On Friday, December 9th Professor Jigna Desai presented her work-in-progress entitled "Cinema of Exception, Cinema of Insecurity: Race and Terror in Post 9/11 Media." Positioning her work in the context of former President George W. Bush's post 9/11 remarks, which propelled the nation into a "state of exception" she illustrated how the U.S. was able to justify its persecution of "bad" brown bodies (muslim terrorists). Bush's campaign relied on the idea that the surveillance and violence against these "bad" brown bodies must be done to preserve the national security of the U.S. and the international community at large. The former President successfully gathered national and international support for his campaign against terror by laying out a framework for determining what made a "good" and "bad" brown muslim body through his executive actions. More specifically, this exercise of hegemonic power and global violence would be explored in popular films. By examining two Harold and Kumar films Desai argued that these parodies do more than provide a venue to purge the U.S. of the fear of a terrorist attack.
The point I remember the most during her analysis of the films was the role that citizenship played in the stories developing narrative. For instance, in one of the films the ability of the two main characters to access goods or to participate in consumer culture became a major signifier of American citizenship. The fantasy of the American dream and the constant pursuit of inclusion became the basis of almost all the interactions that took place throughout the film.
A question that arose for me relates to the ways that representations of the American dream have shifted alongside the state of exceptions persecution of "bad" brown bodies. More specifically, how do these films disrupt the ideological particularities of the American dream? Why is that important to a parody film that aims to use humor to challenge and disrupt the idea of the "good" and "bad" brown body?
I am have always been particularly interested in the ways that the American dream continues to define, confine and legitimize certain ways of being in the world. I believe a closer examination of its role in tandem with your works established goals could open up your exploration of the role that citizenship plays in contemporary racial formation.