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Dreaming Other Worlds: Commodity Culture, Mass Desire, and the Ideology of Inception

Danyluk, Martin


Martin Danyluk


This essay provides a critical reading of the 2010 science fiction film Inception, advancing two theses about contemporary mass culture. First, mainstream cultural products contain certain utopian moments. Yet while they may offer glimpses of a world radically transformed in certain respects, this transcendent impulse rarely extends to the depiction of social relations. In fact, such products can be effective in consolidating dominant ideologies and naturalizing the existing political-economic order, because their sharp break from scientific or metaphysical realities may serve to conceal a symptomatic silence on matters of social organization. Second, this tension internal to commercial culture poses an opportunity for political intervention. The mass-cultural product, insofar as it must appeal to broadly felt desires, frequently makes a utopian or transformative promise that cannot be realized by the commodity itself. A culturally attuned Left could highlight this inadequacy by reappropriating mainstream cultural symbols in order to draw broader attention to struggles for social transformation.


Danyluk, M. (2015). Dreaming Other Worlds: Commodity Culture, Mass Desire, and the Ideology of Inception. Rethinking Marxism, 27(4), 601-610. doi:10.1080/08935696.2015.1076966

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 17, 2015
Online Publication Date Oct 19, 2015
Publication Date Oct 19, 2015
Deposit Date Jan 18, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jan 30, 2019
Journal Rethinking Marxism
Print ISSN 0893-5696
Electronic ISSN 1475-8059
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Issue 4
Pages 601-610
Keywords Christopher Nolan, ideology, imagination, mass culture, utopia
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Rethinking Marxism on 19 Oct 2015, available online:


Danyluk 2015 Dreaming Other Worlds Commodity Culture Mass Desire Ideology Inception (152 Kb)

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