This is an analysis of how the six love styles pertain to sexual styles, personality, and relational satisfaction. The research explains a positive relationship between relational and sexual satisfaction with certain love styles and that love styles can change over time, since love is learned. The studies also show relational satisfaction with couples who have the same or similar love styles proving the rule of proximity and homogeny. This analysis will show love styles, sex, and personality are inextricably linked along with communication in order to have a satisfying relationship.
“Love can be among the most intense of human emotions, and is certainly one of the most sought after. People have been known to lie, cheat, steal, and even kill in its name, yet no one knows quite what it is (Arnold, 1996, pg.1).” The quantitative and qualitative research involved can help society understand the depth of love and how it affects human interaction. Humans are loving and sexual beings; they are both primitive functions of humanity. This also leads to relational satisfaction and which love styles would prove to be the most rewarding to a couple. This analysis can also give insight into how people view their own relationships and how it relates to love styles, sexual styles and satisfaction.
The love styles can also be linked to sexual styles. “Sex and love are inextricably linked to survival, so it should not be surprising to find a relationship between one’s approach to love and one’s approach to sex (Frey, 1998, pg. 1).” Because sexuality is such an important piece of a relationship and the love styles themselves, the sexual analysis cannot be left out.
In Dating Partner Preferences (Hahn, 1997) the authors say that people are attracted to others with the same or similar love style as themselves. And, they are also repelled by those who have dissimilar love styles. This follows the rule of proximity. “Erotic lovers, however, are quite high in supply, but relatively low in demand according to the results of this study (in fact, they were as preferred as pragmatic individuals). This finding was unexpected; it was hypothesized that erotic stimulus people would he the most consensually desired. Hahn (1997).”
In Sexual-Moral Attitudes, Love Styles, and Mate Selection by Lacey (2004), the study focused on attitude differences based on liberal or conservative viewpoints. Gender was also a consideration because of the Hendrick and Hendrick (1995) theory that men have a greater tendency to report the ludus style and women are more likely to report storge as a love style. Although the study found women actually also exhibit eros more often and express a greater propensity to choose a more attractive partner than previously hypothesized.
In Love Style Perceptions in Relation to Personality Function by Arnold and Thompson (1996), that love styles do not predict personality disorders on the basis of which style the person employs. The study also could not find significance in being able to predict certain love styles. This would coincide with the data from Differences in Love Attitudes Across Family Stages by Montgomery and Sorell (1997). The latter study found that love stages change throughout the course of a person’s life. There is a greater chance of ludus, no matter the gender, between young single adults. Eros is also more common among the young, but not exclusive. The study found that men and women with families would tend to value storge and pragma until the children were grown and out of the house. Once the children were “launched,” eros would once again come into play. This study surveyed men and woman of all ages, both married and single. The researchers wanted the most diverse data set possible to support the hypothesis that love styles change throughout the course of a lifespan.
Frey (1998) asks the question “Are Love Styles Related to Sexual Styles?” with the title of his journal article. According to the study, the simple answer to his question is yes. There was a positive correlation between eros and sexual role playing with women, but the same was not founded for men. The opposite is true for storge. The study reported that there is a positive correlation between men and sexual trance, but not for females. Frey says, “Mania, storge, agape, pragma, and eros were all positively related to preferences for partner engagement, whereas ludus was negatively related to preferences for partner engagement.” Partner engagement according to the authors is a special kind of intimacy, so the authors also allowed for sexual experience and gender to come up with mania, storge, and agape as the positive correlations for partner engagement. This is because mania involves being with only one lover, with storge there is already a close and bonded friendship, and agapic lovers are selfless in their relationships, which generally takes time to develop.
In Romantic Relationships of Hypercompetitive Individuals (Ryckman, 2002) ludus, pragma, and mania were found to be associated with a greater need to control one’s partner, greater levels of possessiveness, jealousy, and mistrust. The study also found when these characteristics are present they do not lead to relational satisfaction. Instead, the study found that couples may seek to continue the relationship on the comparison level of alternatives and the level of investment in the relationship. It also confirmed the other three styles are more consistent with relational satisfaction.
Waller and Shaver (1994) did a twin-family study to study the nongenetic influences on romantic love styles. The study found that love styles are not an inherited trait, but are due to shared experiences, environment, and personality. This is significant because children are not stuck with a parent’s love style, especially if they are subjected to mania or ludus. While the environment could lend them toward one love style, it is not inherited and can be influenced by other factors giving the opportunity for greater relational satisfaction.
Leak and Gardner (1990) focused on Sexual Attitudes, Love Attitudes, and Social Interest. The study found that people with high levels of social interest tend to have “nonpermissive sexual attitudes, while endorsing a companionship love style and disdaining approach to love characterized by egocentric game playing (p. 59).”
“Certain love styles lend themselves to relational satisfaction (Hendrick, 2000, p.210).” A mixture of eros, storge, and agape tend to be positive predictors of satisfaction. Of the six love styles, ludus is the only style that, on its own merit, does not relate to relational satisfaction. In small doses, it can be satisfying, but not as a dominant trait in a relationship. It is also the most independent of the styles because of the need to stay detached while game-playing. It has the least amount of disclosure (Arnold, 1996).
In contrast, this love style can be satisfying when compared with sexual styles in relationships (Frey, 1998). Hendrick (2000) also related love styles to sexual attitudes with permissiveness or casual sex, responsible sexuality, idealistic sexuality, and biological sexuality. Hendrick then related this to three factors. The first factor includes game playing love and can be characterized as casual relating. Factor two includes erotic, altruistic, and manic love along with idealistic sexuality and can be characterized as intimate relating. Factor three includes practical and friendship love and can be characterized as stable relating.
Wood (2002) states there are a number of things to keep in mind when it comes to love styles: most people are not just one love style, but a combination instead which generally eliminates the extremes, also that love styles are not necessarily permanent and that we can learn to change in order to gain relational satisfaction, and lastly that love styles are part of an overall system of communication and it’s affected by other parts of the relationship. Because everyone is made up of a combination of styles they are not necessarily good or bad, but what helps to make each person an individual.
The different love styles can be related to the dialectics theory. This theory deems relationships as managed rather than maintained. There are both internal and external manifestations which can be applied to the different poles needed in a relationship. This is similar to love styles because for a healthy relationship, a bit of everything is needed, but at different times. A compassionate lover might be needed one day, and an erotic the next, and an altruistic the day after. Relationships need the option of being cyclic, selecting a specific style that works for the couple, remaining in the middle or being neutral, and also reframing. Because it needs to be managed there can be a constant negotiation on how the styles are imposed on the relatioship (Johnson, 9/29/04).
The six love styles are composed of the three primary styles and three secondary styles. The primary styles are eros, storge, and ludus.
Eros is also known as physical love. “Erotic lovers are attracted to people who are physically attracted to them. They are eager to develop intense, passionate relationships, and they often experience fairly intense emotional highs and lows. (Guerrero, 2001), ” Erotic lovers also have a need for physical contact and closeness. This is also the beginning intense stage in a relationship when both people want to spend all their time together and show a great amount of affection toward one another. Eros are generally open and honest and are more likely to fall into a more conservative sexual group.
Storge can be considered companionate love. “Storgic lovers have relationships based on friendship, shared values and goals, and compatibility. Physical attraction is not as important as security, companionship, task sharing, and joint activities (Guerrero, 2001).” Storgic lovers like what’s comfortable in a relationship. This kind of love can also be characterized with platonic friendships and family relationships. Storgic lovers fall in love with their friends and don’t necessarily know when the line blurred into love.
Ludus is the game-playing type of love. “Ludic lovers see relationships as fun, playful, and casual; they view relationships as games to be played. They avoid commitment and prefer to play the field rather than settle down with one person (Guerrero, 2001, pg. 145).” They are also more likely to endorse casual sex and more liberal sexual attitudes in general. They can also be distant in a relationship and want to keep the other person guessing about their commitment level.
The secondary love styles are agape, pragma, and mania and are composed of combinations of the primary styles.
Agape is also known as selfless love. Agape is a combination of eros and storge (Arnold, 1996). “The agapic lover is more focused on giving rather than receiving. These lovers are motivated by an intense concern for their partner’s well-being. They are willing to make sacrifices for their partner, even at the expense of their own needs and desires (Guerrero, 2001, pg.146).” These individuals tend to be very committed and conservative in their values. They will also be more sexually conservative.
Pragma is also known as practical love. Pragma is a combination of storge and ludus (Arnold, 1996). “Pragmatic lovers search for a person who fits a particular image in terms of vital statistics, such as age, height, religion, and occupation, as well as preferred characteristics, such as being a loyal partner or the potential of being a good parent (Guerrero, 2001, pg.147).” This is like a shopping list kind of love. It is very careful and deliberate. This type of person will also not likely endorse casual sex.
Mania or what is also known as possessive love. Mania is a combination of ludus and eros (Arnold, 1996). “Manic lovers are demanding, dependent, and possessive. They often feel a strong need to be in control and to know everything the partner is doing (Guerrero, 2001, pg. 145).” A manic lover will strongly disapprove of going outside of the relationship for sex. This person wants total attention and devotion from the partner.
These studies are all very subjective. They rely on the subjects own definition of how they interpret the Hendrick love scale. Many of the studies didn’t consider age, ethnicity, or religious background which could have an impact on love styles. Culture is known to have a great impact on social behavior and must be factored in. These studies also only consider heterosexual couples. This assumes that homosexual relationships are the same. Most of this data is also collected from college-age students. Adults of this age may be experimenting with their relationships and may not have an actual love style yet. There is also little experience with relationships for perspective and objectivity. A broader sample of all ages, professions, and sexual orientation would make for a better data set.
In determining relational and sexual satisfaction, all six styles must be present and that certain aspects of communication were also required. “Passion and friendship/companionship are not consecutive in a romantic relationship but rather are concurrent. Both play a part in relationship initiation and development as well as in relationship maintenance (Hendrick, 2000).”
In conclusion, there is no right or wrong way to love, but only a combination of extremes that lead most people somewhere in the middle with one or two more dominant styles. These are also not the only factors in what determines a healthy and satisfying relationship. It’s the whole package, which unfortunately cannot be accurately studied because of the unimaginable variables that would be involved.
Lacey, Rachel Saul., Reifman Alan, Scott., Jean Pearson, Harris, Steven M., Fitzpatrick, Jacki. Sexual-Moral Attitudes, Love Styles, and Mate Selection. Journal of Sex Research, 2004, Vol. 41, Issue 2, p.121.
Arnold, Margery E., Thompson, Bruce. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 1996, Vol. 11, Issue 3.
Montgomery, Marilyn J., Sorell, Gwendolyn T., Differences in Love Attitudes Across Family Life Stages. Journal of Family Relations, 1997, Vol. 46, Issue 1.
Frey, Kurt. Are love Styles Related to Sexual Styles? Journal of Sex Research, 1998.
Ryckman, Richard M., Thornton, Bill., Gold, Joel A., Burckle, Michelle A. Romantic Relationships of Hypercompetitive Individuals, Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 2002, Vol. 21, No. 5.
Waller, Niels G., Shaver, Phillip R. The Importance of Nongenetic Influences on Romantic Love Styles: A Twin-Family Study, 1994, American Psychological Society, Vol. 5, No. 5.
Hendrick, Clyde., Hendrick, Susan S., Close Relationships: A Sourcebook, 2000, Sage Publications Inc.
Wood, Julia T., Interpersonal Communications: Everyday Encounters, 2002, Wadsworth Publishing, Ed. 4.
Leak, Gary K., Louis, Gardner E. Sexual Attitudes, Love Attitudes, and Social Interest, 1990, Individual Psychology, Vol. 46. No. 1.
Guerrero, Laura K., Andersen, Peter A., Afifi, Walid A. Close Encounters: Communicating In Relationships, 2001, McGraw Hill.
Johnson, Dr. Amy, Advanced Interpersonal Notes, 9/29/2004.
Hahn, Jennifer., Blass, Thomas., Dating Partner Preferences: A Function of Similarity of love Styles, Journal of Social Behavior & Personality, 1997, Vol. 12, Issue 3.else: ?>
Abstract This is an analysis of how the six love styles pertain to sexual styles, personality, and relational satisfaction. The research explains a positive relationship between relational and sexual satisfaction with certain love styles and that love styles can change over time, since love is learned. The studies also show relational satisfaction with couples who […]endif; ?>
In recent months, world health officials have reported a dramatic growth in the percentage of the US population that can be classified as morbidly obese. The World Health Organization has characterized this increase in obesity as an “epidemic”, citing an estimated 60% of the people in the US as overweight.
