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  • The Global Phallus:On the Digital and Allegorical Economy of the Hispanic Subaltern in Hollywood Film
  • Joseba Gabilondo (bio)

On the Periphery of Globalization: The Hispanic Condition

In his Border Matters, José D. Saldívar asserts, "US-Mexico border writing entails a new intercultural theory of making sensitive [sic] to both local processes and global forces, such as Euro-imperialism, colonialism, patriarchy, and economic and political hegemonies" (35). If this is so, then Hollywood film is an ideal medium to elaborate an intercultural theory, especially if we accept that Hollywood nowadays is global, and thus not merely North American or national (Neale and Smith). In this article, I propose to consider Hollywood itself as a representational border that must be theorized in a way that encompasses both the USA/Mexican border and the extended USA/Latin American-Spanish border. In order to recycle old names and solve old antagonisms, here the term "Hispanic" will be used, not against that of "Latino," but as a more general one encompassing the two global borders that define the Latino and Latin-American/Spanish condition. Thus a Hispanic, intercultural border theory would help us understand several interconnected problems such as North American global hegemony, the ensuing Hispanic global subalternity as well as the hibridating border relationship between both cultural areas. By incorporating psychoanalysis to border theory, I will attempt a geopolitical theorization of [End Page 4] fantasy and desire in global and Hispanic cultures and will question the meaning of a "global Phallus" as pertaining to a putative "global symbolic order." In other words, I will theorize the laws and representations (Phallus) that regulate the libidinal economy of this so-called global culture as it borders with the Hispanic.1

Hispanic realities sprinkle any contemporary Hollywood film but they do not occupy central subject positions. Selma Hayek, Antonio Banderas, or Jennifer López reappears in films where their Hispanic exotism stands for many formsof otherness. But to this day, they have never starred in a blockbuster film in which a Hispanic character is the central focus of representation—Selena or The Mask of Zorro were the closest phenomena. At the same time, the increasing presence of these Hispanic representations in Hollywood also points to the fact that they are historically intrinsic and necessary to Hollywood. Hispanic reality occupies a structurally peripheral, yet necessary, position in contemporary, globalized Hollywood to the point that there would be no Hollywood without it.

Spielberg and the Global Monster

According to Times Magazine Spielberg is the "most influential director of the twentieth century" (Pizzello 207). As Stephen Schiff proclaimed in 1994 after the release of Jurassic Park, "Spielberg is the most commercially successful movie director in history, with four of the top ten all-time box-office hits" (171). Here, I will concentrate in his three most influential and popular films to this date: Jaws (1975), ET (1982), and Jurassic Park (1993). With the exception of the Star Wars films and Titanic, the three above films stand as the three highest grossing films of their times; each film broke any previous record in box-office return at the time of their release.2

The protagonists of Spielberg's three films—as well as many other Hollywood blockbusters—are large prehistoric animals, predators, and aliens. Thus, even the human, hegemonic North American subject position (white, masculine, heterosexual) seems to be peripheral to these representations where monsters become central. Needless to say, Spielberg's three films follow the almost archetypal narrative of exorcising and liquidating the monster, so that at the end of the films, white, masculine, heterosexual Anglo-America reemerges as the hegemonic subject of representation. Yet, it is precisely this human periphery organized around Spielberg's ubiquitous monsters, which helps us understand the repercussions of globalization for the Hispanic/North American border. [End Page 5]

Let me, first of all, exert a rather hasty genealogy of the Spilbergian monsters in order to prove that this master trope central to Spielberg's and Hollywood's film making experiences a process of globalization that parallels that of USA's neo-imperialist hegemony. If Jaws still was a domestic and local problem framed within the old national paradigm of "man against nature...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1536-1810
Print ISSN
1522-5321
Pages
pp. 4-24
Launched on MUSE
2001-01-01
Open Access
No
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