The disturbing feature of many accounts, including those in the media, which explain post-Cold War conflicts in terms of genocide is that the quest for moral simplicity involves distortion. Many critics have suggested that a new model of 'ethnic' or 'tribal' conflict became dominant in the 1990s, a model which offered misleading explanations of why conflict had broken out in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and which apparently justified inaction rather than intervention. At least as far as the 'ethical' interventions of the 1990s are concerned, journalists were active collaborators in writing the script rather than simply colluding with the presentation offered by official sources. The legitimacy of Western military intervention was almost never questioned in the press. In this respect, whatever explanations were adopted in relation to particular conflicts, the key organising idea was that of sovereign inequality.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book considers memory as a specific framework for the study of popular film, intervening in growing debates about the status and function of memory in cultural life and discourse. It examines the relationship between official and popular history and the constitution of memory narratives in and around the production and consumption of American cinema. The book explores the political stakes of cinematic discourse in its production of national memory. It also examines the discursive and institutional apparatus that has come to support the memory of Classic Hollywood in British cultural life. The book also considers both the presence of music and colour in nostalgia films of the 1990s and the impact of digital and video technologies on the representational determinants of mediated memory.