Projecting Power: Post-9/11 Action Films and American Imperial Values

Jerry Shu, ’21

CAMD Scholar
Faculty Advisor: Elizabeth Meyer, Instructor in Classics

From Rome’s Aeneas to America’s Superman, stories of fictional heroes are beloved in Western culture. In recent years, those narratives have come in the form of box office-dominating action films, such as Avengers: Endgame (2019) or Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019). What makes these narratives so appealing? And how are such films a part of American cultural imperialism?

Applying a critical lens, Jerry Shu ’21 will explore the themes of these films and their impact on the post-9/11 American consciousness. Shu will begin with a discussion of American domination of the global box office, followed by a critique of several American action films. Deconstructing themes into cultural units called ‘ideologemes,’ Shu’s research attempts to promote a more critical understanding of the modern American entertainment industry and its impact on cultural values. The presentation will end with an opportunity for attendees themselves to analyze several film clips.

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