The meaning behind serial killers


The serial killer is the (post-)modern monster. Transgressing, subverting, finally rendering meaningless the socially constructed divide between Reality and Fiction, he (it is usually a ‘he’) is both inscrutable and overdetermined. Simultaneously fascinating and repulsive (in private life and in the public sphere), he taps into personal fears and violates cultural taboos, ultimately inviting each of us to discover our own meanings in his madness. Haunting our dreams as well as our waking lives in the news, on television, in novels, and especially (most powerfully) at the movies, the serial killer seduces us in the manner of the traditional Gothic villain while horrifying us with the threat of pure evil.

Uncanny by nature, the serial killer in film represents both rejected/projected Other and possible/potential double for each and every one of us.” (p.3)

Ref: (italics in original, emphases in blue bold mine) Steven Jay Schneider (2002) ‘Introduction, Pt. II: Serial Killer Film and Television’ Post Script – Essays in Film and the Humanities 22(2), pp.3-6

Abstract: “In the introduction to ‘Post Script’s’ second special issue devoted to realist horror cinema, Schneider discusses the representation of the serial killer in motion pictures, viewing the figure as a vehicle for audiences to project their personal fears and their fascination with cultural taboos onto. He comments on films that portray the serial killer as a ‘supernatural being,’ such as ;Halloween,’ ‘Child’s Play,’ and ‘The Eyes of Laura Mars.’ Schneider also previews essays collected in the issue, which analyze particular movies, themes, conventions, and generic traits from a variety of theoretical perspectives.” (p.3)


The Castle Doctrine, ghettoization, gated communities, and spaces of the home


Oooh… brilliant position piece on the Trayvon Martin tragedy… Hilda E. Kurtz writes:

“The February 2012 shooting death in Florida of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, by George Zimmerman, an Hispanic neighborhood watch captain – and the police’s immediate release of the shooter – drew widespread outrage at racial disparities in law enforcement of violent crimes in the United States. It also drew attention to a fundamental shift in the doctrine of self-defense as legislated in Florida and 24 other US states since 2005.
The social production of multiple spaces shaped this tragedy, and this intervention reflects on the intersection of ghettoization, gated communities, and spaces of the home (read, castle) as they contributed to these events. Lefebvre’s (1991 [1974]) articulation in The Production of Space of space as a social product shaped by values, meanings and power relations is well trodden ground in human geography. The Stand Your Ground law used to justify the initial release of the boy’s killer adds a frightening new twist to how we should understand the play of power in spaces, and the way that space can be used to reproduce overtly violent social dominance.” (p.248)

“The history of ghettoization of non-whites in American cities, and most virulently, of African Americans is, of course, a textbook example of the use of space to reproduce and deepen social dominance.” (p.248)

“The shadow of ghettoization extends across society in the pervasive stereotyping of African-American men and boys in urban, rural and suburban settings. Stereotypes are a particularly insidious form of ecological fallacy. Pervasively linked in much of the collective (white) imagination with ghettoes and criminal behaviors, black boys and men can unwittingly and without warrant provoke fear and consternation when encountered in spaces in which they are viewed by others as not belonging.” (p.248)

Without the systematic social production of the spaces of ghettoes over decades, the stereotyping of black men and youth would not have the durability that it does, black parents would not be subjected to the unrelenting fear of hate-based harm coming to their children, and black boys would not come up in the world sensing fear and distrust at their very presence, and experience the attendant social and psychological ramifications of such mistrust.
Far from a recognizable ghetto, the boy Trayvon was feared, followed and fatally shot in a gated community in Sanford, Florida, a racially diverse suburb of Orlando. Gatedness is a clear example of the social production of spaces of belonging and exclusion, of us, not them; here, not out there. Zimmerman was acting as a neighborhood watchman, seeking to protect residents of the gated community from possible intruders. Some commentators have suggested that the mixed demographics of this particular community signal that Trayvon was not being targeted because of his race. Rich Benjamin, who lived as a black man in three gated communities across the USA to research his book Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America (2009), disagrees.” (p.249)

