Postmodern Realisms: Virtual Gaze, Consumerism and Family in Spanish and Chilean Cinema
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Postmodern Realisms: Virtual Gaze, Family, and Consumption in Spanish and Chilean Cinema investigates cinema’s engagement with the aesthetic limits of realism as a response to processes that marked the second half of the twentieth century, including the emergence of consumer society, the promise of modernity, and subsequent disenchantment with postmodernity. Central to my analysis is the question of whether the family can still be seen as an allegorical figure for the nation in films produced in Chile and Spain today. If the state under the dictatorships of Franco (1939-1975) in Spain and Pinochet (1973-1989) in Chile conceived of the family as an institution central to the reproduction of a model citizen and collective subject, this thesis argues that the democratic narratives of more recent films not only question this institution and the role military rule had assigned to it, but in so doing, signal profound transformations within the nation itself. In the films considered here, this is achieved by means of an attention to technologies of reproduction and mass communication associated with postmodernism and globalization. Thus, my thesis not only asks whether we can still read the family as an allegory of the nation in post-dictatorial narratives, but whether the forms of collectivity that underlie these narratives destabilize any conception of nation in the face of a more global imaginary. Central to this investigation are the questions that Spanish and Chilean cinema have raised concerning the aesthetics of realism, whose development I trace from the social realism of Juan Antonio Bardem, through the cinema of Fernando León de Aranoa, and to the realisms of la generación X in films by Ray Loriga and Alicia Scherson. Drawing on Walter Benjamin’s reflections on cinema, as well as the discourses on postmodernity developed by Jean Baudrillard, Fredric Jameson, Anne Friedberg, and Slavoj Žižek, I argue that the responses these films offer to this question of realism are animated by a concern with the depiction of representation of two contemporary figures: the “precariat” living within “survival circuits” and the global citizen, figures that pose profound challenges to the national imaginary today.
the global, the national and the family.