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The Gizmo effect: “Japan Inc.”, American nightmares, and the fissure of the symbolic

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Abstract:

This article analyses the phenomenon of 'Japan-bashing' as it emerged in late twentieth-century horror fiction and film. Specifically, the article argues that depictions of 'Japan Inc.' as an object of anxiety shifted from fear of the Other (via a familiar Orientalist discourse) to a fear of the Same. Placing Joe Dante's Gremlins (1984) in direct conversation with Roland Barthes' Empire of Signs (English translation, 1982) and Karel van Wolferen's (in)famous Enigma of Japanese Power (1990), the article seeks to interrogate broadly the dread of an American transition into a 'New World Order'; in short, with the gradual loss of a demonized Soviet Union, capitalism was left with nothing to haunt but itself (artificially posited in 'Japan'). Cultural 'Others' in the horror genre were thus radically challenged as the genre moved into the twenty-first century.

Keywords: GREMLINS; JAPAN-BASHING; JEAN BAUDRILLARD; NEW WORLD ORDER; POSTMODERN HORROR; ROLAND BARTHES

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1386/host.2.1.25_1

Publication date: 2011-06-01

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  • Horror Studies intends to serve the international academic community in the humanities and specifically those scholars interested in horror. Exclusively examining horror, this journal will provide interested professionals with an opportunity to read outstanding scholarship from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including work conceived as interdisciplinary. By expanding the conversation to include specialists concerned with diverse historical periods, varied geography, and a wide variety of expressive media, this journal will inform and stimulate anyone interested in a wider and deeper understanding of horror
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