The Use of Humor to Poke Fun at the Social Construction of Class: Illustrated in the Film The Jerk through Navin Johnson
Money does not last forever. All the money in the world can become the reason why people change their personality and behavior. In the film The Jerk by Carl Reiner, a complete moron struggles to make it through life on his own, until a bizarre invention makes him unbelievably a wealthy man. Navin grew up in Mississippi as an adopted son of a black family, but on his birthday he decides to discover more about the outside world and sets out to St. Louis. There, everyone exploits his simplicity, but then a simple invention brings Navin a big fortune that will become his main downfall as the film continues. Like many comedies, The Jerk pokes fun at social norms and stereotypes in order to make people laugh. This film supports the idea of the article, “Shadowy Lines That Still Divide” by Janny Scott and David Leonhardt, which explain how it’s possible to start poor, face challenges, and become rich. But also how society ranks a person based on the amount of money he has. Scott and Leonhardt also explain that class is a social mobility, meaning that individuals move between classes. Even though Navin struggles throughout the film, he will realize that wealth will become his downfall. Scott and Leonhardt’s ideology of class as a social construction is exemplified through the film The Jerk, by the explanation of how money helps people if invested properly, but also how it can destroy people if money is invested incorrectly.
Society has created the idea of class based on the amount of money a person has. Scott and Leonhardt state in their article that individuals can move between classes. Scott and Leonhardt state, “There are poor and rich in the United States, of course, the argument goes; but as long as one can become the other, as long as there is something close to equality of opportunity, the differences between them do not add up to class...
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