In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Doan 69 Laura L. Doan 4'Sexy Greedy Is the Late Eighties": Power Systems in Amis's Money and Churchill's Serious Money Under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher, the Tory government of the 1980s has encouraged the rapid Americanization ofthe British economy by calling for a new attitude toward free enterprise and consumerism, and by inculcating an ethos of hard work. In order to urge Britain to become more economically competitive, the new Conservative ideology—decidedly at odds with the old establishment comprised of leisured public schooleducated English gentlemen—advances the premise that work and money should no longer be considered "dirty words." Two recent texts set in Thatcher's England, Martin Amis's novel Money (1984) and Caryl Churchill 's play Serious Money (1987), appear to challenge this new attitude toward money and to question the legitimacy ofan ideology founded upon the primacy of greed as a motivating factor. ' Discursive practices, as Terry Eagleton explains, "produce effects [and] shape forms of consciousness and unconsciousness, which are closely related to the maintenance or transformation of our existing systems of power" (210, emphasis added ). As a result, we would expect that, for the writer, the text would become the locus to enforce the dominant (patriarchal/capitalist) ideology, or, alternatively, to undermine that ideology. Amis and Churchill, though at variance with one another, demonstrate how, in the real economy and within the economy of the text, class and gender intersect to maintain or transform existing systems of power. In Money, Amis introduces a protagonist, John Self, whose chief aim in life is to secure nearly unimaginable quantities of money, a commodity that allows him to obtain everything else he desires: women, pornography, drink and, of course, more money. Amis scrutinizes the ideology of the economic system, but in doing so, he elides a sustained critique of the class system. In this "expose'" of capitalist greed, financial success remains an exclusively middle-class, male prerogative. In Serious Money Churchill, a feminist playwright, similarly examines the obsession with money on the floor of L.I.F.F.E. (an acronym for the London International Financial Futures Exchange), and depicts illicit and ruthless corporate takeover bids. In Churchill's representation of international finance since the Big Bang,2 men of all classes adhere to the Boesky credo ("Greed is all right. Greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself"); risk everything to retire by age thirty; and display an 70 the minnesota review inordinate interest in sex and drugs (245). However, because Churchill sees the economic system as a paradigm for all power structures, she extends her critique of Big Bang economics to include gender as well as class. Her women characters are not mere playthings for male sexual gratification but the equal of men, with the same privileged access to the most important source of power in the "New" England, money. Unlike Churchill , Amis's challenge to the corrupt value system sustaining Thatcherite economics exposes how the individual—a working-class male—can be easily victimized and lose control. Such a restricted focus hinders a critique of the gender system which is, instead, upheld and reified (i.e., maintained ). In Amis's novel, women's relationship to money must be mediated through men in the form of sexual favors. His resulting equation is thus: woman + money = object. We might then ask, would a feminist writer, with a commitment to transform an oppressive gender system, come up with a new and more complex equation? In other words, woman + money = what? On the surface, both Amis and Churchill seem to construct their plots around the weaving and unraveling of mysterious and labyrinthine scams. Narrator-protagonist John Self is the victim of an elaborate money conspiracy perpetrated by Fielding Goodney, a financier-cum-confidence man, involving regular surveillance of Self, innumerable anonymous telephone calls, and several actors posing as potential investors. Weakened by his dependence on sex and booze, Self walks straight into the trap set by Goodney, the very fellow Self believes he's soaking for millions of dollars. Self collaborates with Goodney, a self-described good capitalist and ''old money" American, because Goodney promises to secure financial backing for...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 69-80
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.