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Ruben Alcala

Professor Granillo

English 103

14 May 2019

The Bright and Brutal Reality

The world we live in is filled with a harsh reality of segregation, racism, and classism,

but there is a movie that aims to depict the reflection of our reality with both fantasy and brutal

reality co-existing. In the reality that is depicted in the movie, there’s humans, orcs, elves, and

fairies all living together in a modern-day Los Angeles where all races are depicted as having a

different level of social classes. In the movie “Bright” by David Ayer, an argument is made that

the scenes of the movie depicting scenarios of racism, classism, and discrimination, are not a

reflection of our reality today. Looking at the movie objectively through the theoretical concepts

of Marxism and critical race theory, there are examples of scenes clearly showing races having

different social and economic status in the movies fictional society, and other scenes showing the

examples of which depending on the race a person is, the person will already be born and set to

have a life less than or different than the races above another person in a social and economic

status, in this case, the orcs in the movie being the lowest in status and the elves being the

highest in the social and economic status while all humans represent middle class. This all

matters because as a society if we were to all be able to recognize that these examples of racism

and segregation are what truly holds us back from being equal with one another then we can

make a change by applying this kind of mindsets of critical Marxism and race theory to our

every day lives in society. Giving context as to why exactly the movie portrays these theories is
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important, as many of these scenes would make more sense on how both these theories come

together to create a reflection from the movie of our unfair society.

The movie stars Will Smith and Joel Edgerton, as LAPD officers in an alternate sci-fi

universe we're orcs elves giants and magic exist with the reality of modern times. The main focus

of the movie revolves around the two main characters, officers Darrell Ward and Nick Jacoby,

that are street cops in Los Angeles. Darrell Ward is an African-American human, while Nick

Jacoby is an orc, this is important because Nick Jakoby is also the first hired orc by the LAPD in

a world where orcs are viewed as a minority, humans are considered the middle class, and elves

are at the top of the social and economic status in society. The movie portrays different lifestyles

of all races shown in scenes. The way they dress and speak are styles that show how each of the

humans, orcs, and elves, live differently as well as their living environment. They all represent

themselves as completely different from each other. Throughout the movie, you can see the

different actions and prejudices each species has towards one another. with all this in mind this

is what leads up to the idea that this movie is supposed to be a parody and a reflection of our

reality in a modern-day Los Angeles.

Depending on the person who is watching a movie at their first viewing will have

different interpretations of what exactly kind of message the movie is trying to send the

audience. There's a portion of people who upon watching the movie has figured that the movie is

nothing more than just a mindless cop action movie. Famous musician, Chance the Rapper and

writer for the chronicles at duke university believe that many of police movies that portray Los

Angeles or any major law enforcement portrayals are inaccurate and falsely portray it more

harshly then what it actually is. A quote from the writer of the chronicles news organization

states, “Bright is just another one of those examples of a movie adding on to the stigma of
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portraying our society and law enforcement worse than what they actually are” (Bright is the

worst movie Netflix has ever made, by Wesley Caretto). Corretto, along with others do not see

that the movie bright while still trying to be entertaining is still trying to send a message that

minorities in America still go through these issues today.

The theory of Marxism when applied to the movie can both be compared very similarly

to one another, Marxism focuses on the social and economic structure of a society in which there

are no classes in society and everyone is equal. A quote from Lois Tyson states, “From a Marxist

perspective differences in socioeconomic class divide people in ways that are more significant

differences in religion, race, ethnicity, or gender” (Tyson, Critical Theory Today, 54). This is

significant because the from a Marxist perspective there is a clear conflict between classes, the

divide that Tyson is referring to is the same kind of division seen in the movie “Bright” between

orcs, humans, and elves. In one of the scenes that highlight the classism and racial tension is a

scene in which both main characters Ward and Jakoby are driving at an intersection and Jacoby

takes what he describes as a “shortcut” and Ward is immediately vocal about not taking the short

cut as the short cut takes them through elves town, and as they are going through, Ward says

“Aint nothing over here but rich-ass elves, just running the world and shopping” (Bright, 12:44).