What is the source of this problem? Is it the fast food industry, who taunts us in their frequent advertisements with taste-tempting delicacies we can get quickly and relatively cheaply? What more could one ask for than a Big Mac with a super sized order of fries and a 32-ounce Coke, all for $2.99, at your friendly neighborhood MacDonald’s restaurant?
According to the film Super Size Me, a documentary by Morgan Spurlock, McDonald’s accounts for 46% of the fast food industry in the world. It serves 46 million customers a day in over 100 countries. A true international icon, MacDonald’s is for all intents and purposes an ideal example of Americanization and Globalization. In many ways this company represents the American culture of consumerism and excess, and has been cited as a significant contributor to the rise in obesity here in the US, largely due to its high-calorie menu and enormous marketing influence. .
At the other end of the spectrum, it appears that Americans are also keenly aware of the fact that they are overweight, as evidenced by the popularity of “quick-fix” diets and too-good-to-be-true weight loss programs. We’ve seen the rush of trust in the Atkins diet, and the adaptation to this fad by the food industry. Before that we were obsessed with Jared and his Subway diet. These urges are also fed by a constant barrage of infomercials, books, talk shows, and advertisements.
The media has also perpetuated the concept of what an ideal body should be – slim, sexy, and strong, in stark contrast to the reality of an increasingly overweight, non-active population. But perhaps we are beginning to accept that we are an overweight culture. In a recent commercial for Universal Studios Theme Parks, a group of tourists is shown in their happiest moment at the park. They are bouncing around, laughing, smiling, and enjoying their time at Universal, all shot in slow motion. There would appear nothing odd about this ad except the fact that the actors are all overweight. The emphasis is no longer the attention to the fun they are having, but to the amount of fat on their bodies in slow motion. Was this an attempt by Universal to address a new target audience? Or were they merely poking fun?
According to Sut Jahlly, “the falsity of advertising is not in the appeals it makes but in the answer it provides. We want love and friendship and sexuality – and advertising points the way to them through objects” (Anderson pg 32). Jahlly’s take on advertising is that the world has become a materialistic society, obtaining happiness through the collecting of objects. While this is true in a sense, Jahlly overlooked once object we all possess and that we all take for granted in one way or another. That object is our own body.
Advertising and the media has in recent years portrayed an image of its actors as all beautiful and in great shape. Through association we as a culture begin to believe that by buying the objects that are advertised by these good looking people, we too will be as healthy and happy as they are. The question is then is advertising to blame for our self expectations or do we simply not want to accept the truth that we are a lazy culture? The argument of overweight people is that corporations like McDonald’s who create this unhealthy food should be held responsible for the health of their customers.
McDonald’s global domination of the fast food market has caused some overweight people to sue the corporation in regards to their overweight problem. In response, McDonald’s in a press release from September of 2003, states that they have teamed up with Bob Greene, the personal trainer of Oprah, to promote their new PR campaign. Their exclusive partnership is designed to educate the public “about the importance of living a healthy, active lifestyle.” (McDonald’s press release pg 1). Ken Braun, McDonald’s Corp. VP says that “At McDonald’s we have a longstanding commitment to our customers, proven food quality and a strong social responsibility record. We are thrilled to partner with Bob Greene. He not only shares many of our same values and commitments, but he also is a strong leader in the campaign to promote healthy, happy active lifestyles” (1).
McDonald’s developed three key strategies to begin this transformation in the company. First, are the new items like Premium Salads and Fruit ‘n Yogurt Parfaits. Secondly is the education of the public by inspiring “people to take personal responsibility for their own wellness…” through brochures. Finally is the attention to athletic sponsorships and a new campaign called “Go Active”. This will help families further incorporate healthy activities into their lives. By creating these new programs and using Bob Greene, McDonald’s is using celebrity endorsement and other sneaky ad tactics to promote their product, while maintaining that it is up to the consumer to manage food intake in moderation with exercise.
In an article from the Journal Sentinel, McDonalds has already begun its “Go Active!” campaign. It has also launched a “marketing blitz to address health issues head on and tout new diet conscious options at its outlets.” In June McDonald’s plans to send out healthier Happy Meals, with optional replacements of fries with apple slices and juice, and promoting their new brochures offering the option to decrease calorie intake by skipping cheese or the bun. These changes in the McDonald’s corporation are similar to political advertisements as they subtly tell you what you want to hear while leaving out parts of the truth. In McDonald’s case the truth still remains that their food in excessive amounts is unhealthy for you. This is exactly what filmmaker Morgan Spurlock set out to prove.
“Morgan Spurlock, producer/director/guinea pig of Super Size Me, was sitting on the couch at his childhood home in West Virginia on Thanksgiving 2002, stuffed with turkey and all the fixings, when the concept behind Super Size Me came to him. ’I was so full and was watching the news when a story about the two girls suing McDonald’s came on the TV. I immediately called Scott (Ambrozy, Director of Photography) and told him the idea. When he finished laughing, he said ‘That’s a really great bad idea.’” (Spurlock)
Spurlocks’ film is a presentation of the effects of corporate America, advertising, and our own litigious society. We have become accustomed to being able to sue whoever we want, and our direct actions are rarely our own fault. Those who sue McDonald’s for making them fat, is the same as a cigarette smoker suing the big companies for getting cancer. The consumer is well aware of the consequences of their actions whether it be from cigarettes or fast food, and it is our own personal responsibility to take these things in moderation. In spite of all of the external influences, Americans should take it upon themselves to be responsible for their own experience and physical well-being. Whether we become chronically overweight due to excess fast food and periodically go on fad diets and “exercise” programs should not depend on the marketing campaigns of huge corporations and the social pressures they create but on common sense, education, and self-awareness.
Anderson, Robin and Lance Strate, eds. Critical Studies in Media Commercialism. New York: Oxford.
Carpenter, Dave. “McDonald’s makes healthy push.” Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
McDonald’s press release. “McDonald’s Partners with America’s Best Selling Health and Fitness Expert, Bob Greene, on Healthy Living Campaign.”
Spurlock, Morgan. Super Size Me.else: ?>
In recent months, world health officials have reported a dramatic growth in the percentage of the US population that can be classified as morbidly obese. The World Health Organization has characterized this increase in obesity as an “epidemic”, citing an estimated 60% of the people in the US as overweight. What is the source of […]endif; ?>
As the world has grown increasingly smaller, capital moves increasingly faster, and domestic politics echo more profoundly than ever on the global stage, the policies of nation-states are subject more than ever to intense scrutiny. In this era of information, the nation-state’s claims of sovereignty as a protection against such scrutiny have been discredited. Domestic public opinion heavily influences domestic policies, which in turn bear weight on foreign policy decisions. This order is cyclical; foreign policies often influence domestic policies, which help to shape public opinion. Such is the case with every conceivable policy decision, if not at the time of its formation then in retrospect.
The prejudices of a government are, in an ideal democracy, direct reflections of the prejudices of its people, and vice-versa. Discrimination along lines of social categories, such as class, gender, sexuality, religion, or race is expressed through policymaking. A peoples’ prejudices determine whether or not the policies will be accepted by the people. The question seems to be one of causation: does public opinion dictate policy, or does policy dictate public opinion? Perhaps the solution is to enhance the question by removing the causative significance and addressing the cyclical nature of the continual policies and public reactions thereto.
The experience of racial classification is a common experience in the United States. Whether a member of the dominant (white) group, or a member of an oppressed (non-white) group, members of American society are keenly aware of the racial politics of the nation. Ignoring race in America is similar to ignoring wine in France, kimonos in Japan, or empire in the United Kingdom: it is a national legacy. This legacy of racism manifests itself in the daily lives of both natural-born American citizens and immigrants. It should not be surprising then, that this legacy also is found in U.S. foreign policy. The construction of racial otherness in America has allowed for the systematic, institutionalized and informal discrimination, stereotyping, and scapegoating in domestic life and policies. I believe that this construction of racial otherness has also facilitated the American public’s tolerance of U.S. foreign policies and endeavors that promote, reinforce, and benefit from racism.
Looking at two facets of U.S. foreign policy, economic and military, I will address the effects of racism (both domestic and external, institutional and informal) in the United States’ policy decisions in regards to Mexico and Vietnam, respectively. I will also look at the experiences of domestic racism, by Mexican and Vietnamese immigrants, to demonstrate the public opinion-whether popular or not, undeniably influential-which invariably mirrors government international policies.
U.S. foreign policy towards Mexico has historically been characteristic of an ambivalent neighbor. Each year, the Mexican president speaks to the U.S. Congress, as a symbolic means of reasserting Mexican independence from overt U.S. colonialism. (Kopstein & Lichbach) However, with the rise of globalization, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, the United States, and Mexico was signed. It came into force with devastating consequences for the Mexican economy, and plunged millions of Mexicans into destitute poverty and exploitative labor. NAFTA effectively opened the developing market to Canadian- and American-based multi-national corporations (MNCs), limited protective labor regulations, and undermined social welfare in Mexico. Neither the United States nor Canada-both predominately white countries-suffered such dramatic and disastrous social and economic effects: interest rates leapt to 109% immediately after NAFTA came into effect. (Espinoza p 2)!
Mexico is still struggling to recover from the shock of NAFTA’s 1994 implementation. (Couch)
The Mexican people suffer under a massive economic crisis, while foreign investors reaped immense profits from the lax labor regulations and lifted tariffs. The Mexican government was forced to contend with a civil uprising in the Chiapas province in protest of NAFTA (among other things):
“The Zapatistas chose January 1, 1994, the day the North American Free Trade Agreement came into force, to ‘declare war’ on the Mexican army, launching an insurrection and briefly taking control of the city of San Cristobal de las Casas and five Chiapas towns. They sent out a communiqué explaining that NAFTA, which banned subsidies to indigenous farm co-operatives, would be a ‘summary execution’ for four million indigenous Mexicans in Chiapas, the country’s poorest province.” (Klein 215)
The ruling party at the time of the NAFTA implementation in Mexico lost so much favor in the country, after the economic crisis and slashing social welfare programs that had ensured peasant loyalty for nearly 70 years, that a dramatic shift in power came with the next presidential election. Unfortunately for the Mexican people, the only other party in a position to compete with the longstanding ruling party was a right-wing party with a neoliberal platform, favoring more free market reforms.
Naomi Klein cites evidence of NAFTA’s power to take from the poor to give to the rich with the case of Metalclad, an American waste management corporation, and the citizens of Guadalcazar, Mexico. In 1991, Metalclad bought a shutdown toxic treatment facility in Guadalcazar with the intent to create a huge toxic waste dump. After reneging for four years on promises to the community to clean up the intense pollution, groundwater contamination, and dangerous substances left behind by the old facility (a condition of the purchase of the site), Guadalcazar citizens took legislative action against Metalclad, denying them a building permit and attempting to declare the land an ecological reserve. Klein outlines the protection that NAFTA removed from the Mexican people and their environment, in favor of the MNC:
“By this point, the North American Free Trade Agreement-including its controversial ‘Chapter 11′ clause, which allows investors to sue governments-was in full effect. So Metalclad launched a Chapter 11 challenge, claiming Mexico was ‘expropriating’ its investment. The complaint was heard last August (2000) in Washington. D.C., by a three-person arbitration panel. Metalclad asked for US$90 million, and was awarded $16.7 million.The Metalclad case is a vivid example of what critics mean when they charge that free trade deals amount to a ‘bill of rights for multinational corporations.’ Metalclad has successfully played the victim, oppressed by what NAFTA calls ‘intervention’ and what used to be called ‘democracy.'” (Klein 57)
It is important to note that the hearing to settle this dispute was held in Washington. NAFTA allowed for a giant MNC to overstep the democratic processes, environment, and communal rights of a sovereign nation-state and its people.
How does NAFTA manifest racism? There is something fundamentally wrong when two out of three parties to a trade agreement suffer little to no negative economic or social fallout, yet the third party is plunged into massive crisis. There is also something fundamentally wrong when the people of the suffering party are racial minorities who have routinely suffered with historical discrimination and repression on the part of the dominant racial group-the white Americans. NAFTA demonstrated the American government’s disregard for the lives and livelihoods of the Mexican people, who have suffered classification as racial “others” on both sides of the border.
The subordinate racial status afforded to the Mexican people by the United States-white people- removes the humanity from the intensely inhumane and grotesquely immoderate denial of the means of survival. Stereotypes of Mexicans as lazy, dishonest, drug-smuggling thugs help facilitate a sense of self-perpetuating poverty, a poverty in which the United States would be justified in intervening, to help the Mexicans who “can’t get it right on their own.” This justification ignores the incredible social and economic progress pre-NAFTA Mexico exhibited. With a radical, egalitarian constitution, the ruling party in Mexico had been known for its progressive post-revolution aspirations. (Kopstein & Lichbach)
As in Mexico, Vietnam experienced a similar kind of white-supremacist colonialism. Indeed, Mexican and Vietnamese and Asian immigrants in the United States share the common experience of racism and xenophobia.
