Book Chapter or Section
New York, as a capital of finance and culture, has been one of Hollywood’s favorite settings, often functioning as a glamorous character itself. Yet in the wake of 9/11, escalating government surveillance prompted filmmakers to call this image into question. Tom McCarthy’s 2007 film "The Visitor" marks a turning point. Set in the aftermath of the towers’ collapse, support-the-troops signs and flags haunt the city, saturating it with reminders of 9/11’s political repercussions. In this article, I explore McCarthy’s portrayal of New York and its Muslim immigrants, who overturn stereotypes of (male) terrorists or (female) victims. Their displacement instead creates an “unhomely fiction," to draw on Homi Bhaba’s term, signaling a threat to the city by the state. Their fate, and that of the protagonist--an economist who studies capital but knows little of its human face--suggests the problem of the post-9/11 U.S., rather than terrorism, is American exceptionalism, which expels certain bodies as dangerous because they lack cultural and political capital.
Toohey, Elizabeth. “Post-9/11 New York on Screen: Mourning, Surveillance and the Arab Other in Tom McCarthy’s The Visitor.” Terror in Global Narrative: Representations of 9/11 in the Age of Late-Late Capitalism, edited by George Fragopoulos and Liliana Naydan. Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. pp. 209-230.