Florida’s 2005 Stand Your Ground law, promulgated by the National Rifle Association (NRA), deepens this particular tragedy. Historically in the USA, claims of self-defense were shaped by the Castle Doctrine, under which a person’s home is understood as a place in which certain protections and immunities apply to his or her actions. Claims of self-defense or justifiable homicide could be supported if the person’s home were invaded and/or they were attacked in the home. In many but not all states, such a claim required evidence of a prior attempt to retreat. The Stand Your Ground law first enacted in Florida in 2005, and since then, in 24 other states in a legislative sweep sponsored by the NRA, alters the spatiality of self-defense claims in two important ways. First, it extends the protection of the Castle Doctrine into other social spaces, such as the street, the sidewalk or the bar. Sanctioned by half the states in the USA, people can now carry their invisible castle along with them virtually anywhere they go, as long as they have a lawful right to be there (Catalfamo 2006; Ross 2007). Second, it eliminates the requirement to attempt a retreat from attack before responding with deadly force. It steers away from the relatively conservative self-defense doctrine which imposed a duty to retreat in order protect the sanctity of life (Catalfamo 2006).”

Fundamentally, Stand Your Ground laws justify violent response to perceived threats in a wide range of public and private spaces, of which gated communities are just one example. We know that spaces become coded over time, formally and informally, for the inclusion and exclusion of certain “kinds of people”. We have all recognized—fearfully—someone somewhere as out of place. Black and other nonwhite boys and men bear the ugliest brunt of such socio-spatial judgments, but many others have experienced the discomfort and alarm of feeling out of place in one setting or another.” (p.250)

“The question now confronting us is, what kind of dystopian future do we face when so-called Stand Your Ground laws sanction addressing socio-spatial discomfort and perceived threat with deadly violence?” (p.250)

Ref: (italics in original, emphases in blue bold mine) Hilda E. Kurtz (2013) Trayvon Martin and the Dystopian Turn in US Self-defense Doctrine  Antipode Vol. 45 No. 2, March pp.248-251

what is permissible in war…


Benjamin Valentino, Paul Huth, and Sarah Croco ask: “Do international laws effectively protect civilian populations in times of war?” (p.339) “Laws prohibiting deliberate attacks on civilian populations represent some of the longest-standing formal international legal agreements in existence,” they explain. “Despite intense debate over the normative, legal, and practical effects of these treaties, however, to date no quantitative empirical analysis of compliance with the laws of war has been produced. Indeed, until the last decade, few scholars had attempted to provide quantitative evidence for compliance with international laws of any kind. In this article, we seek to shed light in this important question and provide a better understanding of why some combatants choose to intentionally target civilians in such large numbers while others seem to respect the distinction between enemy soldiers and civilians.” (p.339)

Informal norms restricting the targeting of civilians during war are probably as old as war itself. Nearly all societies and cultures have generated at least some rules governing the behavior of combatants during war. As Michael Walzer notes, one nearly universal rule is the “tendency to set certain classes of people outside the permissible range of warfare, so that the killing of any of their members is not a legitimate act of war but a crime. Though their details vary from place to place, these rules point toward the general conception of war as a combat between combatants, a conception that turns up again and again in anthropological and historical accounts.”
In the West these norms were embodied first in international customary law and then eventually codified into formal international legal agreements. The first major multilateral effort to formalize rules against targeting civilians culminated in the 1907 Hague Convention….” (p.341)

hmmm how is ‘the distinction between enemy soldiers and civilians’ constructed in the popular imaginary?

How are ‘certain classes of people [set] outside the permissible range of warfare, so that the killing of any of their members is not a legitimate act of war but a crime’?

Does spy fiction – or other popular fiction – contribute to all of this in any way?

Ref: Benjamin Valentino, Paul Huth, and Sarah Croco (2006) COVENANTS WITHOUT THE SWORD International Law and the Protection of Civilians in Times of War World Politics 58 (April 2006), 339–77

emotions, knowledge and serial killers


I read this article on emotions by Jennifer Harding & E. Deidre Pribram the same day as I read some of the literature on Dexter. This following statement stuck out for me as a result…:

Because emotions have been perceived as occurring predominantly at the level of individual experience, they have been dismissed as a disturbance: irrational and, consequently, unreliable and insignificant. However, this obscures the point that they also operate socioculturally; they act simultaneously as structures of meaning and structures of power. After all, discourses of the body also function largely experientially and at the level of the individual. However, as much recent theory has shown, discourses of the body are intimately connected to larger social operations. Indeed, they are the means by which social and cultural discursive formations are embodied . We are arguing a similar set of conditions for the emotions / they are the means by which social and cultural formations affect us, that is, render us as feeling beings in a series of complex, specific ways. Simply because emotions principally are enacted (‘experienced’) at the level of the individual does not exclude them from being simultaneously implicated in larger cultural processes and structures nor, for that matter, does it make them immune to theorization.” (p.871)

