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Chris Beasley and Heather Brook

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
Chris Beasley and Heather Brook

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
Rape and Marriage in Go Tell It on the Mountain
Porter Nenon

To consider how James Baldwin resisted racialized notions of sexuality in his first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, I employ a number of black feminist critics—including Saidiya Hartman, Patricia Williams, Hortense Spillers, and Patricia Hill Collins—to analyze three under-studied minor characters: Deborah, Esther, and Richard. Those three characters are best understood as figures of heterosexual nonconformity who articulate sophisticated and important critiques of rape and marriage in America at the turn of the twentieth century. Baldwin thus wrote subversive theories of race and sexuality into the margins of the novel, making its style inextricable from its politics. Baldwin’s use of marginal voices was a deft and intentional artistic choice that was emancipatory for his characters and that remains enduringly relevant to American sexual politics. In this particularly polarizing transition from the Obama era to the Donald J. Trump presidency, I revisit Baldwin’s ability to subtly translate political ideas across fault lines like race, nationality, and sex.

James Baldwin Review
Chris Beasley and Heather Brook

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
Abstract only
Chris Beasley and Heather Brook

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
Chris Beasley and Heather Brook

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
Abstract only
Chris Beasley and Heather Brook

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
Abstract only
Chris Beasley and Heather Brook

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
Abstract only
Chris Beasley and Heather Brook

/it, and threats to the social polity are found in a much more diverse range of genres. In this chapter, our attention rests on films in the former category. Representations of security-as-order can be identified in films from the genres of war, political leadership, combat, spy, cop, and action movies, along with some fantasy and science fiction films. Nevertheless, only the first two – films about war and political leadership – are typically and almost inevitably immersed in the reiteration of security mythology. The most obvious location for political myths relating

in The cultural politics of contemporary Hollywood film
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Averageness, Populism and Seriality in Robert Benchley‘s How to Short Subjects
Rob King

Over the course of the 1930s, the comic persona of Algonquin humorist Robert Benchley changed from that of a sophisticated humorist to an average man. This article situates Benchley‘s How to short subjects for MGM (1935–44) within a broader public preoccupation with averageness that characterised the populist political rhetoric of New Deal-era America. In particular, it explores the function of seriality as a discursive trope conjoining the format of Benchley‘s MGM shorts to the broader construction of average identities in the eras political culture.

Film Studies