“Persons arriving from Mexico and Latin American countries, whether aboriginal or mestizo in ancestry, have had poorer luck , and continue to be perceived in strongly racialist terms. Although many Asian Americans have fared well materially of late and have risen in status, the legacy of the ‘yellow peril,’ so pervasive in fiction, early films, and the popular imagination for so long, lingers on, and even today overt or subtle discrimination persists in television and elsewhere in American life.” (Zelinsky pp 83-4)
The Vietnam War is studied endlessly as a proxy war to the stalemate between the major powers of socialism and capitalism-the USSR and the USA. The United States’ efforts to “liberate” South Vietnam from the communist north employed chemical warfare to wipe out guerrilla-style military activity, at the same time catching non-combatants in the wake.
Historically notorious Zippo raids, Agent Orange and napalm characterize the American “anti-Communist” campaign in South Vietnam. Innocent children were shot on site on mere suspicion of carrying Viet Cong explosives, entire villages were burned to the ground, and food supplies were poisoned. Decades after the conclusion of the Vietnam War, Vietnamese children are still being born with debilitating birth defects as a result of the chemical warfare employed by the United States.
Before the Vietnam War ever began, racist stereotypes of Vietnamese people were widely circulated. “With perceptions of the Vietnamese as lazy and primitive, many American observers argued that the Vietnamese were, by nature, liars.” (Bradley p 48)
An elitist perception of the United States as a super-capable liberator, combined with racist stereotypes of ethnic groups incapable of governing themselves or defending themselves against the development of communism contributed to the foundation of justification to invade and destroy Vietnam.
There was massive protest to the Vietnam War in the United States, which mobilized against the war only as it was carried out. The American public never decried the racist stereotypes, which fueled the perception of the needy, helpless, incapable, lowly Vietnamese people. The construction of racial difference, feeding on years of historical discrimination against Asians and Asian Americans, facilitated the construction of a perception of the South Vietnamese as desperately needing the intervention of the United States to protect their own weak ability to self-govern, and the Viet Cong as greedy, evil, destructive, bloodthirsty terrorists invading the land and politic of the weak, submissive, helpless Southerners.
The experience of Vietnamese and Asian immigrants to the United States mirrors that of every other racially marginalized group in America. Stereotyping of people of Asian decent is and was rampant in the United States:
“The incredibly evil and sinister Fu-Manchu, personification of the Yellow Peril, for example, gave way to the genial Charlie Chan who, mirabile dict, defended rather than conspired against the law.Charlie Chan may have become a popular hero, but he was still depicted as an ‘inscrutable, mysterious, and damned clever Chinaman.” (Wu pp 213-4)
Within the ranks of the US military, anti-Asian and anti-Vietnamese sentiments were deeply entrenched. An interview with a Chinese-American GI who served in Vietnam in a mostly white unit details the extent to which anti-Viet Cong sentiment developed into anti-Asian-appearing-people sentiment:
“‘Well, a couple of days , the Viet Cong started shelling us. Then the other GIs started making comments about me looking like the Viet Cong.I didn’t do nothing. I was just doing a job. I didn’t have any political awareness. right after the GIs got back from patrol. They really gave it to me. They started asking me where I was born, where my parents were born, if I was a Communist. They even asked me what I thought about China. They thought I could turn traitor at any time.'”
(Wu pp 267-8)
The racist perceptions of the military were not the sole cause of the grotesque humanitarian violations committed in Vietnam. The racism, whether overt or internalized, of the military command, the United States government, and indeed, the public which delayed or silenced outcry against the racist, imperialist agenda of the government all attributed to a policy of destruction and murder, dehumanized with a construction of otherness built around race. The same experience is applicable to Mexico, in the greed-driven and racialist-justified policies that led to the drafting and implementation of NAFTA, and historic US efforts to otherwise colonize Mexico.
Racism is a prerequisite to colonialism; a sense of otherness and superiority is required to placate domestic observers and to legitimate the policies themselves. Also, previous racist and anti-immigrant sentiment in the populous is needed to create a basis, whether through representational democracy, electoral referendum, or simply popular support expressed through opinion polls, for the formulation of policies that reflect racism.
Does this cycle suggest that immigration and the xenophobia experienced by immigrants of racial “other” categories allows for the US public to tolerate racist policies, both domestically and abroad? That the American public has become so complacent with nationalist rhetoric, racially exclusionary immigration policies, racial profiling, and other discriminatory policies to allow its government to carry out racist agendas and neocolonialist policies? If the answer to this is no-and I know of no legitimate way to measure this-then the facilitating factor could be inherent racism in the American public, not an unlikely hypothesis. Complacency, internalized or overt racism, xenophobia, and nationalism, combined with a continual onslaught of biased media and government-sponsored messages, have lulled the public largely into accepting, either passively or actively, unjust government policies. This is not a comforting thought, by any means. The cycle of racism, perpetuated through!
society into government and into foreign policy has interesting implications for democracy itself. If society’s intolerance of immigrants and people of color legitimates, or even gives birth to discriminatory policies, can it be argued that democracy leads to justice? Whatever the outcomes of these questions, the domestic experiences of immigrants in the United States often reflect the experiences of their home countries under US foreign policy.
Bach, Robert, and Portes, Alejandro. Latin Journey: Cuban and Mexican Immigrants in the United States. Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Bradley, Mark P. Imagining Vietnam & America: The Making of Postcolonial Vietnam, 1919-1950. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press.
Couch, Jen. Imagining Zapatismo: the Anti-globalization Movement and the Zapatistas, COMMUNAL/PLURAL. Vol. 9, No. 2, p.243-260.
Espinoza, Martin Zapatistas: Bad for Business, Corpwatch.org.
“From the Boats to the Suburbs” The Economist, p28.
Klein, Naomi. Fences and Windows. New York: Picador USA Press.
Kopstein, Jeffrey, and Mark Lichbach. Comparative Politics: Interests, Identities, and Institutions. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Magana, Lisa and Short, Robert. “Political Rhetoric, Immigration Attitudes, and Contemporary Prejudice: A Mexican American Dilemma.” Journal of Social Psychology, p701.
Sachs, Susan. “New York, Citing Security, Rejects Mexican ID Cards.” New York Times, pB4.
Wu, Cheng-Tsu. The Ethnic Prejudice in America Series: “Chink!” New York: World Press.
Zelinsky, Wilbur. The Enigma of Ethnicity. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press.else: ?>
As the world has grown increasingly smaller, capital moves increasingly faster, and domestic politics echo more profoundly than ever on the global stage, the policies of nation-states are subject more than ever to intense scrutiny. In this era of information, the nation-state’s claims of sovereignty as a protection against such scrutiny have been discredited. Domestic […]endif; ?>
Outwardly, The Great Gatsby may appear to merely be a novel about the failed relationship between Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan. However, the major theme of the novel has much less to do with love then with the culture of the 1920s as a whole. In this article, the various cultural elements reflected in The Great Gatsby which led to the downfall of the 1920s American Dream will be discussed, as well as their implications for the characters in the novel.
During the 1920s, the perception of the American Dream was that an individual can achieve success in life regardless of family history or social status if they only work hard enough. In the book titled “Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity”, the author Roland Marchand describes a figure that he feels represents the quintessential 1920s man who is living the American Dream. He writes, “Not only did he flourish in the fast-paced, modern urban milieu of skyscrapers, taxicabs, and pleasure-seeking crowds, but he proclaimed himself an expert on the latest crazes in fashion, contemporary lingo, and popular pastimes.” (Marchand) The Great Gatsby is not mentioned once in this book, however it is impossible to deny the resemblance between Marchand’s definition of a twenties man living the American Dream and Fitzgerald’s portrayal of Jay Gatsby, who has risen from a poor childhood to being a millionaire with servants, a huge house, and dozens of friends. Gatsby epitomizes the idea of self-made success; he is successful financially and socially and he essentially created an entirely new persona for himself from his underprivileged past. All of the wealth and status which Gatsby acquired, that while on the surface made his life appear to be the precise definition of the American Dream were actually elements which led to it’s demise.
The culture of the wealthy Americans represented in Gatsby was defined mainly by consumerism and excessive material wealth. Wherever given the opportunity, Jay Gatsby is inclined to ostentation as shown in his flamboyant style of dress, what Tom refers to as his “circus wagon” car, and of course his huge mansion where he throws lavish, drunken parties. In Thorstein Veblen’s “The Theory of the Leisure Class” he writes, “…to gain and hold the esteem of men is not sufficient merely to hold wealth and power. The wealth and power must be put into evidence.” Thorstein Veblen, who popularized the term “conspicuous consumption” which so accurately describes much of what was occurring in The Great Gatsby was trying to convey that the people who had not been raised with money and came into riches and wealth on their on attempted to demand respect and esteem by showing it off through purchases.
The houses depicted in The Great Gatsby are perhaps the most obvious indicator of the relentless competition to declare one’s status, as all of the new rich attempted to outdo one another when it came to the size and amenities of their homes. Gatsby has achieved from the outside what looked like the American Dream, however although he had obtained the material status necessary to give that impression, it still wasn’t enough for him and had to seek reassurance that he in fact was impressive. For example, in Chapter Five, Gatsby says to Nick, “My house looks well doesn’t it? See how the whole front of it catches the light.” (Fitzgerald) In Scott Donaldson’s article, “Possessions in the Great Gatsby” he writes, “The culture of consumption on exhibit in The Great Gatsby was made possible by the growth of a leisure class in early-twentieth-century America. As the novel demonstrates, this development subverted the foundations of the Protestant ethic, replacing the values of hard work and thrifty abstinence with a show of luxury and idleness.” (Donaldson, 8) What Donaldson is implying here, is that the sudden wealth that many Americans began to acquire caused leisure and idleness to replace traditional ethics like hard work as qualities that were admired. None of the characters in The Great Gatsby seemed to care much about hard work once they had achieved their material goals. As part of the “new rich,” Gatsby epitomizes the American Dream at the beginning of the novel, prior to his downward spiral. However, he differs from the other newly rich members of society in that he did not earn his money in an honorable way, and therefore does not have the “hard work” ethic that Donaldson refers to. Part of the main idea of the American Dream was that it was achieved through hard work, and this contradiction between Gatsby’s American Dream-like lifestyle and the means which he achieved it are part of his downfall. The show of luxury and idleness that Donaldson talks about is best shown in Fitzgerald’s portrayal of Gatsby’s home and parties that for Gatsby were merely devices he used in a naïve attempt to win Daisy. Although he loves her, he undeniably also sees her as a material commodity, much the way he views his home. In Ray E. Canterbery’s article, “Thorstein Veblen and The Great Gatsby” he remarks, “Jay Gatsby wants to live with Daisy Buchanan because she is a member of the established American aristocracy of wealth. Gatsby lacks the maturity to realize that Daisy cannot be obtained by money alone and in a vulgar display of conspicuous consumption, he flaunts his nouveau wealth.” (Canterbery) In contrast, Tom Buchanan, who is just as wealthy as Gatsby chooses to display his wealth in a much more subtle way than Gatsby. His East Egg home is more modest than Gatsby’s, and is intended to be a display of breeding and taste, rather than a display of gaudiness and exorbitant amounts of cash to freely dispense. Because of Gatsby’s naivete, he fails to realize that no matter how many garish displays of wealth or fancy parties he throws, Daisy is essentially priceless and will not leave the aristocratic, old money lifestyle which she has become accustomed to through her relationship with Tom.
Gatsby’s home was mainly for show; it features a tower for no particular reason, as well as a marble swimming pool and acre upon acre of manicured lawns and gardens. Like his house, Gatsby’s parties are mainly for show as well. The extravagance of this society is shown in Gatsby’s parties in the flashiness, extreme quantity of illegal alcohol, and the volume of guests attending – most of whom only want to be near him because of his wealth. Gatsby puts huge sums of money into these parties yet does not seem to enjoy hosting them at all. In an article by Jennifer Fjeldstrom, she writes, “It is easy to see that the guests at Gatsby’s party are completely unable to exist independently of each other, for all of these people are similarly trying to become a part of the rich set.” (Fjeldstrom, 38) The guest at Gatsby’s parties were all attempting to achieve the American Dream that they believed Gatsby was privy to, they all wanted to be a part of the upper class lifestyle. It seems as if the guests at Gatsby’s parties did not realize that he was still lacking when it came to the American Dream as well. Gatsby’s life looked perfect from the outside, however he felt a deep void that he believed only Daisy could fulfill.
