Jana McAuliffe
University of Arkansas, Little Rock
This paper engages television comedy to critique the ethical values that are amenable to neoliberal capitalism. First, I explore the co-optation and containment of feminism as a collective social change movement by postfeminist and neoliberal cultures. I show how self-reliance and resilience become legible as classed, raced, and gendered values packaged for feminine, neoliberal women. Next, I address the specific challenges that neoliberal biopower poses for ethical values as they have been traditionally understood. I then argue that comedy is a particularly effective medium through which to consider the generation of resistant values that can support feminist collectivity. I develop a provisional protocol for engaging ambivalent media and read two scenes from TV comedies focused on the femininity of class-aspiring or class-privileged women. This critically exposes what kinds of values might counter the co-optation of self-reliance and resilience. I conclude that cultural performances of femininity not only codify neoliberal values, they also are a resource for generating resistant feminist values inasmuch as they present intentionally frivolous modes of living. Within such a culture frivolousness becomes viable as a mode of everyday ethical commitment that can disrupt the negative impact of neoliberal biopower.
Keywords Contemporary Philosophy  Continental Philosophy
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