This scene provides the pivotal moment of a perfect example as to how elves are supposed to be

a high-class race because they are simply elves, and how this idea of classes existing in this

world is supposed to reflect the realities of how people feel white male and females act in a high

social class and are looked at by other lower class citizens. This also goes back to the idea of

Marxism and how in the Marxist ideology believes that these kinds of depictions of classes can

stop existing if everyone were to be under one social and economic class and that neither rich nor

poor would exist. When looking at the classes that are in the movie, we see that the classes are
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only defined by the race of those characters, and if this world word to be a reality, it was clearly

shown that being born into a race would already determine your worth in society.

The critical race theory behind the movie “bright” is also very obvious during the first

viewing it doesn't take a lot of thought to realize that the writers are purposefully trying to send a

message to the audience that in this world, Orcs are the minority but Orcs are also a reflection of

African-Americans in our reality and how society treated them as less than the average white

male. Tyson describes in her book that “racism refers to the unequal power relations that grow

from the socio-political domination of One race by another and that result in systematic

discriminatory practices for example segregation, domination, and persecution” (Tyson, Critical

Theory Today, 344). This is important because the definition of racism helps further give the

idea that the movie is sending a message that Orcs Unequal power relations compared to the

other races in the movie. This idea can also be solidified by another scene that takes place in the

movie “Bright” in which Jacoby and Ward I called to a scene in which a man is swinging around

a sword causing a disturbance of the peace, when Jacoby and Ward arrived they are greeted by

another character who is Mexican Police officer named Rodriguez, the man who is still

Swinging the sword, points the sword at Jakoby the orc and talks gibberish while also still

insulting Jacoby, Jacoby been States, “everywhere I go why do Orcs always got to be the bad

guy” (Bright, David Ayer, 20:27). This further reinforces the idea that critical race theory behind

the movie is giving more thought behind each scene than viewers originally gave it attention for.

the scene shows what kind of racism and discrimination Works have to go through just as the

same way any minority group would in a modern day society.

There are many great moments in the movie bright that show examples of both Marxism

and critical race Theory Concepts. both Marxism and critical race Theory can overlap with the
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same idea because both also have to do with the fact that with critical race Theory you can be

born a certain way and have certain aspects of your life already pre-planned for you as if that is

what you are going to be set up with because of that skin color you have Marxism it's different

but where they are similar is in the category of classism in which depending on what race you are

will depend on what social economic class you'll be landing in, an example of that would be a

black African-American living in a ghetto community and a white male living in a nice up-to-

date well-kept neighborhood. some Marxist realism is the best form of Marxist purposes because

of the clearly and accurately represents the real world with all socioeconomic inequalities and

ideological construction and encourages readers to see the unhappy truth about set material or

historical reality

In the movie “Bright” there are many moments where racism is shown throughout the

races depicted in the movie, for example, Elves are a pasty white subspecies that essentially run

the world and Beverly Hills. Elms are rich spoiled people who seem to only care about their

wealth and their appearance. On the other end of the spectrum, while on the other hand Orcs are

also found doing the high labor-intensive jobs inner scene doing nothing but cleaning, working

in the kitchen, we're being out in the streets with the gang or disappearances are more also

catered towards ghetto communities in which they are dressed to be cholo gangsters. Jakoby is

the character that viewers are supposed to empathize with because of the constant discrimination

and disenfranchisement he experiences as an orc.

Visual culture is used very heavily in the movie as the environments inside the

movie I will also set the setting of when and where the movie will take place and in what kind of

time period. This movie was made to reflect and make a parody of issues between law

enforcement in the ghetto African American communities, but this time role are changed, and
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now it's all humans that are also LAPD, against the Orc race. This is reflected through an intro

beginning of the movie that shows street art that of which is supposed to mimic real Los Angeles

street art of African Americans being brutalized by the LAPD officers, But instead have orcs

rather than humans, meanwhile the song “Boken People” by Logic plays in the background

(Bright, David Ayer, 0:45). This is important because that also reflects a visual culture inside the

movie itself of what it's really like in Los Angeles without describing actual societal issues, it

sets the tone for the movie as the art shown in the movie is supposed to be a reflection of the

reality that the orc race characters live in.

