The 'War on Terror' metaframe in film and television

Buckle, Christopher (2011) The 'War on Terror' metaframe in film and television. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, the government of the United States of America declared a ‘War on Terror’. This was targeted not only at the ostensible culprits – al-Qaeda - but at ‘terror’ itself. The ‘War on Terror’ acted as a rhetorical ‘metaframe’, which was sufficiently flexible to incorporate a broad array of nominally-related policies, events, phenomena and declarations, from the Iraq war to issues of immigration. The War on Terror is strategically limitless, and therefore incorporates not only actual wars, but potential wars. For example, the bellicose rhetoric towards those countries labelled the ‘Axis of Evil’ or ‘Outposts of Tyranny’ is as much a manifestation of the metaframe as the ‘Shock and Awe’ bombing of Baghdad. As a rhetorical frame, it is created through all of its utterances; its narrative may have been initially scripted by the Bush administration, but it is reified and naturalised by the news media and other commentators, who adopt the frame’s language even when critical of its content. Moreover, film and television texts participate in this process, with fiction-based War on Terror narratives sharing and supporting – co-constituting – the War on Terror discourse’s ‘reality’.

This thesis argues that the War on Terror metaframe manifests itself in multiple interconnected narrative forms, and these forms both transcode and affect its politics. I propose a congruency between the frame’s expansiveness and its associational interconnections, and a corresponding cinematic plot-structure I term the Global Network Narrative. Elsewhere, an emphasis on the pressures of clock-time is evoked by the real-time sequential-series 24, while the authenticity and authority implied by the embedded ‘witness’ is shown to be codified and performed in multiple film and television fiction texts. Throughout, additional contextual influences – social, historical, and technological – are introduced where appropriate, so as not to adopt the metaframe’s claims of limitlessness and uniqueness, while efforts are made to address film and television not as mutually exclusive areas of study, but as suggestively responsive to one another.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: war on terror, film, television, 9/11, metaframe, narrative, networks
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Supervisor's Name: Eleftheriotis, Dr. Dimitris
Date of Award: 2011
Depositing User: Dr Christopher Buckle
Unique ID: glathesis:2011-3014
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2011
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 14:02

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