Terminators, monkeys and mass culture: The carnival of time in science fiction films

Dimitrakaki, Angela and Tsiantis, M.S. (2002) Terminators, monkeys and mass culture: The carnival of time in science fiction films Time & Society, 11, (2/3), pp. 209-231.


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This article is concerned with time in science fiction films. The authors' contention is that the current fascination with the time travel motif can be understood in terms of an oppositional cultural narrative running counter to dominant forms of temporality within capitalism. Such an approach allows a negotiation of the wide (mass) appeal of films based on the time travel motif without resorting to the primal scene fantasy. The argument, attempting a Marxist reading of the construction of time, challenges the views which dismiss mass culture as merely escapist.
Specifically, the authors argue that the potentially subversive element of time travel films lies precisely in a particular conceptualization and experience of time and history as cyclical and in flux. Drawing on Bakhtin, this understanding of time is antithetical to the temporalities generated within late capitalist societies where time emerges as both linear and fragmented. Through the reading of films such as Twelve Monkeys, Terminator and others the authors attempt to show that time in this context entails a possibility of intervention in history (both personal and social) and is presented as non-linear and non-teleological.

Item Type: Article
ISSNs: 0961-463X (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: science fiction film, time travel, capitalism, bakhtin, carnival, marxist cultural theory
ePrint ID: 16323
Date :
Date Event
September 2002Published
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2005
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2017 23:24
Further Information:Google Scholar
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/16323

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