Summary: Disney's Pixar film, A Bug’s Life, follows the life of a young ant, Flik, who leads a rebellion against greedy grasshoppers that feed on food harvested by the ants. In this clip, Hopper, the head Grasshopper, berates one of his minions for suggesting that the grasshoppers give in to the demands of one ant. Hopper points out that one ant's actions may be miniscule in effect, but several ants acting in unified collective action can overthrow the entire system that allows the grasshoppers to live such a comfortable life of abundance. This clip can be used to stimulate discussion on several Marxian theories and concepts. For example, given that the grasshoppers rely on the surplus of the ants' labor to maintain their own way of life, it illustrates Marx's theory of exploitation. But as Hopper notes here, "those puny little ants outnumber us 100-to-1, and if they figure that out, there goes our way of life." So if the ants were to recognize their class interests in this system, thereby attaining class consciousness, they would be likely to organize and fight back against the exploitative grasshoppers. He further notes "it's not about food, it's about keeping those ants in line." Viewers may reflect on what Hopper means by this. Specifically, the grasshoppers cannot give in to one ant's demands and believe they are entitled to the food they harvested. They have to keep the ants from recognizing their right to the food, and therefore must maintain ideological control (i.e. belief in ideas that support the ruling class) over the oppressed ants. The film clip can also be used in illustrating social movements and inequalities in general because it provides a cogent example of collective agency and its possible relationship to individual resistance.
Submitted By: Chris Hardnack