‘Final Men’, Racialised Fears & the Control of Monstrous Cityscapes in Post-Apocalyptic Hollywood Films

in Cityscapes of the Future
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Abstract

This chapter examines the horrific experiences of a ‘final man’ – the fabled last man on Earth – in a dystopic near-future science-fiction cityscape through a comparative analysis of three related post-apocalyptic films, ranging from the late ‘classical’ Hollywood period to a contemporary blockbuster. The films variously expose American (male) racial anxieties and preoccupations in keeping with each film’s respective period. Each ‘final man’ initially enacts a masculinist desire to control urban space. However, the city is also a fearful space; and one irrevocably not his. This horrific loss of control is associated with historical racial fears of perceived urban destruction – and expressed through the arrival of ‘monstrous’ Others varyingly identified with terror, counter-culture and white patriarchy. Ultimately, an idealised post-racial future may mandate abandoning the ‘monstrous’ city for a non-urban future that precludes the ‘final man’.

Cityscapes of the Future

Urban Spaces in Science Fiction

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