Monday, April 14, 2014

Media Magic - Mantsios

This piece takes a look at how class in America is determined by the media. This piece is based on the understanding that media - especially mass media - has a major influence over the things that we perceive and believe in. Mantsios explains that this is why we don't see class issues - because the powers that are don't want to expose themselves. By showing the middle and working classes images of the evils of the upper class, they are plotting their own demise. Instead, to keep social order and maintain the status quo, the capitalists in charge of the majority of media decide to depict things that will not only keep themselves in power and command, but also to maintain structural oppression by denying the existence of systemic oppression. This is acomplished by the depictions which are present in media today. These tasks include rendering the poor invisible, "faceless", "undeserving" of help or services, unpleasant to behold, and unfortunate individuals who are "down on their luck" (100-2). This serves not only to disenfranchise the poor, but to make them seem undesirable as a whole - something ugly, unknown, lazy, worthless. And this is the common message that is not only portrayed, but consumed and accepted by media consumers.

On the other hand, the problems of the wealthy are painted as the problems of the whole. Media paints the image that wealth is good and that there are no problems with this. Everyone has the ability to be rich because the American Dream is alive and well. Wealthy people are kind and generous, except for a few folks who must serve as token examples which show that the wealthy can fix themselves too. As for those folks who are in the middle class, it is expected and accepted that everyone is middle class and that the middle class should view the poor as a social problem. Therefore there is a separation between the middle and working classes - but this is expressed in an "us" vs. "them" mentality instead.

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