Pretend We're Dead: Capitalist Monsters in American Pop Culture [NOOK Book]

Overview

In Pretend We’re Dead, Annalee Newitz argues that the slimy zombies and gore-soaked murderers who have stormed through American film and literature over the past century embody the violent contradictions of capitalism. Ravaged by overwork, alienated by corporate conformity, and mutilated by the unfettered lust for profit, fictional monsters act out the problems with an economic system that seems designed to ...
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Pretend We're Dead: Capitalist Monsters in American Pop Culture

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Overview

In Pretend We’re Dead, Annalee Newitz argues that the slimy zombies and gore-soaked murderers who have stormed through American film and literature over the past century embody the violent contradictions of capitalism. Ravaged by overwork, alienated by corporate conformity, and mutilated by the unfettered lust for profit, fictional monsters act out the problems with an economic system that seems designed to eat people whole.

Newitz looks at representations of serial killers, mad doctors, the undead, cyborgs, and unfortunates mutated by their involvement with the mass media industry. Whether considering the serial killer who turns murder into a kind of labor by mass producing dead bodies, or the hack writers and bloodthirsty actresses trapped inside Hollywood’s profit-mad storytelling machine, she reveals that each creature has its own tale to tell about how a freewheeling market economy turns human beings into monstrosities.

Newitz tracks the monsters spawned by capitalism through b movies, Hollywood blockbusters, pulp fiction, and American literary classics, looking at their manifestations in works such as Norman Mailer’s “true life novel” The Executioner’s Song; the short stories of Isaac Asimov and H. P. Lovecraft; the cyberpunk novels of William Gibson and Marge Piercy; true-crime books about the serial killers Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer; and movies including Modern Times (1936), Donovan’s Brain (1953), Night of the Living Dead (1968), RoboCop (1987), The Silence of the Lambs (1991), and Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001). Newitz shows that as literature and film tell it, the story of American capitalism since the late nineteenth century is a tale of body-mangling, soul-crushing horror.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Pretend We're Dead sets our monsters free of the dank laboratory of psychosexual studies and sends them rampaging across the landscape of economic reality. A sweeping, liberating, and wonderfully readable book.”—Gerard Jones, author of Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book

“Of all the modern (and postmodern) culture commentators, Annalee Newitz has the perfect blend of a fan’s unabashed enthusiasm and a true critic’s engaged, iconoclastic insights and questions. Casual and smart, bold yet breezy, Pretend We’re Dead won’t just make you take a second look at the landscape of modern horror—it’ll make you look at modern consumerist life (and death) with fresh eyes.”—James Rocchi, editor in chief of cinematical.com and film critic for cbs-5 San Francisco

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822387855
  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • Publication date: 6/26/2006
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Annalee Newitz is a contributing editor at Wired magazine and a freelance writer in San Francisco. She is the former culture editor at the San Francisco Bay Guardian and was the recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship in 2002–03. She is a coeditor of White Trash: Race and Class in America and Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life. She has written for New York magazine, and numerous other publications, including The Believer, salon.com, and Popular Science. Newitz has a Ph.D. in English and American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

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Table of Contents


Contents
Acknowledgments 000
Introduction. Capitalist Monsters 000
1. Serial Killers: Murder Can Be Work 000
2. Mad Doctors: Professional Middle-Class Jobs Make You Lose Your Mind
000
3. The Undead: A Haunted Whiteness 000
4. Robots: Love Machines of the World Unite 000
5. Mass Media: Monsters of the Culture Industry 000
Notes 000
Bibliography 000
Index
000
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2012

    Marx takes in a scary movie.

    "Lets Pretend We're Dead" is a straightforwardly Marxist examination of various categories of film monster. Annalee Newitz argues that many of the common styles of "monsters" found in Hollywood films are actually emblematic of the fears and anxieties that are endemic among those forced to live in a capitalist society. I particularly liked her examination of how the mad scientist figure reflects the psychological requirements for professional success.
    Brisk, remarkably free of jargon and not afraid to stake out sweeping positions, Newitz's book should not be confused with the common "fan boy" approach to writing about genre movies. Newitz regards capitalist society as fundamentally sick, and our interest in horror films is therefore a way of obliquely addressing that sickness. I would particularly reccomend this to someone just dipping their toe into the field of literary criticism, as Newitz's lucid prose is a lot easier to take than that of many other critical writers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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