The Representation of the Working Class in the Media

Peasant with a Wheelbarrow by Jean Francois Millet

“Peasant with a Wheelbarrow” by Jean Francois Millet

Nollywood movies, to begin with, are now increasingly becoming movies for the rich. Look at the “normal”, sophisticated settings that are used for the produced plays- beautiful sofas, expensive paintings, large compounds, one or more workers, expensive clothes, suggestions/mentions of easy access to foreign countries… I don’t need to keep counting. The actors, who often are members of the working class in essence themselves, tend to promote the upper-class as ideal.

The realities of working-class families are barely ever represented, and when they are, they are presented as comedies- situations to be laughed at or mocked- lots of children, dirty wives and numerous exchange of words. Gatemen or security guards, in Yoruba Nollywood movies, to be specific, are represented as extremely retarded. Even when they suffer gross levels of workplace abuses, the audience is tempted to even insult them more, and laugh- “ha ha ha”.

When these realities don’t appear as a comedy, they are presented as pitiful- a character is presented as either suffering so terribly, experiencing an illness or the death of a loved one, or as being very close to death, and suddenly, by the end of the movie, they would “magically” [usually by some sort of unrealistic luck] become members of the upper class.

"Bouquet' by an unknown artist

Being a member of the working/lower class is seen as extremely pathetic; something to be avoided at all cost. No honest, hard-working member of the working class is ever presented as truly happy. They never enjoy the joys of being with family; they never go to parties as normal people or possess dignity in their labour. They are only made to serve the rich in many plays; their own achievements- no matter how “little” or “basic” they might be to the members of the upper class- are never shown/celebrated, until, of course, they become members of the upper class.

Even when the working-class members of the audience can relate to the produced stories, they often find it really hard to relate to the rich settings and everything else that they are presented with.
No one is taking the bus except they are about to be kidnapped; no one is in the market buying foodstuff; no one is wearing simple clothes… It does terrible things to the subconscious in the long run- feelings of worthlessness, to begin with.

The general media is becoming more race-conscious and class-blind (in the aforementioned way), and it’s sick. It’s quite sick. 

 

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