Academic Papers‎ > ‎

Fritz Lang's Classic #Metropolis predicts #FastFoodStrike

posted Aug 30, 2013, 3:53 AM by Peter Joseph Moons   [ updated Aug 30, 2013, 3:57 AM ]
Comments by Peter Joseph Moons
August 30, 2013



Fritz Lang's Metropolis has several interesting points that are still relevant today. First, Lang presented the continuing conflict between the workers and the elite. H.G. Wells's Time Machine treats the issue in a similar manner, with the Eloi above and Morlochs slaving below. The issue of Lang's workers' drab, unfulfilling existence is stark: there is apparently no escape from the Worker's City save for destruction; evidently, the workers cannot own both the 'means of production and the modes of production' – pace Karl Marx.  (The workers would be happier now because they would all have hi-speed WiFi connectivity.)  One cannot help but think of the 'Fast Food Strike' of August 29, 2013 when viewing the workers striking in Metropolis. This is the age-old dichotomy: everyone wants to make a living wage, while everyone else wants low prices.

This leads to the second point in Metropolis: The technology of the machines keeps all citizens in Metropolis alive and living comfortably. The workers see the machines only as their doom, and are rallied to destroy them by the robotic Maria; thus, the workers, and ironically, a machine-Maria, are the agents of their own destruction. Not surprisingly, the director emphasizes the short-sightedness of the masses, which is in contrast to the character Joh Frederson, whose brains built the entire city they inhabit.

Thirdly, there is an aspect of Hegel in the film; certainly, there is a thesis (bifurcated existence of those on top and the dirty, exploited masses underground), an antithesis (the workers' revolution), followed by a synthesis (an apprehensive union). The union is facilitated by an interlocutor – the heart – Freder. Who else in history filled this role? V.I. Lenin came close when he led the workers in St. Petersburg to revolution in October 1917 but keeping the bourgeoisie around was not in his plan. Fast food workers may yet find a voice among their workers.

Finally, in Metropolis, Lang saw that the titans of industry (AKA brains) were necessary for economic function after he witnessed the Russian Revolution and while living in the 'libertine era' of the Weimar Republic, also portrayed in the film.  Ultimately, Metropolis is the antipode of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, where the creators of the world go on strike because the moochers do nothing but take.  Imagine the Fast Food Strikers inserted into Atlas Shrugged.

Copyright © 2013 Straterian LLC