Wednesday, 7 May 2014


The blog will outline a collection of entries by our group that explain the Marxism theory by incorporating culture in the media form of film that will enable a broader outlook on how Marxism is a relevant topic to discuss how one could relate that to their own ‘reality’. Marxism is a theory that formed after feudalism, a system that was ever present in the medieval times that has now shifted to what one could conceptualize as a capitalist society. Marx stated, “The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones”. (Manifesto of the Communist Party, 1847). The bourgeoisie also known as the ruling class has developed and evolved to sprout new ideologies and beliefs within our society that what once was a way to establish a class hierarchical system that is above the Proletarians (working class). The way this was done back in pre-modernity was from Kings and Queens ruling the Proletarians that reside within their realms by controlling the means of production; resources, ideas or beliefs and in contrast this could be perceived in today’s society where governments and cooperation’s operate as the Bourgeois that exploit the Proletarians (the mass audiences within society) by controlling the means of production.

The collection of blog entries will establish one tool that the Bourgeoisie could use to exploit the mass audiences. Culture and more specifically the media format of films with Marxist themes from within will be identified to address the Marxist themes that are encapsulated within the films chosen by the group and this may reveal how Marxism is a very relevant topic in our current society because of its connection to the culture we utilize within our society.


Manifesto of the Communist Party. (1847). Available at: (Accessed: 5th May 2014)

A Critical Analysis on ‘V For Vendetta’ from a Marxist perspective By Terry Couzens

A ‘reality’ that desensitises the society we live in is extracted from the ideas that are subliminally incorporated into the same realm of existence using its culture by the rulers of modernity. To conceptualise the film ‘V For Vendetta’ with a classical Marxist viewpoint, it is imperative to understand the theory foremost before interconnecting the terminologies that can be used to identify where the Marxist themes exist within the reality in which the producers of the film potentially tried to capture This in turn can construct an understanding of the Marxist theory and apply it in the economically driven society we live in.

The concept of the Bourgeoisie and Proletarians is the foundations to understanding classical Marxism. The class struggles that exist within modernity are relative in the way society functions and regulated by governments and corporations under what can be perceived as a capitalist ideology

Marx states “Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master(3) and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another” (Marx, 2011: 11)
The new oppressor’s (Bourgeoisie) of today’s societies, such as the corporations are in a constant class struggle on how to maintain a hierarchical position to that of the oppressed (Proletarians).

The plot summary of the film ‘V For Vendetta’ is derived from the conspiracy to blow up the Houses of Parliament on 5th November 1605, also known as the Guy Fawkes Gunpowder Plot and how the film that bases itself off of this event depicts the future of capitalism. The film is separated with a class system that resembles the ruling class - the capitalist government and the everyday people, the mass audience that portrays the working class. The protagonist ‘V’ attempts to break free the working class from the grasps of the bourgeoisie/superstructure by revealing their ideologies, by showing the masses the ‘real’ that keeps the proletarians/base in the false consciousness state and thus, from creating an uprising from not only realising that they the mass were being exploited but because they desire freedom.

“Since mankind's dawn, a handful of oppressors have accepted the responsibility over our lives that we should have accepted for ourselves. By doing so, they took our power. By doing nothing, we gave it away. We've seen where their way leads, through camps and wars, towards the slaughterhouse.” (V For Vendetta, 2005)

The Bourgeoisie control the means of production (resources) that is used to exploit the Proletarians, as it’s these means of production that defines the hierarchy within the economical system of today’s societies.

“The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country.” (Marx, 1848)
The ruling class because of its high status within the economic society pre globalization means that in today’s society, the working class is continued to be exploited by the ruling class and it is the ruling class who owns the wealth; the economical basis of the idea that we need to work to get money to survive and that hopefully one day we will become rich enough not to need to work to survive. This is the ideology that was first set about and then constantly recycled by the bourgeoisie.

“If the capitalist mode of production presupposes this definite social form of the conditions of production, so does it reproduce it continually. It produces not merely the material products, but reproduces continually the production relations in which the former are produced” (Marx, 1967: 879 citied by Terray, 1975: 90)

The means of production that would once exist to control the working class such as land is now done through alternatives such as media consumption of ideas and it’s from owning these means of production that can keep the mass audiences in a false consciousness that make them unaware or idle to act on the exploitation by the ruling class that keeps them in this oppressed state.

