This paper explores the depiction of population crisis in 1970s American popular film. I first situate the crisis discourse of population within the volatile political-economic conjuncture of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the period during which the idea of a “population bomb” takes hold in the popular imagination. I turn to film and the problem of crowd photography to theorize a framework for reading the media aesthetics of population alarm. I finally look to American science fiction cinema – perhaps the most concentrated archive of “demografictions” of any historical period – and, in particular, The Omega Man (Boris Sagal, 1971). Situating these cinematic projections of apocalyptic demographic futures within a longer history of a crisis discourse of population and its ideological function during moments of system failure exposes an internally conflicted field of political investments and points to a deeper conceptual crisis of the modern, industrial imaginary of population during this period.
"On the Cultural Projection of Population Crisis: The Case of The Omega Man,"
Criticism: Vol. 58:
1, Article 5.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/criticism/vol58/iss1/5