Media Culture: Cultural Studies, Identity, and Politics between the Modern and the Postmodern

By Douglas Kellner | Go to book overview

NOTES
1
I am thus appropriating the term multiculturalism for my agenda of cultural studies and am not intervening in the debates over multiculturalism in education in which, as Giroux (1992), McLaren (1993) and Scatamburlo (forthcoming) argue, there are a diverse range of corporate/conservative, left-liberal, and more critical multicultural projects. I am associating these cultural studies with what Giroux, McLaren, and Scatamburlo describe as critical multiculturalism.
2
For some of my earlier work in developing multiperspectival theory, see Kellner 1991 and 1992a, and Best and Kellner 1991.
3
Althusser wants to contrast science to ideology, as its radical other, whereas Mannheim, Bloch, Ricoeur, and others oppose ideology to utopia. I would suggest that one should not make such tight distinctions, that ideology and science, as well as ideology and utopia, are interconnected. Yet I see the concept of culture as wider than ideology, and believe that one can, on an analytical level, counterpoise various discourses to ideology. One can also contrast ideological discourses and criticize one ideology from the standpoint of another, as when one attacks fascism from the standpoint of liberal humanism. Theories that might be ideological, in the sense of legitimizing a dominant social order, in one context, can be critical and subversive in another, as when Marxism provided conservative social functions in legitimizing the former Soviet Union, while presenting radical critical perspectives on actually existing capitalist societies. Thus, all discourse and critique is contextual, using norms in specific contexts, rather than positing absolute standards of critique.
4
See the appendix to Camera Politica that discusses interviews with audiences concerning the political messages and effects of popular films. The survey displays a range of reactions to and readings of the politics of popular films (Kellner and Ryan 1988), many that follow the ideological encoding of the films while others resist it, or offer their own readings.
5
On Hollywood’s presentation of Vietnam, see Britton 1986; Wood 1986; and Kellner and Ryan 1988.
6
Most reviews highlighted Platoon’s, alleged realism and praised its honesty, verisimilitude, and so on (the film poster and advertisements for the film were full of such comments). Likewise, reflections on the film by veterans and political commentators tended to stress its realism and accurate representations of the war and the experience of fighting; see, for example, the pieces in the New York Times by correspondent David Halberstam and Marines veteran David Trainor (March 15, 1987). I shall dissent from this position here and generally perceive realism as a set of conventions which construct a picture of the world rather than as a way of imitating the world or providing access to the real.
7
Oliver Stone sets forth his dualistic and dichotomizing vision in an article in American Film where he writes that Platoon “mirrored the very civil war that I’d witnessed in all the units I was in—on the one hand, the lifers, the juicers and the moron white element (part Southern, part rural) against, on the other, the hippie, dope-smoking, black, and progressive white element…Right versus Left” (Oliver Stone “One from the Heart,” American Film (January-February 1987):19). This article and the extended interview in Film Comment (February 1987):11-20, 60, presents Stone as the left wing of the Hollywood boy’s club, and although Stone’s films have their limitations, taken cumulatively, such films as Salvador, Born on the Fourth of July, Talk Radio, JFK and Heaven and Earth present something of a left-progressive intonation within the voice of U.S. media culture.

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