Popular movies can be surprisingly smart about politics - from the portentous politics of state or war, to the grassroots, everyday politics of family, romance, business, church and school. Politics in Popular Movies analyses the politics in many well-known films across four popular genres: horror, war, thriller and science fiction. The book's aims are to appreciate specific movies and their shared forms, to understand their political engagements and to provoke some insightful conversations. The means are loosely related 'film takes' that venture ambitious, playful and engaging arguments on political styles encouraged by recent films. Politics in Popular Movies shows how conspiracy films expose oppressive systems; it explores how various thrillers prefigured American experiences of 9/11 and shaped aspects of the War on Terror; how some horror films embrace new media, while others use ultra-violence to spur political action; it argues that a popular genre is emerging to examine non-linear politics of globalisation, terrorism and more. Finally it analyses the ways in which sci-fi movies reflect populist politics from the Occupy and Tea Party movements, rethink the political foundations of current societies and even remake our cultural images of the future.
Table of Contents
1. Film Takes: Rhetorical Appreciations of Popular Politics Part One: Popular Genres 2. Politics in Conventions: Conspiracy as a Cinematic Trope for System 3. Politics in Subtexts: Horror Movies as Facing Political Evils in Everyday Life 4. Politics in Innovations: Fractal Films as New Rhetorics for Nonlinear Politics Part Two: Political Experiences 5. Emotion and Empathy: From Sins and Pains to Bodies and Deeds in Horror Movies 6. Character and Community: From Contracts to Contacts in Science-Fiction Films 7. Atmosphere and Argument: From Vicarious to Virtual Experience in War Movies Part Three: Cinematic Terrors 8. Movies Prefigure Politics: How Thrillers Anticipated Terrorist Attacks on America 9. Movies Disfigure Politics: How Vampire Hunters Pursued the War on Terror 10. Movies Configure Politics: How Horror, Dystopia, Thriller, and Noir Shape Terrorism 11. Conclusion: Political Styles in Popular Movies
John S. Nelson does political theory and communication at The University of Iowa, where he has directed the Project on Rhetoric of Inquiry, the Bridging Project, and the Honors Program. He has edited Poroi, an electronic journal, plus university-press series from Chicago and Wisconsin. His books include Video Rhetorics (Illinois) and Tropes of Politics (Wisconsin).