Corina Schwingruber’s film All Inclusive documents the people on a cruise ship and how their lives transfer into a fantasy world. She speaks on Karl Marx, class systems and fame in America and Switzerland.
CS: I am expecting a baby today.
ATM: Wait, you are having a baby today?
CS: The date that the doctor said the baby would come was scheduled for today or tomorrow. But it still has not come. This is why I am relaxing and talking with you.
ATM: But what if you go into labor while we are talking? I am very concerned.
CS: The date was determined by the doctor. So, it can be today or in one more week. I am not in labor right now. First, they said it was the first of April, then they rescheduled everything and said it’s one week earlier. I hope that today we talked, or it would be very risky.
ATM: Umm, please do not go into labor while we are talking.
CS: (Laugh). I know. This is very risky.
ATM: As a native of Switzerland, express how your film reflects Switzerland society?
CS: It is not only Switzerland society, but the whole Western middle-class society. It is not something I would just connect with Switzerland, but all the people in the middle class. They have the money to travel. The trip cost is so cheap that everyone can afford it in the middle class. People want to have all-inclusive. They want to pay a certain amount of money and get entertainment. They want to get everything without too much thinking. A lot of people like this kind of holiday to not think too much about the organization.
ATM: How does a middle-class citizen look at life?
CS: They are all kind of like robots. They follow the cues and the hotspots of where to take a picture. It looks like animal transports when they go from the boat to the bus. They drive through the city. You are not an individual, but it is more like mass behavior. You sort of switch off the brain. This is what I observed.
ATM: From my perspective in America, some of the middle class is sort of woven into the lower class. Everyone seems to want more. They are never happy with what they have. They only realize they are happy when they lose the one thing; they took for granted. When some get near a person of the lower class, they start to feel appreciative, but only for a split second. It feels like there is a lower class and then a higher class. It does not feel like a middle class.
CS: Yes. For this cruise ship, it used to be always for the upper class. Now because of the prices and large boats more people can go. People who would like to be in the upper class find it is easier to do so. All the middle class can afford it. It is a mix on the boat. You have a low class who is working — the middle class who is using it. The upper-class people are more on the smaller cruise than on the big ones. They want to have more of their privacy. The boats make you feel important and classy. Even though it is trashy and a lot of mass production. The middle class is always trying to get to the upper class. This is why tourism offers these cruises.
ATM: It is never enough for them. This is different from one having ambition. A lot of theorists have made contributions to class systems. One is Karl Marx. His concept of false consciousness fits in line with this. Today the names of the social classes have changed not just America but in all facets of the world. I believe exploitation and mass production will never change. The cruise is trashy, but it gives a realistic fantasy of how people should live. But what happens when a person gets off the boat? You have sunk into this lifestyle. For some, it is their lifestyle. On the other hand, it is a dream and far from their reality.
CS: You can even book your next trip on the boat. You will get half of the price. Everyone who is not on the cruise ship tourism thinks it is expensive. It is getting so cheap for people to live in this dream. They see it is affordable and they do it repeatedly. First, it is a dream. Then it becomes normal and cool. You get addicted to it. You get all that you are looking for. You feel classy. They like to dress up during the evening, but it is the fantasy world. For me, it is hard to see why they put the ship on the sea. It is destroying nature.
Why can’t these people just go to a hotel complex? It is bad for pollution. This is like what you said before it is more special and has the history of the rich people. This is not understandable to me. You feel a part of it. The first day you look outside, and you are on this big ship. After a few hours, it does not matter anymore because everything you are interested in is on the boat. They could put the boat in the countryside without destroying the sea and making the pollution problem. This is strange because it is not about what is happening on the sea but what happens on this boat. The harbors are the same as on the boat. They are all owned by the same companies. This is very typically for our society to make these types of things.
ATM: I just had an epiphany. This is Karl Marx’s false consciousness idea at its finest. This means a person who has a way of thinking that is outside of their normal social class. These cruises give them thinking that is not of their true financial situation. Also, for them to be on the ship and already pay for the next trip with it being half off, this is an incentive for them to keep living in this fantasy. This is false consciousness.
CS: Yes, it is. It gives them a special feeling. I am always talking about them. I see myself in the middle class and as a part of this society. For myself, I like to have personal (individual) stuff. They seem to me so different. They are people who like to be in groups. It is like the animals in the herd. I do not need to have a leading group. But I am criticizing my own society which I am a part of. I am also taking part in the consumption world. With my film I tried to reflect on our whole society. Looking at this phenomenon I feel out of it in a way. But I feel bad always to say, “them and them.”
