Enemies of The State
“Washington and Hollywood spring from the same DNA.” — Jack Valenti, former president & CEO, Motion Picture Association of America
What makes a convenient Hollywood villain? Via interviews with filmmakers and cultural critics, Enemies of the State will examine the fictional depictions of societal fears throughout the years — everything from the threat of Cold War-era communism to artificial intelligence and urban dystopia. How has Hollywood reflected the shifting political and social climates of the country throughout the last century? What is the nature of the symbiotic relationship between popular culture and public opinion?
Kevin Fullam is an adjunct lecturer at Loyola University, where he teaches a course on the depiction of American politics in popular culture. He also is the current host/producer of Split Reel (formerly at WLUW, now airing on CHIRP radio in Chicago), which examines film, television, and societal attitudes.
Enemies of the State is Kevin’s directorial debut. He served as writer/creative consultant for Cancel Crash (Ki Productions/Tastytrade), a 2012 documentary on the 1987 Wall Street crash. In addition, he also performed research for 2011’s The Interrupters while at Kartemquin Films.
Governments have long recognized the power of the moving picture in shaping hearts and minds; America even coined that expression with regards to the PR wars our nation has waged overseas. Â During World War II, legendary director Frank Capra was commissioned by Uncle Sam to help sell the public on the reasons for fighting via the classic Why We Fight series — we needed propaganda to combat the images coming out of Nazi Germany… most notably, Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will.
That got me thinking about American demons — not just our external enemies, but the fears we harbor about our own society. What do the films of each era say about the concerns of that time? Everyone has a computer today, but how was technology portrayed before computers arrived in our homes? And is it any surprise that Death Wish struck a chord with the American public at a time when urban crime exploded?
While there has been a great deal of academic scholarship on these topics, not much has been done in the way of documentaries, and thus it seemed only logical that a study on the power of visual storytelling could use a visual medium itself. Hence, Enemies of the State.