Allegories of post-Fordism in 1970s New Hollywood: Countercultural combat films, conspiracy thrillers as genre-recycling Drehli Robnik



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Beyond Gung Ho! – war movies as allegories of post-Fordist production
The extent to which New Hollywood´s war movies explore new pragmatics and subjectivities can be underscored by picking up a comparison suggested by Basinger as well as by Thomas Doherty in his study of Hollywood´s relationship to World War II. Both authors consider the combat film Gung Ho! (Ray Enright, 1943) to be the model for the late 1960s "dirty group" movies. Doherty writes: "However much the ante is upped in criminality, brutality, and irreverence, the rogues and rascals of The Dirty Dozen (1967), The Devil´s Brigade (1968) and Kelly´s Heroes (1970) are blood brothers to the misfits of Gung Ho! (1943)."32 These accounts emphasize how in Hollywood films, the war machine makes use of destructive energies – the kind of rampage which is freqently referred to as cinematic "violence Gung Ho!-style". However, by positing a continuous link and family resemblance between Gung Ho! and New Hollywood´s combat movies, they overlook important differences in the films´ respective conceptions of violence as purposeful action and of its modes of socialization. With the US Marines accepting fanatics, a frustrated ex-boxer, a cut-throat and some aggressive "no-good kids" from broken homes as volunteers for a special mission in the Pacific, Gung Ho! at first sight appears as innovative (and cynical) about productive teamwork as The Dirty Dozen. But Gung Ho!´s novel approach to combat efficiency – celebrated by numerous officers´ speeches and by a "semi-documentary" training sequence with propagandistic voice-over commentary – still adheres to a logic of duty-based teamwork and thus amounts to a mere intensification of Taylorist discipline: it´s all about "men fighting together with the precision of a machine", as the unit´s commander (Randolph Scott) phrases it, before he goes on to explain his unit´s training motto, which is also the film´s title. According to Scott, "Gung Ho!" – a phrase nowadays synonymous with rampant bloodshed – is "Chinese" for "work in harmony".
In the relentless speeches to the soldiers and to its audience, Gung Ho! invokes the task of winning the war in the name of freedom and equality and, most of all, the notion of the combat team as informed by the self-image of the USA as social and ethnic melting pot. The meaning-making framework of the melting pot is typical of classical Hollywood´s World War II (and Korean War) combat movies, and of the American action-image in general – or, to be exact, of its "large form" in Deleuze´s sense.33 Gung Ho!s underlying concepts of purposeful action and social subjectivity can also be considered in light of Deleuze´s concept of the action-image´s "small form". In this perspective, the notion of functionally defined, no longer organically founded groups (as Deleuze detects them in Howard Hawks´ westerns) becomes relevant.34 Apart from its melting pot ideology, Gung Ho!´s "harmoniously working machine" draws on the technology-based functionalism of many wartime combat films for which Hawks´ Air Force (1943) estasblished the paradigm. Instead of a people and its leaders (as in the films of the large form) these films show crews consisting of disciplined component parts and highlight the role of technology in forming them (social technologies such as the standardized division of labor; material technologies such as the submarine engulfing the Marines in Gung Ho! and the bomber plane in Air Force).35
In any case, Gung Ho! defines its pragmatics of violent action within horizons of meaning very different from New Hollywood´s war movies. The geopolitical mission of American democracy, the US Army as national melting pot, technology-based Fordist functionalism – all these encompassing meta-narratives are absent from the ethics and pragmatics of The Dirty Dozen and Kelly´s Heroes.36 And yet, these films´ action-images of war are far from flirting with meaninglessness. In both films, the goal-orientation of the action-image depends not on fusing differences or reducing them to presupposed standards of efficiency, but on mining them for their use-values as potential productive forces. They are not about making misfits fit, but about misfits refitting and retooling the machinery. When in The Dirty Dozen the Army psychologist supervising the training process describes Lee Marvin´s team as "just about the most twisted anti-social bunch of psychopathic deformities I´ve ever run into", Marvin replies "Well, I can´t think of a better way to fight a war." The cynicism that one might sense in this statement is merely the guise and the precondition of a positive conception of productivity capable of integrating, valuing and unfolding those potentials which a disciplinary rationality excluded as deviant. In the totality of post-Fordist social production, "it is thus no longer