What might economic determinist/Marxist theory say about The Breakfast Club?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are some interesting elements to Marxist thought that could be seen in Hughes' work.  The most striking would be in the first half of the film.  The clique and social stratification that defines each of them is heavily influenced by economics.  Claire and Andrew belong to the upper echelon of the social scene.  Claire is there through popularity and wealth.  The point is made in the film that she is not poor ("Daddy's Beemer," referring to her father's BMW car and status symbol, is one of the many economic insults that Bender hurls at her.)  Andrew is in this realm because of athletics, something that the popular and wealthy control by extension.  Outside of this, the other kids represent those who are marginalized.  Brian is used for his grades and academic excellence, but the wealthy and powerful have little, if any, interest in him as a person.  Allison and John are isolated and marginalized, following the Marxist logic that those who own the means of production have no use for those who do not directly benefit their own ends.  The social stratification that the film argues is based off of social cliques is something that Marx sees as an extension of wealth.  The recognition that each one makes in the others is something that Marx would dismiss as preposterous, as the wealthy do not willingly relinquish their power because "they do not want to become like their parents."  In this light, Marxist theory would distance itself from the film.  Whereas Hughes sees youth and age as defining elements, Marx sees wealth and privilege.

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