American Dreams, Suburban Nightmares: Suburbia as a Narrative Space between Utopia and Dystopia in Contemporary American Cinema
The suburban landscape is inseparable from American culture. Suburbia does not only relate to the geographical concept, but also describes a cultural space incorporating people’s hopes for a safe and prosperous life. Suburbia marks a dynamic ideological space constantly influenced and recreated by both the events of everyday life and artistic discourse. Fictional texts do not merely represent suburbia, but also have a decisive role in the shaping of suburban spaces.
The widely held idealized image of suburbia evolved in the 1950s. Today, reality deviates from the concept of suburbs projected back then, due to e.g. high divorce rates and an increase of crime. Nevertheless, the nostalgic view of the suburbs as the “Promised Land" has survived.
Postwar critics object to this perception, considering the suburbs rather as depressing landscapes of mass-consumption, conformity and alienation. This book exemplifies the dualistic representation of suburbs in contemporary American cinema by analyzing Pleasantville, The Truman Show and American Beauty. It examines how utopian concepts of suburbia are created culturally and psychologically in the films, and how the underlying anxieties of the suburban experience, visualized by the dystopian narratives, challenge this ideal.
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Suburbia as a Narrative Space between Utopia and Dystopia in Contemporary American Cinema 3 Utopian and dystopian narratives of suburbia
Suburbia as a Narrative Space between Utopia and Dystopia in Contemporary American Cinema 4 Suburbia in contemporary American cinema
Suburbia as a Narrative Space between Utopia and Dystopia in Contemporary American Cinema 5 Once upon a time Suburbia as nostalgic utopia in ...
Suburbia as a Narrative Space between Utopia and Dystopia in Contemporary American Cinema 6 Better than reality? Suburbia as simulacra in The T...
Suburbia as a Narrative Space between Utopia and Dystopia in Contemporary American Cinema 7 Look Closer Suburbia as imprisoning dystopia in ...
Suburbia as a Narrative Space between Utopia and Dystopia in Contemporary American Cinema 8 Conclusion and outlook
Suburbia as a Narrative Space between Utopia and Dystopia in Contemporary American Cinema List of figures
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American Beauty American Dream American suburbia argues audience Baudrillard Baxandall and Ewen beginning Beuka Burnhams camera Carolyn central characters Christof cinema color concept of suburbia contemporary suburbia critics cultural space Depression Dickinson 2004 diegesis dystopian fiction dystopian perspectives everyday Film Theory focuses Foucault’s Fredric Jameson Gary Ross gated communities Halper and Muzzio houses Ibid individual Kammerer Kenyon Lester Line Cinema living Lover’s Lane marks Mendes Mendes’s film moreover nostalgia nostalgic Paramount 1999 people’s portrayed postmodern protagonist reality Reinhartz 2003 representation of suburbia Ricky Ricky’s rights reserved Ross Sam Mendes scene sexuality shot simulacra Simulacra and Simulation simulacrum simulation sitcom space of Pleasantville space of Seahaven space of suburbia story studio dome suburban existence suburban ideal suburban landscape suburban neighborhood suburban space suburbs surveillance television Truman Show TV-show utopian and dystopian utopian fiction utopian ideal utopian society viewers visual watching Weir Weir’s York