A Simple Plan: Ben Goldsmith on the Windfall Fantasy Film

Film Studies For Free is preparing a long, long, long post on freely-accessible, online, film-studies writing of note by particular named authors (a snappier title will hopefully occur to this befuddled author soon). But, in the process of preparing it, I stumbled across one piece that merited a much more urgent flagging up, especially given FSFF and almost everyone else’s ‘sideline’ interest in the global financial crisis and the upcoming US elections.

Ben Goldsmith, he of the wonderful weblog I Screen Studies, has recently posted a version of his published article ‘Something Rotten in the State of Minnesota, or The Morality of Backwoodsmen: A Simple Plan‘ on his site. Here’s how Goldsmith introduces his views now on Sam Raimi‘s 1998 film and his revisiting of the essay about it:

I remember I really didn’t like this film when I first saw it, but something kept drawing me back, and I went to see it three or four times at the movies (very unusual for me). I made copious notes, and delved into work on chance and fiction, and even came up with a sub-genre: the windfall fantasy, of which A Simple Plan is a variant: the windfall fantasy gone wrong. Reading this again almost a decade later, I remember how much the film affected me, stuck in my mind. It speaks to me now in a different way, as we experience what may well be the end of the Long Twentieth Century (Giovanni Arrighi). The film bespeaks the moral decay at the heart of America. [Hyperlinks added by FSFF]

As someone who had a very similar reaction, way back when (pre-9/11!), to A Simple Plan, I very much rate Goldsmith’s article on it. Much more good Film-Studies work, like this, is needed now on the economic aspects of the American (and Northern Hemispheric) Imaginary. And how much more wonderful it would be if that work, like this essay, were also freely accessible to all who might be interested in learning from it.

So, Hail to I Screen Studies and to its very generous Chief!

P.S. A propos of all this, please do check out Dina Iordanova‘s fab, recent, blog post ‘And End of an Era? Popular cinema, Gordon Gekko’s ‘Greed is Good!’ and the collapse of Wall Street. More about DinaView: Film Culture Technology Money anon.

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Catherine Grant

| Former Professor of Digital Media and Screen Studies | Audiovisual essayist, writer and researcher |