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The Babylon ComplexTheopolitical Fantasies of War, Sex, and Sovereignty$
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Erin Runions

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823257331

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823257331.001.0001

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Tolerating Babel

Tolerating Babel

Biopolitics, Film, and Family

(p.118) Three Tolerating Babel
The Babylon Complex

Erin Runions

Fordham University Press

This chapter shows how biopolitics, Babel, and the discourse of tolerance are imbricated in two important films: D. W. Griffith’s 1916 film Intolerance: Love’s Struggle through the Ages, and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 2006 film Babel. Both films articulate a wish to rebuild Babel: They propose cinema as a tolerant universal language. While advocating tolerance, they sexualize and negatively appraise the otherness of Babylon in ways that uphold the normative sexual relations of the white heteronormative family. The ambivalence of these films toward their central metaphor is also consistent with the shifts in political subjectivity in biopolitics. Together, they reveal how Bible, film, family, and tolerance discourse all work together to authorize U.S. empire, to normalize biopolitical divisions of populations and to model a political subjectivity (the subject of interest) that is free but not too free.

Keywords:   Babel, biopolitics, empire, film, Griffith, Iñárritu, political subjectivity, subject of interest, tolerance

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