filled with mostly black men. One of the most impacting scenes in this opening montage involves the juxtaposition of the newspaper on the doorstep. This icon of American life is seen neatly folded and awaiting the fully suited butler to collect it from the doorstep of a neat and trim brownstone.

It is also seen scattered across the doorstep of a run-down tenement building, partially covering the sleeping black man who has obviously been using it as his only source of warmth as he slept through the night. Viewers are also treated to images of groups of black men gathered around a fire lit inside a trashcan, gathering what warmth they can as they drink their breakfast from out of cans or bottles hidden within brown paper bags.

This is seen in direct opposition to the image of the butler, now wearing a crisp white chef’ s hat, as he carefully prepares an elaborate breakfast of freshly squeezed orange juice and delicately warmed croissants, placing all on a tray with a flower to take up to his master. This brief opening montage immediately establishes and reinforces the traditional viewpoints held by a great deal of American society – that of the rich white man and the poor black man, allowing no meeting ground to exist between the two.

The film places a large degree of emphasis upon social class and status, again reinforcing the traditionally held ideology that material wealth is the ultimate goal which can only be obtained by allowing capital to create wealth, thus reinforcing the appearance of capitalism and obscuring the reality. Significantly, while Billy Ray is seen as a jobless beggar on the streets at the opening of the movie, Louis Winthorpe’ s life seems hardly more disturbed by actual work than Billy Ray’ s.

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preview essay on Marx, Media and Society
  • Pages: 9 (2250 words)
  • Document Type: Essay
  • Subject: Media
  • Level: Undergraduate
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