New Cold War sequals and remakes
page 2

from Jump Cut, no. 35, April 1990, pp. 85-96
copyright Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, 1990, 2006


1. Britton's pessimistic view of contemporary popular films is typical of much Marxist postmodernist criticism where the high modernist novel or the classic Hollywood film are taken as models and norms. See, for example, Jameson.

Recently, of course, critics of postmodern mass media have begun to recognize that individual audience members and subgroups within film audiences can and do resist dominant ideological messages, even while consuming and/or enjoying them. See, for example, Collins and essays in Modleski, ed..

2. Noam Chomsky gives a more detailed description of the New Cold War's many manifestations and consequences today.

3. Faulkner perceptively argues, however, that while BOUDU is a film about class difference, it is not a film about class conflict. He categorizes the film's humor as, in Roland Barthes' terms, "inoculative" rather than subversive, maintaining that Renoir never identifies or accuses the economic structures on which bourgeois cultural hegemony rest.

4. For an analysis of sexuality, class and feminism in an earlier Disney film, see my article on THE NORTH AVENUE IRREGULARS (dir. Bilson, 1979).

5. In ending with the tramp's successful conversion to a bourgeois, Mazursky's film is far more faithful to the original play by Rene Fauchois than Renoir's BOUDU. See Sesonske, Faulkner for discussions of the shifts between Renoir's film and Fauchois' play.

6. The banality and gentility of Mazursky's critique of the dominant organization of gender, sexuality and class become obvious when compared with John Water's acerbic send up of Baltimore's lower middle classes in POLYESTER (1979).

7. See Robin Woods' article, "Ideology, Genre, Auteur," for a list of values and assumptions of U.S. capitalist ideology which pervade classic Hollywood film. More specifically, DOWN AND OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS participates in what Chuck Kleinhans calls "the sophisticated or ironic success myth in which the price of material success is shown to be spiritual and social emptiness. We could call this the bourgeois failure myth, or the sour-grapes version of the naive success myth."

 8. Stallone's reliance on New Cold War ideology is especially blatant in RAMBO III. Set in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, RAMBO III bombed at the box office, in good part because it was released shortly after the Soviets announced they were withdrawing troops and ultimately pulling out of the country.

9. In contrast, few audience members of DOWN AND OUT realize it is based on an earlier French film. Jameson stated (1984) that remakes as remakes provide us with a kind of "pseudo-historical depth" as "the history of aesthetic styles displaces real history." This needs nuancing in the case of DOWN AND OUT. Any connotation of "pasmess" predicated on intertextuality is on the whole lost on the viewing public because the original is an older, foreign, film.

10. Indeed, in a People magazine interview (Jerome), Stallone speaks of Drago in the way that Europeans, Third World peoples and even many U.S. citizens would speak of the United States: "Drago represents technology, big business, machines, and international politics."

11. Britton maintains that predictability is the main source of pleasure in 80s films. While this may be true of the ROCKY films and other blatantly New Cold War films, he fails to account for the widespread distribution and popular success of films which are considerably more ideologically volatile, like Susan Seidelman's DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN (1984).

12. Barbara Creed's article, "Horror and the Monstrous Feminine," (1986) is typical of the tendency in feminist criticism to focus on gender and sexuality at the expense of race and imperialism. Creed reads ALIEN against Kristeva's theories of abjection. She argues that ALIEN in particular and horror films in general inscribe both an archaic mother (here: the womb/the black hole) and a phallic mother (here: the aliens). Her analysis is fruitful but limited to analyzing "a complex representation of the monstrous-feminine in terms of the maternal figure as perceived within a patriarchal ideology."

13. As Jim Naureckas notes in his review of the film, the reference to Carter is significant: "[Burke's] unusual first name may be taken as a swipe at detente — he wants to profit from the Aliens, not destroy them." See also Ernest Larsen in a similar discussion of the corporation's control over the first ALIEN spaceship crew.

14. Hicks is in fact the only man to survive, albeit thanks to Ripley and blinded in one eye (castrated).

15. An example is Margaret Atwood's depiction of ruling class women in the feminist dystopia, The Handmaid's Tale.

16. Few reviewers except Naurecas acknowledge ALIENS' appeals to a male fear of women, preferring to concentrate on Ripley's feminism. For the original psychoanalytic analysis, see Karen Horney.

17. The same fear of sexually transmitted diseases appears in WITCHES OF EASTWICK (Miller: 1987) where for the first time a heroine suffers from herpes.

18. Kleinhans concludes "Working Class Heroes" with a similar observation: "When we talk about film audience we always mean an aggregate of various audiences, which can be described by distinguishing their nationality, language, sex, class, race, religion, age, occupation or political views. In other words, there is never a homogeneous audience for a Hollywood film."

John Fiske argues that audience identification with elements of popular TV shows occurs not between the individual viewer and one or more of the characters, but at the level of the discursive structures of the TV text. Such an understanding of identification "recognizes that [the] play of similarity and difference along the axes of nation, race, class, gender, power, work, etc. [in the text] fits with the disursive structure of the reading subject."


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