Power in Funny Games U.S.

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1. Introduction

Within the last years vioelence in video games and films has become one of the most discussed topics concerning media. Simultaneously, movie directors try everything to come along with new and even more pervert and disgusting scenes, that never have been seen before in such brutality. Nevertheless, success proves them right. Films like Saw and Hostel, which try to show every last detail of torture and multilation, nowadays have up to five sequels and made billions of dollars. Thus, violence has become something usual for most movie watchers nowadays and tends to entertain than shock. Michael Haneke has made it his challenge to confront both the producers and consumers with their apathetic dealing with violence. Funny Games U.S. is a remake of his earlier released film Funny Games, which could not get the audience he mostly tried to reach, namely Hollywood film producers and consumers. He sends his audience through a trip of pain, violence and suffering and rather punishes his viewers than he tries to entertain them. The main purpose of this schorlarly is to show how Haneke is able to create such an uncomfortable atmosphere without even showing the vioelence itself. Beside many other methods like special camera usage, clothing and gestures, Haneke mainly uses the concept of power. But what is this concept, how is it used and what impact does it have on the way Funny Games U.S. is presented? To answer these questions I will first introduce the concept and theories of power as it is defined in cultural studies. I will further point out those similarities of the theories which are applicable to the analysis of Michael Haneke's film. Second, I will give a short overview of the film and further analyse Haneke's usage of power and the impact of those power relations to the atmosphere of the film. Finally, I will compare the power relationship between the characters in Funny Games U.S. to the modern political systems and point out what the differences are and what they have in common.

2. The Concept and Theories of Power

The term power usually goes along with terms like strength, force or simply the ability to do something, which is the broad definition in most dictionaries as well. Additionally, this definition also includes the capacity or ability to influence events or peoples behaviour (“Power.”). Thus, power tends to be a concept that does not need to be some sort of direct action or force but rather has a certain effect on relations in politics, economics or events. As a result of this influence in socialogical and political fields, power has become one of the most important and yet most controversial concepts in modern cultural studies. The main problem of the exact definition of the term power is that we might know its influence and importance in social relations but not the concept itself (Cobb 482): “We may say about it in general only what St. Augustine said about time, that we all know perfectly well what it is – until someone asks us.” (Bierstedt 730). The elusiveness of this concept has led to many different theories about how power is achieved and what effects it has on society. Generally speaking, power in context of social relations describes a concept in which a person or group A effects a person or group B in a significant way. Most definitions used to describe a more detailed way of power appearance, according to which power appears when A affects B contrary to B's interests (Lorenzi 88). This definition is not seen to be valid for all theories because it assumes that power has to have a negative effect on B. Instead, some theories like the concept by Michel Foucault include positive effects to the power unholding group aswell. To be able to analyse and understand the presentation of power with the help of acknowledged concepts of power in Funny Games U.S., we have to distinguish between power among individuals and larger social groups or organizations. The most obvious and today...
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