Politics and Humanity in American Film

Collects together the published essays of Stephen Lee Naish, into a narrative that explores the political and humanistic elements of modern cinema.


U.ESS.AY: Politics and Humanity in American Film collects together the published essays of Stephen Lee Naish, into a narrative that explores the political and humanistic elements of modern cinema. With the rise of digital technology and the excessive use of CGI currently overwhelming cinema, realism and humanity have been dispensed with in favour of spectacle and illusion. It is the goal of U.ESS.AY to find within modern cinema contents that address the cultural and political landscape


You may want to debate the author on a number of things (I do) but his remarkable analysis of American film provides cogent insight into the nexus between the social and historical ramifications of US policy, cultural trends, and so much more. In this brief collection of sharp essays, Stephen Lee Naish adeptly reveals the paradox of reality and fiction we quite often encounter in film. That is to say, Naish's work lays bare the fact that it is "real life" that imitates the symbolic patterns expressed at their purest in film—not the other way around. ~ Frank Smecker, author of Night of the World: Traversing the Ideology of Objectivity, Zero Books

Stephen Lee Naish offers incisive, often indignant, commentary on genres and cycles in American (and North Korean!) cinema since the mid-twentieth century and their correspondences to changing political currents. His concise, colorful, engaged essays shift twitchily from the counterculture to technological fetish and many other preoccupations of the modern mediascape. ~ Blaine Allan, Department of Film and Media, Queen's University, Ontario, Canada.

An accessible, thought-provoking and argument generating series of essays that are the ideal introduction for students wishing to investigate the relationship between American Cinema and national identity and representation. Stephen Lee Naish provides considered and eloquent critiques on a variety of eclectic subjects ranging from Dennis Hopper, Disaster Movies, Mumblecore and North Korea from both a sociopolitical and personal viewpoint. ~ Matthew Pell (MA) Educator and Moving-Image Artist

In Stephen Lee Naish’s highly original, and often compelling, set of essays on film, he manages to articulate some of our deep-seated discomfort and boredom with contemporary Hollywood cinema. With eclectic discussions ranging across 80’s Hollywood action movies, Dirty Dancing and contemporary apocalyptic films, many of Naish’s pieces explore the extent to which the sterile CGI wastelands of the contemporary Hollywood blockbuster continue to be implicated in a pattern of propaganda for US foreign policy, warfare and capitalist consumption that stretches back decades. Out of his critique emerges a cogent and passionate examination of DIY film production and aesthetics in the emergent genre of ‘Mumblecore’, where there lies a repeat of the promise of late 1960’s and early 1970’s American cinema. Naish discusses how new collective forms of cinema are germinating and producing films that better reflect the dynamic flux of the broken realities that we currently inhabit than any of the promised sequels to Avatar, the rebooted Star Wars series or Superhero movies ever can. ~ Darren Ambrose, author of Film, Nihilism and the Restoration of Belief (Zero, 2013)

Stephen Naish’s terrific collection of essays provides a thoughtful, penetrating and at times witty analysis of the ways in which the movies exemplify and expose the contradictions of American society, market forces and foreign policy. The sparkling prose and insightful themes make this book a great read for anyone interested in politics, film and popular culture. ~ Christine Sypnowich, Professor of Political Philosophy, Queen's University, Ontario, Canada

In this book, Stephen Lee Naish gives a discerning look at American film and popular culture over the course of the last half-century. Moving from Dennis Hopper to David Cronenberg, from the robot sexuality of Star Trek to the aesthetic aspirations of North Korean dictators, and from low-budget "mumblecore" production to Hollywood's disaster-movie blockbusters, Naish shows postmodern cinema as a funhouse mirror reflecting all sorts of quintessentially American (and anti-American) compulsions. ~ Steven Shaviro, Author of Post Cinimatic Affect, Zer0 Books

Stephen  Lee Naish
Stephen Lee Naish Stephen Lee Naish‘s writing explores film, politics, and popular culture and the places where they converge. His essays have appeared in n...
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