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Hollywood Raises Political Consciousness

Political Messages in Feature Films

Edited By Michael Haas

Feature films are jam-packed with political messages. This volume provides the tools for analyzing the politics embedded in films. Contributors reveal how subliminal messages are a clue to how the public perceives political reality through otherwise entertaining feature films.
The volume is divided into two parts: Part One focuses on defining political films while Part Two looks at how «politics» is defined within films. Contributors find several ways of defining «political films», but agree that while the messages in films may often seem progressive, they are usually quite conservative, with the aim of making as much money as possible for the people financing the films.
The book provides a history of political film and identifies several hundred films with specific political messages.
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6 The Politics of Disaster Films


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The Politics of Disaster Films

Elizabeth Haas

Since the beginning of the 21st century, disasters, both disparate and interrelated have brought about what Matthew Gross and Mel Gilles (2012) refer to as a cultural “turn toward the apocalyptic,” occasioning a distinct renewal of the disaster genre at the box office. Although rare, the two strands have even shared multiplexes. In sober and at times angry and angst-filled fashion, these documentaries carefully construct narratives to account for what hours and hours of repetitive television news cycles never can and ordinary feature films gloss—cogent explanations of horrifying events that seem as inexplicable and fickle as the tornado that wipes out one side of the street and leaves the other intact. In the present chapter, I identify how filmmakers have dealt with disasters, past and present, and examine the political dimension which their representations imply, especially as those films figure the bodies of individuals as suggestive of a relationship to political agency.

Although an under-studied genre of political films, disaster films frequently feature high levels of both political intent and content. Typologically, they border overtly political films in their shared invocation of government action and ideologically driven plot points. To sketch a context for the resurgence of disaster documentary and fictional films, I begin with a panorama of the disaster-filled twenty-first century.

Disasters and Rumors of Disaster

The beginning of the twenty-first century was marked by...

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