Gatsby however had trouble even believing himself that he truly fit in with the upper class Long Island society. In the Donaldson article previously referenced he also wrote, “The outsized house, together with the lavish parties and the garish clothing, the automobiles and the aquaplane, represent his attempt to establish himself as Somebody, or at least not Nobody.” (Donaldson, 11) Gatsby believed that in order to fulfill his own concept of the American Dream he needed to win Daisy’s love, and to do that he would need to “establish himself as Somebody.” After Daisy finally attends a party at Gatsby’s mansion and he senses their relationship beginning to sour, Gatsby fires his employees, stops throwing parties, and allows his house to deteriorate, representing the beginning of his lifestyle’s decline as well. The day after the car accident when Nick goes to visit Gatsby, Fitzgerald describes the deterioration of the house just since Gatsby fired his servants. It says, “There was an inexplicable amount of dust everywhere and the rooms were musty as though they hadn’t been aired for many days.” This discussion between Nick and Gatsby in this scene shows the origins of Gatsby’s decadent lifestyle. Gatsby’s attempts to win Daisy’s affection through obtaining material possessions, the extravagant home, the fancy clothing and cars changed the American dream from the pursuit of happiness into a quest for mere wealth. This was Gatsby attempting to establish himself as somebody. In order to earn Daisy’s affection he would have to be a “Somebody” or in the terms of the book, “old money.” Even if Gatsby had just as much money or more than Tom, he could never break through the barriers which the “old money” people put up to keep outsiders like Gatsby away.
Automobiles also played an important role in the culture of the 1920s, as well as an important role in the lives and deaths of several characters. At the time the novel was set, the automobile was still a relatively new technology, and just beginning to become important in the culture of wealthy Americans. To the rich characters in The Great Gatsby, the automobile was not so important as a mode of transportation as much as it had importance as a commodity. Just like a house, or a lavish party or anything else which Gatsby or the Buchanan’s may spend money on, a car was simply another way of displaying the massive amounts of wealth which they had available. For example, Gatsby has his own chauffeur, yet he still has a station wagon and an expensive Rolls Royce that he uses as well. In Lauraleigh O’Meara’s article, “Medium of Exchange: The Blue-Coupe Dialogue in The Great Gatsby” she points out that for the most part in the novel, the appearance of the car is much more important than it’s practicality. She writes that several of the phrases which Fitzgerald uses to describe Gatsby’s car have a strong resemblance to the advertising used during that period. Gatsby’s Rolls-Royce was “…a rich cream color, bright with nickel, swollen here and there in its monstrous length with triumphant hatboxes and supper-boxes and tool boxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of windshields that mirrored a dozen suns.” (68) O’Meara writes, “Gatsby’s ‘splendid car’ delineate an expensive and unique commodity, not an efficient means for travel.” This attitude towards transportation is very in concordance with the attitude the characters, especially Gatsby have towards all material possessions. Gatsby likes to make a spectacle with his purchases, whether it is his clothing, his home, or his automobiles.
Gatsby’s attempt to seek fulfillment and win Daisy through material accumulation is one of the reasons that the automobile has to do with the demise of the American Dream. Additionally, the deaths of several characters in the book, whether directly or indirectly resulting from an automobile is an important thing to consider when examining how 1920s culture affected the collapse of the American Dream. Myrtle, Gatsby, and George all die because of an automobile accident, even though Myrtle was the only one who was directly killed by the car. Since Gatsby was the owner of the car that killed Myrtle, he ended up being killed by George, who incorrectly assumed that Myrtle’s death was Gatsby’s fault prior to killing himself. In this case, the automobile is no longer a commodity; it is what O’Meara dubs as a “death car.” The automobile is a symbol that Fitzgerald uses to accomplish several different ends.
The most important function of the automobile in The Great Gatsby however is what O’Meara writes near the end of her article. “The cultural obsession with commodities allows an ordinary automobile to transcend its functional purpose to become and embodiment of dreams.” (O’Meara) The automobile leads to the downfall of several characters’ American Dreams in the same way which their inessential homes did. The characters substituted their pursuit of happiness for a pursuit of wealth, believing that wealth would satisfy their dreams and lead to happiness, however lives were lost in the process instead.
In addition to the preoccupation with material wealth that led to the demise of the American Dream, the means which many people in the 1920s obtained the material wealth in the first place plays a large role. The Prohibition movement which coincides with the events in The Great Gatsby enabled many people who otherwise would have never achieved financial success to enjoy a lavish, extravagant lifestyle. Prohibition began in 1919 with the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment. It was believed by many that this movement would encourage moral behavior and discourage crime and disease. After the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment which stated, “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited” (U.S. Const. art XVIII, § 1) a business of bootlegging became a prime way for people to make money. There was a massive demand for bootleg liquor, especially among the rich, and many people such as the character of Jay Gatsby, became rich by catering to these people’s needs. To reach his dream of spending his life with Daisy, he attains his millions in the bootlegging business during the time of prohibition. In his article titled Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”, Nathan A. Cervo writes, “America is the land of opportunity, but all the opportunities that really matter are basically criminal in character, like bootlegging. To spin off from this a bit, it may be truly said that in America, no noncriminal ever becomes rich. By “crime” I mean not only the illegal, but the immoral; that is, breaches of decency, like honesty and trust, and a fair product for a fair price.” While saying that all activities that enable one to become rich in American are illegal is a slight exaggeration, Cervo is right on target when it comes to the instance of Jay Gatsby.
The activities associated with Prohibition led to a decline in the American Dream because the idea of the American Dream is that only virtuous, moral, hard working individuals were rewarded. The bootlegging business during the 1920s came along with a huge increase in organized crime. It was probably because of his connections to bootlegging and through his drugstores that Gatsby met the infamous gambler and racketeer Meyer Wolfsheim, who was most likely based on an actual gambler from that era named Arnold Rothstein. Wolfsheim was a sly criminal who “fixed” the 1919 World Series and when Nick asks Gatsby why he is not in jail for his activities Gatsby just responds, “They can’t get him, old sport. He’s a smart man.” (Fitzgerald, 78) Wolfsheim showed Gatsby’s dark side and the way that his dream was ultimately corrupted. Gatsby was not a fundamentally corrupt man however through his association with dishonest, wayward people he gradually became more like them. In his article titled, “Gatsby’s Pristine Dream: The Diminishment of the Self-Made Man in the Tribal Twenties” Jeffrey Decker writes, “After Gatsby’s own sudden death, Nick approaches Wolfsheim – the deceased’s ‘closest friend’ – for an account of Gatsby’s source of wealth. Wolfsheim’s recollection functions to reconfirm the new threat posed by the immigrant to moral uplift and ethical entrepreneurship. To Nick’s inquiry, ‘Did you start him in business? ’ Wolfsheim replies, ‘Start him! I made him,’ and continues: ‘I raised him up out of nothing, right out of the gutter. I saw right away he was a fine appearing gentlemanly young man and when he told me he was an Oggsford I knew I could use him good. . . We were so thick like that in everything –’ He held up two bulbous fingers ‘ – always together. ’ Wolfsheim’s depiction of Gatsby’s success helps confirm the findings of Tom’s investigation. Not only is Gatsby ‘raised . . . up out of nothing,’ he is ‘made’ not by the sweat of his honest brow but by the black hand of the immigrant gangster.” (Decker) This revelation from Wolfsheim proves that Gatsby really did not fit in with the old rich people like Daisy and Tom. The way he earned his money and the fact that he had at one point been poor is part of what makes Daisy not want to be with Gatsby, and what basically ruins all hope that Gatsby ever had of fulfilling his dream of them being together.
Ultimately all of these things- the consumerism, materialism, the cars, parties, and houses, plus the Prohibition movement led to class struggles between the rich and poor, a superficial wealthy class of people, and an inaccurate perception of the relationship between money and happiness. For example, while Tom and Daisy may superficially represent the American Dream, their lack of morals, commitment, and dreams all ultimately contradict that. The perception of the American Dream changed, and the idea that money leads to happiness obviously was not the case for Tom and Daisy. The same is true for Gatsby. His illegal work was all an excuse to earn money and become close to Daisy, however once again, money could not buy Gatsby happiness.
This inaccurate perception was what led to most of the shattered dreams in the novel. Gatsby truly believed that the more material things he had to offer Daisy the better of a chance he had of receiving love in return. The failure of the American Dream in his life is mainly due to his moral decay throughout the novel. Instead of turning into an honorable man after earning his fortune, he turns into a quasi-member of Tom and Daisy’s crowd through trying to live up to the material culture of that decade. He never quite fit in with them but became morally relegated to association with that group. As Fitzgerald writes, “They were careless people Tom and Daisy. They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” (187) Daisy becomes the only important person in Gatsby’s life, and in his efforts to win her love he becomes a careless person just the way she is. When Gatsby and Daisy hit Myrtle with the car, he isn’t even concerned about Myrtle; he is just concerned about whether this will cause problems for Daisy. Gatsby’s quest for happiness through illegal and superficial means ultimately is the cause of his death, and therefore the collapse of his American Dream.
The novel is somewhat of a commentary on the condition of the American Dream in the 1920s. It shows how the American Dream went from an idea that anyone could achieve success in this country through hard work and perseverance, to an idea that one needs to keep accumulating material wealth in the quest for happiness and fulfillment.
It is interesting to note that six years after the publication of The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald became obsessed with Marxism. He began reading and encouraging Zelda to read a children’s version of the Five-Year Plan, as well as organizing party meetings and sessions with a local communist in Baltimore. This is mainly an interesting thing to note since The Great Gatsby place so much emphasis on materialism and conspicuous consumption. Fitzgerald’s foray into Marxism several years later shows his concerns over this skewed version of the American Dream that was based more on wealth and possessions and less on hard work and achievement. The fact that he later rebelled against the material 1920s culture shows that he was in fact cautioning against this lifestyle rather than encouraging it.
Donaldson writes in “Possessions in the Great Gatsby,” “…he [Fitzgerald] was persuaded that capitalism was a corrupt and dying economic system.” (Donaldson, 3) Fitzgerald felt that capitalism and it’s offshoots— the excessive homes, cars, etcetera were the demise of the American Dream. The novel shows the possibilities that wealth can create and the irresponsibility that can ultimately ruin it. Additionally, the 1920s was a decade where a lot of cultural and social change was occurring—for example, the automobile and the Prohibition movement. The negative effects of these changes in culture also played a role in The Great Gatsby being less than a positive commentary on the state of the American Dream. More than anything however, what the automobiles, homes, and parties represented were what caused Gatsby’s dreams to be destroyed. All of those material possessions were bought to win Daisy, which Gatsby mistakenly felt would ultimately lead him to happiness and the fulfillment of his American Dream. In the end, Gatsby’s life and the culture surrounding it serves as a cautionary tale about those seeking happiness within the narrow confines of the 1920s American Dream.
“1925: Seventy-Five Years Ago Fitzgerald Grows Up.” American Heritage 51. Academic Search Premier.
Allen, Frederick L. Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s. New York: Wiley, New Ed Edition.
Callahan, John F. “F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Evolving American Dream: The ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ in Gatsby, Tender is the Night, and The Last Tycoon.” Twentieth Century Literature 42.
Canterbery, Ray E. “Thorstein Veblen and The Great Gatsby.” Journal of Economic Issues 33.
Cervo, Nathan A. “Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.” Explicator 63.
Decker, Jeffrey L. “Gatsby’s Pristine Dream: The Diminishment of the Self-Made Man in the Tribal Twenties.” Novel: A Forum on Fiction 28. Academic Search Premier.
Donaldson, Scott. “Possessions in the Great Gatsby.” Southern Review 37.
Fjeldstrom, Jennifer J. Jay Gatsby as a “Bold Sensualist”: Using “Self-Reliance” and Walden to Critique the Jazz Age in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Diss. Univ. of Saskatchewan.
Lena, Alberto. “Deceitful Traces of Power: An Analysis of Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby.” Canadian Review of American Studies 28.
Marchand, Roland. Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity. Los Angeles: University of California P.
Michaels, James W. “The Mass-Market Rich.” Forbes 9 Oct. 2000. Business Source Premier.
O’meara, Lauraleigh. “Medium of Exchange: The Blue Coupe Dialogue in The Great Gatsby.” Papers on Language & Literature 30.
Prigozy, Ruth, ed. The Cambridge Companion to F. Scott Fitzgerald. Cambridge: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge.else: ?>
Outwardly, The Great Gatsby may appear to merely be a novel about the failed relationship between Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan. However, the major theme of the novel has much less to do with love then with the culture of the 1920s as a whole. In this article, the various cultural elements reflected in The […]endif; ?>
The Mexican culture is one steeped in legend and myth. Parents pass these myths on to their children as moral advice, threats, or entertainment. The way native Mexicans, as well as Mexican-Americans, view their legends are based on a combination of cultures throughout their history. The legend of la Muerta, death, is no different. To understand why this legend began, and to understand why Mexicans view death in such a different way than other cultures, one must become familiar with their past, and with the societies that clashed to create the beliefs still adhered to today.