possible to identify a sign, a subject, a value, or a practice that is 'outside'", as Hardt and Negri write.37 Similarly, when in Kelly´s Heroes the Telly Savalas character faces Oddball´s hippie soldiers and shouts "That ain´t an army, it´s a circus!", this exclamation summarises the film´s celebration of a "diversity management" of labor which is indeed closer to a circus than to Taylorist or military discipline. Or rather, the becoming-circus of the army-factory resembles the "increasing indistinguishability of economic and cultural phenomena" which Hardt and Negri see as an effect of the countercultural "attack on the disciplinary regime" of the "factory-society", driving the transition to the post-Fordist productive paradigm of cultural experimentation, affective labor, flexible communication and non-standardized knowledge.38
Finally, an affirmation of post-Fordist productivity becomes manifest in these two war movies if one reads them as "allegories of production" in the way in which David E. James interprets Easy Rider. Exploring the metaphorical relation of Easy Rider´s plot to its production context (i.e., Hollywood´s overproduction crisis and negotiation with youth audiences), James´s version of the failure argument in relation to New Hollywood highlights how Dennis Hopper´s "35mm ersatz underground film" is unable to remain loyal to and even "denigrat[es] the social alternatives represented by the counterculture that gives it market value."39 According to James´s critique, the film handles images of hippie-communal agrarianism or elements of avantgarde and psychedelic style as mere episodes and thus fails to present them as viable alternatives to technologized, capitalized cultural practices: "[...W]e may read Captain America´s remark 'We blew it' as an allegory of the film, of the failure of Hopper and Fonda to make a film adequate to the ideals of the counterculture [...]."40 A clear case of "pathos of failure", to use Elsaesser´s term. In contrast to this, the "professional subcultures" in The Dirty Dozen and Kelly´s Heroes confront us with an overall "pathos of success". In order to read this stance as an allegory of production, one has to drop James´ somewhat Platonic concern for the film industry´s fidelity to countercultural ideals (or its lack thereof). Rather, the production context reflected in a self-congratulatory manner in The Dirty Dozen and Kelly´s Heroes is the post-Fordization of American filmmaking – Hollywood´s shift from the studio-based mass production of films to marketing fewer, more specialized films made independently and within transitory labor arrangements. This is the shift described as the adoption of the "package-unit system" of production after the mid-1950s by Janet Staiger.41 Hollywood´s embracing of post-Fordist flexibility also involves a change in the consumer-cultural role of the industry´s products, gradually replacing films´ affiliations to the pre-established standards and genre disciplines of a studio´s factory-system with the now familiar conception of big-budget films as singular events, multi-generic textures, and consumer-driven industries in and of themselves. The film conceived as a special mission and norm-defying event, carried out by a package-team of maverick experts with non-standardized skills and no institutional ties – this is the logic of flexible production that is allegorized by the successes of the undisciplined in New Hollywood´s war movies.42
Mutation, adaptation, decline? The two New Hollywoods – and how they might be related
In my argument that New Hollywood explored a new pragmatic within the failure of an old one, I have so far emphasized its relationship to the earlier, classical period of American cinema. In the second half of this essay, I will focus on what followed the New Hollywood of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Murray Smith claims that "the sheer number of 'New Hollywoods' that one finds posited over the course of film history" recommends a careful attention to Hollywood´s constant "process of adjustment and adaptation to new circumstances [...]".43 This "adaptation argument", as I would call it, is one way to resolve the inherent ambiguity of the term New Hollywood which becomes most urgent with respect to the question of how the American cinema of circa 1970 relates to that of today. In Smith´s words: "The notion of the New Hollywood [...] underwent a strange mutation, ending up designating either something diametrically opposed to the American art film, or something inclusive of but much larger than it."44
