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Noir Affect$
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Christopher Breu and Elizabeth A. Hatmaker

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780823287802

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823287802.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FORDHAM SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Fordham University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FSO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

Afterword: Melodrama, Noir’s Kid Sister, or Crying in Trump’s America

Afterword: Melodrama, Noir’s Kid Sister, or Crying in Trump’s America

(p.261) Afterword: Melodrama, Noir’s Kid Sister, or Crying in Trump’s America
Noir Affect

Paula Rabinowitz

Fordham University Press

This chapter reflects on both the power and the limitations of noir affect as a global model for the neoliberal present, arguing that we also need to attend to noir’s younger sister, melodrama. If noir affect is a mode of contemporary culture, melodramatic affect may trump it as the present’s dominant mode. In a world in which right-wing strong men (starting with Donald Trump himself) are openly enjoying power and propagating sexual violence and in which respectability regularly is undone by exposed secrets, melodrama is the dominant mode. The contemporary social narrative takes the form of obscene fathers, family romances, and family secrets made public. If noir tends to be about a masculinized social world, in which the femme fatale plays by masculine rules and usually loses, melodrama has a different, potentially more feminist resonance: it articulates a feminine social world, which is structured around the revelation of violent sexual secrets existing behind the façade of respectability. Such forms of melodramatic affect shape important moments of contemporary political struggle as the #MeToo movement has demonstrated.

Keywords:   affect, feminism, film, film noir, melodrama, #MeToo, noir, rape culture, sexual violence

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