By Annalee Newitz
In Pretend We’re Dead, Annalee Newitz argues that the slimy zombies and gore-soaked murderers who've stormed via American movie and literature during the last century embrace the violent contradictions of capitalism. Ravaged through overwork, alienated via company conformity, and mutilated by way of the unfettered lust for revenue, fictional monsters act out the issues with an economy that turns out designed to consume humans whole.
Newitz seems at representations of serial killers, mad medical professionals, the undead, cyborgs, and unfortunates mutated by way of their involvement with the mass media undefined. no matter if contemplating the serial killer who turns homicide right into a form of exertions by means of mass generating lifeless our bodies, or the hack writers and bloodthirsty actresses trapped inside of Hollywood’s profit-mad storytelling computing device, she finds that every creature has its personal story to inform approximately how a freewheeling industry financial system turns people into monstrosities.
Newitz tracks the monsters spawned by means of capitalism via B video clips, Hollywood blockbusters, pulp fiction, and American literary classics, their manifestations in works reminiscent of Norman Mailer’s “true lifestyles novel” The Executioner’s Song; the quick tales of Isaac Asimov and H. P. Lovecraft; the cyberpunk novels of William Gibson and Marge Piercy; true-crime books concerning the serial killers Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer; and films together with Modern Times (1936), Donovan’s Brain (1953), Night of the dwelling Dead (1968), RoboCop (1987), The Silence of the Lambs (1991), and Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001). Newitz exhibits that as literature and picture inform it, the tale of yankee capitalism because the overdue 19th century is a story of body-mangling, soul-crushing horror.
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Extra resources for Pretend We’re Dead: Capitalist Monsters in American Pop Culture
And here homo economicus is defined by more than his failure to see the whole situation, his lack of a comprehensive overview. Economic beings can only function to the extent that they are always missing something even more fundamental. ” The “capacity of his stomach,” however, “bears no proportion to the insatiability of his desires,” functioning instead as a physical or rather physiological limit. That is why he must distribute the rest of his harvest whether he wants to or not, and it is also why it is precisely through his desire for more “luxuries,” “baubles and trinkets” that he satisfies the needs of others.
10 It is exemplified, above all, by an image that gained notoriety, at least with Adam Smith, as the “invisible hand,” an image which to this day still illustrates the assumptions made by political economy about order in the world. The famous reference from The Wealth of Nations (1776), the second book in a lecture course on moral philosophy, reads as follows: He [the economic agent] generally neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to Idyll of the Market I that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain.
23 Smith’s equilibrium theory is determined by the fortuitous correlation between two interacting price types: on the one hand, the actual market prices, which result from the fluctuating proportions of supply and demand; on the other, the intrinsic, central, or “natural price,” calculated by factoring in expenditure on ground rent, wages, and capital gain. And this goes to show the beneficence of the system: the “interest” of all “laborers,” “dealers,” and “landlords” always works to ensure that the “natural price” is, so to speak, the central point toward which “the prices of all commodities are continually gravitating.