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Friedrich Nietzsche and the Posthuman/Transhuman in Film and Television

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The Palgrave Handbook of Posthumanism in Film and Television

Abstract

If any philosopher is identified with posthumanism in film or television it would seemingly have to be Nietzsche, whose Zarathustra proclaimed the doctrine of the Übermensch, the overhuman, traditionally transmitted to the English dramatic world via George Bernard Shaw in his 1903 play in four acts, Man and Superman (rendered in 1982 for television and starring Peter O’Toole), and thus the association with Superman, the posthuman. Of course, and this too is not surprising, the association is a caricature and a dangerous one, embracing the various instaurations of transhumanism in the celebration of Nazi eugenics in Leni Riefenstahl’s (1935) Triumph des Willens, to the variously padded and coifed versions of Superman in film and in a range of television series, including the teenage transhuman Clark Kent in television’s Smallville (2001–2011).

That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

John Milius, Conan the Barbarian (1982)

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Notes

  1. Max Horkheimer, Eclipse of Reason (London: Continuum 2004), 113.

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© 2015 Babette Babich

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Babich, B. (2015). Friedrich Nietzsche and the Posthuman/Transhuman in Film and Television. In: Hauskeller, M., Philbeck, T.D., Carbonell, C.D. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Posthumanism in Film and Television. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137430328_6

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