“In the culture industry this imitation finally becomes absolute. Having ceased to be anything but style, it reveals the latter’s secret: obedience to the social hierarchy.” (Adorno, 1997:131)

Marxism references a system that uses the terms ‘Base’ and ‘Superstructure’. “The superstructure is characterised by the presence of an ideological factor: it consists of all institutions, except the directly economic-productive or the solely existential, as well as the artistic, literacy, scientific, religious, and political activities” (Rossi-Landi, 1990: 60)

The Bourgeois utilise the tools created by television to establish their ideologies to desensitise the mass audiences. The governments and corporations that form the ‘Superstructure’ acts as the hierarchical presence within the system that feed these ideologies to the ‘Base’. The ‘Base’ consists of the mass audiences that are constant awe of trying to establish themselves as the ‘Superstructure’. This is also known as false consciousness, as the process of recycling different ideologies and beliefs to the ‘Base’ gives the idea of becoming something more than they are, a ‘reality’ that won’t ever materialise from the dreams in which the oppressors cant conceptualise the differences from afar and within.

A scene within the film shows the government covering up the attack on the building that was orchestrated by the protagonist by claiming it was a planned demolition that had unexpected complications. Prior to this, these oppressors were in conference claiming ‘V’ as a terrorist because they are concerned with how this individual can unify the masses and cause a revolution against the capitalist society they reside in as he is oppressing the notion of a superstructure.

“This is the BTN, our job is to report the news, not fabricate it. That’s the government’s job”. (V For Vendetta, 2005)

The quote refers to the conversation the producer of the news station has where he claims that the bourgeoisie use media (means of production) to drive the false consciousness to the mass audiences.

It could be perceived that the masses are victims of an alienated capitalist society that is split between two classes. The class struggles of being tied to an economically driven society in which the ruling class that controls or owns the resources (means of production) create and constantly recycle ideologies to drive the superstructure principle which means that the working class or the ‘Base’ as it is also known, can only identity themselves as their own separate group within society.

The constant class struggle that continues to present itself in society today is always on the verge of revolution but due to the ideologies that shield our outlook on the world we live in, puts the revolution into a recycled state of sleep that is only waiting to be lifted. In the film, ‘V’ acts as a savoir to the masses. Its this ‘Base’ through ‘V’ that enables a unified front against capitalism in overthrowing the government by martyring himself and giving these masses an idea of hope and freedom. “You cannot kiss an idea, cannot touch it or hold it, ideas cannot bleed or hold pain and they cannot laugh.” (V For Vendetta, 2005) implies that although ‘V’ as previously mentioned martyrs himself for his belief of freeing the people from the false consciousness constructed by the oppressors, the legacy he left behind, by showing the masses the ‘real’ in how they were oppressed created a revolution against the government that they are free people and that ideas will always be free and can never die.

As previously stated the masses gathered to unify against the government to show that they are free people and gather to watch the houses of parliament (and ‘V’) get blown up. This scene in the film reveals that the people that unified on the belief of ‘V’ and him revolting against the governments exploitation and control over the people are now ‘free’ from the restraints of the ruling class.

“People shouldn't be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.” (V For Vendetta, 2005)

The film sets itself up to release its own idea that ties in with the film and the Marxist views to us ‘the mass audiences’ that consume the media in our own ‘reality’. And that is like it has already been mentioned, the notion that governments exist to regulate society, not to rule society. Whilst this could be perceived as we are separated from our freedom in a sense, we must not forget that true freedom is knowledge.

“Knowledge, like air, is vital to life. Like air, no one should be denied it.” (V For Vendetta, 2005)

An idea within society is not freedom, for there to be true freedom, many ideas must exist. When globalization can coexist with more than one idea, the overarching idea within some economic societies e.g. Capitalism as it could be perceived, then there will always be an alienation within that society and because of this, the working classes (‘base’) of today will never truly be free people and escape from the idea of a hierarchical system, the ‘base’ and ‘superstructure’.

It is explained earlier, that the bourgeoisie feed ideas that create the false consciousness to desensitise the masses and create the exploitation within many societies. The overarching idea that can be perceived to be, not only present within the film ‘V For Vendetta’ but also in relation to many societies of modernity is Capitalism. This idea is a construct of the Bourgeoisie and if the masses come to a realisation and break free from the hypnotic state we are apart of whether they are not knowing of or ignorant then they can create an alternative such as a revolution that could change the class system dynamics to create an equality or a free society where there is not just one overarching idea but many.

“Behind this mask there is more than just flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea... and ideas are bulletproof.” (V For Vendetta, 2005) The protagonist ‘V’ in the film addresses the notion that ideas are immortal and as stated above it is from this idea of revolution, the idea to be free from oppression that will one day become a reality.

