The question that lies at the basis of this chapter is whether the events that took place on 11 September and beyond have affected - and if so, how - dystopian science fiction (sf). In order to begin to answer this question I am going to analyse, in particular, two films in which the atmosphere of 9/11 is pervasive: Steven Spielberg's 2005 adaptation of H. G. Wells's War of the Worlds (1897) and John Hillcoat's 2009 adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road (2006). I chose these films because they have both been linked to the post-9/11 cultural climate and because I find them representative of "quality" sf cinema. Both films portray a post-apocalyptic world, and center around characters involved in quests for self-survival and for rescuing loved ones. According to Clute and Nicholls, the aftermath of the holocaust may be the most popular theme in sf. However, my point is not to prove that there has been an increase in the number of post-apocalyptic films since 2001, nor that the genre has been radically transformed. Rather, it seems that the post-apocalyptic (sub-)genre is one of the ways through which the 9/11 atmosphere can be successfully conveyed - a climate characterised, as cultural critic Susan Faludi has said, by a return to a 50s-era culture of traditional binaries of masculine strength and feminine weakness. The early response to the anxiety produced by 9/11 was one of a conservative retreat to the mid-1950s culture where Father Knew Best, with a marketed resurgence in a gendered rhetoric of protective paternalism. This holds true even in the genre of sf, a genre characterised by a great radical, utopian potential.

Feminine Weakness and Restored Masculinity in Post-9/11 Science Fiction Cinema

Raffaella Baccolini
2018

Abstract

The question that lies at the basis of this chapter is whether the events that took place on 11 September and beyond have affected - and if so, how - dystopian science fiction (sf). In order to begin to answer this question I am going to analyse, in particular, two films in which the atmosphere of 9/11 is pervasive: Steven Spielberg's 2005 adaptation of H. G. Wells's War of the Worlds (1897) and John Hillcoat's 2009 adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road (2006). I chose these films because they have both been linked to the post-9/11 cultural climate and because I find them representative of "quality" sf cinema. Both films portray a post-apocalyptic world, and center around characters involved in quests for self-survival and for rescuing loved ones. According to Clute and Nicholls, the aftermath of the holocaust may be the most popular theme in sf. However, my point is not to prove that there has been an increase in the number of post-apocalyptic films since 2001, nor that the genre has been radically transformed. Rather, it seems that the post-apocalyptic (sub-)genre is one of the ways through which the 9/11 atmosphere can be successfully conveyed - a climate characterised, as cultural critic Susan Faludi has said, by a return to a 50s-era culture of traditional binaries of masculine strength and feminine weakness. The early response to the anxiety produced by 9/11 was one of a conservative retreat to the mid-1950s culture where Father Knew Best, with a marketed resurgence in a gendered rhetoric of protective paternalism. This holds true even in the genre of sf, a genre characterised by a great radical, utopian potential.
Utopia in the Present: Cultural Politics and Change
175
192
Raffaella, Baccolini
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
pdf24_merged(6).pdf

accesso riservato

Tipo: Versione (PDF) editoriale
Licenza: Licenza per accesso riservato
Dimensione 247.78 kB
Formato Adobe PDF
247.78 kB Adobe PDF   Visualizza/Apri   Contatta l'autore

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/634106
 Attenzione

Attenzione! I dati visualizzati non sono stati sottoposti a validazione da parte dell'ateneo

Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 0
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact