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19/10/2010 / Lynn Rabbitts

Chapter 3: Fear Exploited

I hated this chapter; this chapter has stuck with me. I realize, now, I was not supposed to read it, but I feel like the cleaning lady who read and hated The World According to Bensenhaver (in John Irving’s World According to Garp), and now feel reflection is warranted.

For both Pierre Bourdieu and Michel Foucault choice is an impossibility (as illustrated in Communication and Culture), and “all practices are informed by notions of power, politics and self-interest.” (pg 43). This is put to song (albeit sardonically) in Malvina Reynolds Little Boxes.

Reynolds song seeks to insight rebellion against the establishment. But as Bourdieu would put it: the attitudes, values, ideologies and dispositions which shape and determine practices need to be naturalized before they can become effective. (pg 51). In effect, she is seeking to create a new practice, her own establishment.

Bourdeiu and Foucault’s argument seems airtight. People are subjugated to where they have come from, what they are, who they will be. Even those that would play devil advocate and live outside of bio-power functions still figure into it based on what it is they are trying to achieve–power for themselves.

This is depressing on more than one level until it is remembered there are those who will stand-up to habitus and redistribute cultural capital. Edward R. Murrow, on See It Now, used cultural literacy in order to prove a point, to disrupt the current habitus. Murrow’s gambit lacked common sense, natural or inevitable (pg43). This was a scary time, and the easiest thing was not to say anything.

Bourdeiu and Foucalt would refute this, citing Murrow’s position of power, and although a self-sacrifice, he was following the journalistic codes ingrained in him. But this feels too simplistic and superficial of an argument; an argument they do not go into enough and instead seek to put everybody “into little boxes.”

There is, no doubt, more to this argument than the book had pages to provide. More research, dear reader, shall have to be done on my part. But who am I to argue a chapter of a book that provides a close reading of the most quintessential movie of ours or any generation.

Perhaps it is best to conclude this on an uplifting, positive mindset: “Just remember what old Jack Burton does when the earth quakes, and the poison arrows fall from the sky, and the pillars of Heaven shake. Yeah, Jack Burton just looks that big old storm right square in the eye and he says, ‘Give me your best shot, pal. I can take it.’ ” (Big Trouble in Little China, 1986 non-released-title-though-it-would’ve-been-more-aptly-named: Greatest Story Ever Told.)

Good night, and good luck.

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One Comment

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  1. bambiprof / Nov 11 2010 7:03 pm

    Alas. . . just glanced–looks like you are a “Weeds” lover too? “Little Boxes”:) . . . just glanced, but will look forward to continuing this reading!

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