No Jurisdiction
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No Jurisdiction interweaves autobiography and analysis to explore how a disabled American of French-Arab descent justifies his love for the (super)heroes who destroy brown people like himself. Framing Hollywood genre films as a key to understanding a crisis-filled world shaped by the global War on Terror, Fareed Ben-Youssef shows how, in response to 9/11, filmmakers and lawmakers mobilized iconic characters—the cowboy, the femme fatale, and the superhero—to make sense of our traumas and inspire new legal landscapes. The competing visions of power produced in this dialogue between Hollywood entertainment and mainstream politics underscore genre cinema's multivalent purpose: to normalize state violence and also to critique it.

Chapters devoted to the Western, film noir, superhero movies, and global films that deploy and comment on these genres offer compelling readings of films ranging from the more apparent (The Dark Knight, Sicario, and Logan) to the more unexpected (Sin City, Adieu Gary, The Broken Circle Breakdown, and Tokyo Sonata). Through narratives of states of emergency that include vaguely defined enemies, obscured battlefield boundaries, and blurred lines between victims and perpetrators, a new post-9/11 film canon emerges. No Jurisdiction is a deeply personal work of film scholarship, arguing that we can face our complicity and discover opportunities for resistance through our beloved genre movies.
List of Illustrations

Introduction. Hollywood at Ground Zero: Confessions of a Conflicted Fan

1. "It was like a movie!": Theorizing the Eerie Symmetries of a War on Terror

2. On the Frontier between Hate and Empathy: The Post‑9/11 Border Western

3. Femmes Fatales as Torturers and Lost Detectives in a Fragile City: Post‑9/11 Noir

4. Soaring Above the Law: The Post‑9/11 Superhero

5. "9/11 Transformed the Whole Planet, Not Just America!": The War on Terror's Shadow across Global Law and Cinema

Works Cited



Publié par
Date de parution 01 juillet 2022
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781438489285
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,1648€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


