Spoilers Alert! This past weekend I went to see “Widows” directed by the critically acclaimed Steve McQueen. The general plot consisted of the widows of high caliber criminals organizing their own crime in order to repay the debts left behind by their husbands, as well as regain the financial stability they once lived with as their wives. Many themes can be derived from the plot of this movie, but I would like to specifically focus on the concept of meritocracy in order to analyze the film. As we have learned in our course, meritocracy refers to the idea of everyone in society having the chance to succeed on their own merits regardless of background. While the three widows of the plot have a higher likelihood of succeeding given their prior affiliations, the community that they live in does not have the same chances of succeeding in society. A sub plot of the film is about the race for governor between a lower level, locally renown drug pin. He is competing against a governor who fits the role more typically and has the family legacy as his dad was the former governor of the ward. Throughout the film, each party is lobbying different communities within the ward such as the church community, and it quickly becomes evident that the idea of meritocracy is being pitched in order to make each candidate more appealing to the public in question.
The governor who is following in his father’s footsteps wanted to seem as if he was giving opportunities to lower income members, and in one of his campaign speeches he invited several African American women to the stage. He boasted about the opportunities that he gave these women to start their own businesses which created more money within the community. This pitch during his campaign seems a little off tune, but also it appeals to people who wanted to see change before they elect anyone as the governor of their ward. The film later reveals the reality of the situation. The women who this governor brought onto stage were given the chance to start their own business, but of course it came at a price. The loans that these women accepted acquired large debts that they were often threatened about by the governor’s security. Debts that even with a successful business would be difficult for anyone to pay off fully. At the end of the day, the governor knew that these members of the community did not have the willpower to fight back if they were being harassed about their debts. To him, it most likely seemed like a low risk factor that would hopefully win over some votes and propel him to a victorious finish. Ending nepotism in business and government would of course be ideal, but it was evident that this governor in particular had the power of his father’s former political endeavors. I think that this movie represented some of the ways that communities can be taken advantage of in lieu of being presented with favorable circumstances.