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Abstract

The fantastical film How to Get Ahead in Advertising has most often been considered for its comedic critique of dubious marketing practices. Yet insight provided by writer-director Bruce Robinson intimates his intention that the film serve, instead, as a larger socio-political statement – as an allegorical critique of Margaret Thatcher’s style of capitalism. In this paper I argue that Robinson’s admission calls for a sociological interpretation of his film – specifically, of his portrayal of the struggle between converted ad man Dennis Bagley and the capitalist carbuncle that orchestrates his demise. By employing this broader scope of interpretation, I demonstrate how Bagley’s boil serves to both personify and provoke the social sanctions of medicalization (through social iatrogenesis) and ostracism (both social and institutional) that are used to pathologize and alienate dissidents of the status quo, while simultaneously lending credence to the inherent insanity of consumer capitalism.

KATHRYN ADAMS-SLOAN is an Honors Specialization Sociology student at King's University College where she currently assists Dr. Kristin Lozanski in her exploration of domestic and international surrogacy. Kathryn’s research interests focus on the social, political, and medical etiologies that intersect and shape discourse surrounding both physical and societal manifestations of disease.


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