Synopsis of his presentation "Real Dystopic Visions: Cinematic Critiques of Postmodern L.A." to the Midwest Popular Culture Association conference in St. Louis. The 2013 conference was held at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel on October 11-13.
Real Dystopic Visions: Cinematic Critiques of Postmodern L.A. chronicles cinematic urbanity in Los Angeles with an emphasis on postmodernity and the portrayal of “realist dystopias.” Focusing on dystopia as a tendency rather than a subgenre, avoiding futurism in temporality and gigantism in spatiality, this paper attends to two films from the1980s: Repo Man (Alex Cox, 1984) and They Live (John Carpenter, 1988). The films contain elements of science-fiction, but the modes in which they detail dystopia as a tendency—through their commentary on criminality and policing, surveillance, consumerism, class division, and corporate/political collusion—emphasize local and tangible issues. Repo Man and They Live avoid the more iconic landmarks and landscapes of Los Angele in favor of the city’s inconspicuous, unadorned streets, illustrating an urban decay that was a site of anxiety for many civilians during the 1980s.