I couldn’t help thinking of Dexter and his inability/desire to feel emotions like ‘normal’ people – and his development as a father and family man…

Further on in this same article (discussing Larry Grossberg’s work on affect), Jennifer Harding & E. Deidre Pribram also explain that:

“Grossberg’s point is that affect needs to be taken into account as a constitutive aspect of popular culture. It is insufficient to heed popular culture only when it is transformed, through interpretation, into either ‘art’ or, as in some avenues of cultural studies, ideology/hegemony, that is to say, when it takes on meaning.

“A potential problem with a position that argues the prevalence of an affective dimension in popular culture is that its application may lead to too dramatic a bifurcation of popular culture from elite culture, or of feeling from thinking. This may suggest an antithetical relationship between high art and pop culture, as well as between meaning and affect, as if high culture audiences do not feel and popular culture audiences do not think. But, significantly, Grossberg observes that popular culture’s dominantly affective dimension is not inherent but historically constituted and that ‘a large part of the struggle over popular culture concerns the ability of certain practices to have such effects’ (1992, p. 79). That is, popular culture practices have fought to represent and retain their association with affective experience.

The ‘interpretive task’ facing cultural studies and left-wing politics alike is to identify the strategies and sites where affective empowerment might be possible, beginning with popular culture forms that resonate affectively for consumers (1988, p. 290): ‘Those differences which do matter [affectively] can become the site of ideological struggle’ (1992, p. 105). Things that matter affectively can be taken up as sites of ideological assertion or contestation. Political positions can be claimed through and shaped by modes or instances of felt popular culture.

Arguably, this is what many contemporary cultural theorists have attempted to do in the move towards the analysis of popular culture. Specific subjects from pop culture are chosen for study, not because they are a priori ‘artistically’ significant to a trained critical eye or carry some other elite cultural value but, precisely the opposite, because they have mass emotional appeal. To continue with the example of popular music, in the case of ‘Madonna studies’ critical effort has been directed towards recapturing, for historical record, the basis of her wide appeal. Theoretical activity is taken up after popular fact, in an attempt to account for the widespread emotional affiliation of fans and to pinpoint that which is so resistant, in Williams’ terms, to historical investigation and documentation. What are the sources and effects of extensive popularity? Can they be turned into political statements or acts? Can such affective investments and energies be used to identify emergent subcultural identities?” (p.874)

I found this article really quite fascinating… how do laughter, fear, feelings of neglect, abandonment and I don’t know what appear in popular fiction… to what effect? What of feelings in Adolescent Fiction? Is there anything special about feelings in this ‘genre’? It’s interesting to consider! A couple more quotes are relevant here:

“Following Jaggar’s arguments, […] emotions are pivotal in identity formations, in the recognition of alienation from or connection to. She discusses how unexplained or uncoded feelings may cause one to feel isolated or ‘abnormal’, while recognition of others with similar feelings can serve as the ground for the formation of subcultural groups (1989).” (p.875)

We are arguing that, among other forces, emotion makes possible the exertion and reception of the effects of power relations, thereby constructing the subject and, more specifically, the emotional subject. In other words, the subject who feels is critical to the circulation of power, the establishment of social relations, and the construction of discursive and institutional formations.
Emotions are forces of energy creating ongoing movement that propels social relations. The circulation of emotion produces in and between people connections, ruptures, dependencies, responsibilities, accountabilities, and so on. In other words, people care / they are invested. If people care, certain effects are produced: they feel and act in certain ways. Individuals have emotional relations, a significant form of social relations. It is through these relations that subjects are ‘affected’, that they are constituted into specifically contoured kinds of feeling beings. Following Grossberg, the task facing cultural studies is to identify the strategies and sites where emotional authority might be possible, in addition to pinpointing the locations and terms within which emotions subordinate.” (p.879)

[Do we invest conceptions of ‘work’, ‘financial security’, ‘home’, ‘family’, ‘marriage’, etc. with emotional authority?]

