The Hero Industry: Spectacular Pacification in the Era of Media Interactivity

Western Washington University’s undergrad academic magazine, Occam’s Razor, just released its 10th volume, which includes my essay “The Hero Industry: Spectacular Pacification in the Era of Media Interactivity”.

This essay highlights the architecture of spectator participation across games and film about military heroes. Drawing on the theories of Guy Debord and visual rhetoric scholar Nicholas Mirzoeff, just to name a couple, I argue that these forms of media have often been used to pacify an anxious American public conscripted as participants in the imperialist culture that propelled US military intervention since, at least, the Gulf War and onward to today. I argue that spectacular pacification relies on a non-participatory mode of spectatorship that the terrain of media technologies in the 21st century seems to threaten by encouraging interaction, involvement, participation, etc. Conceiving of the architecture of theatre experiences and the architecture of digital space and procedural design in video games, the theories of the Situationist International, I suggest, suggest a way to resist the imperialist project of a producing a culture of war within America by getting us involved and conscious of our agency as citizens and spectators. Among the texts analyzed in this essay, you can expect to read how this all is implicated within movies like Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, The 15:17 to Paris, and games like Spec Ops: The Line and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

You can read my essay, and several other essays written by WWU undergrads, in Occam’s Razor Vol. 10 HERE.