Does The Thing By John Carpenter Reinforce Or Challenge The Status Quo? Is The ‘signature Style’ Evident? Discuss With Reference To Both The Film’s Semantic And Syntactic Elements

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MCC 248

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7 February 2014

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IntroductionJohn Carpenter's 'The Thing' (1982) is remake of Howard Hawk's 1951 film of the same name, as well as a re-adaptation of the late John W. Campbell, Jr's story 'Who Goes There?' It is a film spectacle which is conforming to both the sci-fi and horror genres.In this film, the main focus is on this antagonist - 'The Thing'. It is a parasitic extra-terrestrial life-form that assimilates other organisms and in turn imitates them. In this movie, 'The Thing' breaks into a research station in Antarctica, absorbs some of the researchers and take their appearance thereafter. As a result, paranoid and distrust start to develop within these group of researchers.In this essay, this researcher will attempt to look into the state of affairs during the 1970s and 1980s and determine if what is shown in this movie reinforce or challenge the status quo during those times.Also he will try to examine whether there is a 'signature style' of John Carpenter and whether is it evident in 'The Thing'.Both semantic elements (for e.g. iconography, characterization) and syntactic elements and syntactic elements (for e.g. narrative, plot, relationship to society) will be further cited to support the following arguments.Status quo: Reinforce or challenge?To examine the 'status quo', it is important to look at the key happenings in American history back in the 1960s and 1970s which is prior to the film release in 1982.In the 1960s and the early 1970s, protest and reform was very common in American society. The younger American citizens demonstrated against the Vietnam War which was ongoing for large parts of the 1960s all the way until 1975 while African Americans fought for civil rights.In 1972, the Watergate scandal broke out. It was a major political scandal which began with the arrest of five men for breaking into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate complex. Eventually the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) found evidence that then-president of the United States, the late Richard Nixon, and his fellow administrators were the primary antagonists. The evidence had shown that Mr Nixon has abused his powers with 'dirty tricks' like bugging the offices of his political rivals and those whom he is suspicious of. After the scandal broke out, his attempted cover-ups was unsuccessful and he eventually had to step down from his position. Till today, he remains to be the only ever president of the United States who left his post on his own accord.Other notable happenings include the Energy Crisis where prices in energy resources escalated and the Three Mile Island accident where a partial nuclear meltdown resulted in release of radioactive gases into the environment. All these various incidents meant the American society and politics was at a real turbulent stage. As a result, there is 'a deepening sense of personal, community and spiritual dissatisfaction in America of the late 1970s and early 1980s' (John Kenneth Muir, 2009).Americ...

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