Celebrity Pharmacology From a Marxist Perspective
An Essay by Loki100
At the start of this episode, Annie is the perfect citizen of a capitalist society. She's smart, driven, hardworking, frugal, and living within her means. She dutifully saves all the money available to her and uses it to pay her debts. But of course, as we know, hardwork combined with frugality is not enough for her to achieve solvency, let alone success, as by the start of the episode she has run out of money no matter how many cans she collects daily. The show demonstrates the failing of systemic capitalist society by placing the character who best exemplifies the values that capitalism is supposed to engender and having her be unable to live sustainably.
While this is going on, Annie's energy is being directed towards the production of a work of art, specifically her anti-drug play. It is an ideologically based play with a strong, critical message of one element in society, even if that one criticism and the attendant ideology are quite prevalent within her society, it still represents a specific artistic vision. A point she articulates to Pierce, one of her actors, when he asks for changes to the content of her play.
Pierce notices her odd tendency towards utilizing every money making means available to Annie, in this case picking up cans around campus to turn in to the recycling center, and follows her to her home, a small apartment atop a sex shop. She is living in exceedingly dangerous conditions, as noted by the constant police lights outside her window, compromising her safety and quality of life in order to pay for lodging.
Pierce then gives her a large sum of money. Supposedly for being "strong," but in reality he takes the position of investor in her play. By offering her money, her priorities shift to keeping her investor pleased. In the most disturbing scene in the episode, Annie offers to change the content of the play based on nothing more than Pierce hinting in a round about way that he is displeased with his lack of lines. She is no longer capable of independent agency and her play is no longer her sole artistic vision.
This becomes a cancer that gradually eats away at the play. Pierce as the investor in her life, constantly demands greater dividends from his investment in the form of continuous alterations to the play. When the actual performance occurs, the play has ceased to be an anti-drug play, but, rather, is pro-drug. Brilliantly, once Annie accepted a capitalist system, she was no longer able to criticize the system, and her sole goal became supporting that system, no matter how many concessions she was forced to make. Rightly, the other members of the study group criticized her for the collapse of both her vision and ideology, causing Annie to have a crisis of conscience and run away.
Up to this point, the show has been strongly critical of the production of art within a capitalist system and how quickly it becomes compromised to appeal to the investor class. Sadly that critical nature falls apart at the end. After the play, Annie returns and kindly and considerately confronts Pierce. She, unironically, states, "I can't go from depending upon my parents, to depending upon you. I'm going to get a job." It betrays a strong blindspot to the nature of capitalism on her life. It presupposes that there is a job, of any nature, for her in the first place, which is a supposition that is not supportable, let alone a job with can effectively cover all her expenses. Secondly the show fails to note that the time and energy required for this job would consume the time and energy that she used for both her studies and the creation of her art. In order to give herself the perceived independence in order to make her art, she has to take a job that would prevent her from making that art in the first place. But more importantly she uncritically fails to realizes that she is still dependent upon an investor class. A job in a capitalist society can always be taken away, making her ultimate goal the exact same as when she took money from Pierce, preserving her means of economic advancement.
TOPICS Celebrity Pharmacology