The power of film in Venezuela and Mexico, 1980-2010. Contesting and supporting state power
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AbstractWhat has been the relationship between the cultural power of film and the political power of the state in Mexico and Venezuela between 1980 and 2010? In a context where the legitimacy of the state was faltering, did films offer ideological support to the state? The thesis answers this question by interrogating 67 of the most popular Mexican and Venezuelan films from the period. Theoretically, it argues that to understand the communicative power of films, they should be studied over time and in some quantity. In order to make sense of the relationship between film and the state, the thesis interrogates dominant trends in how films tell stories about or depict their societies. This approach is grounded in a Gramscian notion of power and the concept of hegemony. Films are a form of communication, and how they partake in ongoing processes of forging or contesting hegemony can be approached with a theory of how communicative texts exert power. The thesis argues for studying films with a methodology normally applied to news media, and proposes that Entman’s theory of framing travels well to the study of popular films. From this starting point, the thesis argues that Venezuelan films between 1980 and 1999 undermined the state’s power by depicting the state as oppressive and highlighting the plight of the marginalized poor. Since 2000, Venezuelan cinema has not displayed one dominant trend, though the most common tendency has been films that characterize the country as insecure and state representatives as corrupt. In Mexico, most films between 1980 and 1999 supported the state’s legitimacy by voicing few complaints about society or politics. ‘Everything is in order’ was the impression given by the films. This has changed since 2000, and it has become more common for films to suggest that ‘nothing is in order’ by focusing on insecurity and social inequality. However, like in Venezuela, Mexican cinema has no longer displayed one dominant trend.
Fra dette utgangspunktet argumenterer avhandlingen for at venezuelanske filmer mellom 1980 og 1999 underminerte statens makt ved å fremstille staten som undertrykkende og ved å framheve situasjonen til landets marginaliserte befolkning. Siden 2000 har ikke dette vært en dominant trend i venezuelansk film, selv om den vanligste tendensen har vært å karakterisere landet som usikkert og statens representanter som korrupte. I Mexico støttet de fleste filmer mellom 1980 og 1999 statens legitimitet ved å gi et inntrykk av at ‘alt er i orden’. Dette har forandret seg siden 2000, og det har blitt vanligere at filmer antyder at ‘ingenting er i orden’ ved å fokusere på usikkerhet og sosial ulikhet. Likevel, og som i Venezuela, så finnes det ikke lenger en dominant trend i meksikansk film.