January 2004 Archives

Part 1. Introduction
The Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci argues that mass media plays a significant role in the creation of values and beliefs that are to be followed by the general public. Political power is derived from the moral and intellectual leadership, authority, or consensus that arise from this 'false consciousness'. (Hainsworth,2000) Hegemony in mass media lies in the way it makes the ruling ideology seem natural, distracts the masses from their oppression, and enhances the social stability. It is the dominance and subordination that exists within people's practical and un-self-conscious awareness of the world, a lived system of meanings, a more or less unified moral order, which is confirmed and nuanced in experience to c onstruct a person's sense of reality and identity. ( Bell in Forbes 2000) . Hegemony is the "social basis of the proletarian dictatorship". (Gramsci, 1971: 443)

"I believe in America , America has made my fortune". These are the famous words Francis Ford Coppola chose to open his epic "Godfather" trilogy. This apparently ultra-hegemonic exclamation is soon rendered sardonic as the scene develops and the viewers are exposed to more details. The speaker, Amerigo Bonaserra, a middle-aged undertaker, has come to ask for help in avenging the abasement of his daughter. Having lost his faith in the dysfunctional police and judicial system, he now seeks justice in the hands of Vito Corleone, the head of America 's most powerful crime organization.

Even before hearing the full story, Bonaserra's opening line is implicitly cynical. " I believe in America ". Why? Because " America has made my fortune". It seems that, in this undertaker's opinion at least, even faith is driven by a financial imperative.

Unlike many other things, the popularity and acceptance of a text are not dictated by crime lords or politicians. As Andrew Hart states "the meaning is not in the text, but in the reading" (in Hanes 2000). While critics might grasp and wrestle with an author's original meaning, or a text's initial ideological purpose there is no assurance that viewers, or readers, will respond in the same way. (Papke 2004) The Godfather 'case' is fascinating as it is a rare occasion when public, critical, and intellectual opinion almost unanimously agrees on the quality and significance of a film. (CultureVulture.com)

Ever since the beginning of the 20 th century, the American culture industry had established cultural hegemony in all branches. (Saraki 2004) In this essay I will examine the ability of a cultural product, a mainstream film in this case, to convey multiple, and opposing ideologies, and show how an author's subversive critique of existing society, may be read as a song of praise for the ruling ideology.

Note: The views and observations expressed on this web site are published for the sake of public discussion and do not represent my personal opinion or the opinion of my companies, clients, and/or employers. If you would like to get my opinion on anything, ask me.

This page is an archive of entries from January 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2003 is the previous archive.

May 2004 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.