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Postmodernism and FilmRethinking Hollywood's Aesthestics$
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Catherine Constable

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231174558

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231174558.001.0001

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Nihilistic Postmodernisms

Nihilistic Postmodernisms

(p.39) 2 Nihilistic Postmodernisms
Postmodernism and Film

Catherine Constable

Columbia University Press

Chapter two addresses the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, specifically Thus Spoke Zarathustra, in order to set up the key differences between nihilism and affirmation that underpin the rest of the volume. It then explores the work of two key nihilistic theorists of the postmodern: Jean Baudrillard and Frederic Jameson. The impact of their respective conceptions of postmodern aesthetics for reading film is demonstrated through textual analyses of Psycho (Gus van Sant 1998) and Something Wild (Jonathan Demme 1986). The problems arising from the take up and expansion of negative variants of Jamesonian aesthetics for the study of film are also addressed through an examination of the work of M. Keith Booker. On this model, postmodern Hollywood films simply express the logic of late capitalism and are thus incapable of offering political critique. The chapter concludes that this negative view is the result of the continued, albeit covert, adherence to modernist aesthetic standards.

Keywords:   Nietzsche, Baudrillard, Jameson, Booker, Nihilism, Surface, Psycho, Something Wild

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