Death has an unusual prevalence in Mexican culture. “It would be simplistic to say that Mexicans in general have a different concept of death and a more comfortable relationship with the dead than Anglos” (Tatum 184). However, the happy celebration, Dia de los Muertos, is only one example of how death is celebrated rather than feared, accepted as opposed to being met with trepidation. Death surrounds the life of Chicano culture throughout every step. “To understand the bases of the Mexican cult of death, one must look back first to the basic religious beliefs of pre-Conquest Mexico, for every phase of life throughout the development of Mexican culture was integrally bound with religion” (Brodman 1). Also effecting the Mexican preoccupation with death is the history of the Spanish invasion and the advent of Catholicism. The force of the church, combined with the ancient beliefs of the Toltec and the Aztecs, create the modern folklore of la Muerta that many Chicanos on both sides of the border believe in.
Early Toltec concepts of creation are fatalistic. They believed the world they lived in was the fifth world in a succession of four others which had already been destroyed one by one before the fifth ever came into being. The fifth world was to meet the same fate. Thus, death and life are seen as two sides of the same reality. This belief was not seen as ominous, but simply as natural as a plant sprouting from a seed in the ground (Brodman 3).
With the arrival of the Aztecs, the somewhat ethereal beliefs of the Toltec were put into grim practice. While the Toltec believed life was what one endured before universal destruction, the Aztecs distorted this into a destruction made real on earth. Human sacrifice and cannibalism became common practice, and the specter of death was made ever more prevalent in Mexican culture. “…since the Aztecs believed that it was the manner of a man’s death and not his conduct in life which determined his spiritual destiny, death in battle or on the sacrificial stone was often pursued as it carried with it the reward of attaining one of the most desirable of the several Aztec heavens” (Brodman 7). With the combination of the beliefs of these two ancestries, the preoccupation with death as seen in modern Mexican society is only a logical progression of two cultures, which were among the most death-oriented in history.
To further explain the matter of how the folk legend of la Muerta was derived, one must also look at the Spanish influence, and that of Catholicism. The roots of Spanish character lie in a number of indigenous and non-indigenous cultures. It was the Germanic tribes that introduced Catholicism to Spain in the late 6th century. “From that time on, Catholicism and the cult of death went hand in hand in Spain, for the Catholic Church provided the Spaniard with a philosophy which was delightfully compatible with his inherent fascination with death” (Brodman 20). The religious tenets of Catholicism place contempt for terrestrial life in favor of a less materialistic eternal life. In other words, Catholicism places a far higher value on death, and the life after death, than on actual life itself. Christianity also places a profound emphasis on the ideas of heaven and hell, or the belief that man can achieve everlasting life through good deeds. This is a concept unheard of in Toltec and Aztec religions, but one that becomes more prevalent in modern Mexican beliefs.
Keeping these factors in mind, one can now begin to understand with more clarity the Chicano folklore tale of La Muerta. “Death, personified as a woman and dressed in white clothing, is a well-known character in Chicano and Mexicano folklore…she is a frequent personality in legends, urban belief tales, and is integrated into many family folk belief systems. Death is sometimes feared, but it is also accepted as the transition to another stage of the life cycle” (Castro 162). According to the legend, la Muerta is seen as a beautiful temptress who beckons lone men to her while keeping her face averted. It is only when they are within her clutches that she reveals her true face to them—a grisly skull. She appears to men who are immoral or who are prepared to do misdeeds in their heart. Sometimes, after tempting the man, la Muerta will release her prey so that he may wake up prepared to return to a life of fidelity and good deeds. It is a folk legend meant to inspire adherence to social norms in young Chicano children (Castro 162).
One can see the influence of both the ancient Mexican cultures and the invading Spanish-Catholic culture. On one hand, la Muerta is not something to be feared. If anything, her outside beauty and temptation pay just as important a role as the fact that her face is something terrifying to behold. Men in her presence do not so much feel fear, as they feel curiosity and eagerness. This signifies the influence of the Toltec and Aztec religions, where death was not feared, but was met with courage and self-possession.
On the other hand, la Muerta is also a cautionary tale, a parable if you will, like many found in the Holy Bible. Her presence is meant to teach a lesson on fidelity and moral good. If one does not change his ways, la Muerta may not be so quick to send him back to his loved ones with nothing more than an otherworldly slap on the wrist. The myth encourages one to consider his own misdeeds, lest one finds himself on a dark road, his only company a woman in white who beckons in the distance.
It is the combination of ancient religious practices and long-ago conquests that form the Chicano folk legend of la Muerta. The beliefs of the Toltec and Aztec people, as well as the ideals of the Spanish-Catholics provide the basis for the Mexican obsession, acceptance and celebration of death. Death is something that has rarely been feared by someone of Mexican origin. Rather it is a rite of passage, something everyone must commit to, a task every person must complete.
Brodman, Barbara, L.C. The Mexican Cult of Death in Mexican Literature. Gainsville: The University Presses of Florida, 1976.
Castro, Rafaela, G. Chicano Folklore: A Guide to the Folktales, Traditions, Rituals, and Religious Practices of Mexican-Americans. Oxford: University Press, 2001.
Tatum, Charles, M. Chicano Popular Culture: Que Hable el Pueblo. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 2001.else: ?>
The Mexican culture is one steeped in legend and myth. Parents pass these myths on to their children as moral advice, threats, or entertainment. The way native Mexicans, as well as Mexican-Americans, view their legends are based on a combination of cultures throughout their history. The legend of la Muerta, death, is no different. To […]endif; ?>
‘They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country. But in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason.’
– Ernest Hemmingway 1
The technological advances of the post-war era in the machinery of warfare have made human suffering and death in conflict-zones acutely brutal. Innocuous sounding weapons used in the public lexicon such as ‘daisy-cutter’ and ‘rocket propelled grenade’ are weapons used in modern conflict to inflict heinous death and casualty. However, public perceptions of the reality of war have been consistently censured by the press – in this case the American media establishment – since as early as the American Civil War. While the obvious reason for this is to maintain public morale and support for life-threatening conflict, American military intervention since that civil war has been projected internationally. During the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, the explosion of media communications technology has mirrored military R&D in that it has allowed instantaneous access to global conflict.
In three case studies that chart American intervention – the Vietnam War, the first Gulf War, and the Second Gulf War – I will argue that the development of communications technology combined with traditional economic pressures in the Network News medium have reduced public perceptions of American intervention to a form of ‘entertainment.’ I will contrast the pressures and prejudices of journalists and producers on the ground with the economic pressures facing competing media networks to enlarge this debate. Specifically, this will address the ‘rolling news’ format that the Central News Network (CNN) established during the first Gulf War. Finally, the relationship between the media conglomerates and their target audience will be considered in reaction to the ‘entertainment’ label.
The emergence of the CNN Effect can be categorized as ‘the negative effect on the economy caused by people staying home to watch CNN or some other news source during a crisis such as a war.’ 2 It would be a misconception to place the ‘CNN effect’ as one simply referring to ‘rolling news’, a concept adopted by many international media outlets but pioneered by CNN in the first Gulf War. If one takes the CNN effect as an amalgamation of these two definitions, then the overall CNN effect has been to transplant Hollywood mentality onto a daily level, where producers denigrate genuine human suffering in favour of securing a wider audience from competing economic media giants such as CNBC; MSNBC; Fox; ABC; and Bloomberg.
In one example, it is widely held that the presence and reportage of CNN in Somalia prior to the October 3rd battle – where 29 U.S. soldiers were killed and up to 80 injured – pressured President Clinton significantly to intervene militarily and deploy Special Forces to that region. CNN knew what images would appeal to the American public’s conscience and how public pressure could convince an incumbent leader into intervening in humanitarian crises. So, while the economic benefit to CNN was an overriding concern, so too was the power to manipulate what in the Somali example was a highly complex international response to a highly complex national emergency. Then Secretary of State Madeline Albright’s policy of ‘assertive multilateralism’ involved actors and considerations reaching far beyond the humanitarian dimension of a Somali famine. Yet, CNN producers and executives chose only to present human suffering vis-à-vis the humanitarian dimension when presenting that particular conflict to the American public. In one assessment, the use of human suffering to influence foreign policy imbued in the Somali context had tragic consequences:
Even when the Mogadishu tragedy was followed a few days later by the outbreak of massive genocide in Rwanda – one that saw from 600,000 to one million men, women and children murdered – American public opinion did not criticize or challenge the contortions engaged in by the Clinton Administration to avoid intervening. 3
The U.S. media establishment, in the above, aided U.S. policymakers to secure public support for non-intervention in Rwanda, a decision which is universally recognized as irresponsible and an intervention which, unlike Somalia, could actually have benefited the country in question and stalled an unprecedented genocide. The concept of this distinction – between journalists as presenters and journalists as moralists – was discussed most ardently after the U.S. defeat in Vietnam. During the Nixon Presidency, the television and print media acted moralistically in its presentation of the Vietnam conflict and questioned the national interest by mobilizing the public:
‘The president couldn’t sleep. Long afflicted by insomnia, Nixon had special reason for distress on the night of May 8, 1970. He was being pilloried in the press and by the anti-war movement, first for ordering the invasion of Cambodia, then for reacting coldly to the killing of four Kent State students by National Guardsmen. Now protesters had descended on Washington and the capital was in a state of siege.’ 4
Nixon’s paranoia and megalomania saw the media establishment purely in political terms, with a grand liberal conspiracy engaged in machinations to destroy his Presidency. The Watergate scandal which ultimately broke Nixon’s Presidency was a watershed in American media history as the media saw themselves as the purveyors of that society’s morality. Established journalistic rules regarding political character attacks which had prevented Clintonian scandals in John F. Kennedy’s era had now been deemed redundant. The media, in short, had free license to report anything and everything. In Vietnam, this became evident in how the media reported the War. The depiction of violence was no longer censored by the media establishment; it was sensationalized to mirror the mood of a radical American public, morally appalled at the legitimacy of the Vietnam War:
Any viewer in the United States who watched regularly the television reporting from Vietnam – and it was from television that 60 percent of Americans got most of their war news – would agree that he saw scenes of real-life violence, death, and horror on his screen that would have been unthinkable before Vietnam. 5
The effect of this on the American public was obviously an integral tool to the anti-war movement. Correspondents did not question themselves when taking footage of self-immolating monks, as in response to President Diem’s pro-Catholic policies during the Kennedy Presidency. Appalling images such as those, designed to shock the American public and enhance the career of a correspondent, would re-emerge during the height of the war. De-sensitized to the everyday realities and horrors of a soldier in Vietnam, Americans such as Norman Morrison effectively questioned not only the legitimacy of the war, but the media’s representation of it. Morrison infamously set fire to himself outside Secretary of Defense McNamara’s Pentagon office in 1965, thereby inviting the American public to compare domestic, as opposed to foreign, representations of human suffering in conflict zones. Samuel Huntington, when describing the new world order as The Clash of Civilizations, also alluded to a domestic media’s perspective when describing foreign intervention:
A world of clashing civilizations…is inevitably a world of double standards: people apply one standard to their kin-countries and a different standard to others 6
It must also be considered that Nixon’s view of the media as conspiring against Republicans alone was misguided. The previous Democratic Presidents involved in Vietnam – Johnson and Kennedy – both endured a hostile press. In Johnson’s case, even Cabinet members defected to the press in an effort to discredit what they perceived as an unsteady Presidential leadership descending into chaos. In Vietnam, the television media establishment recognized the power of shock tactics to induce the government to relinquish control of ambiguous foreign policies not clearly in the national interest. However, the power of the media in Vietnam to influence public opinion has often been exaggerated, as James Hoge notes:
[As in Vietnam,] public attitudes ultimately hinge on questions about the rightness, purpose and costs of policy – not television images. 7
In the Iraq conflict of 1991, CNN established itself as the dominant American media network. This was due to the efforts of producer Robert Weiner, who urged that CNN should stay in Iraq to report the war Live From Baghdad, as the title of the book chronicling his experience suggests. Due in part to Weiner’s ability to secure a relationship with then Deputy Minister of Information Naji Sabri Ahmad al-Hadithi, CNN procured a ‘floor wire’, a device similar to that of a two-way radio. The advantage for CNN when air strikes on Baghdad became a certainty was that the ‘floor wire’ communicated directly to the Atlanta head office using underground communications cables. Thus, even in the event of U.S. air attacks striking traditional communications centres, the network would be able to broadcast live and uninterrupted. Once direct warnings emerged from U.S. embassy officials warning of an imminent bombing, the remaining international media networks pulled their journalists out of Baghdad, a move designed to protect journalists’ lives and the credibility of President Bush’s bombing campaign.
