Skip to Content

Andrew Westley

Identity

When discussing socialism with someone who has had little interest in politics we invariably find ourselves confronting their "identity". This is because we all identify, sometimes unintentionally, with certain ideas and values. We may not be aware that we do until we attempt to articulate them in response to another idea asserted by someone else. At a basic emotional level we might take an ideological position because we feel that our status is being threatened by the other personality that confronts us.

The concept we have of our social status is one of the most emotionally-charged elements that constitutes our identity. It also aligns us politically with the values of a class or a subdivision of a class or cultural group. Other components such as gender, age, sexuality and "race" also play a part in defining identity but only through the lens of group ideology (ideas of masculinity and homosexuality are very different in "blue-collar" and "white-collar" communities).

Last Year's US Movies

Humanity has created a mostly "inhuman" society, and it is this condition itself that has become the subject of its art - we look at last year's US movies

Traditionally American narrative cinema has concerned itself with a central character or group and telling a story from their lives. More interestingly, these characters and the landscapes within which they move are symbols of the cultural concerns of the people who make movies: screenwriters, directors, actors, cinematographers and their employers, the producers and financiers. The purpose of this review of the last year's films is to discover these concerns and define any shared cultural/political trends in the American movie industry.

Reality

There are at least two statements about reality that cannot be seriously disputed: that reality is an idea, and that it claims to be something more and something other than just an idea.

Reality is a concept that claims to transcend the world of ideas; it has an existence independent of consciousness. Given that most ideas make some claim to a relationship with the world we experience, why does this one exert such a seductive power on us despite its obvious paradoxical nature?

Alien America

Twentieth century American culture – the media context of my generation. Rock n' roll, jazz, blues, soul, hotrods, superheroes, fast food and, of course, Hollywood. Monsters, gangsters, westerns and science fiction; I have loved them all. That all of this was and is generated by the profit system which exploits us is only part of the story. To see our generation as purely the victims of a remorseless marketing campaign is to overlook the dialectical forces that lie beneath the empty glamour and desperate novelty of American culture. Human imagination itself is defined by its economic context and the capitalist context is rich in deep and unresolvable contradictions. Hollywood's fantasies are powerful examples of the need to both defend and celebrate its cultural values and also to escape from them.

Syndicate content