Privatized Propaganda

The state-sponsored propaganda consisting of posters, broadcasts and newspapers was ingrained to the streets of planned economy states for over half a century. Its aim was to raise the overall volume of goods that were produced and distributed.

In other words, their propaganda promoted the ideal that sustained their structural system of society – labor.

In the market economy, the film industry serves the role of propaganda. Yes, they are different in the sense that Hollywood is a private sector, much better received, and usually makes its point indirectly.

Yet, it serves its function as a propaganda as it conditions our consciousness with the ideal that sustains our societal structure – spending.

“I’m going to be happier if I become rich. When I become rich, I will buy a lot of things! House, cars, boats, jewelries, clothes, and else!”

Dreadfully familiar. Likewise, the common concept of “success” is usually adorned with the images of sports cars, expensive suits and grand estates.

Yet, if I look back to my childhood, buying “things” did not seem like a secret to happiness or as an indication of success, at least not as much as nowadays.

The fantasized ideal of “being able to buy whatever I want” somehow gradually became our subconscious goal for arguably the majority of the people, and it also happens to be good for the market.

It is simple, it is a learned perception, and the film industry is at least partially responsible.

The merit of expensive things inherently comes from their scarcity, and the purchase of scarce goods is commonly correlated with elitist pursuits.

The over-simplified ideal of the American dream, that anyone can become rich, also conveniently renders the merit of consumerism relatable for a wider audience.

My paper will examine how our cinema industry promotes the ideology of consumerism and classism through the analysis of three films: The Wolf of Wall Street, The Pursuit of Happyness, and Cinderella Man. The main source of its theoretical framework will be drawn from chapter 3 of Holtzman & Sharpe’s Media Messages.

“Are you behind on your credit card bills? Good. Pick up the phone and start dialing. Is your landlord ready to evict you? Good. Pick up the phone and start dialing. Does your girlfriend think you’re a fucking loser? Good. Pick up the phone and start dialing! I want you to deal with your problems, by becoming rich!” – The Wolf of Wall Street


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