Sunday, September 7, 2014

We're all told we're "Divergent," all the time -- behind the bogus dystopia lies a panegyric to consumer society

“Divergent” and “Hunger Games” as capitalist agitprop

                                    

                                                 
                      
"Divergent" and "Hunger Games" as capitalist agitpropShailene Woodley and Theo James in "Divergent"

“Divergent” follows in the footsteps of “The Hunger Games” in a number of obvious ways: It’s an expensive action movie with a female hero and a romantic subplot, set in a dystopian future society and based on a series of popular young-adult novels. Its star, 22-year-old Shailene Woodley, has been groomed and selected over the past couple of years to stand alongside “Hunger Games” lead Jennifer Lawrence in a new Hollywood firmament of youth, an important consideration for a business that now sees itself dangerously tethered to a cluster of middle-aged stars. That’s the context for the analysis I’m expected to provide: a mixture of industry-savvy “let’s not forget this is a business,” some reified male-gaze mooning about Woodley’s limpid hazel eyes and lustrous brown hair, and some pretense of suspending disbelief when it comes to this recycled Teens vs. The Man adventure yarn. Well, screw that.

Instead, I’d rather go beneath the surface to look at the structural function of these stories – the role they play in the cultural economy – where I think we can identify even more intriguing similarities. Both “Divergent” and “The Hunger Games” are fundamentally works of propaganda disguised as fantasy or science fiction. They’re not propaganda on behalf of the left or the right, exactly, or at least not the way we generally use those words in America. They are propaganda for the ethos of individualism, the central ideology of consumer capitalism, which also undergirds both major political parties and almost all American public discourse. It’s an ideology that transcends notions of left and right and permeates the entire atmosphere with the seeming naturalness of oxygen in the air. But at least if we acknowledge that it is an ideology, we can begin to understand that it limits political action and political debate, and restricts the heated warfare between Democrats and Republicans to a narrow stretch of policy terrain.

To begin with . . .  read more at http://www.salon.com/2014/03/22/divergent_and_hunger_games_as_capitalist_agitprop/

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