(TV documentary script)
[Shots of banks, shops, people walking down shopping streets Grafton Street, the Mall in Tralee, Oliver Plunket Street in Cork as voice over speaks]
“Not since the time of Antonio Gramsci has the notion of hegemony been so relevant in Ireland today. But what is hegemony? [Image of Gramsci]
Hegemony is the phrase adopted by Antonio Gramsci from Marx to explain how social structures evolve. [Scenes of Regina Cali prison]
Antonio Gramsci was born in Italy in 1891. After university, in deference to the fascist Mussolini ruling government he became involved in left wing activity. As a result of this he was arrested in 1928. While in the Regina Cali prison he studied the whole idea of hegemony. He wanted to find out why the weaker forces do not fight back, why do they bow down to their oppressors. He adapted the meaning of hegemony. He realized that it is not just concerned with how the ruling classes operate (as Marx had proposed). Gramsci felt that “what was missing was an understanding of the subtle but pervasive forms of ideological control and manipulation that seemed to perpetrate all repressive structures”1. He also found that the weaker group had their part in it by accepting the ruling class’s authority. This is the kernel that we are concerned with. This is the theory that we are going to apply to modern culture in Ireland today. Not just why modern culture is imposed but what are the subtle manipulations of this culture and also what is our part in acquiescing to them.
[Cut to images of Irish legends Cuchulainn, Fionn mac Cumhaill, Deirdre of the sorrows]
We used to have a culture rich in language, dance, storytelling, education, generosity and a love of the simpler things in life. It had evolved from years of myths and legends passed down from generation to generation. We lived by a code of traditions and values. Later we became colonised by England we were robbed of our language and as a result the stories that made up our culture. Nevertheless we fought back until we gained our independence but already serious changes had occurred in our culture- the culture of money had crept in .Yeats commented on it in September 1913
What need you, being come to sense,
But fumble in a greasy till
And add the halfpence to the pence
And prayer to shivering prayer, until
You have dried the marrow from the bone;
For men were born to pray and save;
Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,
It's with O'Leary in the grave.3
[Images of cash tills and money]
Consumerism has been growing steadily ever since, but its more than consumerism it’s a greed, an insatiable desire, an endless hunger for the next shiny object. The care for our fellow human beings has been replaced by this self propulsion .
Recently we have been woken from a glut of consumerism, obsessed by the price of property and handbags and plunged into an abyss of recession. Now is the time to question what happened? What is our culture? Who are the forces that change it and what is our part in adopting this culture as our own? Firstly what is our culture? Culture is anything that engages us socially. It is the media, television, newspapers, magazines, books, internet, art, music and dance. It is all of these and it is more. It is the way we think, the way we live and the things we believe in. Today in Ireland what is most prevalent is the culture of consumerism. Buoyed by the economic boom that was known as the Celtic tiger consumerism grew and grew. Borrowing increased as sales increased on luxury cars. Items such as handbags became known as must haves, the prices of houses escalated at an astonishing rate. Consumer spending increased by 36% in the period 1999 to 20042. As a nation we became gripped with a greed for goods. Where did this come from?
Everyday we are bombarded with images of products and goods. The average person sees over a hundred ads a day. The media is littered with advertising....