Culture Wars

Barry Langford

in Post-Classical Hollywood

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780748638574
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671076 | DOI:
Culture Wars

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‘The imaginary relationship of individuals to lived historical reality’ was Marxist political philosopher Louis Althusser's description of ideology in general. It also seems apposite to the specific case of the politics of Hollywood cinema since the 1980s. Overall this was a period typified by a retreat from the kinds of critical — if often confused and ambivalent — engagement with social and political issues that characterised the Hollywood Renaissance of the late 1960s and 1970s. The notion of imaginary, or fantasy, resolutions to concrete problems and debates has a particular relevance to the upsurge of science fiction and fantasy cinema from Star Wars to the Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean trilogies. Phenomena such as the ‘triumph of representation’, the cultivation of style over substance, and the politics of the image raise the vexed question of Hollywood's relationship to postmodernism. This chapter discusses the political culture underlying Hollywood films in the United States during the 1980s, focusing on such genres as Vietnam films and action blockbusters.

Keywords: Hollywood; politics; cinema; science fiction; fantasy; Vietnam; action blockbusters; political culture; postmodernism; triumph of representation

Chapter.  10513 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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