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Movies Change Lives

Pedagogy of Constructive Humanistic Transformation Through Cinema


Tony Kashani

Movies Change Lives is a rigorous interdisciplinary examination of cinema as a vehicle for personal and social transformation. Interdisciplinary scholar Tony Kashani builds a theory of humanistic transformation by discussing many movies while engaging the works of philosopher/psychologist Erich Fromm, cultural studies theorist Stuart Hall, critical pedagogy theorist Henry Giroux, political philosopher Hannah Arendt, the great French thinker Edgar Morin, the pioneering psychologist Carl Jung, the co-founder of string theory, physicist Michio Kaku, and Frankfurt School philosopher Jürgen Habermas, among others. The book argues that in the globalized world of the twenty-first century, humanity is in dire need of personal and social transformation. Movies have universal appeal and can deeply affect their audiences in a short time. Coupled with critical pedagogy, they can become tools of personal and social transformation. Movies Change Lives is an ideal text for graduate and upper-division undergraduate courses on film (cinema) and society, visual culture, consciousness studies, transformative studies, media and social change, advanced personal and social psychology, and political philosophy.


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Appendix: 300: Proto-Fascism and Manufacturing of Complicity


appendix 300: Proto-Fascism and Manufacturing of Complicity Given that all of the movies I have discussed as case studies have been examples of construc- tive transformation, a cinema of positive humanistic change if you will, I thought it is only fair to include a film that is deliberately designed to indoctrinate its audience to hate “the other.” This would be a movie that generates a negative humanistic change, though it can also have a powerful pedagogical effect in radicalizing a viewer to want to teach about the potentially destructive elements of such cinema. Therefore, I decided to include the following article I wrote in response to the ideological film 300 (Snyder, 2006). Cinema is consistently making a claim to particular memories, histories, ways of life, identities, and values that always presuppose some notion of difference, community, and the future. Given that films both reflect and shape public culture, they cannot be defined exclusively through a notion of artistic freedom and autonomy that removes them from any form of critical accountability.1 We are living in one of the most ideological epochs in the history of human- kind. In a postmodern age, where grand narratives have lost their validity, proto-fascism, a totalitarian paradigm devoid of complexity is on the rise. So it seems. The new hybrid movie, 300, based on a so-called graphic novel, which is a depiction of the ancient battle of Thermopylae, was released with much fanfare and financial success. I endured, with horror, the two-hour styl- ized blood-and-gore orgy....

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