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Horrors of Society: Classism

We're here to reveal the horror of society. The Ghouls talk about classism, what is it and why it is a real terror here in America. We dive deep into the work of Bong Joon-Ho to explore classism in the media, with Snowpiercer and Parasite. 


RED: Quotes, someone else's words.

Kat's Facts - Classism as a means of social order

Lol, guys did you forget that people are trash? Cause lemme tell you...dear lord are we. So today we’re talking about classism. I wanna preface this with I might be using some big words today and hope you stay with me cause this ish is complex and complicated and just an all around bad time. So Classism, if I were to define it, Is a means of social order, the keeper of the peace. Marx described religion as the “opiate of the masses”, and our class structure operates the same way. Classism is a way to justify atrocities happening to the masses with the euphemisms of duty and purpose. “to explain and elaborate the social structure, reconcile the lower orders to their lot, assist the rulers in repressing the people, and prevent rebellion.” It is used in many forms across many societies, be it religion, race, economic or political standing, any way with which to place people within boxes, separating us into categories and making it impossible for us to rise up against our oppressors. We accept our places not because we enjoy them but because of societal pressure, and the idea that we have a role to play. That there is a reason we are where we are. Be it the decisions of their parents, the location we are born, the color of our skin, the history of our ancestors, our roles are explained and told to us and we begrudgingly accept them because it is our only way of rationalizing our circumstance. For many it’s also the false idea that we sit higher than someone else, even though we are still so unbelievably far below the elite. They pit us against each other so that we do not rise against them. For anyone like, oh it’s good we don’t have that in America cause capitalism and the American dream, LOL. America has this real messed up way of dangling the idea of individual freedom and power, the idea of upward mobility in front of us, suggesting that we aren’t confined to our classes, that we have the choice to escape. Our own version of the “the island” or the “lottery” is the American dream. The idea that hard work and determination is what separates us from the social elite. That through hard work and sacrifice we can improve our standing in society, placing the blame on ourselves and not on the upper classes pulling the strings. The reality however is that today the barriers between us and something better are immense and extremely intentional. We’re fed the idea that we can move up if we want it bad enough, and are force fed stories of underdogs who did it, when the reality is for the majority of us, without the right privileges, or back doors, we won’t make it. We’re fed hope without any real pathway to what we hope for, because they don’t want us to achieve those things, but do want us to think we can. We fight the system, thinking it’s our own idea, when it’s not. In America we also feed into the idea of choice and status, that for many middle or upper middle class, that they are better than those in the labor and lower labor class. We classify whole groups of people as lazy, criminals, uneducated, and say they are DESERVING OF DEMORALIZING AND DEHUMANIZING LEVELS OF POVERTY cause they don’t work hard enough. The majority of our country believes that that level of poverty is a choice, and not because of our political system being funded by the economic and social elite. Who turn the other way when RICH companies are given tax abatement so that schools remain underfunded, The U.S. government does "considerably less" than comparable democracies to even out disposable family incomes, Jencks says. And current state and local tax policies "actually increase income inequality."

In Snowpiercer, we are told that the train is like a body, and the cars are like the systems necessary to maintain the health of the train. The passengers are told that if any cars don’t fulfill their duties, that the whole train will fail/suffer, and how lucky they are to be in the safety of the train and not somewhere else. Classism operates the same way.

Christopher "Sandy" Jencks, the Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, believes that the last 30 years of rising American inequality can be attributed to three key factors:

  • The decline in jobs and employment rates for less-skilled workers, which has increased the number of households with children but no male breadwinner.

  • The demand for college graduates outpacing the pool of job candidates, adding to the gap between the middle class and upper-middle class.

  • The share of income gains flowing to the top 1 percent of earners doubling as a result of deregulation, globalization, and speculation in the financial-services industry.

"All the costs and risks of capitalism seem to have been shifted largely to those who work rather than those who invest," he said.

Compounding the economic imbalance is the unlikely prospect that those at the bottom can ever improve their lot.

"We have some of the lowest rates of upward mobility of any developed country in the world," said Nathaniel Hendren, an associate professor of economics at Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences who has studied intergenerational mobility and how inequality transmits across generations.

What unites areas of low mobility, Hendren says, are broken family structures, reduced levels of civic and community engagement, lower-quality K-12 education, greater racial and economic segregation, and broader income inequality.

In addition, 90 percent of American workers have seen their wages stall while their costs of living continue to rise.

"When you look at the data, it's sobering. Median household income when last reported in 2013 was at a level first attained in 1989, adjusting for inflation. That's a long time to go without any gains," said Jan Rivkin, the Bruce V. Rauner Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.



Gabe's Film Analysis - Bong Joon-Ho and Classism

With Bong Joon Ho’s two films we’ll talk about here (we haven’t seen Okja or the Host yet IM SORRY), we have classism expressed with shots focusing up and down or left and right. The left and right is what we see in Snowpiercer and the up and down, in Parasite.

I want to start with Snowpiercer. Which, on the surface, seems like a fun and silly dystopian film about the end of world, brought on by our own hubris. Classic, cliche’d, starring Chris Evans (post-Captain America debut!). But it's so much more, obviously. And the thing that fun about Snowpiercer is that it takes itself somewhat seriously but it is so blatant and in your face with its moral tales and themes that you’d have to work really hard to avoid learning or understanding what Bong Joon-ho is trying to tell you. In essence, WE MUST SEIZE THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION! In this case, the literal engine to the train, which is the only thing keeping people alive. First, the people seize the food, then the water, then the children. It's so in your face it's fun! But let me start at the beginning, or somewhere else rather - we have these people who are clearly the lower class. They live in the back of the train, they are fed bugs (spoilers) and have even taken to eating each other once upon a time (spoilers again). They are dirty, resemble coal workers and are all broken a bit. The first act of rebellion - a shoe thrown (haha, a page right out of the Bush years if anything) is met with a horrifying punishment AND a lecture, about how they are all shoes that belong on the foot and the rich are hats that belong on the head. This is my favorite line. She is so ridiculous but it's also so impactful in that we are conditioned to believe this is where we belong, there is no other place for us and we would be silly to think otherwise - How absurd! A poor person in a mansion??? They will never let us up there, loves. Sorry to tell you.

Our train is separated into back, middle and front or lower, middle and upper class. The lower is dark, gloomy, windowless and broken. The middle is bright, windowed and full of hope (keep the people satiated) and the front is full of hedonistic monsters out of an Aldous Huxley story.

Nerdwriter1 on Youtube said this about the middle class which I feel encompasses the whole thing, "educated enough to think for themselves, yet comfortable enough to be highly susceptible to propaganda. The middle class is at once the most important and most dangerous cross sections of society and the school is where the middle class is indoctrinated into a system that will exploit them and those less fortunate where ideology is most powerful.”

Nerdwriter1 also brings to light how the true heroes are Namgoong and his daughter Jara who are from the middle class! We also have our (spoilers) only 2 remaining protagonist as people who were very much born into this system and finally break free from all they’ve known - with stories of the outside and hope for a real life piloting them forward.

I also want to talk about the