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South Park: A Freudian Fable

Behind the incredible success and longevity of Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s show looms the father of psychoanalysis and his framework for explaining the mind.

If South Park is an analysis of the American cultural psyche, its cast are the different protagonists of Freud’s composite view of the human mind.

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The Politics of Horror: 100 Years of Cultural Fears [Infographic]

The horror genre relies on primal fears – chaos, destruction, death. The imagery in which this fear is couched, however, is culturally-specific.

To each epoch it’s narrative and structure that brings meaning to the violence we, as human beings, instinctively fear. Through 100 years of existence of the genre, it is also the history of the 20th Century that is told. And what a frightful century it has been…

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The Politics of The Dude: The Big Lebowski and the Gulf War

The opening lines of The Big Lebowski leave no doubt about it: if there is a man for his time and place, the Dude is the man for that. He fits right in there, we are told: in Los Angeles, in 1991. But what else is he fitting into? and how?

From the unlikely duo formed by the Dude and Walter to the mostly silent role played by Donny, the film is an allegory of American political life during the Gulf War.

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Christmas: Inventing Tradition and Building Suburbia

The Christmas season has always been the site of deep tension. Today, these are primarily expressed in two ways: a critique of political correctness’ refusal to call Christmas by its name and concerns over consumerism’s excesses.

Not only do both criticisms fail to grasp the historical circumstances that gave birth to the modern Christmas, they also fail to comprehend the far-reaching consequences of its founding on the American way of life.

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Politics of Outer-Space: Star Wars

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… The opening line to every Star Wars film begins as a philosophical novel would: embarking on a voyage to an improbable land peopled with versions of ourselves.

While some still claim there is nothing political behind the Star Wars Trilogies, that assessment is far wide of the fictional world that George Lucas so carefully traced from our own.

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Tintin in the Dark Continent

Wherever Tintin travels throughout his journeys it is the darkness at the heart of the European Twentieth Century that he confronts.

What Mazower described as “the nightmarish revelation of the destructive potential of European civilization” is the latent fear throughout Herg√©’s albums and the one Tintin’s morality seeks to counter.

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Quentin Tarantino on Violence and History

Tarantino’s style is often hailed/decried as a gratuitous aestheticism of violence.

However, explanations as to why that may be fail to grasp that although Tarantino’s stylized depiction of violence remains consistent throughout his career, his understanding of violence and the purpose it serves evolves in his work.

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Detroit in Ruins: Another Abandoned City Series

Detroit’s decaying facade has been documented through numerous photography series. Yet all of these appear as an autopsy performed on a social body that is, though moribund, not yet dead.

While the occlusion of social life from the frame contributes to the mesmerizing effect of the photos, the narrative they contribute to carefully avoids social issues that pertain to the territory they portray.

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