The Road Movie Book

By Steven Cohan; Ina Rae Hark | Go to book overview

In this sense, the Bonnie-and-Clyde film maps the intersection of capitalism and desire. The genre's perennial success at the box office indicates the persistent appeal of these films as action-packed imaginary solutions to the contradictions inherent to domestic stability and economic growth. The radical possibility promised by the Bonnie-and-Clyde film is that, despite the historical manner in which love has been disciplined and marketed, love still retains its excitement, its air of rebellion, and its potential for madness. The genre's scandalous violence and sexy style lure couples who hope their attraction to one another is not merely convention or the result of slick advertising but something real and pure. If sitting in the dark feels like speeding down the road, the Bonnie-and-Clyde genre epitomizes this experience for the couple in love, making their love feel revolutionary, even if they still have to go to work in the morning. Therefore, Bonnies and Clydes mobilize domesticity. Such mobile homes resist - if only momentarily - privatization and restraint by the demands of both biological and social reproduction. And, in this way, the genre in some sense liberates the road movie, perhaps film itself, by threatening to displace this imaginary mobility and intense desire onto real-life highways.


Notes
1
Grisham became embroiled in this controversy in an attempt to seek justice and, it seems, to defend the sanctity of locality and community for the Mississippi town where he once worked after his friend William Savage was murdered on March 7, 1995, by Ben Darras and Sarah Edmondson. Edmondson admitted that she and her boyfriend were fond of consuming great quantities of hallucinogens while repeatedly watching Stone's film. We would, however, contend that the fuss about copycat killings is symptomatic of a larger concern: the diffusion of culture industry commodities into local communities and the attendant “liberation” of formerly subservient populations (particularly youth) via the appropriation of alternative styles of commodity consumption. For example, a similar concern has been shown regarding the appropriation of the “gangsta” styles of disenfranchised urban youths by middle-class teenagers in suburban and rural areas. For an overview of the murders allegedly linked to the film see Shnayerson.
2
“The Story of Bonnie and Clyde” refers to the poem (written by Bonnie Parker in 1934 and published in numerous newspapers) which established the tragic legend of the pair. We should clarify that when we refer to “Parker and Barrow, ” we are referring to the historical figures. We reserve the names “Bonnie and Clyde” for discussing the characters in Arthur Penn's 1967 film.
3
Fredric Jameson also uses the term “imaginary solution” in The Political Unconscious to describe the ways in which the realist novel resolves the deep contradictions of ideology. Moreover, members of the Birmingham School of Cultural Studies employ the term to describe the significance of such things as skinhead culture and mugging.
4
The first pages of The Manifesto of the Communist Party are devoted to the profoundly (and ambivalent) revolutionary nature of the bourgeoisie and the opportunities and dilemmas that the bourgeois class poses for socialist development. As Marx and Engels

-86-

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The Road Movie Book
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Plates ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Works Cited 14
  • Part I - Mapping Boundaries 15
  • 1 - “hitler Can't Keep 'Em That Long” 17
  • 2 - Western Meets Eastwood 45
  • 3 - Mad Love, Mobile Homes, and Dysfunctional Dicks 70
  • Notes 86
  • Works Cited 89
  • 4 - On the Run and on the Road 90
  • Works Cited 107
  • Part II - American Roads 111
  • 5 - Almost like Being at Home 113
  • 6 - Wanderlust and Wire Wheels 143
  • 7 - Exposing Intimacy in Russ Meyer's Motorpsycho! and Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! 165
  • 8 - The Road to Dystopia 179
  • Works Cited 202
  • 9 - Fear of Flying 204
  • Notes 227
  • Works Cited 228
  • Part III - Alternative Routes 231
  • 10 - The Nation, the Body, and the Autostrada 233
  • 11 - “we Don't Need to Know the Way Home” 249
  • 12 - Hom E and Away 271
  • 13 - Race on the Road 287
  • 14 - Revitalizing the Road Genre 307
  • 15 - My Own Private Idaho and the New Queer Road Movies 330
  • 16 - Disassociated Masculinities and Geographies of the Road 349
  • Index of Films 371
  • General Index 375
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