Class Dismissed: How TV Frames the Working Class



while television has provided a comfortable home for the middle class for over 50 years many of its most memorable characters have been working class though producers insist that television is meant to entertain and not to educate blue-collar shows have undeniably played a pivotal role in shaping our perceptions of working-class people but because we see television is just entertainment we readily disregard its impact on our thinking it's precisely because we believe television is merely entertainment that we need to take its image of the working class seriously turns out that in the United States about 62% of labor force are working-class people that is people who go to work they do their jobs huh they go home they go to another job but they don't have a lot of control or authority over their work well the the frustrating thing is that every time you try to bring up the subject of economic injustice and the fact that so many Americans work full time and don't make enough to live on and cetera some conservative is going to say that's class warfare you can't say that we're all we're all supposed to get along and ignore that you know being working-class seems kind of like a lifestyle choice where people you know like pink flamingos and tacky furniture in their house and don't have much taste just trying to give your family a little culture but if I shoved it in a hot pocket and smothered it in Velveeta the for you would be out back wrestling over it is if people choose to have lower incomes when class in reality is powerfully structured by social forces so Jerry Springer who introduces his show with the television of the trash can is where all the problems associated with white trash are on display it's interesting because it's a multiracial world it's a sort of equal opportunity spectacle because the common link here is social class and behind the scenes of course by the producers these people are referred to as trailer trash so they are condescended to behind the scenes and they are sought out and coached to behave in a particular way and what images of working classes do we see there these people are out of control they have no discipline their sex lives are all over the place and married with children it's so over the top and the fact that these this family that the Bundys themselves are totally disenfranchised that they simply do not have access to the American dream these families give rise to a couple kinds of kids either they're smart and talented which reinforces the myth of meritocracy these kids are going to make it out regardless of the circumstances or the kids are deviant in a number of ways little Bart Simpson type let's go break something yeah the two biggest troublemakers are definitely beavis and butt-head when these guys celebrate stupidity and they live for sex and violence it plays in a generation of youth raised in a media saturated Society of junk culture commodity and alienation where the parents are driven out of the home and into the labor force and where the TV becomes the babysitter and the role model there is an element of working-class revenge for these two guys that surely come from broken homes and a disintegrating community where school and work in the fast food industry are meaningless and their downwardly mobile with a bleak future if any good times all the characters knew that they were being exploited they were always struggling against the man no man I tell you the way it is I got a family they need food on the table and clothes on their back and I got to pay rent now I need that job government rules can't be broken unless you run into government but they always had these dreams that classic American dreams that if they work hard to define a get out of the projects and they'll succeed me without money people like us ain't got no chance at all but it ain't always gonna be that way James and of course that doesn't happen to the very end of the program the last episode which is sort of like Gilligan's Island where they get off the island and they they escaped the projects there is a certain kind of criminalization of the black body so that black masculinity is seen as a place of fear it's a way of trying to use race as a substitute to talk about class since so much of our tradition is about individual mobility and instead of making it through the American dream some of what I think cop shows do is to reinforce this universe about not only who is criminal in the kind of collective imagination but the inevitability and the kind of naturalness of it a whole conservative political agenda the last 3040 years has been to attack the port which is really to attack workers because most people who are poor are workers they work for a living but they have low wages or they have experience of unemployment so if we talk about the poor as something that's separate from workers we're making a big mistake this is not a narrow working-class interest we're losing we're losing essentially a century of the dust real and economic progress even as we speak and that gets that's a good way to form a class alliance it means restraining capital it means restraining the large corporations who are controlling the destiny of the United States to the detriment of the American people we can't change the portrait of corporate television to make us look more realistic and more complex and more humane without changing the inhumane situation that we live in and so social movements and social struggles around other issues in our society or de tied directly to media representation no so it's not enough to fight at the level of media you've got to do everything at once and when you do that and you make new people you've got to make new television you you




Comments
  1. Good Job … get a bunch of non working academics to comment on the plight of the working class. If academics are so down with the working class … why do they ignore the real issues of the proletariat. Oh yeah some of them are WHITE . What a bunch of phonies … down with socialism but they REVILE the proletariat.

  2. This is quite an advertisement for you to stay in school. You want to overcome what they're passing off as inevitable? Stay In School, don't have children until you're married, don't commit crimes, and overcome this bullshit.

  3. y'all are talking about college and here i am being forced to watch this propoganda in my freshman film class O_O' and i have to write an essay about it

    help me

  4. PSYOP Fuck them. So weary of the lack of action. Outnumbering them means nothing? Fuck it Jagaloons rule, the eyerollers just dont want to do shit. Go ahead and argue how great capitalism is. Yippee fuck heads

  5. The working classes have been programmed to always choose their racial identity over the common plight of all groups across the same economic class, the poor.
    Poor black,poor white,poor whatever. Its keeps the working class divided,so we can't organize on a mass scale, identity politics perverted. Its what the rich are doing with the refugees from Syria. Pit one group against the other. The Irish were used in this way in the past, look it up. The rich always generate the crisis,i.e. war in Iraq, which thereby creates a pool of desperate people. What everyone in the world should call for is that America and Britain pay for all the refugees in Iraq and Syria, they are the cause of it all.But no, the working class will pay for all of it, just watch.I fucking hate rich neo liberals, I really fucking hate them.

  6. What the hell "The whole conservative agenda is to attack the poor". Every time I hear the crap fox news talks about wealth they are saying how poor they all were and how they pulled themselves out of it. They are not attaching the poor they are attacking the idea that being poor is something honorable and good. Real world guys, if your not trying to make more money(be more useful to society) your are a selfish lazy person.

  7. Fuck the middle class. Fuck the corporations, all corporations should be owned by the state. Private enterprise should be illegal.

  8. Illiterate? Are you confusing blue collar with the welfare class? Blue collar is not the bottom of the barrel. I think anyone can get into the middle class if they are smart enough and hard-working enough and play their cards right. And intelligence is more important than most people will admit. People of varying IQs exist in EVERY social class. I've seen people from middle class families sink down into the poorer class simply because they weren't smart enough to make it through college.

  9. could the u.s. democratic party not make labour union membership COMPULSORY?
    people like ronny reagan tried to OUTLAW it. why cannot obama INLAW it?
    when people get a good take-home pay check, they don't need to turn to crime in order to survive. but if YOU start up a union, a christian republican would probably murder you – LITERALLY. you're a commie after all. a bit like loony muslims killing innocent people.THEY ALL THINK THEY HAVE A DIVINE RIGHT TO MURDER OTHERS.

  10. a lot of blue collars cannot even read the instructions on a condom label.
    they won't even vote in presendial elections. they are thick, illiterate, uneducated. education is the dirtiest word in their vocabulary.
    but if you do educate them, we would end up with a nation of EDUCATED CRIMINALS!!!

  11. I don't think people are stuck in their class system in America. I was a bartender, now I work in a laboratory and make a lot more. I was poor and the government paid for my education so I had no excuse not to go to college. My friend sold cell phones for awhile, then she just decided to take out a loan and become a lawyer. She's almost done with law school and already has work prospects. The only thing to complicate upward mobility in this country is carelessness about birth control.

  12. alternative implies that there are other viewpoints at hand…. there isn't. Nothing but liberal BS.

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