ATM: From my perspective of American society, some people who are not of the upper class try to mimic them. They try to be what they think the “upper class” is whereas people in the high class do not act how the lower-class act. In some subcultures and some black communities, they buy brands of clothing they cannot afford. Whereas, the rich people in America typically wear anything. So, you have the people who are in the low class spending their money like crazy more than the people in the high class. There is a disconnect of understanding. A lot of the times a real, genuine rich person will not fully display their bank accounts. Everyone seems to mimic, but this mimicking seems to be the wrong and misinformed stereotype.
CS: Yes, we have kind of the same thing. When seeing American movies, it seems to be much more visible. In Switzerland, of course, we have millionaires here, but the class systems are not so visible like in America. There are differences, but the “poor” are not so extremely poor and the rich don’t show off like in America. This is very global, but the extremist is more in America. We have it similar for sure. Switzerland is so much smaller.
ATM: Sometimes here people base their social and human connections on what you have in your bank account. If you do not tell them a number, then they move to how you dress. If you dress a certain way, then it is like “Oh you have money. Now I can talk to you.” If you dress in a way that does not reflect the stereotype of someone who has a lot of money in their bank account, then no one will associate with you of your preferred liking.
What did you assess about the women’s attitude on the cruise ship?
CS: It was shocking to see the model of a woman having to act this way and the man having to be this way. In the games, the women always had to be sexy. The men had to be the strong guy. It was very sexist in a way. The role model was quite clear.
ATM: What is considered “sexy?”
CS: Woah. In the movie, you see there was a miss election on the cruise ship. How can you attract the man? How can you dance? How can you walk sexy? They always have to dance around men to see who can attract the men. The sexiness is to show skin and get classically feminine. It is hard to say what is sexy. I have never thought about it. On the cruise ship, they would probably like women with short skirts and an array of thinking like direct prostitution. To me, those women are not sexy. I have a different view on it than other people.
ATM: When a woman shows some type of seduction this deems her sexy. This might be what starts the objectifying or the feeling she is just a sexual object. People do not typically call a woman sexy when she is covered up. It starts when she shows a little bit of skin and more. Other terms also begin to follow this.
CS: It is hard to say. It is equal here. I have less of the feeling of seeing too many over sexy wannabe women on the street than on the ship. The model of a woman and a man is clear in society on the ship. The women dress sexy in their evening clothes. The men dress in suits. There are gender games. There was a game where women are dressed men and men dressed as women. They had to play this game against each other. This game did not make it into the movie. The women threw their mustaches on the lips. The men had huge balloons under their shirt to have big boobies. They had skirts and fake hair. I was shocked by this kind of image. It was not funny at all but kind of sad, but for them, it was the biggest fun ever. You can see the reduction of sex.
ATM: Why did you find it sad or a reduction of sexuality?
CS: Because if you just put huge boobies, ugly lipstick, then it is such a reduction on the female sex. I also do not understand why women and men should play against each other. We are all human. On the ship, there was a game with married couples, and they must go out. The women would tell some secret about their love life. There is always a gender topic of “These being the men and women.” For me, this is over. Now, women can wear trousers. I had this strange feeling about how much of the games were in these constellations. They could not be two groups playing the games and not women against men. Why did they have to dress men stupidly as women?
The women for the men had the mustache and the cowboy hat. It is strange that we are not further than this in our society than this reduction. It is old school. I have no problem for a man dressing as a woman and a woman dressing as a man. But There would be no acceptance from these people on the street seeing a transgender or man dressed as a woman. If it is on the ship and in the game, then everything is okay. You are the hero. In real life, this does not have a place. People behave differently in this environment and normal life.
ATM: In your film, it is mocking how society should be. Most times people are mocking how society is not this or that.
CS: It is also because you are in a group. But if you were in your home or walking the street, then they would never do it. If you are in the group and it is organized entertainment, then you are in a safe place to show this. This works in general not only on the cruise ship. Alone you would feel ashamed.
ATM: What manners did men display while not in woman clothing and the woman clothing?
CS: They were the traditional role of a man. When they were men, they walked around drinking some beers. When dressed as women they had higher voices and behaved sloppily. They were overacting a woman. It was the gorilla-men who liked these roles. They were the typical men who protects the family and who is strong. Then suddenly they could be a funny woman.
ATM: When they were cross identifying, they understand the actual roles, or did it go over their heads?
