Postmodernism



It is now a truism to say that the term postmodernism has been stretched to the breaking point. Defining postmodernism has often proved a messy task because of the sundry ways in which the term has been used in application to an astounding diversity of sociocultural phenomena. Building facades, gallery artwork, political and advertising campaigns, historical periods and sensibilities, and philosophies are referred to as indicative of postmodernism. To add to the confusion, some thinkers consider postmodernism as a symptomatic appearance or strategy found in some or many recent cultural products, while others regard our very age as intrinsically postmodern. In approaching the concept, then, it is best to look at how the term has been used and how it differs from the "modern," and which features of recent and current filmmaking, film theory, and film reception might be identified as postmodern. In brief, postmodernism may be thought of as an attitude which eschews an essential, transcendent subject, rejects teleology and historical destiny, and discredits faith in totalizing grand narratives. In art, specifically film, this postmodern attitude has been described as having precipitated (negatively or positively, respectively) either the exhaustion or the playfulness that produces intertextuality, self-referentiality, pastiche, a nostalgia for a mélange of past forms, and the blurring of boundaries between "high" and "low" culture.



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