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Cinema Wars: Hollywood Film and Politics in the Bush-Cheney Era

ISBN: 978-1-4051-9824-0
296 pages
December 2009, Wiley-Blackwell
Cinema Wars: Hollywood Film and Politics in the Bush-Cheney Era (1405198249) cover image
Cinema Wars explores the intersection of film, politics, and US culture and society through a bold critical analysis of the films, TV shows, and documentaries produced in the early 2000s

  • Offers a thought-provoking depiction of Hollywood film as a contested terrain between conservative and liberal forces
  • Films and documentaries discussed include: Black Hawk Down, The Dark Knight, Star Wars, Syriana, WALL-E, Fahrenheit 9/11 and other Michael Moore documentaries, amongst others
  • Explores how some films in this era supported the Bush-Cheney regime, while others criticized the administration, openly or otherwise
  • Investigates Hollywood’s treatment of a range of hot topics, from terrorism and environmental crisis to the Iraq war and the culture wars of the 2000s
  • Shows how Hollywood film in the 2000s brought to life a vibrant array of social protest and helped create cultural conditions to elect Barack Obama
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Acknowledgments vii

List of Plates ix

Introduction: Film, Politics, and Society 1

Hollywood Film as a Contested Terrain 2

Cinema, Politics, and Social History: From Cinematic Realism to Allegory 13

Hollywood Film and the Contemporary Moment: Signs of the Times 18

Reading Film Diagnostically: Imagining Obama 34

In This Book 40

1 Confronting the Horrors of the Bush-Cheney Era: From Documentary to Allegory 51

The Golden Age of Documentary 52

Real Disaster Films: From An Inconvenient Truth and Environmental Documentaries to Animated Allegories 71

Allegories of Catastrophe: Social Apocalypse in Disaster, Horror, and Fantasy Films 80

2 Hollywood’s 9/11 and Spectacles of Terror 98

9/11 as Disaster Film and Spectacle of Terror 99

Representations of 9/11 in Hollywood Film: United 93

and World Trade Center 101

Disney Television Republican Propaganda:The Path to 9/11 108

Hollywood's Terror War 118

3 Michael Moore's Provocations 132

Michael Moore, Emile de Antonio, and the Politics of Documentary Film 133

Roger and Me and the Documentary of Personal Witnessing 136

Bowling For Columbine and Exploratory Documentary Montage 140

Fahrenheit 9/11 and Partisan Interventionist Cinema 146

Sicko and the Michael Moore Genre 155

4 Hollywood Political Critiques of the Bush-Cheney Regime: From Thrillers to Fantasy and Satire 163

The Hollywood Political Thriller Against the Bush-Cheney Regime 165

Star Wars Prequels as Anti-Bush-Cheney Allegory 173

From Satire to Dystopia 183

5 The Cinematic Iraq War 199

Documenting Iraq 200

Interpreting the Iraq Fiasco 208

Iraq and Its Aftermath in Fiction Films 219

Conclusion: Hollywood Cinema Wars in the 2000s 239

Critical Representations 240

History Lessons 250

Final Reflections 258

References 262

Index 269

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Douglas Kellner is George Kneller Chair of Philosophy of Education at UCLA. He is the author of many books on social theory, politics, history, and culture, including Camera Politica: The Politics and Ideology of Contemporary Hollywood Film, co-authored with Michael Ryan, and Media Spectacle and the Crisis of Democracy. He is the co-editor of Media and Cultural Studies Keyworks (Wiley-Blackwell 2006). Kellner's most recent book is Guys and Guns Amok: Domestic Terrorism and School Shootings from the Oklahoma City Bombings to the Virginia Tech Massacre. His website is at www.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kellner/kellner.html.
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  • Offers a thought-provoking depiction of Hollywood film as a contested terrain between conservative and liberal forces
  • Films and documentaries discussed include: Black Hawk Down, The Dark Knight, Star Wars, Syriana, WALL-E, Fahrenheit 9/11 and other Michael Moore documentaries, and many more.
  • Explores how some films in this era were supportive of the Bush-Cheney regime, while others criticized the administration, openly or otherwise
  • Investigates Hollywood’s treatment of a range of hot topics, from terrorism and environmental crisis to the Iraq war and the culture wars of the 2000s.
  • Shows how Hollywood film in the 2000s brought to life a vibrant array of social protest and helped create cultural conditions to elect Barack Obama
See More
"Notwithstanding the lack of surprise, Kellner is always challenging and provocative, and for that reason alone, Cinema Wars is worth reading." (Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 1 June 2011)

"This volume will be a valuable source ... .The provocative political stances taken and wide range of films discussed here will stimulate debate for academics and students alike." (Times Higher Education, February 2010)

"By far the best work yet on Hollywood cinema and American politics in the post-9/11 era. In the tradition of Camera Politica, Doug Kellner provides a bold and insightful assessment of a wide array of recent films, from documentaries and disaster spectacles to Iraq War films and low-budget horror. In the process, he fashions a remarkably comprehensive critique of American film and ideology in the new millennium."
Thomas Schatz, University of Texas at Austin

"Professor Douglas Kellner has produced a masterful account of contemporary film culture in the United States, skillfully connecting it to major political issues, events, and developments of our period. This volume is absolutely indispensable reading for anyone interested in the central dynamics of American cinematic history and politics."
Carl Boggs, author of Imperial Delusions and The Hollywood War Machine

"Cinema Wars spurs an important discussion about the political issues that are raised by contemporary, mainstream films. Kellner’s book is a fascinating read and gives us a framework for lively classroom discussion."
Janet Bergstrom, Cinema and Media Studies, UCLA

"Doug Kellner is our leading analyst of politics and the media. Cinema Wars, the latest book in this prolific scholar’s remarkable output, sheds light on the dreamworld of fiction and the reality of documentary. As the United States lurched from the disastrous arrogance of the Bush years to the troubled aftermath of the Great Recession, film referenced each unsteady step. Kellner was there, and he explains it all for us."
Toby Miller, editor of The Contemporary Hollywood Reader

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