“A commodity is an object full of theological, even metaphysical, niceties. Its presence always reflects an invisible transcendence.” (Zizek: 2014) Zizek describes ‘Commodity Fetishism and by this pinpoints the idea that an item transcends from an object, an item that is classified as the ‘real’. He uses the example of ‘Coca-`Cola in the film ‘Pervert’s Guide To Ideology’ and explains that this item is just a drink but it can change into an ‘idea’ because the taste of the drink itself can be more satisfying based on climate and temperature of the drink itself. Expanding on this the item can then develop further by not just an individual thought but into a social ideological construct. In the film ‘V For Vendetta’, the protagonist ‘V’ wears a mask to cover his identity. As his actions against the government in revealing their actions of exploiting the masses unfolds. At the end of the film the masses unify and wear the same mask that ‘V’ himself wears. The symbol of the mask turns into a proletarian fetish, the symbol of the mask, that being of ‘V’ and what he was trying to accomplish by blowing up the house of parliament i.e. by removing the false consciousness state that the masses were put under by the government and on some ‘reality’ create a freedom where ideas could exist, shows that this symbol stands for revolution. This in todays society contrasts with the group ‘Anonymous’ a group of people that claim they stand against the Capitalist society we live in by hacking the digital media spaces on the internet by using the same ‘V’ masks to cover their identities and represent themselves as Proletarians fighting for a revolution.

“The first step to freedom is not just to change reality to feed your dreams. It’s to change the way you dream and again this hurts because all satisfactions we have come from our dreams.” (Zizek: 2014)

Zizek states that our society is driven on dreams and desires. When we remove them, this creates a paradox because an outlook into today’s society could suggest that the masses rely on the recycling of bourgeoisie ideologies; dreams and desires, and it is this what grants us the satisfactions. By removing these ideologies and thus, creating freedom, it would be difficult to accomplish as the ‘reality’ that we exist upon is co-dependent on these notions of happiness that also imprison them.

“Happiness is the most insidious prison of all.”  (V For Vendetta, 2005)

The film does incorporate the Marxist themes thoroughly and this can translate not only into a comprehensive understanding of Marxism but also how currently our own societies could relate the notion of capitalism and could spark revolution if the masses become sensitised to the exploitation they feel they are apart of.

“I shall die here. Every last inch of me shall perish. Except one. An inch. It's small and it's fragile and it's the only thing in the world worth having. We must never lose it, or sell it, or give it away. We must never let them take it from us.” (V For Vendetta, 2005)

A highlighted concept that flows throughout the film, as suggested above, and elevates itself to something more than transient, is that ideas are everlasting. An idea will pass through time and out live the societies of globalization and so a dream or desire of freedom that imprisons us because of our own satisfactions will continue to remain in a hypnotic state within our consciousness. An idea that could one day set the foundations of a revolution by the masses that will create freedom.



Adorno, T. Horkheimer, M (1997). Dialectic of Enlightment. London: Verso. p121-145.

Balibar, E (2007). The Philosophy of Marx. 2nd ed. London: Verso. p59.

Bloch, M (1975). Marxist Analyses and Social Anthropology. London: Malaby Press. p90.

Marx, K. Engels, F (2011). The Communist Manifesto. London: Penguin Books Ltd. p11,

Rossi-Landi, F (1990). Marxism and Ideology. Translated By Griffin, R. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p5.


Marx, K. (1848). Manifesto of the Communist Party. Available: Last accessed 5th May 2014.

Zizek, S. (2014). Pervert’s Guide to Ideology. Available: Last accessed 5th May 2014.


V For Vendetta, 2005. [DVD] James McTeigue, London, United Kingdom. Potsdam, Germany: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Children of Men by Mark Hogan

In this essay I intend to carry out a study on the significance of Marxist theory within the film industry. Firstly, the definition and interpretation of Marxism needs to be outlined to further better understand “Because every film is part of the economic system it is also a part of the ideological system, for ‘cinema’ and ‘art’ are branches of ideology.”(JEAN-LUC). Pre-occupied with the concept of cultural materialism, a social class is defined, by the relations of the means of production to the members within. Under a capitalist society the working class own their capacity to work, by the ability they have to sell their own labour.