In contemporary Western cultures, a prevailing assumption exists that men suppress emotion more frequently and more extensively than women - to varyingly positive or negative effects -/ while women display and release emotions more readily. Women tend to be seen as more emotionally ‘skilled’ and ‘fluent’, which confers a positive meaning. However, in contrast, being ‘more emotional’ is most often equated with being less in control of feelings in a pejorative or problematic way and has served as justification for women’s exclusion from any number of corridors of power.
Further, the gendered expression of emotion is dependent upon the emotion being considered. Men are regarded as better able to express certain emotions / anger, frustration, impatience. It then becomes possible to analyse emotions, such as anger or non-anger, as gendered structures of feeling. Such views need not be construed as essentializing. Rather, gendered subjects can be seen as constructed in/through specific discursive events such as the expression or ‘repression’ of emotion. In this case, individual subjects must live and feel the specificities of such constructions, and they must constantly re-enact / relive, refeel / those specificities in order to sustain their identities.” (p.881)

An analytics of emotion must examine specific occurrences and concrete examples. It must thoroughly examine: how emotions might be constituted and experienced; how they are used, that is, what their effects might be; how they might function with/in structures of power, towards both dominant and resistant ends; and what role they play in the formation of subjectivity and identity in the everyday lives and practices of individuals.
In other words, in order to further develop an analysis of emotion and relations between emotion and power, subjectivity and culture, we think that ‘power and emotion’ need to be discussed in detail and in relation to concrete examples.” (p.882)

Ref: Jennifer Harding & E. Deidre Pribram (2004): Losing our cool? Following Williams and Grossberg on emotions  Cultural Studies, 18:6, 863-883

“The New American Hero: Dexter, Serial Killer for the Masses”


This rather eye-catching title leads on to a readable, interesting article on the morality, popularity, and cultural suitability of Dexter. I liked it (though Donnelly doesn’t analyse Dexter so much as situate it in the context of serial killer fiction in America)…

Introducing Dexter, Donnelly points out that: “The critics love him: they feel the show is “thought-provoking” and “complex.” In June 2008 “a Peabody Award called it a ‘complex and ambiguous meditation on morality,’ ” and in July it earned five Emmy nominations, including for outstanding drama and lead actor in drama (Jensen). Audiences have embraced this loveable “serial killer as social worker” (Donaghy).” (p.15)

She goes on to note that “Some of the highest rated drama programs on broadcast TV in America center around crime, including NCIS, The Mentalist, The CSI franchise, the Law and Order franchise, and Criminal Minds. These crime dramas are simply the front-runners in an overabundance of similar, formulaic programing, of course. Nearly every station on television boasts a popular show that emphasizes law, order, and justice. In a time when traditional, franchised crime drama shows like CSI and Law and Order are more popular than ever, and the ubiquitous threat of the murdering Other is repeatedly and dependably eliminated every hour on the hour, why have we welcomed with rave reviews the presence of this anti-hero? When almost every network drama seeks to give us the affirmation we so obviously need that the scary Other will be successfully brought to justice, how can we so enthusiastically embrace Dexter and his monstrous nature? Some critics suggest that Dexter is simply one of many recent anti-heroes in favor with the American public. They compare Dexter with The Sopranos, The Shield, Rescue Me, Weeds, and even House, MD, suggesting that the loveable rogue theme is simply en vogue and that America enjoys morally complex lead characters that challenge our notions of right and wrong.

Dexter, however, is not the kind of anti-hero that challenges moral ideals. Dexter’s character actually reinforces conservative ideals of morality, offering a clear differential between “good” and “bad” violence to a culture that is struggling to rationalize key political and social actions that have occurred after September 11, 2001. Dexter’s system of vigilante justice mirrors America’s current fascination with its own ideals of vigilantism, and, while the serial killer anti-heroes of the mid 1980–1990s obscured the line between “normal” selves and deviant Others, Dexter’s character has helped to reestablish a clear line between normalcy and Otherness.” (p.16)

Donnelly concludes: “We’ve become fixated on rationalizing violence, violence that punishes the wicked and redeems the wronged, and Dexter has become our primetime hero. He’s marketable, attractive, witty, and absolute. He’s clearly Other, but we understand why. He threatens those that “deserve” it and poses no threat to those of us who are “normal.” He’s a hammer of justice with a heart of gold, and, in the words of New York Time’s writer Ginia Bellafante, “he’s great with kids.”” (p.25)

Ref: Ashley M. Donnelly (2012) “The New American Hero: Dexter, Serial Killer for the Masses” The Journal of Popular Culture 45(1), pp.15-26

Donnelly also refers to the following writings which caught my eye:

Byers, Michele. “Neoliberal Dexter?” Dexter: Investigating Cutting Edge Television. Ed. Douglas L. Howard. New York: I.B. Tauris and Co., 2010. 143–56.

