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Fossil-Fuel Futurity

Fossil-Fuel Futurity

Oil in Giant

(p.109) 6 Fossil-Fuel Futurity
Oil Culture
Daniel Worden
University of Minnesota Press

This chapter analyzes the 1952 novel and 1956 film Giant as test cases to identify an ideological configuration—fossil-fuel futurity—that informed a wide range of twentieth-century American representations of oil and celebrated petroleum use as a means by which a normative familial life and an ideal liberal-pluralist society might be realized. The discourse of sustainability imagines possible futures that are more environmentally responsible and less reliant on fossil fuels. One of the tasks of an environmentally aware criticism might be to document the ideology of the so-called “fossil-fuel futurity,” which functions as a variation on what Lawrence Buell termed “environmental unconscious.” This chapter also examines the emerging crisis of fossil-fuel futurity in the 1978–1991 television series Dallas and the 2007 film There Will Be Blood. In particular, it considers Giant’s celebratory account of oil culture as leading to pluralistic, familial national belonging, and Dallas and There Will Be Blood’s representations of oil as ultimately anathema to family belonging.

Keywords:   oil, Giant, fossil fuels, fossil fuels, Dallas, There Will Be Blood, oil culture, family

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