Marxist theory emerged during the 19th Century. First started by the works of a philosopher named Karl Marx. Marxism is defined solely as a theory that highlights the struggle within the social/ financial class system and how it shapes the western society. Marxism is a social system which has a dominant feature, of the public ownership based on the means of production, exchange and distribution. The working class also known as the Proletariat, have only a capacity to work by which they can only sell their own labour. This can further be backed by the stated by Worsley (Worsley, 1982, p. 63) “leaving aside these ‘extra – economic’ differences, the ‘sectional’ bonds that divide the working class – levels of skill, difference of industry, degree of monopolistic ‘job – control’ , I.e. via the ‘closed shop’”. This expands on the notion that a person’s class is defined by their ability to work within a particular field of work, if they cannot work within this particular field then they would find it hard to work elsewhere based on the higher class controlling which jobs people can or cannot do. Marx also defined that the class of a person is solely based on the relations of the people in a family and by the ability that family has in means of production.

Most of Marxism today has a particular concern surrounding the internal economics based within the socialist government, and also around how the proletariat taken advantage of by the upper classes to satisfy their own gain. Religion is another cause for concern under with Marxism. As mentioned by Raymond William (William, R. 1995, p.64) wrote that “Religion is the sign of the oppressed creature, the feeling of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless circumstances.” Based on this, you can see religion as a form of reaction to human suffering within a unfair society.

Since the time Karl Marx brought about the Marxist theory, it has also spread into films that are shown globally for the mass audience. Going back to some of the earliest Marxist filmmaker’s, people such as Sergei Eisenstein, would use the form of film media to criticise the ideology and the traditional structure of Hollywood. As the world progresses in the technology used within society the different ways in which industries such as Hollywood can adapt and use the working class to work changes as stated by Christine “As technology and skills progress, society adapts to cater for such advances. This leads to a complete restructuring of the economic class relations because the ‘Forces of production’ determine the relations of production” (Christine, E. 2011, p.85). Filmakers like Sergei would argue that Hollywood films ideologies are used to promote the idea of the middle class also known as bourgeois based in America, Filmakers like Sergei intentionally purposely separated themselves from the Hollywood narrative structure, so they could show to the mass audience how they saw the film industry and the political indoctrination spread globally.
The means in which society produces its ‘existence’ is ultimately determined by the shape of the society by political, cultural and social forms. It is also by this that future development is also affected. It is this based relationship that brings out the notion of a ‘base’ and ‘superstructure’, the base is made up of the people who sell their work through labour whereas the superstructure is defined by the political, education, legal areas“. In order to apply the idea of the ‘base and the superstructure’ to the field of film, all cultural artefacts must be examined in relation to their historical mode of production. Marx and Engels believed that the dominant thinking of any specific time would display the ideas of the ruling class. It is those in positions of power who attempt to make the workers conform to their ideas.” (John, S. 1997, p.60)

The film I am using to discuss about the significance of using the Marxist theory is going to be Children of Men (2006) directed by Alfonso Cuaron. The film itself has a vast symbolist story, it portrays a world in which the female population has become infertile and only the United Kingdom remains as a society while the rest have descended into anarchy. Due to the chaos around the globe, there has been an influx of immigration to the point where it has become unsustainable, causing the British government to pursue extreme methods to holt the immigration influx, even if they are arriving illegally or by legal means.  The film brings about the concern of an oppression and abuse of the masses from a centralised government fixated on the power to control. It takes a cultured examination of society, showing that societies everywhere are made up from a variety of different cultures. This is aiming to present that parts of society accumulate unbalanced amount of representation within the media and in the process shaping and defining consensus to obscure the roots of genuine conflict.

The world in which is presented by Children of Men (2006), the middle class mass have accumulated more power in Britain since the 19th century, the unprecedented powers the bourgeois have gained allow them to invade the privacy of the proletariat. The immigrants that have swarmed to Britain are rounded up and crammed into cages to be transported to ‘Bexhill’ – which is a prison camp to hold the immigrants, because of the fall with women fertility due to the fall the government forces women to have a fertility test which is deemed illegal to avoid, and the basic of human rights such as privacy and transports are restricted by the government so they can hunt illegal immigrants. A notion stated by Paul “The ability of individuals to think and act freely, imaginatively and creatively – to be human, as the Frankfurt theorist saw it – was being crushed by a relentless all – encompassing capitalist machine” (Hodkinson, P. 2011, p. 108) it emphasises the concept of a capitalist state forcing the working class to bend to their will. The film’s opening scene presents the main character bearing witness to a supposed terrorist bombing by a fringe group called 'The Fishes'. As the film progresses it is later known that the terrorist attacks are actually caused by the government to cause fear to spread among the populace about a group representing themselves as a section of the working class living up to a different ideology.