Conrath, Robert. “Serial Heroes: A Sociocultural Probing into Excessive Consumption.” European Readings of American Popular Culture. Eds. John, Dean, Jean-Paul, Gabilliet, and Kroes Rob. Westport: Greenwood, 1996. 147–57.
Donaghy, James. “Sympathy for the Devil: Please allow Dexter to introduce himself.” The Guardian (London) 7 Jul. 2007: The Guide 4.
Hantke, Steffen. “Monstrosity Without a Body: Representational Strategies in the Popular Serial Killer Film.” Post Script 22 (2003): 34–55. [I went looking for this and found its reference more correctly to be:  Post Script – Essays in Film and the Humanities 22. 2 (Winter 2002): 34-54]
——. “Violence Incorporated: John McNaughton’s Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and the Uses of Gratuitous Violence in Popular Narrative.” College Literature 28 (2001): 29–42.

Helyer, Ruth. “Parodied to Death: The Postmodern Gothic of American Psycho.” Modern Fiction Studies 46 (Fall 2000): 725–46.

Schmid, David. Natural Born Celebrities: Serial Killers in American Culture. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2005.
——. “The Devil You Know: Dexter and the “Goodness” of American Serial Killing.” Dexter: Investigating Cutting Edge Television. Ed. Douglas L. Howard. New York: I.B. Tauris and Co., 2010. 132-42.

Simpson, Philip. Psycho Paths: Tracking the Serial Killer Through Contemporary American Film and Fiction. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 2000.

Fear takes root in our motives and purposes


Drawing on a statement of David L. Altheide’s, Zygmunt Bauman writes that “it is not fear of danger “that is most critical, but rather what this fear can expand into, what it can become… Social life changes when people live behind walls, hire guards, drive armoured vehicles… carry mace and handguns, and take martial arts classes. The problem is that these activities reaffirm and help produce a senes of disorder that our actions perpetuate.”” (quoting David L. Altheide, p.132)

Bauman then takes this discussion further: “Fears prompt us to take defensive action, and taking defensive action gives immediacy, tangibility and credibility to the genuine [-p.133] or putative threats from which the fears are presumed to emanate. It is our response to anxiety that recasts sombre premonition as daily reality, giving a flesh-and-blood body to a spectre. Fear takes root in our motives and purposes, settles in our actions and saturates our daily routines; if it hardly needs any further stimuli from outside, it is because the actions it prompts day in, day out supply all the motivation, all the justification and all the energy required to keep it alive, branching out and blossoming.” (pp.132-133))

I liked these statements… and couldn’t help thinking or Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series…

Ref: (italics in original; emphases in blue bold, mine) Zygmunt Bauman (2006) Liquid Fear. Polity Press: Cambridge, UK

Fear and uncertainty


I really enjoyed Zygmunt Bauman’s Liquid Fear. It is, as you might suppose, a discussion of ‘fear’ and it presents a number of interesting arguments which could be really useful in literary studies (I’m thinking of my interests in representations of violence and of the city). Anyway, here are a couple of quotes from his Introduction, though it is best recommended just to read the book:

“We have all heard stories about cowards who turned into fearless fighters when they were faced with a ‘real danger’; when the disaster they had been expecting day in, day out, but had tried in vain to imagine, finally struck. Fear is at its most fearsome when it is diffuse, scattered, unclear, unattached, unanchored, free floating, with no clear address or cause; when it haunts us with no visible rhyme or reason, when the menace we should be afraid of can be glimpsed everywhere but is nowhere to be seen. ‘Fear’ is the name we give to our uncertainty; to our ignorance of the threat and of what is to be done – what can and what can’t be – to stop it in its tracks – or to fight it back if stopping it is beyond our power.” (p.2)

