In The Invisible Hand and Popular Culture, Paul Cantor explores the ways in which television shows such as Star Trek, The X-Files, South Park, and Deadwood and films such as The Aviator and Mars Attacks! have portrayed both top-down and bottom-up models of order.
Drawing on the works of John Locke, Adam Smith, Alexis de Tocqueville, and other proponents of freedom, Cantor contrasts the classical liberal vision of America – particularly its emphasis on the virtues of spontaneous order – with the Marxist understanding of the “culture industry” and the Hobbesian model of absolute state control.
The Invisible Hand in Popular Culture argues that American popular culture does not just celebrate freedom; it is itself a manifestation of how well freedom has worked in America. For all the concessions that artists in film and television must make to the Hollywood system, the great creative talents have proven the genuine aesthetic achievement is possible within commercial modes of production.
The Invisible Hand in Popular Culture concludes with a discussion of the impact of 9/11 on film and television, and the new anxieties emerging in contemporary alien invasion narratives: the fear of a global technocracy that seeks to destroy the nuclear family, religious faith, local government, and other traditional bulwarks against the absolute state.
Paul A. Cantor is a Professor of English at the University of Virginia. We are proud to present his work, The Invisible Hand in Popular Culture as a special signed, leather-bound edition.