The Apocalypse Is No-Thing To Wish For: Revisioning Traumatic Masculinities in John Hillcoat’s The Road
There is a curious irony in the young adult male habit of indulging in survival fantasies while sitting idly on the couch. Digitally interfacing with fingers and thumbs, sheltered by modernity’s creature comforts—their bodies could not be further removed from the strife-torn apocalyptic landscapes depicted onscreen. The myth of regeneration through violence surely animates this brand of entertainment, but perhaps there is another psychodynamic at work that rivets viewers and gamers to specifically apocalyptic and dystopic virtual worlds. Trauma-studies scholar E. Ann Kaplan’s forthcoming work on “trauma future-tense cinema” explores what’s culturally productive in this genre of violent, seemingly gratuitous, spectacle.1 Though I take her point that the traumatic function of these films rouses audience awareness of the politics of our contemporary moment, cultural studies of popular phenomena must also consider how genre conventions perpetuate a discourse that underwrites and often undermines political statement.
KeywordsVideo Game Comic Book Late Modernity Vicarious Trauma Lost Object
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