Charles Acland, “Two Steves Go to Hollywood: The Media Work of Bannon and Mnuchin”

Coordinates: Friday, November 16 at 4:45pm (LB 322)

The traffic between Hollywood and Washington is not new. But in 2016 we witnessed the unusually rapid political elevation of individuals whose lack of public service experience dramatically contrasted their deep involvement in media production: Steve Bannon, Steven Mnuchin, and, of course, Donald Trump. With focused attention upon the media careers of Bannon and Mnuchin, I investigate the longevity of their involvement at the intersection of finance and entertainment. This research shows how their work histories travel across the worlds of art, documentary, blockbusters, journalism, and investment capital, and in so doing, reveals the interlaced mechanisms through which money, labour, and cultural power operate in the United States today. Notwithstanding the apparent distance between propagandist Bannon and venture capitalist Mnuchin, this research challenges us to recognize how their destructive anti-institutionalism must not be met with a comparable institutional retreat, but with the difficult and risky work of engaged cultural critique.

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