Marxism In The Media Essay Research Paper

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Holy Smokes, Kids! It & # 8217 ; s Marxism in the Media! !

Sandra Carter

Media Theory and Criticism

March 29, 2001

& # 8220 ; To my hurt and possibly to my delectation, I order things in conformity with my passions. I put in my images everything I like. So much worse for the things & # 8212 ; they have to acquire along with one another. & # 8221 ;

& # 8211 ; Pablo Picasso

( Berman 1 )

The above quotation mark raises some interesting inquiries one must see about the mass media. What decides which messages the media portrays to the consumer? What must a medium contain that makes us desire to watch it? Possibly the creative persons merely do what involvements them. Or possibly the messages are merely used for amusement and are based on what sells or what is popular. This is true to an extent but this is simply a abrasion in the surface of these firing inquiries. There are many theories that seek to explicate the intent of the mass media, but this paper will discourse Marxist media theory. This paper will acquire past the surface and discourse the ends and intent of the media in Marx & # 8217 ; s sentiment.

In its truest signifier, Marxism is a humanistic group of ideas and thoughts that states that everyone should hold every bit productive lives. It strives to level the category battle between the Bourgeoisie and Proletariat. Marx believes in a humanistic political orientation that parallels the idea that everyone is created equal.

Marxist theoreticians conceive that one of import function of the media is to reproduce the position quo. Simply stated the media is said to perpetuate norms. Like antecedently stated, a category battle exists between the upper and lower categories and it is rather apparent. The upper category had a fastness on the media because they had the most money. Therefore, they were able to command what everyone idea was the coveted life style and civilization norms. They used the media to convert the other categories that what the upper category enjoyed should be what is desirable. This is in a manner similar to Picasso & # 8217 ; s quotation mark. He painted things that appealed to him instead so what others wanted him to.

By maintaining the position quo, the capitalist economic system corsets in gesture. & # 8220 ; American Capitalism finds its sharpest and most expressive contemplation in American cinema. & # 8221 ; ( Marxist Overtones 1 ; cited from Eisenstein & # 8217 ; s Film Form )

There are many things that could explicate why the upper category & # 8217 ; s position was disseminated upon the multitudes. First off, it takes money to run a medium. Since they have the most money, they have the luxury of running the media. Besides, with money comes instruction. Not merely were the lower categories hapless in comparing, but they were besides less educated. Because of their underprivileged position, they were really susceptible to being manipulated. They lacked the cognition to believe for themselves, so they bought in to the position quo that was generated by the upper category.

Economism, or vulgar Marxism, is a cardinal characteristic in explicating the media & # 8217 ; s function harmonizing to Marx. This is besides referred to as the base/superstructure theoretical account. In economism, & # 8220 ; the economic base of society is seen as finding everything else in the superstructure, including societal, political, and rational consciousness. & # 8221 ; ( Marxist Media Theory 1 ) This maintains that the media is used as the base of society. Society is referred to as the superstructure. Clearly, media shapes society even today. Since consumers rely on the media for information and amusement, ( ex. Television and wireless new, magazines, newspapers, Internet ) , they are shaped by whatever signifiers of media they chose to be an audience to. The media manipulates everything from popular manner to the nutrient people consume.

Media can besides be seen as a agency of production harmonizing to the Marxist school of idea. It merely disseminates the thoughts of the opinion category and defuses any options. This creates a perceptual experience of popular civilization that is truly merely based on one group & # 8217 ; s sentiment.

& # 8220 ; The category which has the agencies of stuff production at its disposal has control at the same clip over the agencies of mental production, so that thereby, by and large talking, the thoughts of those who lack the agencies of mental production are capable to it. & # 8221 ; ( Marx and Engels 22 )

This quotation mark states fundamentally that the media will pull strings those who lack the ability to believe for themselves on certain issues. This is true because the media gatekeeper is in control of what information is presented in the assorted signifiers. Besides, the mass media produces false consciousness in the working categories. This leads to massive looks of governing category values being perpetuated while disregarding any divergence of said thoughts.

& # 8220 ; The mass media still perform their occupation of deflecting people from the worlds of U.S. society and of & # 8220 ; overcasting their heads & # 8221 ; with thoughts that the governing category wishes them to have. & # 8221 ; ( Berger 45 )

Another of Marx & # 8217 ; s theories is that mass media acts as an amplifier. This means that media establishments are locked into the power construction, thereby moving in tandem with the dominant establishments in society. This reproduces society & # 8217 ; s point of views non as one thought among many, but instead as the cardinal or natural position. The media besides has a inclination to the unpopular and unconventional and pull on the values that are most widely legitimated. Portrayals of force in the media have frequently been approached in footings of whether or non they serve to legalize the forces of jurisprudence and order. For this ground, mediated communications are widely supported by constabulary, bench, and schools.