Children of Men (2006) also hold a large amount of religious imagery and language. Theo Faron (the main character) has been dragged into a plot to safe guard and transport an unborn child, the significance of this unborn child would cause hope to come back to the masses who for years had lived in depression in the notion that there would be no new-borns, he would have to take the unborn to a safe haven only known as the ‘The Human Project’ but it is unknown at the time if such a place actually exists or not. The name Theo does have a religious meaning being ‘God’s gift’. Also the very scene in which Theo finds out that the Kee (the pregnant woman) is carrying a child, is when they are on a farm and she is standing in the barn surrounded by the animals. It is also during this scene when one of the corrupt group members, also becomes aware of Kee being pregnant and repeatedly shouting ‘Jesus Christ’.  It is up to this point that there has been no presence of religion this can be viewed as a alienation based on religion “Religious alienation as such occurs only in the sphere of consciousness, in the inner life of man” (2002, p.136) While not as obvious it is also seen during several scenes where there are characters shown washing their feet, while to most that would seem ordinary but it is also is seen as a religious exercise within certain aspects of Christianity and Islam. It is due to these noticeable and subtle parts that are shown to the audience that present an extra dimension of importance on the existence of this unborn child.

The film is immersed with the concept of class struggle, which is the main aspect within the Marxist theory.  The fishes Don’t want to make the pregnancy known to the public as they believe that the government would refuse to admit that after 18 years the first baby to be born is to an illegal immigrant, it is believed that the government would prefer to present to the public that the immigrant’s child is to instead a ‘rich black lady’.  Although as the film progresses it is shown that the character Julian’s death is actually caused by the Fishes, this was done so they could use the baby to become a political pawn for the uprising. Marxist theory analyses a society in the progression it makes towards Communism. By this stage of the film the Fishes are now aware of their loss, of their alienation.

While there is class struggle present in the film it stems towards democracy, there can be a comparison made between this struggle and hypothetical one towards Communism. It is only when specific parts of society’s situation gets to the stage where people become desperate and then attempt to start a revolution. During the closing scenes it is shown that fighter jets fly overhead giving to the impression that the current revolution will fall as the jets bomb the camp. Despite this, Theo and Kee are shown escaping this brings out the signification that there is still hope. There is shown a boat, which will take Theo and Kee to the proclaimed ‘Human Project’ location, the boat itself is called ‘The Tomorrow’ with these two combined it presents the audience with a sense of hope, as it shows the potential end towards the anarchy swarming the world this in turn could lead towards an end to class struggle for a time, but it could also in turn form a different form of class struggle.

In conclusion, the analysis of Marxism within the film industry, can be used to provide relevant and practical to perform a deeper form of understanding within the text. The film Children of Men (2006) is immersed with political agendas such as class struggle and a central focus with the mass media, this film is ideal to be used to analysis and criticised, but this theory would not be able to be used on the vast majority of films presented to the world either from Hollywood or by an amateur.  Within the film industry it would be better to apply a semiotic analysis and criticism as it can be applied to any type of story of mode of storytelling in a film.


BUFORD, T. O., & OLIVER, H. H. (2002). Personalism revisited: its proponents and critics. Amsterdam, Rodopi.
Christine, E & Ruth, D (2011) Understanding film theory, Palgrave Macmillan
Cuaron, A. (2006) Children of Men Directed by Alfonso Cuaron UK: Universal.
Hodkinson, P (2011) Media, Culture and society an introduction. Sage Publications Ltd
JEAN-LUC COMOLLI AND JEAN NARBONI, "CINEMA/IDEOLOGY/CRITICISM" from: Braudy/Cohen 1999 (accessed: 2/05/14)
Storey, J (2012). Cultural Theory And Popular Culture. 6th ed. Essex: Pearson Education Limited.
Wayne, M (2003) Marxism and media studies key concepts and contemporary trends. Pluto Press
William, R (1995) Religion: A Humanist Interpretation. Routledge

Marxism in Coming to America By Sachin Bhachu

Coming to America is an American love comedy directed by John Landis, it was released into cinemas across the United States in 1988. The story line was created by Eddie Murphy, in which he also starred in the lead role. The film is about a Prince who turns 21 and as part of tradition in his country; he is set up to get married to a woman he does not know. The Prince, who objects to this, insists he is allowed to find his own bride, one who will love him for who he is, not one who will obey his every command because of his royal status. Marxist views can have affect on lifestyle, with It’s purpose being to fight for the freedom of the working class, also known as the proletariat, who are seen to be under domination by the upper class, the Bourgeoisie. The Marxist class system theory has a big part in this film, as there is a lot of discrimination based on social status.

