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Title

Too Important, Too Impossible: The Present Absence as Communist Threat in The Fly (1958)

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Keywords

Fly (Motion picture : 1958); Communism and motion pictures;

Abstract

During the Cold War, the perceived inside/outside Communist threat often manifested itself in products of art, literature, and film. The science fiction-horror film of the 1950s is a genre particularly saturated with the fear of the unknown infiltrating American democracy, a fear which is often quelled in the films by destroying the foreign object that presents a threat to Western well-being. The Fly (1958) is no different from the majority of science fiction-horror films during that period as it harnesses this fear of the unknown, this time represented through the uncertainty of dangerous, unethical bodily experimentation that threatens to destroy the natural American self. The utilization of scientific experimentation directly links the narrative to the Cold War fear of technological Communist weaponry, weaponry with the supposed capability of usurping American life through fragmentation of the whole. The result of this mad-scientist type of experimentation results in two fly/human (Communist/American) hybrids, and the only way of restoring equilibrium to the narrative is through the destruction of these hybrids and a return to the natural, whole American self. The Fly, with its use of Othering and its emphasis on the present absence, represents the pervasive 1950s fear of Communist nations' infiltration into the American culture as well as the immediate, physical threat of the nuclear arms race, threats that were invisible yet highly present in the collective American psyche during that era.

Start Date

4-4-2017 1:00 PM

End Date

4-4-2017 4:30 PM

Faculty Advisor

Grant Tracey

Department

Department of Languages and Literatures

Comments

Location: Maucker Union State College Room

Embargo Date

4-4-2017

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Apr 4th, 1:00 PM Apr 4th, 4:30 PM

Too Important, Too Impossible: The Present Absence as Communist Threat in The Fly (1958)

During the Cold War, the perceived inside/outside Communist threat often manifested itself in products of art, literature, and film. The science fiction-horror film of the 1950s is a genre particularly saturated with the fear of the unknown infiltrating American democracy, a fear which is often quelled in the films by destroying the foreign object that presents a threat to Western well-being. The Fly (1958) is no different from the majority of science fiction-horror films during that period as it harnesses this fear of the unknown, this time represented through the uncertainty of dangerous, unethical bodily experimentation that threatens to destroy the natural American self. The utilization of scientific experimentation directly links the narrative to the Cold War fear of technological Communist weaponry, weaponry with the supposed capability of usurping American life through fragmentation of the whole. The result of this mad-scientist type of experimentation results in two fly/human (Communist/American) hybrids, and the only way of restoring equilibrium to the narrative is through the destruction of these hybrids and a return to the natural, whole American self. The Fly, with its use of Othering and its emphasis on the present absence, represents the pervasive 1950s fear of Communist nations' infiltration into the American culture as well as the immediate, physical threat of the nuclear arms race, threats that were invisible yet highly present in the collective American psyche during that era.