CNN engineered a historic moment in international broadcasting when veteran journalists Bernard Shaw; John Holliman; and Peter Arnett were flown in to report the first wave of U.S. attacks. ‘Rolling news’ had found both a niche and an audience, as few of us can forget the live images of U.S. air strikes combined with up to the minute reporting. In addition, the U.S. and global audience were simultaneously transported to live events and extensions of the Iraqi conflict by journalists as far as Tel Aviv and Jordan.
Weiner and his team were hailed as journalistic ‘heroes’ and the envy of the U.S. media establishment. During the first wave of U.S strikes, competing media networks could only feed directly into CNN’s broadcasting to retain a minor portion of the market. Americans tuned in live round the clock to watch the U.S. air strikes on Baghdad, yet the immediacy of the devastating effects on Iraqis went unnoticed by the American public. Additionally, the Executive Branch now had to contend with a competing information source, as the government was unable to counter military losses or Hussein’s aggression with pacifying statements to the public: the media now controlled the distribution and content of information.
Underlying this paradox is the concept that the CNN audience was becoming de-sensitized to the realities of a Patriot missile strike or Iraqi Scud launch to the extent that the choice of watching the war on television was not an exercise in information procurement, but a perverse and horrifying form of entertainment. Writing recently in Foreign Affairs, Secretary of State Powell laments:
These days, it seems that an administration can develop a sound foreign policy strategy, but it can’t get people to acknowledge or understand it. 8
Secretary Powell refers here to reinvigorated U.S. government public diplomacy efforts to counter anti-Americanism. In the aftermath of 9-11, the Executive Branch established an Office of Global Communications (OGC) with the mandate: ‘the Office assists in the development of communications that disseminate truthful, accurate, and effective messages about the American people and their government.’ 9 In essence, OGC’s job is to monitor foreign media broadcasts and cultivate effective counter-attacks to perceived propaganda. However, OGC is also competing within a larger paradigm that sees CNN and Al-Jazeera as the principal methods of disseminating ‘truthful, accurate, and effective messages’ related to the demands of their audience. Al-Jazeera has a pro-Arab and anti-American stance, a position which invited their broadcasting (in mid 2003) of bloodied Iraqi carcasses killed by American armed forces.
This was not necessarily a ‘shock’ tactic. Al-Jazeera’s defence of its inflammatory journalism is that it is a network, like CNN, cultivating its content to the requirements and beliefs of its audience. It is the content of the message, however, which also reiterates the concept of mass media as entertainment. Al-Jazeera tailors its coverage of the current Iraqi reconstruction to favor its audience, often at the expense of its international credibility. However, Al-Jazeera also provides a balanced portrayal of events important to the Middle East region with the aim of countering purely Western portrayals of Arab conflagrations which include the Arab-Israeli conflict. 9-11 and the ‘globalization’ of mass media also contributed to an enhanced and increasingly complex relationship between a network and its audience. When assessing U.S. media presentations of 9-11 and the subsequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, one has to take into account that:
[Thus,] the difference between news coverage of terrorism inside and outside a target country is striking: when terrorists hit their enemies at home, they can inflict greater damage but they lose in the battle over media access and predominant perspectives. 10
In the U.S. media’s haste to assuage the nation’s thirst for justification and retribution in response to the 9-11 attacks, the legitimacy of intervention in Iraq – and the methods employed to gain that legitimacy – were not called into question by the media until too late. If the media does not exercise control on its moral obligations – as it did in Vietnam and Watergate, but only reacts to the government’s supply of information and their audiences need for military action to counter unlimited domestic terrorism, the public can only be expected to treat the media as another form of entertainment in their lives. Consider CNN’s article of May 8, 2003, reporting President Bush’s dramatic arrival on the USS Abraham Lincoln:
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Several administration officials Wednesday defended President Bush’s flight on a Navy jet to an aircraft carrier last week, saying there was a minimal difference between the cost of the president flying to the ship in a jet versus flying in a helicopter. 11
This extract, and the subsequent article in its entirety, fails to acknowledge that the true cost of that political maneuver. The event was ‘staged’, much like a theatrical trailer, to enhance President Bush’s image as a war-time leader with previous combat experience in Vietnam. International media executives and producers could not simply exercise a moral high ground and refuse to cover the event: that would be tantamount to economic suicide. However, CNN et al. are inconsistent in their coverage of the Iraq war and reconstruction efforts by not pressuring Administration officials to reveal accurate casualty and death rates, or to cover with as much zeal and attention items such as President Bush’s visit to the relatives of deceased combat soldiers. The latter are not stories of success and triumph, yet for an audience to comprehend the nature of an all encompassing ‘war on terror’, the audience must be allowed a balanced portrayal of the realities of American intervention. In addition, the cost of American national security can only be understood in a wider context of universal injustices precipitated worldwide in the name of ‘terrorism.’
Appalling images of suffering in the world are interrupted by advertisements for car insurance: barbarism and banality, cheek by jowl. 12
If the American public becomes increasingly de-sensitized to violence, policy makers may well become less emotionally attached to human suffering. In terms of future American military intervention, this could prove beneficial when having to make decisive action in delicate operations, as the recent Haitian example suggests. However, sensitivity to human suffering – epitomized in how governments react to global conflict and international intervention of any description – is not only a fundamental aspect of participating in international affairs, but what legitimizes the foreign policies of mature western democracies. If continually editorialized media representations of war are promoted with the same guidelines as those used by producers to market programs such as ER or Friends, this moral conviction erodes. The increasingly belligerent undertone taken by the U.S. media television establishment in its efforts to secure economic stability should throw a caution to the prevailing wind that American intervention is always justified when the national interest is at stake. War and violent conflicts, however marketed, are not enjoyable enterprises for any potential actor involved. CNN and the larger U.S. media establishment may well benefit from this reminder.
Bunting, Madeleine. ‘Reasons to be Cheerless’, The Guardian
Goshko, John M. ‘Bush, Clinton, and Somalia’, in Abshire, David, ed., Triumphs and Tragedies of the Modern Presidency: Seventy-Six Case Studies in Presidential Leadership (Praeger: Westport, CT), pp. 226-232
Greenberg, David. Nixon’s Shadow: the History of an Image (Norton: New York)
Hemmingway, Ernest. ‘Top Ten War Quotes‘
Hoge, James F. ‘Media Pervasiveness’, Foreign Affairs, July/August 1994, pp. 136-144
Huntington, Samuel P. ‘The Clash of Civilizations?’, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 72. No. 3, pp. 22-49
John King, ‘Administration Defends Bush Flight to Carrier‘, CNN
Knightley, Phillip. The First Casualty: The War Correspondent as Hero, Propagandist, and Myth Maker from the Crimea to Vietnam (Andre Deutsch: London)
Nacos, Brigitte L., Terrorism and the Media: From the Iran Hostage Crisis to the World Trade Center Bombing (Columbia University Press: New York)
Powell, Colin, ‘A Strategy of Partnerships‘, Foreign Affairs
3 Goshko, p. 231
4Greenberg, p. 232
5 Knightley, p. 410
6 Huntington, p. 36
7 Hoge, p. 141
10 Nacos, p. 47
12 Madeleine Bunting, ‘Reasons to be Cheerless’, The Guardianelse: ?>
‘They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country. But in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason.’ – Ernest Hemmingway 1 The technological advances of the post-war era in the machinery of […]endif; ?>
Contrasting in tone, style, and content, Grigorij Machtet’s depictions of American rural life in the mid-late 1870’s, “The Prairie and the Pioneers” and “Frey’s Community,” nonetheless share some common themes with Maxim Gorky’s portrait of American urban life in the beginning of the twentieth century, “City of the Yellow Devil.” While similarly disparaging the actions of the American bourgeoisie and the greed often shown in the business world of the US, their views on American democracy diverge sharply. Although they view two different dimensions of American life, at two different points in history, with two different perspectives, and, as the logical result, tell two different stories and come to two different conclusions, there remain linkages between their experiences, their stories, and their interpretations of America.
Both authors recognize greed-driven and exploitative business dealings as a staple of American economics. Machtet describes the prairie merchants as “people of a special cast of mind and morality…whose entire task and goal is to make money without producing anything” (Prairie 32). He goes on to describe with amazement, tinged slightly by sarcasm, the business of buying goods in one area only to resell them in another, for ludicrously high prices (32). Thus, he highlights one of the ironies of capitalism: that one can make more money by skillfully manipulating the market than by actual productive labor. In other words, the man who actually produces a thing profits less than the man who simply buys it and sells it strategically.
Machtet then pauses to further explore the merchant phenomenon. Recognizing that the merchants engage in price-fixing, he explains their ability to avoid the usual decrease in prices resulting from competition (Prairie 32). His analysis of this situation points out one of the weaknesses of the “Invisible Hand” Theory1: it presupposes fair play and “perfect competition”2. The merchants Machtet speaks of capitalize upon high transaction costs3, as well as mutual agreements to keep the prices uniformly high, made possible by their already existing oligopoly4.
Machtet also recounts, rather humorously, but nonetheless critically, a company’s attempt to get President Grant to wear their socks, bearing their trademark (Frey’s 63). He notes that although the scheme outraged Grant, his vehement refusal generated publicity for the company (63). Again, Machtet mentions the merchant class, this time using the event of a political scandal to draw people to town and thus provide more business for themselves (65). Throughout, Machtet points out some of the negative conditions in America generated by the capitalist system.
Similar criticism occurs in Gorky’s essay, but here it becomes the main point of emphasis. Describing the “greediness of the Yellow Devil’s rich slaves,” Gorky portrays the vicious inequality that develops between the bourgeoisie and the “pitiful microbes of poverty,” the men and women whose labor feeds the city’s economy (Gorky 137). Through extended metaphors, Gorky describes the city itself as a type of inhuman monster, ruthlessly and insatiably devouring the lives, labor, and indeed the very souls of the people who work there (133). This personification artfully aims its cry of outrage at the people who own the grim factories and “the dark, silent skyscrapers…square, devoid of any desire to be beautiful” (133). Gorky’s constant references to gold, symbolizing the profit motive, recognize the private lust for more and more wealth, greater and greater economic growth, as the force which sets this monstrous machine in motion, imbuing it with life by transforming humanity into a mere tool used for its own purposes. The self-interested, short-sighted pursuit of profit by the few forces the many into a mechanical life of subjugation.
Gorky also provides a detailed description of the dehumanization and alienation resulting from the squalid conditions and bleak life of the proletariat (Gorky 137). He describes children fighting like wild dogs over scraps of food found in trash bins (137). Describing what those who live in the city often cannot see for themselves, he tells of the bitterly ironic illusions shrouding the vision of the people: “They have gotten used to their striving without a goal, used to thinking that there is a goal. In their eyes there is no anger toward the rule of iron, no hatred for its triumph” (135).
Machtet describes American democracy in glowing terms, praising the public involvement of the citizens (Prairie 26). He praises the democratic process by which the people adopted the Fence Law instead of the Herd Law, ignoring the fact that this decision, no matter how democratically reached, put the burden of extra time and work on those who were the poorest and newest to the community, those who had the least to spare (32).
Naively trusting in complete democracy, Machtet praises the mob “justice” that reigned in the prairie ( Prairie 47). With little chance to observe such things, let alone analyze and study them in a legal and statistical sense, Machtet comes to this conclusion not through reason or understanding of the facts, but from romanticization of life on the American prairie, and of the peasantry in general.
Gorky, on the other hand, takes a negative view of American democracy, seeing it as merely a transparent mask adorning the visage of a monstrous “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.” Using irony and personification, Gorky unmasks the hypocrisy of America, the destruction of the ideals it claims to represent, as he describes the statues of America’s founding fathers, neglected and ignored, all shreds of their former glory buried and forgotten beneath the glitz and grime or modern industrial capitalism (Gorky 134).
He goes on to further describe the so-called freedom of the masses, who despite suffrage and civil rights, still live lives controlled by their bosses, their companies, their economic status, still suffer under the horrid despotism of the time clock.5
The anti-capitalist stances of both Machtet and Gorky show through in their essays, but more openly and strongly in Gorky’s. Both have a political agenda in their writing. While Machtet praises American democracy, Gorky reviles it as just another trick of the ruling classes. The differences in the focus and content of their writing may largely generate from the difference in their politics and their experiences. Machtet, devotee of peasant socialism and visitor of the 1870’s American frontier, caught a glimpse of rural life which, at the time, remained more autonomous and freer from exploitation than city life. Also, Machtet envisions a form of socialism similar to the peasant commune. Thus, he focuses more on the methods of organization for these smaller, autonomous units, rather than the overarching governmental system, if there were to be any at all, ideally. Having looked to America as a possible spawning pool for socialist experiments, he seeks out possible opportunities and favorable conditions along that front.
