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Clue and the Crisis of the American White Male

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Clue and the Crisis of the American White Male

Nothing is more American than the crossover appeal of products in the mass media; this appeal is what propelled the idea for the 1985 release of the film Clue, based on the Parker Brothers board game. Furthermore, in keeping with the game's theme, the film appeared in theaters across the country with different endings. With an ensemble cast of talented but little known actors—Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, Lesley Ann Warren, Martin Mull, Madeline Kahn, Eileen Brennan and Michael McKean—Clue seemed like a film destined to slip into obscurity. After all, it was a comedy, clever but crass. A deeper analysis of the film provides some insight into a running commentary that presents not just a murder mystery involving several comedic characters, but rather a complex allegorical situation that presents characters as archetypal figures for repressed forces in the dominant American ideology. In reality, Clue is a film about the crisis of the upper class white male in American culture.

In the piece “Cinema/Ideology/Criticism,” Jean Luc-Comolli and Jean Narboni define the critic's job as the discernment of “which films, books and magazines allow the ideology a free, unhampered passage, transmit it with crystal clarity, serve as its chosen language” and which films “attempt to make it turn back and reflect itself, intercept it, make it visible by revealing its mechanisms, by blocking them” (753). Through their examination, seven film categories are outlined. Clue falls into the “E” category, which is defined as “films which seem at first sight to belong firmly within the ideology and to be completely under its sway, but which turn out to be so only in an ambiguous manner” (75...

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...itty dialogue. As Wadworth said, it should be no surprise that the FBI (dominant ideology) is trying to cover up the murder of these repressed forces. “The FBI is used to cleaning up after multiple murders. Why do you think it's run by a man called Hoover?” By continually making fun of the very powers it is supposedly reinforcing, Clue becomes an important film in criticizing American bourgeois ideology.

Works Cited

Gledhill, Christine. “Recent Developments in Feminist Film Criticism.” Braudy and Cohen, 251-72.

Braudy, Leo and Marshall Cohen, eds. Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings, Fifth Edition. New York: Oxford UP, 1999.

Comolli, Jean-Luc and Jean Narboni, “Cinema/Ideology/Criticism.” Braudy and

Cohen, 752-59.

Lynn, Jonathan. Clue. Paramount, 1985.

Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Braudy and Cohen, 83
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