Eddie Murphy plays the role of Akeem Joffer, an African Prince, Son of King Jaffe Joffer, ruler of Zamunda. As the prince has turned 21, it is time for him to marry his princess. His father King Jaffe Joffer, takes it upon himself to find a suitable wife for his son the Prince. He finds a woman, one who has been brought up to marry a prince. “Since the day she was born she was taught to walk and speak and think as a Queen” (Coming to America, 1988) . However Prince Akeem has his own plans, to find someone who loves him for who he is, not his riches. “But when I marry, I want the woman to love me for who I am, not because of what I am” (Coming to America, 1988). From a Marxist perspective, you can see how the class system comes into place here. Prince Akeem is of higher class, royalty, however he does not want to marry somebody who wants him for his wealth and royal status, or somebody that his father has found for him who will also be of upper class. Prince Akeem widens his searches for a bride by going to America, and posing as a proletarian. They choose to go to Queens in New York, a part of New York that is full of working class citizens. Akeem and his friend also servant, Semmi; attempt to blend in with the American culture, so they ditch their suits and fur overcoats and replace them with caps and American baseball jackets. The Prince wastes no time in searching for his perfect bride, so him and Semmi hit the bars around Queens, however they are unsuccessful. Their luck does change soon after; at “Black Awareness Week” he sets his eyes upon a girl called Lisa McDowell. Akeem and Semmi take jobs at McDowell’s fast food restaurant, as Lisa’s father Cleo McDowell owns it, this is the perfect way for Akeem to get acquainted with Lisa. It will also help them to blend in more with the working class. Spending most days working with Lisa, this was the perfect way for him to make Lisa fall in love with Akeem, and not the Prince.

Cleo McDowell, Lisa’s father, is an arrogant bourgeoisie. Owner of McDowell’s fast food restaurant, and owner of a large home, he thinks he is superior to anyone who is not as wealthy as him. This affects the way he treats people, for example the way he treats Lisa’s two love interests throughout the film. Darryl and Akeem, Cleo knows that Darryl is very wealthy so he treats him with the utmost respect, he is desperate for Lisa to marry Darryl because he is also a bourgeoisie. Eventually Cleo even agrees for Darryl and his daughter Lisa to get married, without consulting Lisa.

Lisa’s boyfriend, Darryl Jenks, thinks he is gods gift to women. As well as being filthy rich, he is a model and heir to his fathers business ‘Soul Glo’. This makes him feel as if he is above every working class person, including Akeem and Semmi. He treats them with no respect and insults Akeem on many occasions. This is an example of how social status can have such an affect on people’s ego, and how power and capital make the bourgeoisie believe they are in control of society.

Lisa McDowell is one who does not care about how rich somebody is or what they possess. After getting to know Akeem better she begins to realise how down to earth he is, compared to her self obsessed boyfriend Darryl. After spending some time with Akeem, she breaks up with Darryl and starts to date Akeem. The incognito Prince realizes he has found everything he has been looking for in a woman, he has found the woman he wants to make his Princess. Lisa likes Akeem even though she thinks he is extremely poor, unaware that he is actually heir to the throne of Zamunda.

Semmi is struggling to adapt to such a low lifestyle, he feels alienated in such a different environment than what he Is used to; even though he is Akeem’s servant, he is used to a life of luxuries. He sends a telegram requesting further funds from the King, this alarms him and forces him to fly to America to take his son back home. King Jaffe Joffer is angered to find out his son has been working. “MY SON WORKS?” (Coming to America, 1988) As he believes a Prince should not have to lift a finger. It is when he pays a visit to McDowells, he meets Cleo McDowell, and explains to him that Akeem is a Prince, and heir to the throne of Zamunda. Before this point Cleo had treated Akeem like a peasant, and did not agree with him seeing his daughter Lisa. However after finding out he is not a poor working class man, but a Prince with wealth and power, Mr McDowell’s feelings towards Akeem drastically change. A clear example of how title and capital can change an arrogant bourgeoisie on a person, Mr McDowell’s money-orientated way of thinking judges a person straight away off their social status rather than who the person is deep down. King Jaffe Joffer and Cleo McDowell are very similar in how they judge people using Marx’s class theory. If they believe somebody is beneath them, they are quick to let them know who is on top. When the King and Mr McDowell have a slight argument about Lisa and Akeem in Mr McDowell’s house, the King explains why Akeem cannot marry her “Oh come now, our son cannot consort with such a girl” (Coming to America, 1988) this upsets Mr McDowell as it makes him feel as if he is being undermined by the King. A battle of the higher class, as they both try to retain their dignity, King Jaffe Joffer tries to pay off Mr McDowell for his inconvenience “Shall we say one million American dollars?” (Coming to America, 1988) as it is nothing to him. After Cleo McDowell rejects, the king offers two million dollars; Cleo again refrains from being demoralized, “You haven’t got enough money to buy my daughter off” (Coming to America, 1988). Here you can see how the bourgeoisie's believe capital brings them power, and how they can dominate the proletariat's.

