James Baldwin, the Religious Right, and the Moral
In the 1980s, James Baldwin recognized that a major transformation had occurred in the
socio-political functions of religion. His critique adapted accordingly, focusing on the
ways in which religion—particularly white evangelical Christianity—had morphed into a
movement deeply enmeshed with mass media, conservativepolitics, and late capitalism.
Religion in the Reagan era was leveraged, sold, and consumed in ways never before seen,
from charismatic televangelists, to Christian-themed amusement parks, to mega-churches.
The new movement was often characterized as the “religious right” or the “Moral Majority”
and was central to both Reagan’s political coalition as well as the broader culture wars.
For Baldwin, this development had wide-ranging ramifications for society and the
individual. This article draws on Baldwin’s final major essay, “To Crush the Serpent”
(1987), to examine the author’s evolving thoughts on religion, salvation, and
transgression in the context of the Reagan era.
In Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, the banks have taken over
Gekko’s job. I was shocked when I went back to this in 2010. In
Wall Street, Gekko had been the outsider, the inside trader guy,
the thief, the blackmailer –and that’s what the banks do now. In
the old days the banks would never have done that, it was considered immoral, but by 2010 the whole thing had shifted because of
By the time Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps hit cinemas in
September 2010, banking, the financial markets and capitalism in
general had all
The ethics and politics of memory in an age of mass culture
commodity-saturated capitalism prevails. And yet it is the very
pervasiveness of commodification – reaching as it does into the
realm of mass cultural representation – that makes images and
narratives about the past available on an unprecedented scale.
Prosthetic memory, as I have been arguing, is quite literally made
possible by the advanced state of capitalism and its ensuing commodity
culture. It is
moderate centre-ground with Stone.9 His politics throughout have
been rooted in the foundational myths about America. He is a
supporter of still the greatest capitalist nation on earth, but not an
unbridled advocate of capitalism, much less the continued expansion of corporate power that the particular brand of American capitalism has wrought. (As mentioned previously, there is something
C on c l u sio n
Figure 10 Protest against US military installation, Jeju Island,
South Korea, March 2013
Th e ci nem a of Ol iver S to ne
all returning to ‘normal’ which makes the audience complicit
with repression. This enables the film, and Mackendrick’s other
Ealing work, to subvert the circularity of the studio’s comedies
with ‘an intimation of stasis and stagnancy, of a system seizing
up under the dead weight of tradition’. 11 This tradition has assimilated the new
consumerism; Sidney is punished for his crimes against capitalism
Silverman, ‘Fragments’, p.
See Fredric Jameson, ‘Postmodernism and
Consumer Society’, in H. Foster, Postmodern Culture
(London: Pluto Press, 1985), pp. 111–25; and ‘Nostalgia
for the Present’, in Jameson, Postmodernism, or, The
Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (London: Verso, 1991), pp
‘solidarity’, ‘character’, home.
Sixty or so subsequent years have corroded this innocence.
Consumer capitalism and the absence of war have together worked to
underfeed ‘solidarity’ until it has become so thin we can
see through it, and placed the values of radical individualism
(identity, fulfilment, self-discovery and so forth ) at the centre of
the board. But the war films of the 1950s will nonetheless be
Discontents (London: Verso, 1990), p. 8. For a more extensive
discussion, see Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or, the Cultural
Logic of Late Capitalism (London: Verso, 1991).
Andrew Hoskins, ‘New Memory: Mediating
History’, The Historical Journal of Film, Radio and
Television 21: 4 (2001), 333
set of conventions. 5 However, the debates around melodrama in film studies
in the early 1970s, when film theorists actively constructed the family
melodrama as a genre, are highly pertinent to The King’s Speech .
Adopting Marxist, feminist and psychoanalytic approaches, and taking
capitalism, ideology, patriarchy and repression as their main topics of
investigation, scholars such as Thomas Elsaesser, Geoffrey Nowell
, this adds up to more than ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS. On 14
February 2013, people across the world came together to express their outrage,
strike, dance, and RISE in defiance of the injustices women suffer, demanding an end at last to violence against women. Last year, on 14 February 2014,
One Billion Rising for Justice focused on the issue of justice for all survivors
of gender violence, and highlighted the impunity that lives at the intersection
of poverty, racism, war, the plunder of the environment, capitalism, imperialism, and patriarchy. Events took place in