We can see the latter, extended definition at work in Thomas Schatz´s history of the New Hollywood, in which the term refers to the post-1945 genealogy of the blockbuster. According to Schatz, the "blockbuster hits are, for better or for worse, what the New Hollywood is about", and the establishment of this type of film, with its intermedia marketing potentials, as Hollywood´s key product after 1975 marked "the studios´ eventual coming-to-terms with an increasingly fragmented entertainment industry – with its demographics and target audiences, its diversified 'multi-media conglomerates, its global(ized) markets and new delivery systems".45 To some degree, my rewriting of the failure argument into a success story of flexibilization is in line with Schatz´s account, in that The Dirty Dozen and Kelly´s Heroes can be situated among the many precursors of today´s blockbusters; as such, they testify to the gradual reconceptualisation of Hollywood´s main product in terms of a special event that replaces genre discipline with a playful, flexible, intertextual openness to a variety of cultural dynamics and viewing positions. However, in defining New Hollywood as a successful process of adaptation, Schatz downplays the creative, innovative aspect of Hollywood´s flirtation with the countercultures: in his view, "[...] Hollywood´s cultivation of the youth market and penchant for innovation in the late 1960s and early 1970s" mainly "reflected the studios´ uncertainty and growing desperation."46 The adaptation argument, which understands New Hollywood in a broad sense (the rise of the blockbuster), and the failure argument, which refers to New Hollywood in a narrow sense (centered on youth and road movies made around 1970) share the negative terms of disorientation and crisis in which they describe cinema´s opening onto youth and countercultural value systems.
The other view which Smith hints at – New Hollywood turning from "American art film" into its opposite – gives an emphatically positive judgement on Hollywood circa 1970 and ascribes to it some of the virtues usually associated with notions of "art cinema". In placing Hollywood´s "second golden age" in contrast to the industry´s prevailing blockbuster orientation after 1975, this "decline argument" reveals a certain cinephile melancholia, as for instance in an article by J. Hoberman from 1985: "The cultural upheavals of the late sixties spawned a cinema of genre criticism and directorial nonconformity; the retrenchment of the mid-seventies brought the waning days and ultimate reversal of the Bonnie and Clyde-Easy Rider, small-and-weird-can-be-beautiful revolution. The past decade marked the decline and fall of the maverick genre revisionists (Robert Altman, Sam Peckinpah, Arthur Penn) [...]."47 David A. Cook describes the decline of what he calls the "American auteur cinema" and its transformation into the blockbuster mode in particularly pessimist terms: "From the cinema of rebellion represented by films like Bonnie and Clyde, Easy Rider, and Medium Cool, America´s youth transferred its allegiance to the 'personal' cinema of the seventies´ auteurs without realizing how corporatist and impersonal it had become. And the auteurs themselves were transformed from cinéastes into high-rolling celebrity directors (many of them) with their own chauffeurs, Lear jets, and bodyguards [...] and recast their films as branded merchandise to be consumed along with T-shirts, action figures, Happy Meals [...]"48
A less moralizing thesis on the relationship of the two New Hollywoods was proposed in 1986 by Andrew Britton whose version of the decline argument is ideology-critical rather than cinephile. According to Britton, the "conservative reassurance in the contemporary Hollywood" has resulted in the "almost exclusive predominance of a type of film-making which, during the `seventies, did not rule out the possibility of more interesting, contradictory and disturbing work. [...I]t would have been difficult to feel certain in 1974 that The Towering Inferno, for all its phenomenal success, was about to become the main tradition. At the time, the disaster cycle seemed to be reactionary in a relatively simple sense: it was a desperate attempt [...] showing up a value-system which was obviously in ruins. What was less apparent was a potential cultural vitality. [...] In 1974, The Towering Inferno looked merely exhausted."49
The 1970s disaster movies are one point at which the discourses on New Hollywood part ways. From the viewpoint of adaptation, films like The Towering Inferno appear as (proto-)blockbusters and thus as examples of the larger New Hollywood; but, as Smith suggests, they can also be seen "in dialectical tension" with a New Hollywood which is either criticized for its pathos of failure or valued as "interesting, contradictory and disturbing".50 If we are cinephile enough to regard New Hollywood as The Last Great American Picture Show, then The Towering Inferno is probably not a part of this Last GAPS, but rather represents the last gasps of the Old Hollywood – of "a value-system which was obviously in ruins", as Britton put it. But since there have been so many movies after the last one51 – among them many more American disaster films in the late 1990s –, what interests me is Britton´s notion of an "exhausted" cinema becoming the mainstream. The problem requires a look at Hollywood´s changing ways of dealing with its past, using 1970s New Hollywood as a point of departure.