Further on into the film comes a significant moment, Prince Akeem chases after Lisa as she storms out of her home in anger of being lied to. Akeem catches her on the subway and explains to her why he did not tell her he was a Prince, “I wanted you to love me for who I am” (Coming to America, 1988). She questions who he really is, he explains nothing is different; “Should it matter that I am a prince” (Coming to America, 1988). Lisa understands, as she is not someone to judge by social status or capital. King Jaffe Joffer finds it difficult to accept his son falling in love with a proletarian, but allows a break in tradition to make his son happy, he arranges for Lisa and Akeem to marry in Zamunda as a surprise, as Akeem thought he had lost her.

This film is a great example of how capital, social status or title can have an affect on how people can be treated differently. Upper class people, who believe to be in control of the working class, can interfere with everyday life. Such as Akeem and Lisa being together, if you eliminate social status, there would be no problems. Marxist theories suggest that the proletariat are slaves of labour for the bourgeoisie. They come to think they are a service to them, in exchange for wage, so they can attain the things they are lead to believe they desire. However the proletariat are brainwashed into forgetting the power they obtain, the bourgeoisie are the minority and they can be overruled by the proletariat's to make the world a fairer place.


Coming to America (1988) Directed by John Landis [Film] Paramount Pictures

‘Karl Marx Theory of Ideas’ (1955) Cambridge University Press, John Torrance -
Andy Blunden (Accessed – 28th April 2014) (Accessed – 4th May 2014)

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Marxism in Fight Club by Stuart Daley

Fight Club (1999) is David Finchers movie adaptation of Chuck Palahniuks novel. The film is about one persons attempt to overcome the alienation of himself. He achieves this by turning his whole life up-side down and subconsciously following his inner feelings to do the things he has always wanted to do but has thought it inappropriate and a great risk to his safety and security. The narrator (Edward Norton) is an insomniac office worker looking for a way to change his life he achieves this after he crosses paths with a devil-may-care soap maker and they form an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more. (IMDB, 1999)

Fight Club has strong links with Marxism throughout the film in many different aspects, both supporting and disproving their theories and beliefs. During the film the narrator starts off as a card-carrying member of capitalist society, who takes pride in his appearance and his possessions until his whole ideology of what life should be is taken from under his feet when his apartment explodes.

He believed his apartment was his life and was what everybody should aim to achieve. This is linked with the Marxist theory that the bourgeoisie (upper class) force the proletariat (working class) into believing that they should go through life being a slave to the Ikea nesting instinct (Fight Club, 1999). The bourgeoisie use this to keep control of the working class, convincing them they should continue working for a wage to be able to afford the material everyday things they are lead to believe are necessary.

According to Marxist doctrine, the proletariat are prevented from realizing the power they possess because the bourgeoisie heavily impose their ideology, making them believe the ruling class ideals of normality (Dino, 2011). The narrator believes he is living the correct life until his apartment explodes, destroying everything he held dear. It is at this point that he turns to Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) and he starts to realize the potential he possesses and the power he has over the bourgeoisie. In Durden he sees the perfect life, the life with no restraints and nobody controlling him; this gives him the power to start a revolution.

His ideas start out small, with moving from his catalogue home to an abandoned house miles away from anybody else. He then continues to disfigure himself and his well-dressed appearance he originally has; this is the start of his uprising and he realizes the oppression from the upper classes. All his working life has been controlled by his boss, giving him statistics and equations not only to work by, but how to live. The equation he is using in his field of work, You take the population of vehicles in the field (A) and multiply it by the probable rate of failure (B), then multiply the result by the average cost of an out-of-court settlement (C). A times B times C equals X. This is what it will cost if we dont initiate a recall. If X is greater than the cost of a recall, we recall the cars and no one gets hurt. If X is less than the cost of a recall, then we dont recall (Palahniuk, 1996, p. 30-31) shows the thought process of the money hungry bourgeoisie who will risk the proletariats lives in favour of more capital for them.

