Classism in Best in Show
Classism in Best in Show
Watching Best in Show reveals the potential impact of classism in a society. It helps to show the need to counter the practice that would in many instance oppress the less influential people. The production seems to be a reflection of the American society’s perception on association based on class at the time it was released. The audience should enjoy the entertainment that the film give as well as acquire lessons on the need to watch how people relate to each other to avoid scenarios where classism forms the basis of interaction and forming relationships.
Brief Summary of the Film
Eugene Levy and Christopher Guest co-written Best in Show, a 2000 American mockumentary film. The comedy follows the story of six participant who attend the yearly Mayflower Dog Show in Philadelphia. Cookie and Gerry Fleck are married and present their dog called Winky. Hamilton and Meg from Chicago present to the show Beatrice that is later disqualified from the race for breaking rules (Guest, 2000). Also featuring in the show are Harlan and Sherri Ann Cabot who present their Hubert and Rhapsody, respectively. Sherri, a lesbian, lives with an elderly man, Leslie, who does not care to know much about his canny wife, including her romantic relationship with Christy, Rhapsody’s trainer. Others who take part in the annual competition that attracts a large audience are Stefan Vanderhoof and Scott Donlan, a gay couple that presents their Miss Agnes (Guest, 2000). They appear to be optimistic that they will emerge the victors, but also acknowledge that the others are equally worthy competitors. Ultimately, Buck Laughlin and Trevor Beckwith who host the show announce Gerry and Cookie as winners. The couple retreats to their residence in Florida to celebrate their win that earns them fame across the country. Watching the film, the audience notices various overarching themes that reoccur throughout the mockumentary. For instance, some of the apparent themes include suspense, particularly when judges have to announce the winner, infidelity, especially as it appears with Christy and Sherri Ann, homosexuality as it appears with Christy and Sherri Ann and Stefan and Scott (Guest, 2000). How the filmmakers develop these themes so craftily, thus making the production appealing and impactful to viewers. However, viewers can also evidently notice how classism plays out in Best in Show.
Identification of Classism in the Film
Taking a keener look at Best in Show, the audiences notice how the concept of classism develops in the film. However, it is important to understand what classism means before proceeding any further. According to Simons et al. (2016) classism refers to handling or relating to people discriminatively, typically based on their social class. In this sense, class can be viewed as a hierarchical social structure where group of people are separated or divided depending on factors that the society regards as prestigious such as education and wealth. Examples of classism is feeling inferior to people belong to higher social class, or feeling shameful of one’s traditional practices of class in an individual’s family or denial of one’s heritage (Wingen et al., 2021). Other forms of classism include sense of superiority to persons lower on the class level than oneself and blame and hostility towards other poor or working-class people. Now, it is easier to identify the various forms of classism in Best in Show now that the meaning of the concept is clear. To begin with, the whole issue surrounding the competition could be viewed as a form of classism. Whereas not everyone who attend the show are rich or wealthy, the event could be termed as appealing to people belonging to the high class who are committed to spend much on their dogs, including paying for their training. Not everyone can afford such luxury, thus illustrating a form of classism. Another instance of classism in the film is how participants come from diverse backgrounds and social classes. Seemingly, the stories of those who does not belong to a middle or upper class do not feature as much in the story, thus reaffirming the notion of classism in Best in Show.
How the Film Reflects the Time of Production
The film addresses the issue of classism, which is a key concern in the American society. Classism has been a concern for many years, but apparently, the emergence of the 21st century seemed to have witnessed a significant leap in the way people associate themselves while considering their social class. In his article, Scott (2001) creates the impression that the late 1990s saw a steady growth of the middle class, a factor that could have possibly contributed towards classism during the period. Scott (2001) writes that the poor became a little poorer and the rich became increasingly richer. Possibly, it is because of such dynamics that compelled Guest to spearhead the production of Best in Show in 2000 to illuminate on the effects of classism as witnessed during the years preceding the premiere.
It is also possible to argue that the film reflected a time when people become considerably aware of the need to engage each other regardless of one’s social class. This can be seen in the way the show welcomes nearly three thousand participants who all belong to different classes (Guest, 2000). Even though not all of them get equal treatment and attention, the coming together shows a sense of togetherness and gives an impression of a society that values interrogation. Moreover, even though those who feature in the film belong to different social classes that does not deter them from socializing with each other. Fortunately, the differences in social class as witnessed in Best in Show does not create severe constraints between those who feature in the film. Actually, viewers must be very keen when watching the mockumentary to be able to identify and understand how classism manifests in the story. It is because nowhere in the film do characters openly defy the other because they belong to a lower class then them. It is by understanding the hidden meanings of certain happenings in the video, including that of the annual competition that attracts contestants and audiences nationwide. Thus, it could be argued that Best in Show plays fundamental roles in showing the need to suppress classism, including by congregating without considering the others’ affiliation.
