I've long regarded Walsh as one of the most insightful critics of films and novels. His left, undogmatic political orientation has been informed by many years of critical thinking about culture and politics. In this presentation Walsh (born in 1949) tries to make sense out of life in the US, which has been so dramatically impacted by many wars during the past century, through examining the themes of many films and books during this period. He finds that they can be separated in two categories: films/books in the past 25 years and those previous starting in WWI. He is not suggesting that the earlier period was any kind of golden age, but he sees the more recent period has producing works that represent a serious decline in social examination and criticism. He asks:
Where is the work that has captured the horror of the “war on terror”?In his conclusion Walsh argues that we are the threshold of change:
Now, we’ve had 25 years of war … by now, you would think a great work would have appeared.
Where is the film or novel (or drama or poem or painting) that has captured for an entire generation the horror of the “war on terror”? This is a central issue in this talk, a central problem….
Clearly, we have entered a new stage of development. The economic and social crisis, along with relentless wars and militarist violence, are fueling the discontent of masses of people and blowing up—or threatening to blow up—political arrangements and set-ups around the globe, including in the US.