The narrators counter-part, Durden, starts to get his own back on upper classes. Firstly single handedly, by urinating in their soup bowls and other ways of contaminating their food in the restaurant he is a waiter at. It is in this time that the narrator starts to see how the richer people live and describes the party guests as titans and their gigantic wives who drink barrels of champagne and bellow at each other wearing diamonds bigger than I feel. The guests lift forks of butterflied lamb chop, each bite the size of a whole pig, each mouth a tearing Stonehenge of ivory (Fight Club, 1999). He begins to see that the bourgeoisie just want to see you run around for their moneybecause they know they cant threaten you with the tip, to them youre just a cockroach which infuriates him and makes him want to bring everybody to the same level of class and wealth, similar to Marxs ideas.

The narrator and Durden start to form an underground fight club, for members who want to feel a part of something and enjoy the rebelliousness of the fighting and permanently marking your skin. The fight club grows in numbers rapidly as more and more people find out (contrary to the first rule which is Dont talk about Fight Club) (Fight Club, 1999). To begin with this club is just somewhere for the working class to go to get away from their stress and emotions from the day, however it soon starts to turn into a unified following, doing as Durden commands. The first time there is a clash between classes is when the owner of the bar theyre using demands they leave because it is his property. This is the beginning of the proletariat revolution as Durden confronts the owner, something that wouldnt have been expected, and allows him to repeatedly punch him and just laughs it off. Eventually he fights back and is allowed to continue using the basement; another Marxist philosophy of using violence to get to where they want to achieve.

At this point the fight club begins to turn into a revolutionary group, it spread worldwide and Durden starts up Project Mayhem without the authorization of the narrator. The proletariat begin to realize that were everyone you depend on. Were the people who do your laundry and cook your food and serve your dinner. We make your bed. We guard you while youre asleep. We drive the ambulances. We direct your call. We are cooks and drivers and we know everything about you. We process your insurance claims and credit card charges. We control every part of your life and understand the true strength they have. They begging to comprehend that they have part of the mass majority of citizens, the bourgeoisie are the minority that only have the capital, not the skill that they need from them. Project mayhem is set to bring the mass together to reform the class system and rebuild society from the bottom; where everybody is equal. However to do this they start to use strategies that contradict Marxist theory.

Durden gives the space monkeys tasks to do to begin the revolution and they get more and more violent. The main task they are set is to go out and start a fight with somebody. From a Marxist perspective this is to teach them they have the control not the upper classes. The narrator decides to go to his boss for this task as he says earlier in the film if he could fight with anybody it would be him. He enters the bosss office and confronts him, he tells him he is going to leave but still wants all the pay; he blackmails his boss with telling everybody his secrets about the car recalls. This is the first time the proletariat has the power over the bourgeoisie as he knows he has the upper hand because he is needed to keep the company running.

Marx teaches that a consequence of capitalist society is reification, a process which turns people into commodities; this is something that Marxism tries to eradicate (Lukacs, 1923). Despite this Durdens project mayhem turns all the space monkeys into numbers and objects. They become a slave force for his dictatorship. His aim to bring down the system by a series of explosions that would wipe all the debt and bring all classes to the same wealth is in line with Marxist theories, however his method is contradictory.

The only time any of the space monkeys become human again is when they die. We find this out when Big Bob dies as the narrator is still trying to understand what the idea of the project he created in his false consciousness is aiming to achieve. It isn't till this point in the film that we learn Bobs really name (Robert Paulson), showing that although we believe it is always a Marxist idea that the narrator and Durden are planning, they never truly stick directly to the Marxist beliefs as everybody was still just an object along the way.

Fight Club shows the world that they dont need to follow the capitalist society it currently resides within and they dont need to succumb to commodity fetishism. It gives them the idea that they are the mass, the ones with the power that are dictated by the minority bourgeoisie. If the proletariats group together they can revolutionize the world and make it much fairer place where everybody is equal.


IMDB (1999) Available at: (Accessed 24th April 2014)

Fight Club (1999) Directed by David Fincher [Film] Fox 2000.

Felluga, Dino. "Modules on Marx: On Ideology." Introductory Guide to Critical Theory (2011) Available at: (Accessed 25th April 2014)

Palahniuk, C. (1996) Fight Club. Vintage

Lukacs, G. (1923) History & Class Consciousness, Merlin Press