Waging a Living

In line with Van Doorn (142) argument that the crucial role of deservingness tends to advance the concern that certain groups deserve different treatment in the society, while others do not, the film “Waging a Living” depicts the living conditions among the poor working class. In this sense, waging a living is an intriguing documentary that follows up the lives of poor but hard-working Americans. Around four out of ten Americans work in low wage jobs. Thus, the title “Waging a Living.” An analysis of the reasons for earning a living in America is a christened ‘warfare’ is provided based on the four individuals in the documentary “waging a living.”


Survival for the fittest seems to be a mantra as people strive to arch out a living. The film documents the struggles, frustrations, and fights of four people in the quest to earn a living. For instance, Miss Brooks’s young son, out of the five children experiences health challenges. She visits a health center, and a care provider charges her $195 (Murray., n.p.). With regards to the various aspects of the film, the term “working poor” as echoed in the documentary is an oxymoron. Such connotation brings in the assumption that if one works on a full-time basis should not live in poverty. As depicted in the film, in more than 30 million Americans, one in every four workers do not benefit from employment. In this sense, the film represents the battles that four low-wedge earners who are doing everything possible to make work pay.

On the other hand, she works at a juvenile detention institution. Although her income increases to $450, government benefits eat into her salary. Miss Brooks claims that although she works hard, her efforts are futile because the system shoots her down. In other words, it is a tug of war between the system and the individual, and as usual, the system always wins. It is worth noting that Miss Brooks is the only character with a hopeful future, unlike the rest.

Immediately after divorcing her husband, Miss Venittelli’s woes start. She falls from the middle class into the fangs of poverty. Besides, she is a single mother of three children. When Mary enters the job market, she finds a waitress job and earns $2.13 per hour. Other responsibilities such as babysitting and basic requirements eat into her monthly income. She seeks financial help from friends. At the near end of the documentary, Mary finds a new man who shoulders some of her financial burdens. It is evident that Mary Venittelli war is between her needs and securing a financially stable future that would afford her a more humane life. Mary’s situations exemplify the uncertainty of life and the need to be independent financially despite present status.

Out of the four characters portrayed in the film, there is one male. Mr. Longoria has two children out of a previous marriage. It seems as if he would experience a challenge if he had full custody over his children. Mr, Longoria’s situation indeed points out to the fact that anyone can fall victim and there are no safety nets. For example, he belongs to a union, pays $530 as his monthly rent, but still earns $1.25 per hour (Murray n.p.). Hence, financial constraints can show up at anyone’s door.

Analysis and solutions

Captured within three years in California, waging a living is mainly an observational documentary that centers on the frustrations, dreams as well as the accomplishments individuals from diverse groups. In the film, these individuals from these various backgrounds seem to struggle from one paycheck to another. Through the presentation of the frank look at the challenges that the workers face daily, the audience learns how these workers have a responsibility of overcoming these challenges to fend for their families. In this seems, the film offers a unique perspective of the subtle American dream.

In my perspective, all the above characters stay within the society’s guidelines but do not benefit financially at the end. The documentary paints a bleak picture of victims who work hard, adhere to the rules, but cannot support their own families. Although people take for granted security guards and other low wage jobs, the lives of the people that facilitate the duties are not accessible (Ma and Michael, 41). Furthermore, the characters have one thing in common, their income does not match their needs and does not even meet it halfway.

The rate of unemployment can increase the probability of one landing a low-income job. The concern of low unemployment rate illustrates the way Mary and Mr. Longoria find themselves working low jobs. The vice versa is also true, low rate of unemployment decreases chances of landing into a low paying workplace. However, Examining the cognitive partitioning by occupation, Ma and Michael (41) noted that people in different jobs have different IQ. For instance, lawyers tend to have a high IQ than bus drivers. In this sense, it is worth noting that the reason many people could not be benefiting financially from their current employment is the fact that they might be centered on jobs that do not demand high IQ, hence the low rewards.

In summary, the documentary offers solutions regarding shifting location and moving into an affordable neighborhood. American society has a routine of placing the blame on laziness and other negative factors revolving around a person’s life. However, the film disapproves the notion and unveils poverty as a part of a system and a failing economy.

Work cited

Murray, Noel. “Waging A Living.” Film, 10 July 2005, film.avclub.com/waging-a-living-1798200880.

Ma, Christine, and Michael Schapira. The bell curve: Intelligence and class structure in American life. Macat Library, 2017. Retrieved from: http://b-ok.cc/dl/654854/334abc

Van Doorn, Bas W. “Pre‐and Post‐Welfare Reform Media Portrayals of Poverty in the United States: The Continuing Importance of Race and Ethnicity.” Politics & Policy 43.1 (2015): 142-162. Retrieved from: https://sci-hub.tw/https://doi.org/10.1111/polp.12107#

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