Get PJ Media on your Apple

PJM Lifestyle

by
Ed Driscoll

Bio

February 1, 2012 - 12:02 am

What connects seemingly disparate works such as The Silence of the Lambs, Cape Fear, Mad Men, and Seinfeld? It is the philosophy of nihilism, first popularized by Friedrich Nietzsche in the late 19th century. But in the last few decades,  how did it become the dominant worldview of Hollywood? In 1999, Dr. Thomas S. Hibbs, currently the Distinguished Professor of Ethics & Culture and Dean of the Honors College at Baylor University, wrote the original version of Shows About Nothing: Nihilism in Popular Culture. Last month, Baylor University released an updated version of the book, which explores shows and films that have debuted since Hibbs’ original work was published. In this half-hour interview, Hibbs discusses:

  • How post-WWII Hollywood originally explicitly rejected Nietzsche and nihilism, before ultimately embracing him with open arms.
  • Why horror movies eventually eradicated God for charming nihilists who fashion their morality as “beyond good and evil,” such as Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
  • Seinfeld: the sunny side of nihilism.
  • How man successfully threw off the encumbrances of authority and tradition only to find himself subject to new, more devious, and more intractable forms of tyranny.
  • How aesthetics came to usurp morality.
  • Mad Men’s Don Draper: the man in the gray nihilistic suit.
  • Can Hollywood move beyond nihilism?

Click below to listen to our interview:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

(29 minutes long; 27.2 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right-click here to download this show to your hard drive. Or right-click here to download the 5 MB lo-fi edition.

If your browser/Internet connection balks at the Flash player above and/or downloading the audio, click on the player below, or click here to be taken to YouTube, for an audio-only YouTube clip.  Between one of those versions, you should find a format that plays on your system.

For the rest of podcasts at the PJM Lifestyle blog, start here and keep scrolling.

Blogging since 2002, affiliated with PJM since 2005, where he is currently a columnist, San Jose Editor, and founder of PJM's Lifestyle blog. Over the past 15 years, Ed has contributed articles to National Review Online, the Weekly Standard.com, Right Wing News, the New Individualist, Blogcritics, Modernism, Videomaker, Servo, Audio/Video Interiors, Electronic House, PC World, Computer Music, Vintage Guitar, and Guitar World.
Click here to view the 36 legacy comments

Comments are closed.

One Trackback to “Audio Interview: Thomas Hibbs on ‘Shows About Nothing’”