Westworld, Coma and the "biopolitics of recycling": from New Hollywood´s conspiracies to the control society´s blockbusters
While the early period of New Hollywood in the narrow sense – from the commercial success of Bonnie and Clyde (1967) to the box-office failure of Two-Lane Blacktop (1971) – is marked by the film industry´s relationship with countercultural values and audience positions, one trend discernible in the American cinema of the mid- and late 1970s is a cycle of conspiracy thrillers. These films (which have their equivalents in the Western European cinema of that period) approach the ruptures within American society from a different angle. Instead of exploring the new cultural visibility of what might lie outside the established order, they show attempts at investigating the order´s hidden inside, emphasizing its systemic character, obstinacy and near invisibility. In some 1970s conspiracy thrillers, the young rebel protagonist of the earlier countercultural cycle seems to be displaced into the figure of the liberal investigator (often a not-so-young, but long-haired journalist) who either falls victim to the secret politics of surveillance and state power, like Warren Beatty in The Parallax View (Alan J. Pakula, 1974), or achieves a narrow victory, like Robert Redford in Three Days of the Condor (Sidney Pollack, 1975), Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford in All the President´s Men (Pakula, 1976), or Peter Fonda in Futureworld (Richard T. Heffron, 1976). In the latter film, a SciFi version of the trend, the Easy Rider turned journalist exposes a plot aimed at replacing politicians with remote-controlled cyborg doubles during their stay at a high-tech amusement park where humanoid robots serve the visitors´ pleasure. Looking back on the 1970s conspiracy thriller, Futureworld is of interest because it fuses elements of two better known films made by writer-director Michael Crichton. In his "techno-thriller" Westworld (1973), to which Futureworld is the low-budget sequel, the service robots of the same amusement park run out of control and attack the visitors of the Wild West, Ancient Rome and Middle Ages themed "worlds". And in Crichton´s Coma (1978), the conspiracy that turns living people into technologically controlled bodies is transfered to a hospital where patients are secretly sent into coma and kept alive in a computer-controlled storage space to provide organ transplants for sale on an international market.
Coma´s terrifying images of technologically reified life almost literalize some points of Fredric Jameson´s interpretation of the conspiracy motif as an allegorical figuration of contemporary capitalism´s invisible, systemic totality. In Jameson, the "hermeneutic content" of Pakula´s and other 1970s conspiracy thrillers – the promise of a "deeper inside view" into society´s "hidden abode of production" – points towards the "new world system" of capitalism "whose study is now our true ontology".52 The bizarre clinic in Coma, both life support system and stock exchange, offers a paranoid, ontological, allegorical glimpse into existence pervaded by capital; or rather, existence immersed in a mode of capital power to which Hardt´s and Negri´s concept of "biopolitical production" or "biopower" (derived from Foucault) applies: "Biopower is a form of power that regulates social life from its interior, following it, interpreting it, absorbing it, and rearticulating it. [...] The highest function of this power is to invest life through and through, [...] the production and reproduction of life itself."53 What the hermeneutics of New Hollywood´s conspiracy thrillers aim at is the new world system of capital´s globalization – globalization not just in the sense of transnational markets, but rather as the "real subsumption" of social life under capital: the intensive, biopolitical "working through" of an already formally subsumed social terrain, up to the point at which "[c]apital has become a world."54
In "Westworld", "Roman World" and "Medieval World" it is the accumulated symbolic capital of classical Hollywood genres that has become a world. In Crichton´s theme park, the western and two versions of the historical epic have been cybernetically reworked into experiential environments, spectacles to be travelled and lived in by tourists. The conspiracy motif implicit in Westworld – or rather, its suggestion of two conspiracies: that of the park´s invisible control system, and that of the robotic gunslingers, knights and gladiators who suddenly massacre the visitors – exemplifies the critical "consciousness of clichés" and the "condemnation of the plot", two of Deleuze´s characteristics of the American action-image in its crisis. In Deleuze, the plot which New Hollywood critically confronts is ultimately a global conspiracy of omnipresent media clichés which penetrate public spheres and minds. "But how can the cinema attack the dark organisation of clichés", Deleuze asks, "when it participates in their fabrication and propagation, as much as magazines or television?"55 In some moments of the 1970s conspiracy cycle, the critical orientation of the action-image in crisis becomes self-reflexive: it shows the conspiracy as cinema, as in the psycho-killer test screening in The Parallax View, and the cinema as conspiracy – the conspiracy of outdated Hollywood genres whose clichés become dangerously alive in Westworld.
