Over the last five years, a cycle of films has emerged addressing the ongoing Iraq conflict. Some became well-known and one of them, The Hurt Locker, won a string of Oscars. But many others disappeared into obscurity. What is it about these films that led Variety to dub them a "toxic genre"?
Martin Barker analyses the production and reception of these recent Iraq war films. Among the issues he examines are the borrowing of soldiers’ YouTube styles of self-representation to generate an "authentic" Iraq experience, and how they take refuge in "apolitical" post-traumatic stress disorder. Barker also looks afresh at some classic issues in film theory: the problems of accounting for film "failures"; the shaping role of production systems; the significance of genre-naming; and the impact of that "toxic" label. A 'Toxic Genre' is fascinating reading for film studies students and anyone with an interest in cinema's portrayal of modern warfare.