The rise in class-conscious media

People want to see their own lives reflected or at the very least represented in the media they consume. Photo by Seawards Dawson II | The Signal

People have long used popular entertainment to address social issues and injustices in our world. From films like “Do the Right Thing” (1989), from as far back as Hugo’s “Les Miserables,” there is a clear desire to consume stories dealing with class. 

Although many see entertainment as a means of escapism, its utility in inspiring change cannot be unappreciated. With each new generation becoming increasingly politically aware, the demand for content that addresses social issues is natural.

People want to see their own lives reflected or at the very least represented in the media they consume. With many political issues stemming from people’s personal experiences, the connection is easy to see.

In recent years, many people worldwide, especially in the global north, have seen very little change in their wages, creating a wealth disparity comparable to levels of over 100 years ago. For many people, the contradictions within our economic system have grown too large and disastrous to ignore. 

As a consequence, a rise in class consciousness has taken place in the United States. These factors have created an environment where average citizens are calling the efficacy of American capitalism into question.

All art is a product of the environment and society that created it. The class-conscious and relatively heavily left-leaning content we see today is merely a reflection of the gaping flaws of our society. 

Perhaps the most notable project to come out of this recent trend is “Parasite,” which, along with other films created by its director Bong Joon Ho, addresses class in a variety of different ways. 

The popularity of Ho’s films indicates a general disaffection that the working class has had with the status quo. Although “Parasite” is a Korean film, it was internationally acclaimed and won the Palme D’or at Cannes and the Best Picture award at the Academy Awards. 

Many attribute the film’s success to its themes about class inequality which can resonate with anyone, regardless of their home country or native language. 

While the amount of left-leaning media content is growing, it is still relatively small. 

Many companies still make media to bolster the status quo or justify our nation’s overseas atrocities. Money is a significant contributing factor in political organization and messaging, forcing left-wing media to the fringes. 

Despite these traditional setbacks, many online content creators have gained massive followings and mainstreaming previously radical ideas followed suit. The online manifestation of this trend can best be seen in the rise of “Breadtube,” a loosely organized group of Youtube creators whose content revolves mainly around social justice issues. 

Among the most popular “Breadtubers” is Contrapoints, with her channel amassing an audience of nearly 1.5 million subscribers. Outside of Youtube, podcasts have proven to be a frontier for leftist discourse. Chapo Trap House, a name that is more or less synonymous with the current American left, has gained massive popularity since launching in the run-up to the 2016 election and has even become the highest-grossing podcast on Patreon.

Class analysis in our media hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. As of writing this article, Squid Game has held the #1 spot on Netflix for two weeks, becoming one of its most viral shows in recent memory. 

In a world where liberal capitalism reigns supreme, those who have not reaped its benefits are becoming increasingly aware of its downfalls and inadequacy at creating an equitable society. Messaging is such a vital part of the political process. It is impossible to educate and create awareness for the world’s ills without an engaging media apparatus. 

Right-wing propagandists understand this very well, which is why Prager U spends exorbitant amounts of money on ads, making them into a household name for pretty much anyone who is politically engaged. 

As previously stated, money is a significant contributing factor in the visibility of these ideas, and the hurdles we must overcome are various. Still, the necessity for this change becomes more and more apparent, and it is vital to guide potential converts through engaging and disciplined messaging.