Marxist Criticism

An Introduction

Marxist Critics
Apply the economic/social principles and ideas of Karl Marx to film and the film industry. Believe that society is based on a dialectic (or conflict) between employers (capital) and employees (labor). The ruling class and workers struggle for economic power. Believe that the values of capitalism, such as the primacy of profit and consumerism, infuse all aspects of our society.

.Marxist Critics See the individual as a product of society¶s value system (The individual is constructed by class and society.) Emphasize the role of class and labor as they analyze films.

Grapes of Wrath (1940) .

religion. education.Society The beliefs. the way the society produces materials. the economic organization of a group: capitalism. urban development. . and values of a society form an ideological base which influences the superstructure of a society. barter and trade. The ideological base influences the economic base of society. literature. attitudes. film. its laws. art. politics. socialism. etc.

religion. art. politics. education. and ethics Base Ideology: system of beliefs. attitudes. philosophy. and values .Base and Superstructure Superstructure laws.

Discussion: What are the values and beliefs of capitalism? .Capitalism Capitalism is the ideological base of the United States and much of Western culture.

Exploitation One tenet of capitalism is exploitation. Discussion: How might employers exploit their employees? .

such as raw materials. .Exploitation Employees/owners make money (or profit) by paying employee/workers less than the value of their production.75/hour for a profit of $93. the employer pays the employee $6.25 (minus fixed costs. an employee makes 100 mechanical pencils an hour that are worth $1 a piece on the market. but rather than pay the employee $100/hour. and taxes). For example.

Norma Rae (1979) .

Germinal (1993) .

Profit: driving force of capitalism. many make product (and earn wage). raise in labor costs. . a change in supply and demand can all ³eat into´ the profit. only one makes profit (net proceeds) Profit loss: Market saturation. . . private investment and control of profit. lower demand for product.Exploitation continued . money left over after fixed costs and labor costs. raise in fixed costs.

To further increase profits Employers exploit their employees by Speeding up work Lowering wages Creating dangerous working conditions Not allowing labor a voice (unions) Laying off/downsizing workforce Providing shorter breaks Driving workers with hard labor .

Roger and Me (1989) .

USA (1976) .Harlan County.

Exploitation leads to Alienation Alienation: a withdrawing or separation of a person or a person's affections from an object or position of former attachment (Merriam-Webster Online) Discussion: From whom or what might workers feel alienated from? .

. .Employees feel alienated . lower self-esteem. just a number From others: other employees. loss of identity. no sense of ³ownership´ or pride in work From self: drug addiction. insanity. clock in and out . employers. family From time: 9-5. not sure what product is. From product: soul not in it. no rest or relax. watch the clock.

Salesman (1969) .

Marginalization of lower classes (placed at edge of society socially. .Marxist critics may also analyze . . economically. and politically) Violence between the classes Dehumanization of the lower classes How all the above is tied to race and racism .

Analyze the effects of capitalism in the film. Analyze exploitation of worker as represented in a film. Focus on working conditions of workers as represented in a film. Analyze the conflict between labor and capital in a film. . Note instances of alienation in a film Note the marginalization of lower classes .How to . . . . Look for evidence of how the values of capitalism influence the characters and society are represented in a film.

which reflect the base Exploitation: the difference between the value of production and what a worker is paid by the owner Alienation: the results of capitalism on the worker. the separation between the worker and others due to exploitation on the job. and politically . and values of a society Superstructure: laws. education . politics. Marginalization: placing lower classes and people of color on edges of society socially. . economically. workers Capital: employers. owners. . major investors Base: beliefs.Key Terms Capitalism: the economic ideological base which values private ownership and profit for individuals Labor: employees. attitudes.

Movies and Meaning. ³Marxist litcritweb/theory/marxism.´ Glossary of Literary Theory.utoronto. Henderson. Understanding the Movies. Cumberland College.Resources Fish. 1997.cumberland college. Steven. 1994. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. 15 Apr. 2001. Texts and Contexts. Tom. U of Toronto. 2008. Louis. Marxist Criticism. . Stephen. 23 June 1999. 11th ed. Giannetti. 2004. New York: HaperCollins. 15 Apr. Lynn. 31 Mar. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.htm>. 2nd ed. Greig and Christopher Brown. html>. Prince. <http:// www.library. 2004 < The Literary Criticism Web.

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