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FormuIa-1 WorId Championship, the Fastest BiIIboards on the Road

When looking from a Marxist perspective, the world Formula-1 championship is a
good example of capitalism and its efforts to extract the workers surplus to reproduce
economic domination of a sector in today's world media and economy. The spectacle of
Formula-1 is very good at showing us what kinds of capitalist undertones a spectacle
such as this can produce in today's media. Some of the main things that show this
capitalist structure particularly well are; the event itself in a spectacle view, the division
of labor within the teams, upward mobility to reach this pinnacle of racing as well as
showcasing competition in a marketplace.
Capitalism, as Carl Marx likes to see it is basically upper class domination in
which the mode of production shapes the ideas of the society itself. Mr. Marx believed
that a society is shaped by the way that it produces its means of existence. n this
model, a business or person makes a profit by extracting surplus from the labor of the
people actually doing the physical work. n Marx's view, division of labor is key to this
fact as well; also that capitalism encourages the value of competition within the
marketplace. These values of competition drive toward our current subject, Formula-1
racing. Formula is one of the most heavily advertised sports in the world today. The
racing itself is considered to be the premier series in the world when looking into the
motorsport community. The races consist of 22 drivers entering for competition in open
wheel race specific road cars. These cars and race venues are all plastered with
advertising from different sponsoring companies that sponsor either the driver or race


team, or put money to maintain the tracks and venues themselves. Every single car has
an array of companies vying for prime real estate on its bodywork.
This astounding amount of advertising brings the first topic when relating this
pinnacle of motorsport to the Marxist and ideological view of capitalism, the whole event
is one of the largest media and business spectacles in today's economy. The initial idea
and purpose is pretty well stated by Kellner in this quote, "Media culture itself
proliferates ever more technologically sophisticated
spectacles to seize audiences and increase the media's power and profit. The forms of
entertainment permeate news and information, and a tabloidized infotainment culture is
increasingly popular, (Kellner 1). This idea of spectacle is seen in Formula-1 in the
way that the events are crawling with media personnel and each event is highly
publicized. The turning of each race into such a spectacle is what makes the companies
that advertise in this venue so competitive.
The idea of competition in the Marxist view of capitalism is a very important one.
This is because in capitalism there is a struggle between different businesses or
employees within said businesses, in its rawest form, a race is exactly this, competition.
As a whole, not only are the teams competing for the winnings, so are the advertisers
and companies behind them. This works to reproduce capitalism in the way that it tells
the viewers to work to maximize their capital and to sell it to achieve the socioeconomic
standing that they wish in life. With the idea of capitalism in Mr. Marx's being that you
hide the fact that the upper echelon is selling goods for more than they are worth, labor
wise, you begin to see that there is a definite hierarchy between the working class and
upper class. When looking through the scope of Formula-1, there are a few different


forms of this hierarchy being portrayed. The first of these is from the team owners at the
top of the pyramid, moving downward to team managers to the driver of the car and so
on. (Gitlin 251-260) The second of these pyramids is one that deals with Stuart Hall's
interpretation of Marxist Capitalism. This form is also beginning with the team owners,
but the end user is the consumer who is watching the race, reading about it, or just
catching a glimpse of it on the news. This quote from Daniel Chandlers Marxist Media
Theory page fits well with the ideas at hand. "For Hall 09, the mass media do tend to
reproduce interpretations which serve the interests of the ruling class, but they are also
'a field of ideological struggle'. (Chandler) This fits in with the idea that Formula-1 is a
good model of Marx's capitalist society in the way that the ruling class, is the team
owners and advertisers working together to select what brands the teams want to
represent, and for the advertising companies to get their name out on a car they think
will be profitable for them. These "ruling class people in Formula-1 are having their
intentions reproduced, as stated in the quote, through the mass media coverage of the
races and race season. This combines with the idea of the series being a spectacle to
furthermore emphasize the effect that these higher-ups in the teams and industry have
on the rest of the spectating audience which acts like the working class when looking
back at the Marxist representation of capitalism.
Still looking at the Ruling classes and the general hierarchy that is created both
in Marxist capitalism as well as Formula-1; you can start to see a division of labor rise
out of this just as in capitalism. f you go from the bottom up, there is the working class
essentially the guys who move the car from race to race and do the grunt work that
could be considered working class. Next working your way up the ladder is the middle


class, which is represented by those who work in the pits on the car and have more
privileged duties when it comes to the race and maintaining the cars working order. f
formula had an upper middle class it would be the team captains and the driver himself.
Finally, you have the upper echelon of this whole set of people and classes. The team
owners and main sponsors-directors of the teams, these people represent those who
make the decisions that influence what the consumer as well as the mass media gains
sight of. These are the ones who take advantage of the workers and their surplus to
maintain economic domination in the economy, which in this case, is the world of
Formula-1 racing.
n the realm of popular culture and in today's media, Formula-1 racing is a good
example when looking at Carl Marx's view of capitalism. The pinnacle of motor sport,
F1, demonstrates many values that are looked for when defining capitalism through a
media text in today's culture. The most important thing to look at when viewing this text
in an ideological frame is how each thing ties together to demonstrate the capitalistic
traits. The whole event being a spectacle in which the team owners and directors
choose what types of advertising is done as well as how much media coverage the
event has. These directors and team owners are also part of the ideological framework
that is represented in the way that they extract their laborers surplus to ensure that their
position high up in the economy or for this purpose the Formula-1 teams or organization
itself is ensured to be lasting. Also within this text, the values for hard work and
competition are shown through the racing and the fight for the advertisers to get prime
spots trackside or on the vehicles themselves. All in all, the spectacle that is the


Formula-1 world championship is a good reference when looking to find a way to view
the Marxist ideological framework that exists in today's capitalistic society.

Works Cited

Chandler, Daniel. "Stuart Hall." Marxist Media Theory. 10 APR 2000. Aberystwyth
University , Web. 26 FEB 2010.
<http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/marxism/marxism11.html>.
Gitlin, Todd. "Prime Time deology: The Hegemonic Process in Television
Entertainment." Social Problems. 26.3 (1979): 251-266. Print.
Kellner, Douglas. Media Spectacle. London: Routledge, 2003. 1-17. Print.