Synopses & Reviews
In Pretend Weandrsquo;re Dead
, Annalee Newitz argues that the slimy zombies and gore-soaked murderers who have stormed through American film and literature over the past century embody the violent contradictions of capitalism. Ravaged by overwork, alienated by corporate conformity, and mutilated by the unfettered lust for profit, fictional monsters act out the problems with an economic system that seems designed to eat people whole.
Newitz looks at representations of serial killers, mad doctors, the undead, cyborgs, and unfortunates mutated by their involvement with the mass media industry. Whether considering the serial killer who turns murder into a kind of labor by mass producing dead bodies, or the hack writers and bloodthirsty actresses trapped inside Hollywoodandrsquo;s profit-mad storytelling machine, she reveals that each creature has its own tale to tell about how a freewheeling market economy turns human beings into monstrosities.
Newitz tracks the monsters spawned by capitalism through b movies, Hollywood blockbusters, pulp fiction, and American literary classics, looking at their manifestations in works such as Norman Mailerandrsquo;s andldquo;true life novelandrdquo; The Executionerandrsquo;s Song; the short stories of Isaac Asimov and H. P. Lovecraft; the cyberpunk novels of William Gibson and Marge Piercy; true-crime books about the serial killers Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer; and movies including Modern Times (1936), Donovanandrsquo;s Brain (1953), Night of the Living Dead (1968), RoboCop (1987), The Silence of the Lambs (1991), and Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001). Newitz shows that as literature and film tell it, the story of American capitalism since the late nineteenth century is a tale of body-mangling, soul-crushing horror.
andldquo;Of all the modern (and postmodern) culture commentators, Annalee Newitz has the perfect blend of a fanandrsquo;s unabashed enthusiasm and a true criticandrsquo;s engaged, iconoclastic insights and questions. Casual and smart, bold yet breezy, Pretend Weandrsquo;re Dead wonandrsquo;t just make you take a second look at the landscape of modern horrorandmdash;itandrsquo;ll make you look at modern consumerist life (and death) with fresh eyes.andrdquo;andmdash;James Rocchi, editor in chief of cinematical.com and film critic for cbs-5 San Francisco
andldquo;Pretend We're Dead sets our monsters free of the dank laboratory of psychosexual studies and sends them rampaging across the landscape of economic reality. A sweeping, liberating, and wonderfully readable book.andrdquo;andmdash;Gerard Jones, author of Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book
andldquo;Pretend Weandrsquo;re Dead is a convincing, accessible work that will interest everyone from academics and media analysts who like offbeat criticism to horror lovers who like to watch zombies eat brains.andrdquo;
andldquo;[A] sophisticated and rewarding Marxist analysis of the horror movie. . . . Where Newitz differs from any other writer on horror that Iandrsquo;ve read is in her insistence that her distinctively American, anti-capitalist tradition of horror begins not with the Enlightenment and its discontents, which find form in the European Gothic novel of the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but rather with the naturalist novel of the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This is a startling and, at first sight, highly contentious position, but itandrsquo;s one that Newitz argues rather brilliantly.andrdquo;
An argument that the slimy zombies and gore-soaked murderers who have stormed through American film and literature over the past century embody the violent contradictions of capitalism
An examination of how monster narratives and horror stories serve as allegories for anxieties about captialism in American popular culture.
About the Author
Annalee Newitz is a contributing editor at Wired magazine and a freelance writer in San Francisco. She is the former culture editor at the San Francisco Bay Guardian and was the recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship in 2002andndash;03. She is a coeditor of White Trash: Race and Class in America and Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life. She has written for New York magazine, and numerous other publications, including The Believer, salon.com, and Popular Science. Newitz has a Ph.D. in English and American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Capitalist Monsters 1
1. Serial Killers: Murder Can Be Work 13
2. Mad Doctors: Professional Middle-Class Jobs Make You Loose Your Mind 53
3. The Undead: A Haunted Whiteness 89
4. Robots: Love Machines of the World Unite 123
5. Mass Media: Monsters of the Culture Industry 151