"Where Did We Go From There?": Beasts of the Southern Wild's Resistance to Civil Life


  • Elisa Bordin




American literature, cinema


After 50 years from the battles for civil equality in the United States, this essay analyzes the film Beats of the Southern Wild (2012) and its African American characters’ refusal to participate into the civic life of their country. As a consequence of a hurricane that reminds of Katrina, the isolated community of Bathtub is forced to enter into contact with civic institutions with deleterious effect on both Hushpuppy, the 6-year-old protagonist, and her father. While the passage to civilized life has deadly consequences on the man’s precarious health conditions, Hushpuppy is forcedly transformed into an example of mainstream femininity. In this way, Beasts of the Southern Wild casts doubt on the importance of civic belonging as a rewarding act in one’s life. At the beginning of the new millennium, in years that are defined as post-civil rights as well as post-racial, the film shows the oppressive force of civil life and the state, which transforms rights into abuse of personal choices and lifestyle.


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