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2 Frames Movies are cultural artefacts with specific political and social frames of reference. This chapter provides an overview of two frames we use to register and delineate the cultural politics of film. The first of these is conceptual, and turns on the idea that Hollywood movies both reflect and produce political myths. We introduce and define such myths, exploring how an expanding, globalising Hollywood is implicated in reiterating and generating fundamental political understandings. In addition, even though the main focus of our attention is contemporary

in The cultural politics of contemporary Hollywood film
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Socially critical movies

10 Against the grain? Socially critical movies In this book, we offer a broad understanding of the political, asserting that mass-cultural products like Hollywood film are necessarily political in one way or another. Our perspective, in this sense, is somewhat novel. As we argued in the Introduction to this book, the more usual approach is to consider as ‘political’ only those films overtly about politicians, current events, or politically controversial movies, and to consider them on an individual basis. Even where the domain of the political is extended to

in The cultural politics of contemporary Hollywood film
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The ‘metropole’ and peripheral ‘others’

12 The big picture: the ‘metropole’ and peripheral ‘others’ In this book we locate Hollywood films as a form of ‘political technology’ – a technology that generates and manipulates ideas, individual and collective identities, inter-relational bodies, and fictionalised flows by giving cinematic flesh to certain myths, characters, and narratives. Our intention is to challenge any attempt to cocoon culture from power and the political. We raise connections here to Joseph Nye’s (2004) focus on rendering state power attractive by the use of cultural forms at some

in The cultural politics of contemporary Hollywood film
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6 Fearsome monsters In this chapter, we explore zombie movies as a particular incarnation of the fearsome monster category for their cultural-political meanings, locations, and effects. Zombies are, for the most part, a cinematic invention whose history is folkloric rather than literary (Bishop, 2006). They are reanimated corpses, ‘the living dead’ or ‘the walking dead’, who spread their contagion and multiply their numbers by killing people and feeding on their victims’ flesh.1 Applying sociologist Ulrich Beck’s (2001) concept of ‘zombie categories’ to their

in The cultural politics of contemporary Hollywood film

13 Responses from ‘the margins’ While we have acknowledged that the past and continuing global dominance of Hollywood movies remains obvious and at present apparently inexorable, debate continues about whether this domination is, in essence, to be celebrated or condemned. Competing views about Hollywood are associated with questions regarding what effects arise from this domination. To examine and assess the cultural politics of American imperialism – that is, the socio-political effects of Hollywood’s cinematic dominance – it is necessary to consider debates

in The cultural politics of contemporary Hollywood film

11 Questioning the critical We have argued throughout this book that the scope of movies that can be considered ‘political’ is much broader than is often assumed. For us, all movies are political in one way or another. How, then, should we understand those films that are more ostensibly political or socially engaged? In this chapter we continue our examination of ‘socially critical’ films (as defined in chapter 10) to consider the extent to which they offer any challenge to dominant power relations with regard to nation, culture, class, gender, sexuality, race

in The cultural politics of contemporary Hollywood film
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8 Romance In the previous chapter, we explored some of the ways that gender politics informs Hollywood movies, attending to ‘chick flicks’ and romance films in particular. We argued that practices of exclusion and invisibility are produced by male domination, male-centredness, and male identification, and that these have politically salient effects. Women and girls are represented as caring about and taking pleasure in (almost exclusively heterosexual) romantic relationships, investing in the fairytale happy ending typified by the wedding, and by implication

in The cultural politics of contemporary Hollywood film

7 Gender and intimate relationships Our overriding purpose in this book is to mine the stories presented to us in Hollywood movies for their historically situated political myths and meanings. In the preceding chapters, we focused on the citizen–state relationship, exploring how political order and disorder are mythologised on screen. In the three chapters to follow, we turn our attention to how our identities and relationships with others are represented in Hollywood movies. Here we focus not so much on the citizen–state political myths of Hollywood but the

in The cultural politics of contemporary Hollywood film
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9 Bromance We have argued throughout this book that political myths run deeper than the most obvious government, military, and civic agendas. Political concepts and conventions shape and influence our deepest emotional connections: power relations inform our identities even in intimate relations of intense intersubjectivity, marking what is visible and representable from the invisible and unthinkable. In the preceding two chapters, we considered how gendered power relations and romantic relationships are represented in Hollywood movies. More specifically, in

in The cultural politics of contemporary Hollywood film
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5 Disorder and fear Fear, as both a motivation for and tactic of security, occupies an important place in cultural politics. Security can be understood positively as the struggle to generate or protect the social order, moral worth, and the citizenry, or negatively as struggling against or dealing with threats. Security films reiterate conceptions of order, virtue, authority, and safety on one hand, as against disorder, impropriety, social rifts, and danger on the other. In this chapter and the next, we turn to this second side of security films. When security

in The cultural politics of contemporary Hollywood film