A more noticeable illustration of Master of Education

Iowa as an amplifier is the coverage of elections. Voting is seen as an ideological pattern that sustains the myth of democracy. The media is used to cover this intently to acquire the point across to the viewing audiences that they have a pick. The impact of election coverage is conceived as reenforcing political values that Western democracies widely portion. During an election twelvemonth there is information about the event on literally every channel. Therefore, people are presented with the thought that they should vote because it is a great privilege. However, the occurrences of this year’s election might hold swayed people to believe that the vote system is defunct or useless. The interesting thing is that when the recounts were go oning, the media did nil to conceal that something was incorrect. One must inquire if the media’s intent was to convey this out in order to alter the system.

Another facet of Marxist idea constitutes the person as place holders through the effects of societal dealingss. This thought is called the fundamental law of the topic. In this thought there is a reciprocally synergistic between the topic ( worlds ) and the object ( conditions of human being ) . The person is a self-aware being whose & # 8217 ; actions are explained by personal beliefs, purposes, penchants, etc. These personal points are shaped through ideological province setups such as household, school, and the mass media. In other words, Persons gain a sense of individuality and apprehension of world through those three influences.

Marxism is a school of idea that holds many unfavorable judgments. These are due in portion to a few noteworthy restrictions. First off, it is argued that Marxism is non an nonsubjective scientific discipline but instead an political orientation and holds small empirical research. In fact, other than media survey of certain texts, small research is possible. Some research workers have even been accused of being excessively dogmatist or dogmatic. In other words, it is possible to see plants of popular civilization with lone Marxist impressions in head.

& # 8220 ; The danger for Marxist media analysts is that they know the replies before they ask the inquiries. That is, Marxists are besides captives of their ain idea, and the inquiries they ask of a work of popular media are frequently instead limited. & # 8221 ; ( Berger 58 )

Berger besides states that possibly Marxist thoughts are to simple to be deserving much. Marx & # 8217 ; s thought of Utopian idealism could take to chaos and perturb. Sometimes what is favourable is non what is right.

Another failing is that the Orthodox impression of false consciousness is a spot deceptive in its suggestion of a world undistorted by mediation. Marxist positions lead us to disregard the assorted ways in which audiences use media. For illustration, it is a bit pathetic to believe that world is shaped by all media when some fantasy portrayed in movie is unrealistic. For illustration, in the film

There are besides some strengths in Marxism. Marxist theory in the media draws attending to political and economic involvements and high spots inequalities in media representation.

The mass media besides play a function in satisfying those who feel alienated. Alienation can be described as separation of, or distance between the categories. The media distracts the person from his or her anomic feelings by making phantasy and deflecting their heads from their state of affairs. The job here nevertheless is that this creates a barbarous rhythm. If a individual feels alienated, they will be a consumer to something that costs money to rectify it. Then they will necessitate to work to gain more, doing them to experience more anomic.

Film author and manager James Cameron has a few plants that contain authoritative illustrations of Marxism. Possibly his most celebrated work, Titanic, there are several Marxist overtones. The most outstanding is the word picture of gallantry by the lower category. This illustration is sort of a turn on Marxism because the media normally offers heroes to stand for the upper category. This is done to dissemble the thought that a category system exists in order to forestall the civilization from revolting against capitalist economy.

In decision, there are many illustrations of Marxism nowadays in all signifiers of media. The chief intent of class is to make the position quo and make a position that hides the fact that the category battle exists. Besides, media is used as an amplifier for certain thoughts such as political relations. All in all, it could be said that the media is a tool designed by the upper category to derive control of the lower category.


Berman, Marshall. & # 8220 ; A Dialectic Humanism, & # 8221 ; Nation Vol. 269, Issue 17. November 22, 1999. p. 23

Berger, Arthur A. Media Analysis Techniques 1998. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 220 pp.

Kendrick, James. & # 8220 ; Marxist Overtones in 3 Movies by James Cameron. & # 8221 ; Journal of Popular Film and Television. Vol. 27, Issue 3. Fall 1999. p. 36

Marxist Media Theory. Online. Internet. March 22, 2001. Available:

Other Works Consulted

Allen, Robert D. erectile dysfunction. Channelss of Discourse, Reassembled. 1987. Chapel Hill: the university of north Carolina imperativeness. 405 pp.

Harvey, David. & # 8220 ; Marxism, Metaphors, and Ecological Politics. & # 8221 ; Monthly Review. Vol. 49, Issue 11. April 1998. p. 17

Gimenez, Martha. & # 8220 ; Marxism, Human Nature, and Social Change. & # 8221 ; Monthly Review. Vol. 51, Issue 7. December 1999. P. 45

Lowy, Michael. & # 8220 ; Marxism and Romanticism in the Work of Jose Carlos Mariategui. & # 8221 ; Latin American Perspectives. Vol. 25 Issue 4. July 1998. p. 76

McLellan, David. & # 8221 ; Then and Now: Marx and Marxism. & # 8221 ; Political Studies. Vol. 47 Issue 5. December 1999. p. 955

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