English / Deutsch

1.6.2008 | BABYLON, Berlin

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Discussion with James McFarland

The violence of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Tobe Hooper’s 1974 cult classic, has political resonance for both sides of the bourgeois distinction between Staat and Öffentlichkeit, between the politics of rationalized public institutions and the amorphous public sphere. In his reading of the implications of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, James McFarland discusses the film’s internal theme of the agricultural machine being refunctioned (to use Brecht’s term) into a terrorist weapon, which parallels the cinematic Umfunktionierung of the film itself into an act of aggression. The larger social context of the film is the experience of policing populations of guerrilla insurgents, only heightening the movie’s potential relevance, particularly today. To comprehend these resonances, the historical context in which the film emerged is addressed, a context that has once again become urgent. For The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a movie of wartime.

James McFarland is assistant professor of German Studies and dean of International Studies at Connecticut College.