CS: They were having fun. There was no reflection of it. If it were, then no one would do it. It is with the whole way of the holiday. If you reflect the whole environment and pollution, then you would not do it. This is the thing with the inclusive. You do not need to think about it. You do not need to think about needing 10 dollars for the next beer because it is inclusive. This is the idea of it. They just enjoy and have fun.
The first title of the movie was “The Cruise.” I figured this was a boring title. It was not only about the cruise but about the all-inclusive feeling. This was more important to show. The boat showed a great representation of it. I am working on a new movie. It is about “having been there”.” You want to be a part of the people who visited all the important touristic places. It only matters that you visited the place and took a picture.
ATM: It is the idea of feeling wanted. In society, they treat people in the low class as if they are scum on the bottom of someone’s shoe. Also, sometimes it is like, “If you are not in my social class, then why should I help or why should I care about your life in this way.” You see the competition between the social classes. This experience on the cruise makes them feel like one. It is the envision of how life should be. If you want to be a male dressed as a female, then you can be this and the other way around for a woman wanting to dress or live like a male. Freedom is what these people are given and experiencing. If you want to burp crazily, then do it. No judgment and no limits. You receive the validation and the freedom of expressing.
CS: Yes. You do feel free. The feeling they offer is like you are in the whole mass. They treat you like a commercial of this holiday. They tell you-you are this special person even though there are eight thousand of them. People feel special based on how they do it. They are all equally special, but they are not because it is a huge mass of people. This is how it is successful. It is a mix of it being a fake world.
ATM: In relation to this, within the last 50 years or so in America, the idea of fame has taken over a lot of young or older people’s minds. More so young people. Fifty years ago, people were more concerned with surviving then becoming famous. If you ask any young person today in America or anywhere, then they would say something along the lines of wanting to be famous.
CS: Here it is much less than in America. You have the whole Hollywood world and the thing where fame means something. Here, Switzerland is a small country. You will get famous fast. We do not have one president. We have seven presidents. It is all the basic democratic thing. Our presidents go to work by train. We do not have idols and reach after them. “I want to be like this superstar.” We do not have real superstars. It is different. With all this influencer stuff and so on, there are some young people who want to be famous. But We are not the dream factory like America. This might change with the Instagram, YouTube famous people and people like the Kardashians. We know all about this. I never thought about it this much. Here, if you reach something, it does not mean you are very much different than the other person.
ATM: Honestly, to me, fame does not exist. A career is a career, and a job is a job. One might have a little more attention and require passion, but it is a job or career. Some people would disagree with me. When I tell this to people outside of the entertainment industry, they look at me like “But it does exist.” Fame here is like a hungry and obsessive thing. I know people who would change their lives for it. No one should work toward being famous. You cannot touch fame. You cannot smell fame. You cannot hug fame. Fame has taken over our culture. It is an idolization or dreamy factor in America. There is a way to respect what someone does without paparazzi, stalking, and people sneaking into houses.
This might have spiked because some of the media focus on their daily lives. What toothbrush did they use today? Who did they have sex with last night? Who are they dating? Their passion for what they do is never actually focused on. Personally, your sex and dating life are strictly your business. I mean human nature you want to know more. But 60 or even 70 years ago this was not the case. The progression of it is intriguing.
CS: I see this. Swiss people are very modest. When talking to Americans, the culture is different. There is this greatness and with the promotion in America. Swiss people are like, “I am not so good like you think I am.” The word is modesty. We have a few famous people in Switzerland. They can be your neighbors. It is not something unreachable. Of course, there are millionaires on a completely different planet. The biggest singer here would live somewhere, but his children would go to a normal school. The dream is not so far away from your life here. This is the dream factor with America.
I gave lots of interviews because my film was successful in Switzerland. They always tell me, “The next step is the Oscars.” Now we are likable eligible for the Oscars because we won some awards at the festivals. They are like, “Now, you are going to be famous.” For me, this is not my point of making films. This is not something I want to reach. It is a good side effect if it works. It is not something I work toward since making films. A lot of people are like this. I agree with you, and I am like you, this word fame does not exist. It is going up and down. This time I made a film, and it worked. I start from the bottom when making the next film.
ATM: One of the reasons fame might have been invented was to describe what is happening in Hollywood or the entertainment culture in America. This was the nonentertainment people definition or label on this life because they did not know what to call it exactly. Some people in entertainment do not even consider themselves famous. Some do not even know who made their Wikipedia. Some had to Google the word to see if it even fit them. There are these types of big misconceptions and stereotypes.
CS: This is true. It was made to entertain the rest of the people.
ATM: Wait, are you having a boy or a girl?
CS: A girl. But it doesn’t really matter, does it 😉