Essay about "A Way of Life" Movie by Amma Assante

Essay about "A Way of Life" Movie by Amma Assante

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“A Way of Life”, set in Wales, depicts a harsh environment where the occupants struggle to find ways to get by. This includes single-mother, Leigh-Anne. While presented as a victim of her current situation, she clearly lives in constant fear. This repressed fear feeds into the aggression Leigh-Anne, Robbie, Gavin, and Stephen act on with Hassan. My argument will focus on the several forms of social abjection that occur in “A Way of Life” whether to Leigh-Anne, her group, and Hassan (as a representative of racial/ethnic minorities).
“Disgust is not just enacted by subjects and groups in processes of othering…but is also experienced and lived by those constituted as disgusting in their experiences of displacement and abandonment” (Tyler 26). The film can be broken down into three different groups who are part of a social abject. Leigh-Anne, as a single mother, represents what Tyler discusses as a “Welfare Queen”. Stephen, Robbie, and Gavin represent qualities of what can be argued as a “chav”. Hassan and his daughter are part of the criticized and “job-leeching” population of immigrants.
In Tyler’s chapter on social abjection, she speaks of the figure of the “Welfare Queen” as coined by Anne-Marie Hancock. While this was based on a study for African-American single mothers in the USA, it is useful in observing Leigh-Anne’s continually stubbornness and aggression. Hancock suggests this image “generates a consensus apparatus that legitimizes negative public sentiments about single mothers in receipt of state support…” (Tyler 25). Throughout the film, Leigh-Anne stubbornly refuses the help from the adults in her life. The attempts with receiving government aid are presented as hopeless and expose her reasons as to why this is happen...

... middle of paper ... socially cultivated and ideologically sanction” (37). The sad matter is none of these characters understand where their hatred comes from and fall victim to their own repressed fears—fears they learned from society. In the end, they appear unaffected after taking the life of a man in front of his daughter. They didn’t even consider that violence wouldn’t resolve the underlying fear they possess. The only saw the chance to exert power over someone else. A privilege they cannot possess due to their societal status.
Imogen Tyler’s discussion of the social abject is clear in this film. It is useful in trying to find a tangible sympathetic approach to Leigh-Anne and her actions.

Works Cited

Imogen Tyler, Revolting Subjects: Social Abjection and Resistance in Neoliberal Britain
European Journal of Communication October 2013 28: 599, doi:10.1177/0267323113494050

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