Summary: In this short clip from the film The Devil Wears Prada (2006), Meryl Streep plays Miranda Priestly, the editor-in-chief of a top fashion magazine. Anne Hathaway plays Andy Sachs, an aspiring journalist, who has recently started as a junior personal assistant to Miranda. While it’s a job many would kill for, Andy sees it as a stepping-stone and understands fashion as a largely superficial institution—one completely disconnected from her life and how she understands herself. I often use cultural trends surrounding baby names to explain to students how their names are a reflection of cultural trends. It’s a great way to introduce sociological thinking to students. This clip could be shown alongside such a discussion to help students think about what they wear in similar ways, getting them to think about the cultural influences at play in helping them make decisions about what to wear (and perhaps just as important, what not to wear). Miranda’s great critique of Andy’s subtle scoff in this scene is of Andy’s belief she is somehow “outside” of fashion—a belief Miranda finds laughably naïve. While we might think of clothing (as we do with the selection of baby names) as an intensely personal decision, Miranda helps to frame everyone’s fashion choices—even those who might not feel they are making “choices”—as, at least in part, guided by the cultures in which we live and the institutions that produced the clothing available. The clip could also foster a class discussion about globalization by thinking about production and dissemination processes within the fashion industry.
Submitted By: Tristan Bridges