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American Cinema in the Shadow of 9/11$
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Terence McSweeney

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474413817

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474413817.001.0001

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Foreshadows of the Fall: Questioning 9/11’s Impact on American Attitudes

Foreshadows of the Fall: Questioning 9/11’s Impact on American Attitudes

(p.207) Chapter 10 Foreshadows of the Fall: Questioning 9/11’s Impact on American Attitudes
American Cinema in the Shadow of 9/11

Stephen Joyce

Edinburgh University Press

Chapter Ten, a strikingly original piece by Stephen Joyce which questions the very nature of the influence of 9/11 and the 'War on Terror' on the American film industry. In "Foreshadows of the Fall: Questioning 9/11’s Impact on American Attitudes" he argues that it is possible to conclude that the changes many have seen in post-9/11 American cinema, and indeed America's real world reactions to the traumatic events which occurred on 11 September 2001, were actually comprehensively anticipated by American genre cinema throughout the second half of the twentieth century. Joyce's suggestion is not that American cinema was in any way prophetic, but that America's responses to 9/11 replicate patterns so encoded into American ideological belief systems that they have been filtered into Hollywood films for decades. Using three films made prior to 9/11: Pearl Harbour (2001), Independence Day (1996) and The Siege (1998) he traces these patterns contained within their narratives and even their mise en scene. Joyce's argument underlines the importance of avoiding the allure of simplistic connections between 9/11 and American film, the likes of which have permeated some otherwise very fine academic work on the subject. This is undoubtedly a manifestation of the apophenic desire to see 9/11 and the 'War on Terror' reflected everywhere (see Pollard). It is important for scholars of post-9/11 film to remember that explosions, dust clouds and debris existed, and were placed on the frames of American films before 11 September 2001. Just as important is the need to avoid hyperbole, as Kristian Verslys found it hard to do when he asserted that 9/11 represented a 'total breakdown of all meaning-making systems' (2).

Keywords:   Joyce, 9/11, War on Terror, American attitudes, American cinema

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