Whereas Gorky, Bolshevik and visitor of an American industrialized city a year after the Russian Revolution of 1905, finds quite different conditions and takes a different political focus. While Machtet follows a more utopian socialist path, Gorky adheres to scientific socialist theory. Thus, he focuses on the class structure, the economic system, and the government resulting from it. His experiences show him the dark side of American life, the brutal economic inequalities that the market and democracy have both failed to solve. Having long viewed capitalism as a menace and America as a land engulfed by it, Gorky focused more intently upon the negative aspects of American urban life.
In the conclusion of “The Prairie and the Pioneers”, Machtet speaks of the Blue Valley meeting of clergy and worshipers (Prairie 50). Describing their diatribes against modern life and hopes for the future, he looks upon these people as good, pious, intelligent, and almost saintly. He concludes with the words: “And they say that they know this paradise and will show the way to it. There the sun shines eternally and there is neither sadness nor sorrow!” (50). Gorky’s essay, after pausing to notice a glimmer of hope in the existence of such men as a lone, rebellious thief, concludes with a final bleak personification: “The dismal City of the Yellow Devil raves in its sleep” (Gorky 142). In their journeys to America, Machtet saw the American Dream and Gorky saw the American Nightmare. One spoke of people like angels, the other of the devils of poverty and greed.
Gorky, Maxim. “City of the Yellow Devil.” America Through Russian Eyes. Ed., Trans. Olga Peters Hasty and Susanne Fusso. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. 128-143.
Machtet, Grigorij. “Frey’s Community.” America Through Russian Eyes. Ed., Trans. Olga Peters Hasty and Susanne Fusso. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. 54-82.
Machtet, Grigorij. “The Prairie and the Pioneers.” America Through Russian Eyes. Ed., Trans. Olga Peters Hasty and Susanne Fusso. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. 16-53.
1 The “Invisible Hand” Theory, posited by Adam Smith, states that the diverse market forces within the self-interest-driven, capitalist system, counterbalance each other to create natural equilibrium and stability within the system.
2 “Perfect competition” entails a large market of many buyers and sellers, none of whom can individually manipulate the price of a product, as well as a homogeneous product, well-informed consumers, and the absence of transaction costs.
3 Transaction costs are the extra time, money, etc. spent in acquiring lower priced goods, due to fees, tariffs, having to travel a farther distance, etc. In other words, the relative inconvenience of attaining goods for a lower price.
4 An oligopoly is a market condition in which there are many buyers and only a small group of sellers for a given product.
5 “…it is only the independence of the axe in the carpenter’s hand, of the hammer in the blacksmith’s hand, of the brick in the hands of an invisible mason who, grinning slyly, is building one enormous but cramped prison for everyone” (Gorky 135).else: ?>
Contrasting in tone, style, and content, Grigorij Machtet’s depictions of American rural life in the mid-late 1870’s, “The Prairie and the Pioneers” and “Frey’s Community,” nonetheless share some common themes with Maxim Gorky’s portrait of American urban life in the beginning of the twentieth century, “City of the Yellow Devil.” While similarly disparaging the actions […]endif; ?>
Do you ever wonder why Mr. Clean and Windex commercials generally show women cleaning the bathroom and washing the windows instead of men? Or why Budweiser beer commercials show men sitting around watching sports with their buddies while sipping a beer instead of women? The answer is simple: women, not men, are expected to clean the house and it is more socially acceptable for a man to lug around the house with a beer than it is for a woman. But do we blame the commercials for creating these social standards, or do we blame our social standards for creating these commercials? Social evolution does not occur spontaneously, and as changes eventually do begin to take place, there is usually some factor responsible for the development. While changes in gender roles over time do affect advertisements, it is more common for the media to instigate the changes in gender roles and affect gender socialization.
Rosie the Riveter is just one of the many examples. Rosie the Riveter appeared during World War II as a picture of a woman with her sleeve rolled up showing her muscle and saying “We can do it!” with a red handkerchief tied into a bow around her head. At the time, women were stay-at-home mom’s taking care of the children and the home while their husbands were away on the front lines. As more and more soldiers left the country to serve overseas, manufacturing jobs were left with no workers. America suddenly convinced its women that they could handle a man’s job building military equipment and riveting aircraft cowls, and soon enough women were not only joining the “Rosies” in the factories, they were joining their husbands in the wars also. “With some ten million men at war and the rest at work, America needed it’s women to go to work to build the planes, tanks, and ships needed to fight Hitler… so the government teamed up with industry, the media, and women’s organizations in an effort to urge [women] to join the labor force by telling them it was their ‘patriotic duty’ to go to work… slogans such as ‘Victory is in Your Hands,’ and ‘Women, the War Needs You!’ were all used to convince women that their country’s needs were more important than their individual comfort.” In order to respond to its extreme need for women in the labor force, America released propaganda advertisements which changed the female role forever. Since the time of Rosie the Riveter, less and less women have been choosing the now “old-fashioned” female job of being a housewife.
While Rosie the Riveter paved the way for an increasing female labor force, today’s advertisements seek to change women’s appearances. Every day we are attacked with numerous advertisements for weight loss, especially for women. Women on television are portrayed as thin, long-legged super models wearing a size six. What a drastic change since the earlier female beauty queen, Marilyn Monroe (size fourteen). Due to this advertisement pressure on women to be skinny, more and more females are going to health clubs, changing their diets, and doing literally anything they can to fight off those “excess” pounds. According to Naomi Wolf, “contemporary standards of feminine beauty have devolved to a point that can only be described as anorexic, and America’s young women are paying the price through a near-epidemic of bulimia and anorexia.” Wolf believes that today’s standards for female beauty are just a myth created by the media to control women by forcing them to be obsessed with their bodies.
Men are faced with the same kind of media pressure. Like women, men are also striving to shape their bodies according to the media’s standards. Men also run to the gym after work to pump iron and some are even removing their chest and leg hair and visiting tanning salons in an effort to become the California dream guy with big shiny muscles, a dark tan, and light hair. After the U.S. defeat in Vietnam, movies like Death Wish, First Blood, and The Hunt for Red October caused many American men to feel “unmanned” and powerless. “Millions of American men,” as James Gibson puts it, “began to dream, to fantasize about the powers and features of another kind of man who could retake and reorder the world.” Now men struggle to prove their manhood through muscles and mass.
As the media continues to represent men in advertisements more than women, our society continues to respect and represent men more than women in every aspect of our daily lives. Women continue to be paid less at certain jobs, and experience more discrimination than men. According to Robert Bartsch, this is linked to the fact that men are more present in television commercials than women and he believes “these trends are one measure of how society views women and men.” His studies show that “male voice-overs occur approximately 90% of the time,” and “the consensus of these studies is that there is unequal gender representation in commercials.” Going back to the household cleaning materials and beer, Bartsch also states that “there is a greater use of female product representatives for domestic products and… male product representatives for nondomestic products.”
The media definitely has a huge affect on the socialization of gender and can affect people’s attitudes and behaviors toward the opposite sex. I am Serbian, formerly known as Yugoslavian though we never quite referred to ourselves as Yugoslavian in the first place. Everyone has heard about the war in the Balkans since it has been an ongoing issue since the early 90’s. Though the war has been over for quite some time now, Serbian men are experiencing an intense amount of prejudice in the United States. Serbs are referred to as “rapists,” “savage,” and “killers.” Though this may be true for certain soldiers who fought in the war, it is not true for all Serbian soldiers and it is certainly not true for all Serbian men. I predominantly blame the American media for this impolite and ignorant behavior on the part of the Americans. Surely, rape and murder are not one sided in a war. The Muslims raped Serbian women and they killed Serbian children too, but the media hasn’t addressed this issue. During the war with the Croatians, Croat soldiers cut the fingers of Serbian men and women and wore them around their necks on a piece of string as a necklace. They took Serbian babies and jabbed them onto pitchforks. The media hasn’t addressed these issues. But CNN has exaggerated the Serbian offenses so much that Americans are convinced all Serbs are evil. This has caused many American women to fear dating men of Serbian descent, and American men to feel as if they need to be on defense-mode when being approached by the big bad Serb. And if tomorrow the news pronounced my country to be heroic and announced that Serbs are the best people in the world, the Americans would then praise my existence and they would be more than friendly. This is further evidence for Robert Bartsch that the media does in fact affect people’s behavior and attitudes. How sad it is that we, as the most intelligent being on earth, can so easily be lead by our television sets and our radios.
I don’t watch TV too often because I’m usually busy doing other things, but I find that whenever I flip through the channels there is always a lady on the Home Shopping Network selling jewelry or clothing or some unnecessary kitchen appliance people see and think they can’t live without. In the contemporary American society, shopping is the lady’s sport. Women like to “shop ‘til they drop” as many advertisements have said. But there is something even deeper than this. Since the media distinguishes between specific male and female roles by using only males for male roles and only females for female roles, we tend to find it disturbing when a man does something considered to be a woman’s task, or a woman does something we are familiar with seeing men do. Often, when we see a man hosting the Home Shopping Network, for example, we question his sexuality. I have personally witnessed this happen many times, and in fact, I find myself making this judgment more and more often. Remember Richard Simmons and his funny work out videos? I don’t know one person who doesn’t think Richard Simmons is homosexual. And those big, beefy, muscular women that compete in body building championships, how do people comment about them?
As these images become increasingly prevalent in the media, men become afraid of Richard Simmons workouts and his short shorts, and women become afraid of bodybuilding and continue to starve themselves to fit Wolf’s “Beauty Myth.” More than ever, people in America are coming out while others are doing everything they can to prove they are heterosexual. So, is the media trying to tell us it’s okay to be gay and paving the way for the homosexuality boom that is taking place, or is this just an attempt to finally loosen us up and help us realize that men don’t have to be Rambo and women don’t have to be supermodels? We have yet to find out through further advertisements.
Do you ever wonder why Mr. Clean and Windex commercials generally show women cleaning the bathroom and washing the windows instead of men? Or why Budweiser beer commercials show men sitting around watching sports with their buddies while sipping a beer instead of women? The answer is simple: women, not men, are expected to clean […]endif; ?>
The Human Rights Movement is constantly evolving, and universal respect for human rights has improved dramatically in the past century. Although the international community has progressed in it’s recognition and attempt to protect individual human rights, it has been widely unsuccessful in it’s ability to prevent the violation of grave human rights, or to intervene and stop them when they do occur. At the same time, however, the international community has been successful in it’s actions to bring justice to those responsible for the violations, both in terms of state and individual responsibility. Three examples of the international community’s actions regarding the violation of grave human rights include those involving genocide, ethnic cleansing and starvation.
The gravest violation of human rights is genocide. In 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations passed the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, or the Genocide Convention. It took effect in 1951,and provided a legal definition of genocide and established genocide as a crime under international law. According to the Genocide Convention, any of the following actions, when committed with the intent to eliminate a particular national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, constitutes genocide: killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to kill, imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, and forcibly transferring children out of a group (powers, 57).
The most dramatic case of genocide was the Holocaust of WW II, in which the Nazi regime systematically murdered 6 million Jews and 5 million other “undesirables” (powers, 47). The Allies had abundant intelligence of Hitler’s Final Solution, yet almost no intervention was attempted to stop it. The policy of non-intervention was fueled by several issues, most importantly, the refusal to violate the sovereign power of the German state. Government officials and journalists also played down the intelligence, claiming they were not substantiated, and exaggerated. Allied leaders were also convinced that the most efficient way to stop the murder of civilians was by the military defeat of Germany. Most significantly, however, the vast majority of the population simply did not – or could not – believe the reports. It was almost impossible for a rational human mind to accept that it was possible for such revolting, inhuman and evil atrocities to be carried out against an entire race of people (powers, 32-45).
With the end of the war, and liberation of the concentration camps, the international community was forced to fully accept the carnage that had occurred. They demanded justice for the 11 million dead, as well as the survivors. An International Military Tribunal was established in Nuremberg, Germany, to try leading the Nazi Party officials who were responsible for the planning and design of the Final Solution (powers, 48).
The term “genocide” wasn’t yet fully accepted by world leaders and the first indictments the Tribunal placed against the defendants were crimes against humanity, including crimes against peace, for starting an aggressive war (powers, 49).
