A 'Toxic Genre'

A 'Toxic Genre' : The Iraq War Films

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Over the last five years, a cycle of films has emerged addressing the ongoing Iraq conflict. Some became well-known and one of them, The Hurt Locker, won a string of Oscars. But many others disappeared into obscurity. What is it about these films that led Variety to dub them a 'toxic genre'?

Martin Barker analyses the production and reception of these recent Iraq war films. Among the issues he examines are the borrowing of soldiers' YouTube styles of self-representation to generate an 'authentic' Iraq experience, and how they take refuge in 'apolitical' post-traumatic stress disorder. Barker also looks afresh at some classic issues in film theory: the problems of accounting for film 'failures', the shaping role of production systems, the significance of genre-naming and the impact of that 'toxic' label.

A 'Toxic Genre' is fascinating reading for film studies students and anyone interested in cinema's portrayal of modern warfare.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 216 pages
  • 135 x 215 x 12.7mm | 249.48g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New
  • 0745331297
  • 9780745331294
  • 1,125,085

Table of contents


1. The disappearing Iraq war films

2. No True Glory: the film that never was

3. Constructing an `Iraq war experience'

4. From Doughboys to Grunts: the `American soldier'

5. Understanding film `failures'

6. Bringing the war home

7. Explaining the Iraq war

8. Producing a `toxic genre'

9. Free-riders and outliers

10. Latino grunts: the new victim-heroes

11. The Hurt Locker and beyond



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Review quote

'A touchstone: the first to comprehend entirely the wave of war films in the decade following 9/11. As a chronicle, it is encyclopedic. As a work of interpretation, it deftly sketches the complex of narrative contradictions that animate the genre. Baker's book cuts like a laser sight through the fog of contemporary war film' -- Roger Stahl, Associate Professor in the Department of Speech Communication at University of Georgia, author of Militainment, Inc(2009). 'One of the best studies yet of filmmaking in our contemporary age of war. This volume is an indispensable guide both to a challenging cycle of films and to the wider struggle of cinema to be seriously political today' -- David Slocum, Professor and Faculty Director of the Executive MBA Program at the Berlin School of Creative Leadership, Steinbeis University, editor of Hollywood and War (2006). 'An excellent and original analysis of a range of films related to the war in Iraq that also makes a wider contribution to our understanding of the various pressures. Lucidly argued and a model of level-headed analysis' -- Geoff King, Professor of Film and TV Studies, Brunel University, London 'A critical, multidimensional analysis of how film culture deals with war and politics. Clearly written, broadly informed, and engagingly insightful' -- Michael Parenti, author of God and His Demons and The Face of Imperialism
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About Martin Barker

Martin Barker is Research Professor at Aberystwyth University. He has researched and published widely on topics ranging from comic books, censorship campaigns, arguments over 'dangerous media'. He is the author of A Toxic Genre (Pluto, 2011) and From Antz to Titanic (Pluto, 2000).
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