In “Class Act” Rebecca Traister identifies the ethnic and cultural stereotypes, economic differences, and class undertones exemplified in Ugly Betty. Traister describes Ugly Betty as subversive television because it seeks out to undermine pre-established judgments about other classes, races, and cultures. Unlike most shows, she explains, Ugly Betty explores both sides of the class hierarchy. She states Ugly Betty is consumed with difference and the ways we acknowledge or misinterpret it. She also highlights that Ugly Betty shines light on sexism in the workplace, but also provides hope to those that would rather succeed through work, and not love.
ABC’S comedy soap-opera, Ugly Betty, links two contrasting worlds. The primary locations on the show, Manhattan and Queens, are just a few miles apart; however they encompass a chasm in class status. In “Class Act” Rebecca Traister highlights the class struggle and ethnic and cultural stereotypes in Ugly Betty. Subversive television shows, like Ugly Betty and the Cosby Show, doesn’t depict reality to some, but to me it does. Undermining pre-established judgments and stereotypes about minorities and other things that aren’t similar to our own is more honest than reality itself. I applaud Ugly Betty because it puts the class struggle in perspective, exposes sexism, but most importantly gives hope to people that would rather succeed through work.
The historical introduction of the Challenge to Social Classes A journey through the twentieth century in America via the trials and tribulations as offered by American novelists depicts a common social evolution. Struggle, discontent, and the inherent obstacles in life are not particularly unique to the characters of the American novelist, however the experiences and the perseverance of each have ...
The most daring thing a person can be is tolerant; tolerant to other religions, cultures, races, and any ideas that aren’t similar to our own. People tend to fear what they don’t know, or dislike what they don’t understand. Traister asserts, “…Betty offers a bracing look at how these class struggles are further fraught by cultural diversity and intolerance,..” (697).
Intolerance, I believe is the root of all discrimination and racism in America.
It’s shockingly terrifying to think a class hierarchy exists in a country where “all men are created equal”, but it’s true. Cultural and economic origins aid America in grouping citizens into classes. Betty belongs to the middle-working-class and is frowned upon by the wealthier upper-class. Instead of knowing who she is individually, they know her in comparison to the class, culture, and race she belongs to. This isn’t fair because Betty is generalized as a person. This generalization in our society is intensified by false stereotypes. People should be more focused on the content of the book, rather than the cover. Go beyond the surface and learn who people really are. That’s a step towards a better social society.
Sexism in the industry is exemplified when Traister recalls that Betty’s boss, Daniel, only hires attractive promiscuous women he foresees himself having sexual relations with. How just is that, when it’s the media, not men, that declares who or what is “sexy”? Initially, I would blame men but it is women that unknowingly reinforce the notion of sexism. It’s their wardrobe, behavior, and their use of sex appeal to get what they want that amplifies the obsolete stereotype. Merriam Webster’s definition of sexism justifies this: behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex. The media is the one responsible for encouraging these behaviors and attitudes in both men and women.
Ugly Betty is the epitome of hope and change. It uses a modern twist on Disney’s “happy ending” formula. In Disney’s films, the characters gain success through love; Betty succeeds through her career. Although it may be quite difficult to move up the hierarchy from one class to the next, a change in status is indeed possible. As hard as it is to get ahead in life, Betty does not let her economic status define her, and that I admire. Betty also shows young girls that there is more to life than falling in love, and marriage isn’t the only thing that brings a change to their status.
‘Educating Rita’ by Willy Russell Themes Class, Culture This is a play that makes us think about class and culture- how different they are for people and also their impact on people’s lives and opportunities. Rita comes from an uneducated working class background.. Frank belongs to the educated middle classes with a totally different culture. Actually, when Rita says that her background has no ...
With all problems presented and solutions explained, we have the recipe for a better society. Rework common misconceptions, gain more tolerance, and don’t reinforce negative notions about different classes or culture. Like Ugly Betty, give hope to others, get to know people for who they are, and most importantly believe you are equal to others.
Traister, Rebecca. “Class Act.” The Pop Culture Zone: Writing Critically about Popular Culture. Allison D. Smith, Trixie G. Smith, and Stacia Rigney Watkins. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009. 696-701. Print. Excerpt “Class Act” by Rebecca Traister from Salon.com, November 4, 2006. This article first appeared on Salon.com, at http://www.salon.com. An online version remains in the Salon archives.