Decade of disarray: Hollywood allegories of U.S. foreign policy: 1999-2009


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Cobb, Thomas (2018). Decade of disarray: Hollywood allegories of U.S. foreign policy: 1999-2009. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis explores how a series of Hollywood films allegorised the contradictions of American foreign policy between 1999 and 2009. These contradictions are underlined in pictures that use military intervention as a subtext.

My argument considers the role of allegory in an array of genres, including war pictures, Westerns, and comic book adaptations. The case studies I analyse allegorise a bipartisan consensus surrounding military intervention. I postulate that this consensus was crystallised in the Kosovo War of 1999 and later became apotheosised in the 2003 Iraq War. I contend that, in pictures as diverse as There Will be Blood (2007) and The Dark Knight (2008), political allegory critiques the bipartisan allure of both neoconservatism and liberal interventionism’s promises of exporting American democracy. Moreover, these narratives examine the ideas of International Relations theorists as diverse as Walter Mead, Walter McDougall, and Joseph Nye. The theories propounded by these authors become embodied in different characterisations, leading to storylines that connote ideological friction and philosophical inconsistency. Consequently, Hollywood cinema during this period highlights a contradiction in American foreign policy, a theme that is further encoded in narrative elements that focus on the strained politics of coalition building and winning hearts and minds.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of Film and Creative Writing
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures


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