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It's a shark eat shark world: Steven Spielberg's ambiguous politics

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This paper attempts to put forward a playful interpretation of the films of Steven Spielberg, by relating them to the workings of capitalism. This relationship is understood in terms of both the form and content of his films, and also in terms of how Spielberg's films operate culturally as products of Hollywood, which is itself a capitalist machine par excellence. Capitalism is in particular defined as a system that produces its own 'others'; that is, capital produces its own outsiders and opponents in order to be able to consume them so as always to be expanding. In Spielberg's films, we see a range of attitudes taken towards 'others': some are depicted as irrevocably evil and to be destroyed, while others again are threatened with destruction, but elicit our sympathy and often escape. These differing attitudes towards 'others' demonstrate the ambiguous nature of Spielberg's representations of (and relation to) capital. Is he, like Jaws, a shark that cannot stop feeding? Or is he a shark hunter, ready to skewer capital precisely by bringing it ever closer to its end?
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Keywords: Deleuze and Guattari; Otherness; Steven Spielberg; capitalism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Film Studies, University of St Andrews, Fife, UK

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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