Originally published on Sumner Newscow on January 29, 2021
Happy Friday. Way back in the early years of the 20th century there was a popular new political philosophy called communism that emphasized the importance of seizing the means of production. Other than being a cool rallying cry, the phrase “seize the means of production” was a key policy for achieving the equality and public ownership the Bolsheviks desired.
They didn’t want these means just for bargaining power over their elitist oppressors; instead, they understood that without holding the instruments of their own oppression, they could never upset the power structure that kept so many at the bottom rung of society.
This week, we saw a similar strategy wreak havoc on the ruling class here in America when a group of investors on Reddit decided to blow up the stock market (figuratively). They did so by inflating the stock price of a few companies, namely Gamestop and AMC Theatres, to bankrupt a hedge fund attempting to put those companies out of business with its own form of market manipulation. If you’re interested in the specifics of how all of this works, just walk out of your home until you run into the nearest white man and he would be ecstatic to explain it in excruciating detail. Without a hint of irony, the basics of this process are as follows:
- A hedge fund named Melvin Capital Management (as well as some smaller, nameless hedge funds) dumped billions of dollars into shorting Gamestop and AMC’s stock price, causing the market to follow suit even though these companies weren’t ready to close up shop.
- A subreddit named r/wallstreetbets saw this happening and created a viral campaign to buy stock in these companies and artificially inflate their value to upset Melvin Capital’s short, using their own market manipulation against them.
- Melvin Capital sunk $3 billion in additional funds into the short position.
- Redditors held their stock and watched Wall Street lose over $10 Billion in a few days.
- Melvin Capital abandoned its short after taking a massive financial hit that might shut down for business.
The real story isn’t just about a group of working-class people (the proletariat some might call them), however; it’s about stock trading companies like Robinhood and congress restricting trade and punishing the Redditors, in ruling class solidarity rarely seen in the open. Already, senators are calling for financial reform for the first time in their careers despite Wall Street being responsible for at least two “once in a lifetime” recessions since the early 2000s.
Keep in mind that members of Congress are allowed to own stock and as we saw when multiple senators sold stock they knew would tank after telling their constituents about coronavirus. The people who inflated Gamestop and AMC’s stock price only did what hedge funds, very literally, make most of their profits from. The only difference was, “the poor” found out how to do it, which threatens the wealthy class. If this story upsets you, just remember that you are infinitely closer to being homeless than being a billionaire stockbroker and allowing members of congress to own stock is the same as allowing referees to bet on the games they oversee.
If you’re too pretty to care about the stock market, don’t fret, there is some good news for you this week as well. The movie industry decided to buck the trend of releasing terrible home-releases by dropping Emerald Fennell’s latest flick: Promising Young Woman. COVID-19 has made watching new movies harder than ever before, not only because movie theatres are closed to the public, but also by discouraging studios from releasing their films without a financial, box-office return. Lackluster home releases like Mulan and Wonder Woman 1984 haven’t exactly laid the groundwork for a promising slate of 2021 premieres either.
Promising Young Woman put that trend in the dirt by only slightly delaying its original release date and making it available (for a hefty $20 rental price) for the world to see. The story follows Cassie, played by future-Oscar winner Carey Mulligan, a woman whose mission in life seems to be scaring potential rapists into changing their ways. Every weekend, she masquerades as a helplessly drunk girl at the bar where she is routinely picked up by a self-anointed “nice guy” and taken home so they can take advantage of her.
As anyone who ever went to college can tell you, this isn’t a rare occurrence and the “nice guys” who claim they’re “just trying to make sure she’s safe” are some of the worst offenders. After several protestations that she needs to go home or that she’s too drunk to give consent, the guys persist so she drops the act and confronts them. She doesn’t violently attack them as some wish she would, but by forcing these men to address their attempted crime directly, she changes them fundamentally.
The real plot kicks into gear when a man from her med school returns to the area to get married and she sets out on a plot to punish everyone involved in her friend’s attack years before. I won’t elaborate more from there because watching this plot unfold was the best 2 hours of this still-young year.
With a soundtrack that includes Boys by Charli XCX, Stars are Blind by Paris Hilton, and the best instrumental version of Toxic by Britney Spears I’ve ever heard, this film has much more to offer than just a good story. Mulligan is flanked by great actors in Laverne Cox, Clancey Brown, and Bo Burnham that maintain a creative and natural dialogue that makes each character, even the problematic ones, seem like a real person from your life, which in a movie all about horrible daily occurrences can be as unsettling as it is convincing.
Apart from a trigger warning I’d add for anyone who has experienced sexual assault, this movie should be screened for everyone about to enter university. Not only does it paint a vivid picture of what could (and in my opinion, should) happen to people who don’t understand (or care) about proper consent, it shows how many people are responsible for covering up attacks when they happen. It’s dark, it’s cynical, and it’s the funniest movie I’ve seen in a while, go watch it.
Finally, if you can’t get enough of your favorite culture writer, please go check out my new blog, Mouthful of teeth, where you’ll find a collection of my favorite CultureCow articles, as well as blog-exclusive stories about politics, and an entire page where I take prompts from readers like you. If you’ve ever wanted me to write about something you enjoy that’s too old or niche to make it onto CultureCow, head over to http://mouthfulofteeth.com/ and I’d be more than happy to write it there.
Meme of the week
I, unfortunately, can’t look at every meme that dominates the internet every week, so if you see a meme and think it should be the meme of the week please send it to: SumnerCultureCow@gmail.com
If you disagree with my analysis, have a grievance or any other complaint please visit here