No Jurisdiction
Tony Tracy, White Cottage, White House
Tom Conley, Action, Action, Action
Lindsay Coleman and Roberto Schaefer, editors, The Cinematographer’s Voice
Nolwenn Mingant, Hollywood Films in North Africa and the Middle East
†Charles Warren, edited by William Rothman and Joshua Schulze, Writ on Water
Jason Sperb, The Hard Sell of Paradise
William Rothman, The Holiday in His Eye
Brendan Hennessey, Luchino Visconti and the Alchemy of Adaptation
Alexander Sergeant, Encountering the Impossible
Erica Stein, Seeing Symphonically
George Toles, Curtains of Light
Neil Badmington, Perpetual Movement
Merrill Schleier, editor, Race and the Suburbs in American Film
Matthew Leggatt, editor, Was It Yesterday?
Homer B. Pettey, editor, Mind Reeling
Alexia Kannas, Giallo!
Bill Krohn, Letters from Hollywood
Alex Clayton, Funny How?
Niels Niessen, Miraculous Realism
Burke Hilsabeck, The Slapstick Camera
A complete listing of books in this series can be found online at
No Jurisdiction
Legal, Political, and Aesthetic Disorder in Post-9/11 Genre Cinema
Fareed Ben-Youssef
Cover Image: The post-9/11 superhero mourns: Batman (Christian Bale) stands on the edge of ruins in The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, Warner Bros., 2008). Courtesy PhotoFest New York.
Published by State University of New York Press, Albany
© 2022 State University of New York
All rights reserved
Printed in the United States of America
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission. No part of this book may be stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means including electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.
For information, contact State University of New York Press, Albany, NY
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Name: Ben-Youssef, Fareed, 1987– author.
Title: No jurisdiction : legal, political, and aesthetic disorder in post-9/11 genre cinema / Fareed Ben-Youssef.
Description: Albany : State University of New York Press, [2022] | Series: SUNY series, horizons of cinema | Includes bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2021051933 | ISBN 9781438489278 (hardcover : alk. paper) | ISBN 9781438489285 (ebook)
Subjects: LCSH: September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001, in motion pictures. | Motion pictures and the September 11 Terrorist Attacks. | Motion pictures and the War on Terrorism, 2001–2009. | Film genres—United States. | Motion pictures—Political aspects—United States—History—21st century.
Classification: LCC PN1995.9.T46 B46 2022 | DDC 791.43/6552—dc23/eng/20220203
LC record available at
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List of Illustrations
Introduction. Hollywood at Ground Zero: Confessions of a Conflicted Fan
1 “It was like a movie!”: Theorizing the Eerie Symmetries of a War on Terror
2 On the Frontier between Hate and Empathy: The Post-9/11 Border Western
3 Femmes Fatales as Torturers and Lost Detectives in a Fragile City: Post-9/11 Noir
4 Soaring Above the Law: The Post-9/11 Superhero
5 “9/11 Transformed the Whole Planet, Not Just America!”: The War on Terror’s Shadow across Global Law and Cinema
Works Cited
I.1 The shadow of a plane about to crash into the World Trade Center passes over a Zoolander (2001) billboard, a metaphoric gesture to how 9/11’s shadow may fall over all of Hollywood. World Trade Center .
1.1 The superhero stands between the neon of a noir motel sign and the cowboy of the West depicted in a painting. Logan .
1.2 Connecting two genre heroes: a superhero reading of his exploits in glamorizing comics stands next to a TV, projecting an image of a young fan of the western gunslinger Shane. Logan.
2.1 The disillusioned FBI agent seen through infrared—drained and hollowed out. Sicario.
2.2 The corpse of an undocumented Mexican echoes the colors of the American flag: a bloody red, white, and blue. The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.
2.3 Melquiades confronts his reflection in TV screens, less a human than a phantom that lingers within the media. The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.
2.4 A border patrol agent experiences the Other’s plight when lassoed like cattle. The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.
2.5 A femme fatale rides the frontier, personifying a world where noir and the western are fused. The Counselor.
2.6 An assassin prepares his decapitating death trap under a billboard reading: “Aye have faith.” The words act as a promise to the viewer that soon heads will roll. The Counselor.
3.1 The word war breaks out of a speech bubble. In Sin City, the women’s war cannot be contained. Frank Miller’s Sin City: The Big Fat Kill #3 , 2.
3.2 Before growing up to be a femme fatale, Callahan is portrayed as a victim in a subordinated position to seemingly gigantesque male captors. Sin City.
3.3 A femme fatale twirls her lasso on stage, ensnaring men as easily as a cowgirl ensnares cattle. Sin City.
3.4 Wielding the law as a weapon. A femme fatale finds an “opportunity to fake ignor[ance]” in a legal loophole, uncovering a means to conceal the true depths of her knowledge. Sin City.
3.5 The Wonder Women of Old Town. The leather bracelets on the Wonder Woman analogue (not metal as typical) metaphorically signify the femmes fatales’ power to disrupt and destroy the patriarchy. Sin City.
3.6 Slamming the doors shut when Old Town becomes a prison where, like Abu Ghraib, women are the jailers. A perpetrating femininity emerges that can at once dismantle and obscure patriarchal violence of the military. Sin City.
3.7 A real-world detective walks under the gun of his cinematic analogue, Dirty Harry. The legally unbounded cinematic hero may obliterate the public’s acceptance of bounded law enforcement. Zodiac.
3.8 A hint toward the detective’s destructive obsession with catching a mass-mediated killer. He comes into the Zodiac Killer’s crosshairs. Zodiac.
3.9 (Above) Figure 3.10 (Below). The Zodiac Killer’s aim falls upon a cartoonist, foreshadowing the civilian’s own obsession with the case. Zodiac.
4.1 Black bodies hanging in an abandoned American city, moments before Batman shatters the screen in distress. This is one social reality even a superhero cannot face. The Dark Knight Rises.
4.2 The Joker’s smiley face emerges when the state embraces a vigilante. The supervillain’s ultimate victory comes when the rule of law is indeed shown to be a joke. The Dark Knight Rises.
5.1 A veteran watches the footage of his first kill. His confrontation with his past perpetration means aiming his own rifle at himself. Game Over.
5.2 The 9/11 attacks draw the film camera’s attention, panning past the Belgian family playing together in the scene. Unbeknownst to them, America’s trauma encroaches upon and directs their lives. The Broken Circle Breakdown.
5.3 A terrorist hostage video overtakes the frame, signaling China’s own entrance into the War on Terror. Wolf Warrior 2.
5.4 In outtakes over the end credits, the “Chinese superhero” runs away from the foreign enemy. The nationalistic action film exposes the position of China as the commanding force in the War on Terror as nothing but theatrical bluster. Wolf Warrior 2.
It all started with Batman #399.
When I was a very young child, standing in an arts and crafts store in Sidney, Montana, I came across a packet of shrink-wrapped comic books. Batman #399 sat at the front of the packet.
The comic book cover featured a shrunken head, an ax, and a cityscape illuminated by lightning, promising a new, violent world. From the moment I stared at that comic, I felt pulled into Batman’s Gotham City. Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman came out around this time, which only further reinforced my status as an honorary citizen of the superhero’s home.
This book interrogates my support of often-brutal vigilantes such as Batman, even during a time when the U.S. government adopted a kind of vigilante logic in its fight against terrorism after 9/11. Although they inspire oppressors, I still eagerly devour the comics and watch the movies featuring such heroes.
Such an interrogation of my shock and awe for these tainted objects demands supporters and confidants willing to plunge with me into the muck of these contradictory films. Many have conversed with me and mulled over my words. They deserve my warmest acknowledgment.
When the project started life as a dissertation, my chair, Miryam Sas, shaped my thinking. My mind always raced during our conversations, but she helped slow me down to navigate through the minefield of academic debates. She stayed by my side throughout the preparation of this book, from the initial proposal to the final touches on my marketing questionnaire. Her compassionate mentorship has propelled me through the foggy world of academia, shining a bright light (or is it a Bat Signal?) for me to follow.
Many of my interpretations in this book were crystallized while drinking the smoothest of cappuccinos at the Fertile Grounds Café in Berkeley, California, with David Cohen. The legal scholar understands the importance of cinema as a tool for public education about the law and its human costs. He pushed me to think historically about laws made in our moment of crisis and reminded me that we are not living in an exceptional time. Rather, the label of exceptional can obscure the precedents to the unlawful actions that so shock us today.
Anton Kaes helped me to take a similarly long view of contemporary films. Many of our conversations on the war film, going back to World War I, lingered on the way such films show how traumas suffered on the front lines insidiously pervade the home front. Kaes cultivated in me a more careful eye toward cinema, one attentive en

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