• “’Space is the Place”: The Politics of Birth in Minority Report”

    Todd Comer (see profile)
    Film Studies, Speculative and Science Fiction
    Action and adventure films, Motion pictures--Social aspects
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Org.:
    Midwest Modern Language Association
    Conf. Loc.:
    St. Louis, MO.
    Conf. Date:
    Nov. 3-6, 2011
    birth, hermeneutics, Post traumatic stress disorder, science fiction, Spielberg, Film and society
    Permanent URL:
    Steven Spielberg’s 2002 Minority Report narrates two interrelated stories. The micro story concerns a family, a kidnapped son, the ensuing trauma, and the work of mourning that follows. The macro story concerns criminal justice, social stability, and hermeneutics at the level of the nation state. The problem for both stories is ontological and hermeneutic play—some play too much, some play too little. Sometimes play hurts, and sometimes the absence of play hurts. Anderton (Tom Cruise), following the disappearance of his son, has lost the ability to play and his obsession with criminal detection is an obvious response to private trauma. His public job as a police officer, much like ours, is to review film, fragments of memories taking the form of film in his case, and make spatially distraught images and sounds seamlessly cohere. Unfortunately, the trauma in his life leads him to shortchange the hermeneutic process to an excessive degree: he takes the unfinished, often contradictory and in-progress fragments of possible future murders and enforces unjust closures. Family trauma is the origin of a work of mourning that, having left behind the private for the public, eliminates ontological and hermeneutic play as a means of safeguarding the public body. Spielberg’s film not only suggests that play is essential to our being, but that play, uncertainty, and (hermeneutic and ontological) spatiality are necessary for a just society. My argument, however, focuses on the manner in which trauma is juxtaposed with birth in this post-9/11 film. Family trauma is cynically utilized to bolster the state and its biopower, ignoring the “essence” of family as a figure for birth, as an ontological and hermeneutic opening.
    Last Updated:
    7 years ago
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