The working class in Schrader’s Blue Collar (1978)

Wheeler, Mark (2023) The working class in Schrader’s Blue Collar (1978). In: This hard land: scenes from the American working class. Lexington Books. (Submitted)

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Abstract / Description

Paul Schrader’s 1978 directorial debut Blue Collar (Universal) shows how three hard-working Detroit autoworkers are brought down by a combination of racism, corporate malfeasance and union corruption. When Zeke Brown (Richard Pryor), Jerry Bartowski (Harvey Keitel) and Smokey James (Yaphet Kotto) rob their local union’s (the fictional American Union of Autoworkers’ (AAW ) based on the real Union of Autoworkers (UAW)) safe they are disappointed by their small haul of $600. However, upon closer inspection, they discover something more valuable than money: the union's ledger, filled with links to organised crime. Yet, when they blackmail the AAW’s officials, Schrader depicts their decision as an immoral exchange of labour for money. Therefore, the film demonstrates how the materialistic values of the American Dream have undermined the United States' (US) labour force’s solidarity and the Republic’s conception of democratic exceptionalism. Ultimately, the film reveals how the ‘soft despotism’ of modern capitalism has made conspicuous the class and racial divisions which exist within the US’s body politic.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: "All rights reserved. Please contact the publisher for permission to copy, distribute or reprint"
Uncontrolled Keywords: working class; labour; Blue Collar; Paul Schrader; United States; capitalism
Subjects: 300 Social sciences > 320 Political science
300 Social sciences > 330 Economics
Department: School of Social Sciences and Professions
Depositing User: Mark Wheeler
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2023 09:41
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2023 09:41

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