The horror of a Westworld fully subsumed under the capital of generic recognition value; the paranoia in Pakula´s thrillers, caused by the persistence of the system and by the infinity of secret state power; and also Britton´s critical dismay over the cultural vitality of a seemingly exhausted cinema, over the blockbusters that grew out of the ruins of The Towering Inferno: certain images and definitions of 1970s New Hollywood converge in an "epistemology of uneasiness" about the fact that something which should be dead is – still, again, or in as yet unknown ways – alive.56 In these accounts of how the past, the already known, continues to rule over the present, the conspiracy metaphor figures prominently. According to Britton´s critique of Hollywood after 1975, the self-referentiality of cinema´s clichés turns entertainment into a solipsistic totality of knowingness, and the community-building role of genres is replaced by "a cosy conspiracy of self-congratulation and spurious familiarity".57 Deleuze on the other hand, in his critique of American cinema´s inescapable entanglement in its own tradition, employs metaphors which become literalized in disaster and horror movie images: Hollywood´s genres "collapse and yet maintain their empty frame", he writes, and: "maltreated, mutilated, destroyed, a cliché is not slow to be reborn from its ashes."58 Along these lines, Crichton´s two films can be read as allegories of a cinema unable to rid itself of its past. The movie clichés – the ones which New Hollywood´s shifting, critical revision, and occasional mutilation of genres rather innovated and perpetuated than destroyed – literally stalk their audience in the form of Yul Brynner´s robot-gunslinger. In Westworld´s history-land of Hollywood´s past, the stereotype is a zombie who refuses to acknowledge his death and stubbornly walks on; in Coma, it is a stiff body kept alive, serving as a reservoir for spare parts, and the film´s clinic presents itself as showroom for spectacular lighting effects and as storage space for frozen lives, in short: as a cinema.
Such an interpretation, however, can only make sense within the discourse on New Hollywood in the narrow, 1970s sense. Placed, however, in the context of a larger New Hollywood – the one which gravitates towards the blockbuster and today defines the framework of mass-cultural encounters with the movies on a global scale –, the allegories of Westworld and Coma point to a different relationship of Hollywood with its past. The terms of this relationship have shifted from a negative conception – the cinema as conspiracy of the exhausted, as comatose body and empty frame – to an affirmative, biopolitical working through of cinema´s history, a rearticulation of its "standing reserve" and recycling of its past. This is Hollywood´s rebirth from its ashes which Deleuze mentions only in passing; the action-image´s phoenix-like (technology-based) revival in the blockbuster mode is not the concern of his cinema books. But it clearly is Crichton´s, or rather: the name Crichton is now one of the brand-names associated with Hollywood´s vitality and its embracing of the high-tech theme park. The films in question are the three Jurassic Park blockbusters (1993, 1997, 2001).59
In his review, Peter Wollen called the first of these films a hybrid of Westworld and Jaws (the Spielberg film whose 1975 success is usually regarded as a watershed in the genealogy of the contemporary blockbuster); and he described Jurassic Park in terms reminiscent of Crichton´s theme park movie made twenty years earlier: "[..T]he monsters have not just run out of control, they have come back from the dead [...]."60 Unlike Westworld, however, the all-encompassing reach of Jurassic Park is not a paranoid fantasy, but a positive consumer-cultural reality. What would be unimaginable with the former´s topography and monsters was key to the latter´s mass-cultural impact – the existence of a real Jurassic Park ride and of a great variety of dinosaur toys (famously displayed in the film itself), of servicves and commodities for consumers participating in one of those intermediatized long-term events known as blockbusters. As a history-land of genre cinema´s revived past (King Kong, The Lost World and other monster movies), Jurassic Park actualizes the virtuality of Westworld, i.e., a new conception of the theme park