Significance of the Film
The production sensitizes on the need to consider how issues relating to social class could impact on individuals, groups, and the society at large. It implies that people need to come together regardless of their class because this offers an opportunity to learn from each other. One’s place in the social class, Wyatt-Nichol et al. (2011) explain, may influence their family life, health, political indulgence, religious practices and affiliation, encounter with the criminal justice system, and education. For example, a person who belongs to the low social class may have low ambitions of proceeding further with their education fearing that they may not afford the needed fees to progress. Moreover, the feeling of classism could make some people feel that their culture or religion is inferior or superior to others. In the long run, incidences of misunderstandings brew, which sometimes end in conflicts and hatred. Thus, a critical view at Best in Show creates the urge to enact measures that would overcome the possible adverse effects of classism.
Classism is one kind of oppression that is commonplace in the U.S. and is gaining interest. U.S. data imply that classism affects more people today than it did in the past years. Much like other types of oppression, classism if a form of discrimination. Classism could be viewed as a fusion of prejudice such as attitudes and stereotypes such as beliefs that end up in discriminatory kinds of behaviors such as isolating or ignoring a person or group based entirely on perceived social class (Pietrantoni et al., 2016). Often, classism is channeled at those of low socioeconomic status or social class, usually referred to as the poor. Consequently, chronically poor people may encounter classism from members of the society or peers because of their low social class. Another concern is that substantial gap exists between high and low l class/socioeconomic status individuals. In their paper, Pietrantoni et al. (2016) argue that classism has an adverse implication on performance and confidence levels of low class/socioeconomic status individuals. In addition, those who become victims of low class/socioeconomic status may not have positive experience, something that is evident even in the film. For example, whereas casts such as Gerry and Cookie have an opportunity to dine at an expensive Chinese restaurant because they have the financial power in addition to enjoying costly walks that is not the case with all casts (Guest, 2000), something that could be attributed to the difference in class. Consequently, it could be argued that one’s social class determine their encounters and experiences, as well as their interaction. The illustration further illuminates on the values of considering the issue of classism as one that requires considerable attention to avert scenarios where some people fail to express themselves as they would desire because of the social class.
It also emphasizes the need to embrace practices that could diminish associations based on class. For example, stressing on the value of education while offering learners from all backgrounds to undergo the system offers a good chance for every person to become more independent in future and avoid being disregarded because of their lack of education or money, which appears to be a key determining factor on how a person relates with people from particular classes (Wyatt-Nichol et al., 2011). In addition to offering the chance for everyone to undergo schooling, it is necessary to create regulations and programs that encourage interactions regardless of one’s class. For instance, policies should exist that forbid businesses owners or school administrators against discriminating buyers and learners based on their class. The government can also make public spaces such as parks open for everyone without demarcating certain areas for those who belong to a particular social class (Wyatt-Nichol et al., 2011). In addition, sensitizing members of the community about the importance of integration will play key roles in eradicating scenarios where alienation based on class dominates. Hence, watching Best in Show should not only be for entertainment purposes, but viewers should also have something to learn from it.
The essay examines how Best in Show develops the concept of classism, an idea that entails relating with people belonging to particular class while disregarding or glorifying those who belong to other classes. In the film, hosting a dog show could be termed as a form of classism because not many people would spend time and money on their dogs. Therefore, those who spend a lot of money on the canines, including paying a lot of money for training could be termed as belonging to a particular class. Furthermore, those who take part in the competition come belong to different classes. Their class seems to determine the audience and attention that they receive in the course of the show. However, the film also, to some extent, gives an impression of a society that acknowledged the need to overcome alienation based on class in the way the competition brings together from different walks of life. The film that gives a reflection of how social class was a key concern at the time of production sheds more light on the need to consider classism as an aspect that could cause division and be able to take effective remedies towards addressing the problem. Thus, taking measures to ensure that people relate to each other without looking at class will foster harmony and strengthen bonds.
Guest, C. (2000). Best in Show. USA: Castle Rock Entertainment.
Pietrantoni, Z., Glance, D., & Smith, K. (2016). Experiences with classism: A look at social class in a rural high school. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1069403.pdf
Scott, J. (2001). In 90’s economy middle class stayed put, analysis suggests. https://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/31/nyregion/in-90-s-economy-middle-class-stayed-put-analysis-suggests.html
Simons, A., Koster, A., Groffen, D., & Bosma, H. (2016). Perceived classism and its relation with socioeconomic status, health, health behaviours and perceived inferiority: The Dutch longitudinal internet studies for the social sciences (LISS) panel. International Journal of Public Health, 62(4), doi:10.1007/s00038-016-0880-2
Wingen, T., Englich, B., Estal-Munoz, V., Mareva, S., & Kassianos, A. (2021). Exploring the relationship between social class and quality of life: The mediating role of power and status. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 16, 1983-1998. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11482-020-09853-y
Wyatt-Nichol, H., Brown, S., & Haynes, W. (2011). Social class and socioeconomic status: Relevance and inclusion in MPA/MPP Programs. Journal of Public Affairs Education, 17(2), 187-208. doi:10.2307/23036111