American cinema after 9/11

Lynchehaun, Ross (2013) American cinema after 9/11. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The terrorist attacks in the United States of September 11, 2001, were unprecedented in the modern era, and they heralded a new era in politics as the Bush Administration pursued rigorous security policies at home and staged military operations in Afghanistan, and subsequently Iraq. Witness testimonies, and newspaper articles in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, revealed that many of those watching coverage of the attacks on television temporarily mistook the reporting for a Hollywood block-buster, an indication that there was some kind of relationship between 9/11 and Hollywood film-making. This thesis contends that films produced in 9/11’s wake were influenced by the attacks and the response that followed, particularly as they demonstrate either an endorsement or challenge to the Bush Administration, and thus can be interpreted politically.

This thesis makes specific reference to a number of key issues that demonstrate how Hollywood dealt with 9/11. Firstly, the industry found itself unsure what films were suitable for release in the new context of victimhood; it co-operated with government officials to help in the post-9/11 effort, while many individuals responded to the emergency with fund-raising and other activities. The issue of how Hollywood narrativised the emotional and psychological consequences of the attacks is also addressed with particular focus on how film can act as a memorial.
A key feature of both post-9/11 culture and cinema is a fresh apprehension of the real. In this thesis, the issue of ‘the real’ is studied in two distinct areas: realist aesthetics in fiction film, and how the choice of a particular realism has a particular ideological significance; and the growth of the documentary feature film.

If Hollywood’s attention to realist aesthetics meets a certain need for facts and knowledge in a period of crisis, then the desire to ‘understand’ is also addressed by genre’s treatment of American myth. In the case of post-9/11, focus on the Western demonstrates how the issues of ‘strong’ masculinity and ‘Otherness’ of race, are dealt with by Hollywood. One of the prevailing myths surrounding the official 9/11 story is that the latent heroism of the ordinary American citizen was revealed. Here, post-9/11 heroism is analysed with reference to the numerous films based on comic-books, specifically those featuring superheroes that expose particular psychological phenomena peculiar to post-9/11 America.

Finally, the concept of the global nature of 9/11 with reference to how Hollywood deals with American catastrophe in a global context, how an American event is represented by non-American film-makers, and how global events are represented by non-American film-makers but viewed through the paradigm of 9/11 is discussed.

This thesis, then, studies the political and ideological functions and implications of American film after 9/11 through discourses of ‘the real’ and key issues of self-censorship, co-operation, victimhood, masculinity, race, repression, trauma, and heroism.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: 9/11, terrorism, trauma, cinema, politics, America
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
F History United States, Canada, Latin America > F001 United States local history
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Supervisor's Name: Craven, Dr. Ian
Date of Award: 2013
Depositing User: Mr Ross Lynchehaun
Unique ID: glathesis:2013-4268
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 28 May 2013 11:12
Last Modified: 03 May 2024 12:53
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.4268

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