The Tribunal was significant because it not only was holding individuals accountable for violating human rights, but also because it was the first time that government officials were held accountable and faced punishment, for crimes committed against their own citizens. The notion of state sovereignty was still highly valued, though, and the charges focused on the crimes against peace, and prosecuted only those crimes that had been committed after Germany had initiated an aggressive war with the invasion of another sovereign nation (powers, 49).
The term “genocide” was included in the 3rd count. The defendants were accused of “…genocide, viz., the extermination of racial and national groups, against the civilian population of certain occupied territories” (powers, 50).
Determined to prevent such a horrendous event from occurring again, . In 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations passed the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (powers, 57). That same year, The United Nations took the next dramatic step in 1948, when it adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It wasn’t adopted as a treaty – but rather it was meant to “proclaim a ‘common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations” (burns, 25).
Despite the passing of the Genocide Convention, and the determination to never allow genocide to occur again, it did, and surprisingly, the international community once again stood by and let it occur. In 1994, Rwanda suffered a 100 day massacre of Tutsi’s by the Hutu’s, which left more then 800,000 dead (powers, 334). Although Belgian UN peacekeepers were stationed in Rwanda, they were ordered to not intervene, and all foreign diplomats, etc. were evacuated. The world sat by and refused to intervene (powers, 364-385). After the genocide had stopped, and the true horrors could not be ignored, President Clinton decided to go to Rwanda to appease his nation’s guilt, explaining that the international community “did not fully appreciate the depth and the speed with which you were being engulfed by this unimaginable terror” (powers, 386). It can therefore be assumed that the international community didn’t fully appreciate the terror of the Holocaust, or what the promise of “never again” encompassed.
The United Nations did, however, make a substantial effort to bring the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide to trial. It passed a resolution to establish a Tribunal to prosecute the perpetrators of the Rwanda genocide, modeled on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at the Hague (powers, 484). Unlike the ICTFY, however, the process has been slow, few convictions have been made, and the success is still unsure (forsythe, 101-02).
Ethnic Cleansing is a strong example of a grave violation of human rights. The term was introduced in 2001 to identify and categorize the violations of human rights carried out by the Serbian military during the wars in former Yugoslavia. The actions of ethnic cleansing include torture, murder, arbitrary arrest and detention, extra-judicial executions, rape and sexual assault, confinement if civilians in ghetto areas, forcible removal, displacement and deportation of civilians, deliberate military attacks or threats of attacks on civilians and civilian areas, and wanton destruction of property” (powers, 483). The United Nations Commission for the former Yugoslavia further defined ethnic cleansing as “rendering an area wholly homogenous by using force or intimidation to remove persons of given groups” (powers, 483).
The ethnic cleansing taking place in Bosnia, and later Kosovo, wasn’t a secret. In “A Problem From Hell“, Samantha Powers claims that “no other atrocity campaign in the 20th century was better monitored or understood by the U.S. government” (powers, 264). They had intelligence reports, photographs, even satellite imagery. Despite overwhelming evidence however, the U.S. Government, led by President George Bush, decided not to intervene militarily (powers, 264).
Pressure began to build however, as the reports and vivid images were widely introduced to the public. President Bush was finally compelled to make a public commitment to document Serbian aggression, and develop a plan to stop it (powers, 266). a UN-EU peace conference was scheduled, and the United States pledged humanitarian aid (powers, 281). In August of 1992, the UN Security Council passed a resolution authorizing “all necessary measures” to insure the delivery of the humanitarian aid (powers, 281). However, the International Community was still not prepared to intervene militarily. A small UN contingent of approximately 6,000 peace keepers were deployed. Ironically, several United Nations sanctions in place in the former Yugoslavia were actually aiding the Serbian forces in their campaign of violence. An arms embargo was in place, and this prevented the Muslim civilians in Bosnia to obtain weapons to defend themselves.
The United States decision of non-intervention was fueled by several factors. First, the belief was that the situation in Bosnia was a civil war, not a war of aggression. Government officials also felt that measures like lifting the arms embargo would actually cause more harm then good. Government leaders also did not want to risk the lives of American soldiers, and finally, the cost of intervention would be steep (powers, chapters 9 and 11).
By November 1995, the Clinton Administration was in the White House and domestic and Foreign pressure finally forced the U.S. government to take action. They supported NATO air strikes, and the Clinton administration brokered a peace accord in Dayton Ohio, the Dayton Accords. By this point, however, 200,000 people had already been killed and one out of every 2 people had lost homes (powers, 440).
Although the war in Bosnia was over, intense violence soon sprung up in Kosovo, which had long been a location of intense Serb – Kosovo Albanian hostility. NATO was quicker this time to launch a bombing campaign in Kosovo, hoping to force the Serbian violence to ease, as had happened in Bosnia. Yet this time, the Serbian military retaliated by severely stepping up it’s brutality against the citizens of Kosovo (powers, 450).
If the International community had failed to stop the ethnic cleansing from occurring, it succeeded in redeeming itself in the aftermath, with the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at the Hague (powers, 483). The Tribunal focused on individual responsibility, including holding Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic on charges of crimes against humanity (powers, 458). Defendants from Military leaders to prison guards are being indicted at The Hague, and are being forced to take personal responsibility for their horrendous actions.
An example of a grave violation of human rights which receives less attention is starvation. In the 1930’s, Stalin and his Marxist regime in the Soviet Union were determined to crush resistance in the Ukraine. They decided that the most effective strategy was “mass terror throughout the body of the nation” (chalk and jonassohn, 291)., the body being the peasantry – and they initiated a program of terror-famine in 1932 (chalk and jonassohn, 291).
The Soviet leaders began by demanding an increased percentage of the Ukrainian wheat harvest, even though the harvest had been low. Next, a decree was passed that all collective farm property including cattle and grain were considered state property and therefore “sacred and inviolable” (chalk and jonassohn, 293). The punishment for disobedience to this decree was execution. Searches were conducted and usually all food, livestock and valuables were confiscated (chalk and jonassohn, 293). The formal searched became routine, and those who did not appear to be starving found themselves under suspicion.
The famine intensified through the winter, when Stalin issued a new decree that all distribution of grain would be held from the peasants until the grain quotas he had demanded were delivered. Desperation accompanied the starvation, and high rates of suicide, murder and even cannibalism emerged (chalk and jonassohn, 295). Within only a short period, millions were dead – approximately one quarter of the rural population(chalk and jonassohn, 291)..
Intervention by the International community was not forthcoming. Although knowledge of the forced famine existed in western Europe and the United Sates, only slight pressure was placed on the Soviet regime – pressure which was ignored (chalk and jonassohn, 298). There has never been an official investigation of the mass forced starvation that occurred in the Ukraine in the early 1930’s (chalk and jonassohn, 298)..
Although the international community has progressed in it’s recognition and attempt to protect individual human rights, flaws still exist in its to prevent the violation of grave human rights, or to intervene and stop them when they do occur. However, the international community has been successful in it’s actions to bring justice to those responsible for the violations, both in terms of state and individual responsibility. Examples of the international communities’ efforts, or non efforts, can be seen in the violation of the grave human rights of genocide, ethnic cleansing and starvation.
Burns, Weston. “Human Rights”. International Human Rights Overviews. Claude-Weston.
Chalk, Frank and Jonassohn, Kurt. The History and Sociology of Genocide. U.S.A. Yale University Press: 1990. pages 291, 293, 295, 298
Forsythe, David P. Human Rights in International Relations. Cambridge, United Kingdom. Cambridge University Press: 2000. pages 101-102
Powers, Samantha. A Problem From Hell. New York. Basic Books: 2002.
pages 32-45, 47-50, 57264, 266, 281, 334, 440, 450, 458, 483-4, 392-440, 248-327
Does the international community care? The Human Rights Movement is constantly evolving, and universal respect for human rights has improved dramatically in the past century. Although the international community has progressed in it’s recognition and attempt to protect individual human rights, it has been widely unsuccessful in it’s ability to prevent the violation of grave […]endif; ?>
The curatorial statement will demonstrate how photojournalism has opened up a new field that became extremely influential in conveying social issues to the general public, accompanied by a discussion of the photographer W. Eugene Smith. It will also identify the impact photojournalism has had on advertising and promotion, especially focusing on celebrities and the fashion industry, in addition to utilizing such manipulations as color and digital imaging.
The emergence of photojournalism created new opportunities for photographers. These individuals were now able to travel virtually anywhere to document objects and events because camera equipment was now faster and portable. The most significant benefit of photojournalism was its ability to push for social change by illustrating the problems associated with the society. In other words, photojournalism was the first medium to convey social issues to mass audiences through the use of news magazines and other publications. Many of these magazines focused on the victimization that war creates. One of the most influential photographers during this period was W. Eugene Smith. His photograph entitled Marines Under Fire, (Photograph 1), depicts the harsh reality of war and the toll it takes on soldiers. Choosing to show the gun and the men looking in opposite directions suggests a sense of confusion and a threat of approaching opposition. Smith was able to portray a strong sense of compassion through his social documentation of war.
In addition to war reportage, W. Eugene Smith also experimented with a new technique linked to photojournalism: the photographic essay. Since news magazines and other publications finally had the capacity to include photographs, many of them featured photographic essays. These essays are photographic documentaries that are accompanied by captions in order to tell the readers a story. One of Smith most memorable works is entitled Spanish Village (Photographs 2a-2e). This particular essay documents the lives of a poverty stricken Spanish community who still retain a strong sense of faith. Through sharp tonal contrast and dramatic detail, Smith was able to show the struggles of these people in a humanistic way. The prevalent underlying element in most journalistic photos is the undertone of humanistic ideals.
Developments in photojournalism were also beneficial to advertising and promotion. In fact, advertising and promotion were created by photojournalism. Before this time, there was no way for a company to show customers what they are selling. This type of photography was especially useful in showcasing products in magazines as an attempt to attract buyers. An example of such an advertisement is the photograph entitled The Veiled Reds, by Richard Avedon, (Photograph 3). This photograph is an advertisement for a new line of makeup. Through an innovative combination of text and photo, in addition to careful word choice, the reader becomes drawn to the photograph. The photographer’s ability to utilize color so effectively reinforces the connection between the vibrant color red and their makeup line. If color was not utilized, the viewer may not associate the photograph or the words with the company’s make up line. Photojournalism is evidently the best way to convey a message to the general public.
Photojournalism also had an astounding affect on the fashion industry and the photographing of celebrities. The commercialization of such interesting new subjects provided vast opportunities for individuals who were trying to break out into the field of photography. Photographers were able to hold true to their traditional strive for aesthetic quality, while enjoying the freedom of more creativity. These photographs were also highly visible because virtually any magazine would contain them. Photographs such as Donyale Luna in Dress by Paco Rabanne, by Richard Avedon (Photograph 4) depict the beauty and craftsmanship concerning a piece of clothing. It concentrates on both form and elegance. In addition, this medium also depicted celebrities such as famous actors and actresses of the time. This allowed people to read about their favorite celebrities and finally enjoy photos of these individuals. It also enabled agencies to promote celebrities in order for them to achieve higher statuses. In other words, photojournalism ultimately created a way for photographs such as these to have an impact on shaping the attitudes of individuals viewing these photographs. Before this time, these photographs would have not even been considered as an art form. However, through the popularity of photojournalism these photographs have had the chance to show that they document society and retain public interest.
Finally, the latest development of photojournalism as described in the textbook is the innovation of digital photography. The textbook states, “By the end of the 1980’s, digital imaging has emerged as a transformative technology, welcomed in the fields of product advertising, cinema, journalism. The ability to manipulate images through the use of computers enabled photographers to explore their creativity. It gives them more freedom to customize their photographs in order to look more visually appealing, thus more enticing to the prospective buyer. Digital imaging also assisted other techniques utilized in photojournalism, such as Montage. This process works well with montage pieces of work because it allows for easier manipulation on behalf of the photographer. This type of imaging ultimately helps the photographer stick to their journalistic roots, while allowing them to express themselves on a more personal level as well.
In conclusion, the emergence and development of photojournalism has proved to be extremely beneficial in a number of ways. Photojournalism was the first medium to depict social problems throughout the world to mass audiences. In fact, many people’s attitudes about society changed through the widespread commercialization of journalism. Also, Photojournalism provided advertising and promotion companies with new ways to attract buyers. Celebrities and industries such as fashion also thrived with the emergence of photojournalism, because it gave individuals and industries a way to become highly visible. Finally, photojournalism has utilized newer techniques such as color and digital imaging in order to display current technology and the benefits associated with such technology. Photojournalism evidently shows how the camera is an important means of illustrating life.
Rosenblum, Naomi. A World History of Photography. Abbeville Press Publishers. 1997. 695 pages.
This exhibition will discuss the works of several photographers who are associated with the advancement of photojournalism, as a medium that ultimately changed the way society perceives the world.endif; ?>