Applying HM&M to Do the Right Thing
Applying HM&M to Do the Right Thing
Marxists essentially view that deviance and crime are defined by the ruling class and a source of social control. When people do not conform to the system of the ruling class they are punished. The bourgeoisie therefore establish institutions like the justice system, prisons, schools and police to encourage people to conform to the status quo. These institutions therefore concentrate on the crimes of the poor rather than those committed by the ruling class such as racism, inequality and imperialism. “Do the right thing” is a movie that seeks to assert this notion. The movie highlights criminal tendencies among the people of Brooklyn. Racism is relatively predominant and conflict arises among the residents against an individual who might be considered as a man of his own means.
According to Karl Marx and William Chambliss, advances in capitalism result in surplus people who become an underclass that is unnecessary for the system of production. With the industrialization of the capitalist society, the gap widens between the proletariat and bourgeoisie. Consequently, penal law is expanded to coerce the working class into submission (Hagan, 2008). Crime is used as a diversion for the lower classes’ concentration from their exploitation and class differences they experience. Attention is redirected towards those in their own class instead of the capitalist class and the economic system.
Radicals in criminology therefore defy the overriding application of scientific objectivity as a study of deviant behavior. Accordingly, crime is the consequence of a “sociologically situated problem”. Crime is a grim reality in very society that is created by the ruling class in society to serve their interests. An individual’s social class leads them to react to existing life conditions and resort to crime.
Laws in a capitalist society reflect the interests of the ruling class. The law making process is overseen by a bourgeois legislature masked in a phony democratic process. Laws are implemented by institutions such as the judiciary and police who are rubber stamps of the rulers. Capitalist economies encourage wealth accumulation, maximization of profits and economic self interest above public duty. Consequently, people are motivated to achieve private ownership of property at the expense of others (especially the poor). Capitalism is thus a competitive system that benefits a minority in society.
Advances in the theory have seen the inclusion of “materialistic criminology” that exposes the foundation of capital societies and social control (Chambliss, 2001). The theory has now become inevitable conclusions and ideological dictates that require illustrations instead of proof. In Marxist criminology, the government also plays a major role in the criminal processes and activities. Administrations fabricate and exaggerate statistics on crime to suit their purpose. Therefore, the citizens will support any action and policy by government in order to reduce uproar on those decisions that might be deemed to infringe on human rights. Modern radical criminologists estimate that up to 42% of the statistics from government is misleading and false.
The film “Do the right thing” has the setting of the late 1980s. This was a period marked by intense racism and crime levels were on the rise. This was also a period of deepening class divisions where middle races in majority of the areas were fleeing from the circumstances in the inner city. The film tells the story of those left behind in these zones. The film highlights the racial difference within the Bedford-Stuyvesant community which is predominantly black with people from Italian-American, Asian and Hispanic nationalities. The differences arising from relations between the Italian Pizzeria owner, Sal and the black community are a distinct reflection of the Marxist theories. He also has a son who is racist.
Sal represents the bourgeoisie who are the owners of the means of production. His Pizzeria opens opportunities for others to eke out a living. He also portrays the character of bourgeoisie with racism as he does not put black celebrities on his “wall of fame” despite the area being a black community. When Sal and his teenage boys fight Radio Raheem the police arrive and apprehend “Buggin out” and Radio Raheem who is later killed. The police symbolize the capitalist institutions established to oppress and apply the policies of the ruling class (Cowling, 2008). The poor are arrested without looking into the real cause of conflict and who is primarily responsible for the conflict.
Contradictions in the advanced capitalist system and the disjunction that takes place between essence and existence necessitates that the subordinates continue to be oppressed by any means necessary. This is especially occurs through violence and coercion of the legal system. The police murder Radio Raheem when they are arresting him and they claim he is pretending. None of the ruling class exposes this as an act against fundamental human rights further advancing the notion of a class based society. It is also interesting to note that most of the people in the movie are either jobless or earn very little income. This is a dangerous impact of the capitalist economic system on opportunities among the youth.
Criminal activities occur daily and affect many people. Most citizens want to live in a peaceful society where they can carry out their duties without breach of security. A large number of laws in the capitalist economic system deal with property. Accordingly, prominence is given to a vast collection of laws that protect the interests and property of emerging capitalist classes. The film “Do the right thing” signifies the fight by the proletariat to change the status quo. According to Karl Marx, the oppression can only end if the working class change the existing system through a revolution and establish a classless society. A socialist society will have low crime levels because the class struggle is less intense ultimately reducing the forces causing the functions of crime.
Chambliss, W. J. (2001). Power, politics, and crime. Boulder, Colo: Westview Press.
Cowling, M. (2008). Marxism and criminological theory: A critique and a toolkit. Basingstoke [England: Palgrave Macmillan.
Hagan, F. E. (2008). Introduction to criminology: Theories, methods, and criminal behavior. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications.