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The Invisible Hand in Popular CultureLiberty vs. Authority in American Film and TV$
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Paul A. Cantor

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780813140827

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813140827.001.0001

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Mars Attacks!

Mars Attacks!

Tim Burton and the Ideology of the Flying Saucer Movie

(p.136) (p.137) 4 Mars Attacks!
The Invisible Hand in Popular Culture

Paul A. Cantor

University Press of Kentucky

Chapter Four analyzes Tim Burton's film Mars Attacks! in relation to the classic flying saucer movies of the 1950s. During the Cold War, alien invasion narratives asked viewers to put their faith in the federal government. Ordinary Americans were shown to panic in the face of flying saucers, and only a combination of political, military, and scientific elites could save the United States. Mars Attacks! reverses this ideological position. It shows Washington elites to be self-serving and self-absorbed, and incapable of dealing with a crisis, while ordinary people manage to band together to defeat the invaders in haphazard but effective ways. The chapter compares Burton's vision to Alexis de Tocqueville's idea of the importance of local associations in American life. The chapter concludes by discussing Burton as a peculiar form of film auteur.

Keywords:   Tim Burton, Mars Attacks, flying saucer movies, Cold War, Alexis de Tocqueville, Auteur

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