Cultural Phenomenon of Stranger Things Essay

  • Length: 5 pages
  • Sources: 2
  • Subject: Media
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #75368361

Excerpt from Essay :

Stranger Things is a television show on Netflix that recounts the story of a missing boy, a frantic mother, and three friends looking for an answer. The show is a pastiche of popular 80's movies and television shows that featured monsters like E.T. and telekinetic children like Charlie in Firestarter. While the show does not hit on anything original, it does manage to hit a nerve among fans and has swept the nation with its sweet whispers of nostalgia. The show perhaps invites people to reach for their own ideologies in life vicariously through the main characters. Althusser discusses ideologies in his piece, "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses" and Bell Hooks examines desire and resistance in "Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance" that can point towards a better understanding of such a fast-growing cultural phenomenon.

Althusser defines ideologies from a traditional standpoint as 'world outlooks. However, Althusser admits they do not link to reality and are admittedly, largely imaginary (Althusser, 2006). While they establish an illusion, within this schema, some believe ideologies can convert allusion to reality. All that is needed to understand and accept the world behind such invented representations is interpretation. He mentions two models of advanced ideology to this regard and they are: "...mechanistic type, in which ideology is a distorted mirror held up to the (economic) Real and the 'hermeneutic interpretation' in which Real is the essence manifesting itself through the dross of ideological phenomena which must be peeled away to arrive at the kernel of truth" (Althusser, 2006, p. 100).

When it comes to Stranger Things, the children are the first to truly embark on the journey of discovery, of reaching for the truth behind the 'smoke screen'. They are the ones that imagine and believe in things that
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are then translated to reality through action and circumstance and the help of someone like Eleven. Eleven is the 'kernel of truth' or 'distorted mirror' that when held up, manifests itself via telekinetic abilities that enable progress for the children in finding their friend. She is an ideology that serves as both the anchor point and bridge from illusion or allusion to reality.

The question then posited is why people require this type of imaginary transposition of reality to find meaning and representation of themselves? Althusser answers by stating " make themselves an alienated representation of their conditions of existence because these conditions of existence are themselves alienating" (Althusser, 2006, p. 101). Essentially, deriving from this perspective, ideology is not a mere method or tool from which ruling classes enslave and exploit lower classes. Instead it serves as how people aim to compensate for a painful, intolerable existence.

The kids from Stranger Things are a representation of ideologies that include innocence, friendship, discovery, love, and the classic structure of bildungsroman. Except instead of just having regular children find their missing friend, it throws another ideology that many people secretly desire to be true, the ability to supersede reality and bend it to one's will. Eleven can flip vehicles, kill people that get in her way, and provide her friends a way to know of another world/dimension that was otherwise 'make believe'. In a world where reality is harsh and often unyielding, it presents as a comfort to see a little girl do the unimaginable all while still retaining her innocence, love, and desire to help her friends.

In "Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance" Bell Hooks discusses and examines desire. "...that desire expresses itself most fully where only those absorbed…

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