Violence in 1980s American Cinema
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: Southern Illinois University Press
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This project was originally sparked by two seemingly separate but ultimately interrelated fascinations: the role that screen violence plays in our complex attraction to and enjoyment of movies, and the ostensibly sharp divide that separates Hollywood cinema of the 1970s from Holly-wood cinema of the 1980s. The amount of scholarship ...
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Any book—but particularly a first book and one that has been several years in the making—will inevitably bear the imprint of many people. The one you hold in your hands is no different, and while I cannot even begin to do justice to everyone who has left his or her mark on the following I owe immeasurable gratitude to the professors at Indiana University ...
Introduction: The Mainstreaming of Hollywood Screen Violence
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“Violence goes mainstream”—or so declared the bold headline on the cover of the April 1, 1991, issue of Newsweek magazine. As visual accompaniment to this declaration, the editors chose to run a dramatic, close-up image of the face of Hannibal Lecter, the fictional serial killer played by Anthony Hopkins in Jonathan Demme’s recently released ...
1. A Bloody Renaissance: Screen Violence and the Rise of the New Hollywood Auteurs
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The idea that the late 1960s and most of the 1970s represent a period of radical change in the American cinema is a given in virtually all recountings of postclassical Hollywood film history. According to David A. Cook, “The American film industry changed more between 1969 and 1980 than at any other period in its history, except, perhaps, for ...
2. Retreating from the World of Revolution: Controversies over Screen Violence at the Dawn of the Reagan Era
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Movies have always been battlegrounds on which various cultural wars have been waged, but in the 1980s those wars sharply increased in terms of both their tenor and their public visibility. More important, the skirmishes over movie content that erupted into public protest and media coverage reflected an increasingly aggressive sensibility ...
3. Pure Action, Packaged Violence: The Role of the Action Film in 1980s Hollywood
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Perhaps the quintessential product of 1980s Hollywood is the “pure action” movie, whose basic structure and style still dominate many of the most expensive movies produced by Hollywood today. This pure action genre did not simply emerge out of nowhere, nor was it just a reworking of a previously recognized genre or hybridization ...
4. Fighting Outward, Looking Inward: Violence in the 1980s Vietnam Film
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It is not without some irony that the 1980s, the decade in which screen violence was being packaged more and more for easy mainstream consumption, marked the first sustained period in which U.S. filmmakers dealt openly with the memory of the Vietnam War. However, the studios’ depiction of Vietnam was far from consistent ...
5. Disavowing Horror: Independent Production, Fandom, and the Fetishizing of Makeup Special Effects
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Because it is the inherent nature of the horror genre to transgress boundaries and challenge visual taboos, it is of little surprise that horror films have been at the center of social and political controversy through-out the history of cinema and were thus seen as especially problematic for the major studios during the 1980s. From the early cycle ...
6.Children in Danger: Screen Violence, Steven Spielberg, and the PG-13 Rating
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The threat that screen violence posed to Hollywood’s public image never seemed so dark as in the summer of the 1984, when two highly successful PG-rated films, Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, were at the eye of a storm of controversy over the role of violence in popular films. For the first time on a significant national ...
Conclusion: Fashioning a New Screen Violence from the Old in the 1990s
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In the introduction, I noted that the 1980s closed with a series of blockbuster action movies—Batman, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,and Lethal Weapon 2—that topped the box-office charts in the summer of 1989 and epitomized how the major Hollywood studios tended to treat screen violence throughout the 1980s: as one of many components in a ...
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James Kendrick is an assistant professor in the Film and Digital Media Division of the Department of Communication Studies at Baylor University, Waco, Texas. He is the author of Film Violence: History, Ideology, Genre (2009). His articles have appeared in the Velvet Light Trap, the Journal of Film and Video, and the Journal of Popular Film and Television....
Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 20 b/w halftones
Publication Year: 2009