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Thesis (Bachelor's)

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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/34626

  • The Warm Thrill of Confusion. Clarifying Cult Movies
  • Bachelor's
  • Cult movies are a collection of movies so poorly defined that it is uncertain whether we can speak of cult movies as a genre. This essay uses Jonathan Haidt’s theory on morality to explore how the characteristics of cult films have attracted a disproportionate response from thinkers who are open to experience and have low sensitivity to disgust. Those thinkers are, on average, to be found on the left side of the political spectrum, and the philosophies associated with liberal politics have resulted in a problematic definition of the movies. Those philosophies (Marxism and postmodernism) have failed to properly demarcate the borders around cult movies, making it unclear what movies belong to said category. This problem is in large part analogous to the problem that Thomas Szaz identifies as the problem of defining mental illness. That in failing to give due empirical evidence for a phenomena, one is at liberty to invent phenomena. Conservative thinkers who are, by definition, better at putting borders around concepts have written little on the subject. The latter part of the essay uses Camille Paglia’s theory of the chthonic to situate cult movies in the category of Dionysian literature, as opposed to Apollonian literature. This accounts for why an Apollonian movie, such as Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, is a dubious contestant for cult film status, while The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a prototypical cult movie, even though the two films have similar story structures. Lastly, the essay disentangles people’s interest in cult movies from politics using Eric Neumann’s theory of consciousness and his variation on the hero principle to explain said interest. This is in line with the Dionysian nature of the films as the films embody the symbolic role of the great mother from whom novelty can be extracted.

  • Dec 13, 2019
  • http://hdl.handle.net/1946/34626

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