Stephen Pimpare, senior lecturer of American politics and public policy, published a perspective piece in The Washington Post this week. Pimpare writes about the perception of poverty and homelessness in American film, which is the subject of his new book titled Ghettos, Tramps, and Welfare Queens: Down and Out on the Silver Screen. An excerpt of the article is below, and check out the full piece online here.
This week, the well-to-do wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, former actress Louise Linton, shared a heated exchange on Instagram over photographs of her wearing (and flaunting) expensive clothing brands, where she appeared to insult another woman for having lesser means. Linton, who once gave an interview about the dozens of diamonds and other jewels she would be wearing to wed Mnuchin, asked the commenter if she had “given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country?” and concluded with a final barb: “Your life looks cute.”
Linton may not think very much of people who don’t “give” as much to “the economy” as she and her husband. It wouldn’t be any big surprise: After all, Linton and Mnuchin are both creatures of Hollywood, a territory none too friendly to poor people.
It’s unusual to see people struggling to get by on the big screen. By my count, in the entirety of American cinema, there are fewer than 300 movies that significantly concern themselves with poverty or homelessness. When they do, the result is predictable, insulting in ways that not only reflect but propagate unfair stereotypes and misleading prejudices about people who live in poverty.
Interested in political science and public policy? CHECK OUT OUR POLITICS & SOCIETY PROGRAM
Connect with UNH Manchester