Neoliberalism with a human face? Critical perspectives on Hollywood science fiction

Trinder, Stephen (2018) Neoliberalism with a human face? Critical perspectives on Hollywood science fiction. Doctoral thesis, Anglia Ruskin University.

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Abstract

This paper explores the contemporary portrayal of US neoliberalism in Hollywood science fiction cinema to investigate in how far and in which form it addresses an increasing loss of confidence in the system. Analysing James Cameron’s Avatar (2009), Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 (2009) and Elysium (2013), Len Wiseman’s Total Recall (2012) and the Wachowskis’ and Tykwer’s Cloud Atlas (2012) as prime examples of movies that encapsulate science fiction’s continued focus on neoliberal stakeholders, this thesis examines motifs in each feature film vis-à-vis their relationship to evidence of discernible self-doubt in the idea that US-led neoliberalism is superior. By combining critical discourse (Foucault 1966, 1969, 1978, 1980) with literary analyses of postcolonial (Said 1978, Shohat and Stam 1994, Hardt and Negri 2000, Kapur and Wagner 2013) and cinematic (Cornea 2007, Geraghty 2009, Ryan and Lenos 2012) works, this investigation explores these films as cases that may genuinely destabilise neoliberalism. Each of the five selected films demonstrate a certain unease with the notion that neoliberalism can achieve global stability to varying degrees – suggesting a re-evaluation of the parameters of US neoliberal identity. However, while neoliberal failings are considered in these hugely successful sci-fi films, each example simultaneously endorses key aspects of (neo)colonialism and neoliberalism. There remains a general propensity to promote US neoliberal values of individualism and rationality as superior contrary to stereotypical portrayals of the Other as feminine, irrational and inferior.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Keywords: neoliberalism, discourse, postcolonialism, Hollywood cinema, Hollywood science fiction
Faculty: Theses from Anglia Ruskin University
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2018 16:23
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2019 15:46
URI: http://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/703823

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