New historicism Is defined as a new criticism theory and that a piece of History isn't

interpreted the same way by everyone and things are not just “point A to point B”. When using

new historicism lenses to analyze the movie bright, we see culture embedded inside the movie

the reflects the same type of cultural history of modern-day ghetto communities and their

relations with law enforcement. In the movie there two sides showing different perspectives of

life in Los Angeles ghetto, there’s the perspective of law enforcement and the perspective of the

citizens, in this case, officer Jacoby is to be a symbol throughout the movie of equality between

the orc race and humans. This is obviously supposed to be a reflection of African Americans

being police officers in ghetto communities and people seeing that as the first step of equality

and change. In reality, these perspectives are interpretations of the director based on history he's

gathered of law enforcement being looked at as the enemy in ghetto communities, new

historicism can be used to criticize his interpretation on what he believes what officers And

citizens go through in these ghetto communities, as he's only going off of what history has

shown him.
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There are many scenes that show deep societal issues with many of modern problems

because it talks about a career in which I myself want to get into but also shows real fundamental

societal issues that to this day are still a major problem in our society. Those issues being police

brutality, racism, discrimination, and the mentality of citizens versus law enforcement. the movie

has references to visual culture and new historicism both in which it succeeds to execute visual

culture aspect in setting the tone an atmosphere of the environment that of which is already

familiar to people such as myself who is already familiar with the culture and areas in which

everything in the movie takes place. the movie itself is even more impactful because it is

supposed to be a reflection of our reality but in an alternate universe where a person's fantasy and

sci-fi dreams are an actual reality but yet makes a Twist in which that reality still reflex are real-

world issues.

Sigmund Freud once had a theory that a person’s mind is divided into three parts of the

brains psyche, the three parts were id, ego, and superego. The id part of your mind has to do with

impulses and negative reactions to certain things that arise in a person life, The ego portion of

your brain is kinda the inbetweener of the good and bad decisions of the mind, almost as if it

were the decision maker of the mind. Lastly, the superego has to do with the part of the brain that

controls a person urges and impulses. The reason as to why these are important is because these

are what humans in a societal standard have to return to when coming to a decision on how to

actively think and behave in society. This plays in an effect in the movie because much of this

Theory does not really exist in the movie, but the reason for that being is because the movie

takes place during a Time. Where racism bigotry and patriarchal society is what's shown in the

movie and is what is referred to many times in the movie.


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The world we live in today it's filled with many tough challenges for all minority groups,

racism discrimination, and bigotry just to name a few are one of the many obstacles that many

men already is around the country have to face every single day, and yet there is a movie that

tries to make it entertaining enough for audiences to receive a message of triumph and positivity

in a blockbuster action film. In the movie “Bright” by David Ayer, Critics of the movie have said

that many of the scenes in the movie depicting racism discrimination and police brutality are not

a reflection of today's reality and they go as far as to say that it is over exaggerated. Seeing the

movie from a different perspective through the theoretical concepts of Marxism and critical race

theory, There are multiple examples of scenes depicting racist scenarios in which Orcs were

discriminated against and classism showed its true form, the person will already be born and set

to have a life less than or different than the races above another person in a social and economic

status. The movie “Bright” is a great fictional world that reflects our reality but with a Twist that

makes it entertaining to watch but while also still receiving the message that our society as a

whole can do better, and we can do better by using the theories of Marxism and critical race

theory to help us know what our problems are and ultimately one day eliminate racism and

bigotry from our reality forever, the brutal but bright reality in which we live.

Works Cited

Eagleton, Terry Tony Bruce, Marxism, and literary criticism. Eagleton, Routledge

Publication, July 13 2002, 4 park square, United Kingdom.


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The Book revolves around Marxism in the way to use in Europe and how there are many

positive and negative aspects of Marxism being applied to society. the information gathered from

this Buck was helpful to be able to further understand how this caters towards a wider

demographic of society.

Lois, Tyson, Critical Theory Today A user friendly guide, Third Edition, October 10,

2014, Grand Valley State University.

Tommy Curry, Critical Race Theory, Encyclopedia Brittanica, Jun 9, 2016, Texas A&M

University.