as inhabitable biotope and life-world to the cinema, and a temporality in which coming back from the dead is part of Hollywood´s biopolitical production.61 Rising from the ashes applies to a cinematic life-cycle which is mirrored in the cultural-economic cycle of each big film – in the "multimedia reincarnation" of the blockbuster, of a "cultural commodity that might be regenerated in any number of media forms", as Schatz writes in his New Hollywood success story.62 The near inexhaustibility of haunting clichés, which the New Hollywood of the 1970s glimpsed allegorically in images of conspiracy and horror, is fully explored as a life-affirming, future-oriented potential in the larger New Hollywood which thrives on the vitality of the blockbuster.
Steven Spielberg – whose career began within the New Hollywood of youth and road movies – is an even more famous brand-name for the larger New Hollywood´s vitality and productivity. The latter are based on recycling. The distant pasts of one´s own childhood, of genre cinema history and of traumatic modernity, and also the near pasts of theatrical viewing experiences are "worked through" – re-told in rescue narratives, re-membered in rides and merchandise. "Something has survived!" is the tagline of Spielberg´s therapeutic realism of real subsumption: time, history, and what is lost to them – The Lost World – are re-appropriated, re-interpreted, really subsumed under the self-revitalizing "capital cinema" of the blockbuster.63 Hollywood´s biopolitical vitalism seems capable of bringing everything, including its generic past, back from the dead. "Life finds a way", as a geneticist in Jurassic Park puts it, and: "Bio-technology, like the cinema, makes it possible for us to engage in a kind of time travel", as Wollen writes about that film.64 Generally, today´s blockbusters act as media-cultural "time machines"; this is Elsaesser´s name for the temporal logic of a Hollywood whose newness his recent articles frame as post-classical.65 While Wollen compares Spielberg´s dinosaurs which haunt the present to vampires, Elsaesser makes the vampire into a full-blown allegory of cinema´s post-classical afterlife. "The very theme of the undead lies at the heart of the cinema´s power and cultural presence", he writes; Hollywood affirmatively folds around its die-hard clichés, exerting its vampirist powers of infection-through-fascination, metamorphosis and revitalization.66 Reading Fantasy Island (1978-1984), a TV series reminiscent of Chrichton´s Hollywood genres turned into worlds, as an allegory of its production, Elsaesser conceptualizes cinema´s position in today´s media-cultural temporality in terms of biopower – in terms of cinema´s "self-referentiality, repetition, revamping of genres, reiteration of formulas" as a "natural cycle", of movie history as a "natural history" to be rearticulated by television and the digital media.67
Hollywood´s self-transmuting life-cycle and some other aspects of the above discussion can, finally, be grasped with a concept proposed by Deleuze. The term "control society" appears not in Deleuze´s cinema books, but in his essays on contemporary media and modes of social power (with conceptual links to his logics of film that remain implicit, virtual). Historically, the control society is the vanishing point of capitalism´s move from the rigid standards of Fordist discipline to a logic of flexible and dispersed power. Exploring this concept, Hardt and Negri see the formation of control societies as an outcome of the anti-disciplinary resistance and creativity of 1960s countercultures: with the production of hybrid social subjectivities, with institutions continually redefined according to the movements and temporal rhythms of the "multitude", capital power adapts to, integrates, normalizes and profits from the new pragmatic of flexibility and affective labor.68 While disciplinary society´s "confinements" acted as social "molds", Deleuze writes, "controls are a modulation, like a self-transmuting molding continually changing from one moment to the next [...]