Science Fiction Film & Television

Sex and machines: the ‘buzz’ of 1950s science fiction films

Science Fiction Film & Television (2015), 8, (3), 371–386.

Abstract

Sex sells movies. It is part of the text we buy, part of what Matthew Fuller terms its ‘memetic buzz’, producing ‘an explosion of activity and ideas’ around the text. That ‘buzz’ is especially apparent in 1950s sf films, when the genre was struggling to find a new identity and an audience. This essay examines an element of that ‘buzz’ in film advertisements for The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Tobor the Great (1954), Forbidden Planet (1956) and The Colossus of New York (1958) – all of which linked sex and technology in a fashion that reflected the anxieties and hopes that marked this cinema as it sought to shape its new generic identity.

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Chapman, James, and Nicholas J. Cull. Projecting Tomorrow: Science Fiction and Popular Cinema. London: I.B.Tauris, 2013. Projecting Tomorrow: Science Fiction and Popular Cinema Google Scholar

Crowther, Bosley. ‘The Screen in Review: The Day the Earth Stood Still’. The New York Times (19 Sep 1951). http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review. Accessed 9 May 2014. Google Scholar

Crowther, Bosley. ‘The Screen: Wonderful Trip in Space’. The New York Times (4 May 1956): 21. http://media.proquest.com.prx.library.gatech.edu/media. Accessed 10 May 2014. Google Scholar

Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality: Volume 1. Trans. Robert Hurley. New York: Random House, 1978. The History of Sexuality: Volume 1 Google Scholar

‘Free Movie Tickets for Children’. The Paris News (19 Feb 1956): 34. www.newspapers.com/newspage/6004964. Accessed 2 Oct 2014. Google Scholar

Fuller, Matthew. Media Ecologies: Materialist Energies in Art and Technoculture. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005. Media Ecologies: Materialist Energies in Art and Technoculture Google Scholar

George, Susan A. Gendering Science Fiction Films: Invaders from the Suburbs. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. Gendering Science Fiction Films: Invaders from the Suburbs Google Scholar

Geraghty, Lincoln. American Science Fiction Film and Television. Oxford: Berg, 2009. American Science Fiction Film and Television Google Scholar

Gray, Jonathan. Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers, and Other Media Paratexts. New York: New York UP, 2010. Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers, and Other Media Paratexts Google Scholar

‘The Invisible Man Returns’. Variety (3 Jan 1940). Google Scholar

Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York UP, 2006. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide Google Scholar

Kaminsky, Stuart M. ‘Don Siegel on the Pod Society’. Science Fiction Films. Ed. Thomas R. Atkins. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1976. 73–82. Don Siegel on the Pod Society Science Fiction Films 73 82 Google Scholar

Roberts, Adam. The History of Science Fiction. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. The History of Science Fiction Google Scholar

Sobchack, Vivian. ‘Images of Wonder: The Look of Science Fiction’. Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader. Ed. Sean Redmond. London: Wallflower, 2004. 4–10. Images of Wonder: The Look of Science Fiction Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader 4 10 Google Scholar

Telotte, J.P. The Science Fiction Film. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2001. The Science Fiction Film Google Scholar

Tichi, Cecelia. Shifting Gears: Technology, Literature, Culture in Modernist America. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1987. Shifting Gears: Technology, Literature, Culture in Modernist America Google Scholar

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Telotte, J.P.

Telotte, J.P.