American Dreams, Suburban Nightmares: Suburbia as a Narrative Space between Utopia and Dystopia in Contemporary American Cinema
Anchor Academic Publishing (aap_verlag), 2014 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 72 pages
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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American Beauty American Dream American suburbia argues audience Baccolini Baudrillard beginning Beuka camera Carolyn central characters Christof Cinema citizens color concept of suburbia contemporary American contemporary suburbia critics cultural space David Depression diegesis dystopian fiction everyday Ewen Film Theory focuses Fredric Jameson Gary Ross gated communities Halper and Muzzio houses Ibid imagined individual Jennifer Kammerer Kenyon Lester Line Cinema living Lover’s Lane marks Mendes moreover Moylan nostalgia nostalgic people’s Picture Window portrayed postmodern postwar Practice of Everyday protagonist Raffaella reality Reinhartz 2003 Ricky Ricky’s rights reserved Road to Perdition Ross scene shot simulacra Simulacra and Simulation simulacrum simulation sitcom space of Pleasantville space of Seahaven space of suburbia story suburban existence suburban ideal suburban landscape suburban neighborhood suburban space suburbs surveillance television Truman Show TV-show University Press utopian and dystopian utopian ideal utopian society viewers visions visual watching Weir Weir’s York