."69 In this definition, Deleuze falls back upon the terms of his description of the cinematic "movement-image" as it captures the ever changing duration of the material world: the film-image is a "modulation" which "constantly modifies the mold, constitutes a variable, continuous, temporal mold."70 When controls modulate society like film modulates reality, "the world itself 'turns to film'", as Deleuze remarks on the pervasiveness of television as a technology of control.71 The world turns to film as capital becomes a world, to the extent that "capital cinema" – cinema as a rehearsal ground and agent of socialization – is itself rendered flexible, entirely mediatized, pervaded by electronic technologies. Giving film-images unprecedented global reach, connectivity and cultural penetration, the contemporary blockbuster best warrants Beller´s notion of "capital cinema" and its place "at the heart of the society of control", as Patricia Pisters puts it.72 In its blockbuster mode, cinema is deeply immersed in and at the same time rehearses the temporal logic of control societies, in which, according to Deleuze, "you never finish anything".73 Life-long learning and continuous self-control, the flexible redefinition and working through of identities – these ethics and subjectivities are turned into consumer-cultural experiences by the cinema of the blockbuster, which is cinema as time machine and hardly ever finished event. Blockbusters exceed the molds of genre and narrative closure; they rework (movie) history and consumer biographies, and modulate between markets and media, anticipations and memories, trailers and DVDs, novelty and nostalgia.74
The formation process of the control society offers a framework for reconsidering the genealogy of New Hollywood and some ambiguities surrounding the term. In this perspective, the relationship between the New Hollywood of disciplinary crisis and countercultural experimentation, and the New Hollywood of the blockbuster is less one of opposition, but rather one of virtualities that are actualized. In other words, The Dirty Dozen and Kelly´s Heroes, Westworld and Coma become meaningful as symptoms and anticipations of media-cultural, hence social, experiences which are flexible, affective, undisciplined – and controlled. Hollywood has displaced and reworked the Westworld into the Jurassic Park, and one can also see a kind of legacy of The Dirty Dozen in contemporary blockbusters: from the obvious example of Armageddon (1998) – with its rock band-like team of misfits and jokers on a special NASA mission, and with the Dirty Dozen-comparison circulated by promotional discourses and reviews of the film75 – to Twister (1996) or xXx (2002), which contrast the productivity of affective labor and subcultural "tacit knowledge" with the failures of disciplined action.
But of course, the (virtual) flexibility explored in the American cinema circa 1970 and the (actual) flexibility rehearsed in today´s cinema of the blockbuster are not one and the same thing. A genealogical approach to our present global media culture probably has to consider processes of re-evaluation which have gradually turned flexibility and affectivity from indices of anti-disciplinary resistance into driving forces of today´s creative industries, lifestyle economies and experience cultures. This point (which demands further inquiry) can be illustrated by a last visit to a theme park running on movie software, with a detour through the contemporary diagnostics of late 1960s New Hollywood. In 1971, Elsaesser contrasted classical Hollywood´s motivation and goal-orientation of action with recent films like The Wild Bunchwhose emotionally dislocated heroes "laugh uncontrollably for no apparent reason, only suddenly to break into outbursts of unmotivated and wholly irrational violence".76 In 2002, Warner Bros. Movie World at Bottrop, Germany, opened – next to the Lethal Weapon, Eraser and Wild Wild West rollercoasters, the Batman flight simulator, "Rick’s Café Américain" and Dirty Harry´s BBQ diner – a "free-fall ride" tower named after Peckinpah´s western to end all westerns.77 Advertised by the Movie World management as the worthy namesake of a "brutal and immoral" western´s "anti-heroes", and with the subtitle of the film´s German dubbed version added to its name, The Wild Bunch – Sie kannten kein Gesetz (literally They Knew No Law) now shoots up (or rather down) lawless theme park consumers who laugh uncontrollably under technologically controlled outbursts of violence. One New Hollywood´s crisis of motivation has become the name of another´s experience culture.
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