“The experience of living in sixteenth-century Europe – the time and the place when and where our modern era was about to be born – was crisply, and famously, summed up by Lucien Febvre in just four words: ‘Peur toujours, peur partout’ (‘fear always and everywhere’). Febvre connected that ubiquitousness of fear to darkness, which started just on the other side of the hut door and wrapped the world beyond the farm fence; in the darkness anything may happen, but there is no telling what will. Darkness is not the cause of danger, but it is the natural habitat of uncertainty – and so of fear.
Modernity was to be the great leap forward: away from that fear and into a world free of blind and impermeable fate – that greenhouse of fears. As Victor Hugo ruminated, wistfully and waxing lyrical on occasion: ushered in by science (‘the political tribune will be transformed into a scientific one’), a time will come of an end to surprises, calamities, catastrophes – but also of an end to disputes, illusions, parasitisms… In other words, a time free of all that stuff of which fears are made. What was to be a route of escape, however, proved instead to be a long detour. Five centuries later, to us standing at the other end of the huge graveyard of dashed hopes, Febvre’s verdict sounds – again – remarkably apt and topical. Ours is, again, a time of fears.
Fear is a feeling known to every living creature. Humans share that experience with the animals. Students of animal behaviour have described in great detail the rich repertoire of animal responses to the immediate presence of a menace threatening their life – which all, as in the case of humans facing a threat, veer [-p.3] between the alternatives of escape and aggression. Humans, however, know in addition something else: a sort of ‘second degree’ fear, a fear, so to speak, socially and culturally ‘recycled’, a ‘derivative fear’ that guides their behaviour (having first reformed their perception of the world and the expectations guiding their behavioural choices) whether or not a menace is immediately present. Secondary fear may be seen as a sediment of a past experience of facing the menace point blank – a sediment that outlives the encounter and becomes an important factor in shaping human conduct even if there is no longer a direct threat to life or integrity.
‘Derivative fear’ is a steady frame of mind that is best described as the sentiment of being susceptible to danger; a feeling of insecurity (the world is full of dangers that may strike at any time with little or no warning) and vulnerability (in the event of the danger striking; the assumption of vulnerability to dangers depends more on a lack of trust in the defences available than on the volume or nature of actual threats). A person who has interiorized such a vision of the world that includes insecurity and vulnerability will routinely, even in the absence of a genuine threat, resort to the responses proper to a point-blank meeting with danger; ‘derivative fear’ acquires a self-propelling capacity.” (pp.2-3)

Dangers one is afraid of (and so also the derivative fears they arouse) may be of three kinds. Some threaten the body and the possessions. Some others are of a more general nature, threatening the durability and reliability of the social order on which security of livelihood (income, employment), or survival in the case of -[p4] invalidity or old age, depend. Then there are dangers that threaten one’s place in the world – a position in the social hierarchy, identity (class, gender, ethnic, religious), and more generally an immunity to social degradation and exclusion. Numerous studies show, however, that ‘derivative fear’ is easily ‘decoupled’ in the sufferers’ awareness from the dangers that cause it. People it afflicts with the sentiment of insecurity and vulnerability may interpret a derivative fear by reference to any of the three types of dangers – independently of (and often in defiance of) the evidence of their relative contributions and responsibility.  The resulting defensive or aggressive reactions aimed at mitigating the fear may be therefore targeted away from the dangers truly responsible for the presumption of insecurity.
For instance, the state, having founded its raison d’être and its claim to citizens’ obedience on the promise to protect its subjects against threats to their existence, but no longer able to deliver on its promise (particularly the promise of defence against the second and third types of danger) – or able responsibly to reaffirm it in view of the fast globalizing and increasingly extraterritorial markets – is obliged to shift the emphasis of ‘fear protection’ from dangers to social security to the dangers of personal safety. It then ‘subsidiarizes’ the battle against fear ‘down’ to the realm of individually run and managed ‘life politics’, while simultaneously contracting out the supply of battle weapons to the consumer markets.” (pp.3-4)

“What the millennium bug affair demonstrated and what [Catherine] Bennett discovered in the case of one miracle fear-defying cosmetic device may be seen as a pattern for infinite numbers of others. The consumer economy depends on the production of consumers, and the consumers that need to be produced for fear-fighting products are fearful and frightened consumers, hopeful that the dangers they fear can be forced to retreat and that they can do it (with paid help, for sure).” (p.7)

Ref: (italics in original; emphases in blue bold, mine) Zygmunt Bauman (2006) Liquid Fear. Polity Press: Cambridge, UK