Lennart Soberon1
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  • 1 Ghent University
Reaganite America and Its Mnemonic Menaces
A Thematic Analysis of Collective Trauma and Enemy Image Construction in the 1980s American Action Film
in Film Studies
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During the 1980s the spectre of the Vietnam War haunted the sites of cinema and popular culture in various forms. Whereas a rich body of scholarly research exists on cinematic iterations of the Vietnam war as trauma, the discursive dynamics between memory, ideology and genre in relation to enemy image construction are somewhat underdeveloped. This article utilises genre studies, conflict studies and trauma theory in analysing how the representations of film villains interact with the construction of cultural trauma and national identity. Considering the American action thriller to be an important site for processes of commemoration and memorialisation, the discursive construction and formal articulation of national trauma are theorised within the genre. Additionally, a thematic and textual analysis was conducted of a sample of forty American action thriller films. The analysis illustrates how the genre operates through a structure of violent traumatisation and heroic vindication, offering a logic built on the necessity and legitimacy of revenge against a series of enemy-others.

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