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Pretend We're Dead: Capitalist Monsters in American Pop Culture Paperback – July 17, 2006

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Editorial Reviews


Pretend We're Dead sets our monsters free of the dank laboratory of psychosexual studies and sends them rampaging across the landscape of economic reality. A sweeping, liberating, and wonderfully readable book.”—Gerard Jones, author of Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book

“Of all the modern (and postmodern) culture commentators, Annalee Newitz has the perfect blend of a fan’s unabashed enthusiasm and a true critic’s engaged, iconoclastic insights and questions. Casual and smart, bold yet breezy, Pretend We’re Dead won’t just make you take a second look at the landscape of modern horror—it’ll make you look at modern consumerist life (and death) with fresh eyes.”—James Rocchi, editor in chief of and film critic for cbs-5 San Francisco

Pretend We’re Dead is a convincing, accessible work that will interest everyone from academics and media analysts who like offbeat criticism to horror lovers who like to watch zombies eat brains.”
(D. Harlan Wilson, Science Fiction Studies)

“[A] sophisticated and rewarding Marxist analysis of the horror movie. . . . Where Newitz differs from any other writer on horror that I’ve read is in her insistence that her distinctively American, anti-capitalist tradition of horror begins not with the Enlightenment and its discontents, which find form in the European Gothic novel of the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but rather with the naturalist novel of the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This is a startling and, at first sight, highly contentious position, but it’s one that Newitz argues rather brilliantly.”
(Darryl Jones, Modernism/Modernity)

About the Author

Annalee Newitz is a contributing editor at Wired magazine and a freelance writer in San Francisco. She is the former culture editor at the San Francisco Bay Guardian and was the recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship in 2002–03. She is a coeditor of White Trash: Race and Class in America and Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life. She has written for New York magazine, and numerous other publications, including The Believer,, and Popular Science. Newitz has a Ph.D. in English and American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books; 1st edition (July 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822337452
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822337454
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #990,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Annalee Newitz writes about the intersection of science, technology and culture for publications including Wired, Popular Science, Technology Review, Slate, Washington Post, the Smithsonian Magazine, and more. Currently she is the editor-in-chief of the science and culture site, and previously worked as a contributing editor at Wired magazine and as a policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

She was the recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship and MIT, and has a Ph.D. in English and American Studies from UC Berkeley.

Learn more at or follow her on Twitter @annaleen

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Dave Alber on August 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
Pretend We're Dead by Annalee Newitz explores pop culture images of monsters as metaphors for experiences within American-style capitalism. Her premise is stated in her introduction, "Capitalism, as its monsters tell us more or less explicitly, makes us pretend we're dead in order to live. This pretense of death, this willing sacrifice of our own lives simply for money, is the dark side of our economic system" (6.)

The following chapters of this energetic, erudite, and sometimes hilarious study of American pop culture are dedicated to five types of popular monsters, which Annalee shows to be projections of capitalist fears. The monsters are: Serial Killers, Mad Doctors, The Undead, Robots, and Mass Media. The final chapter ends this study of pop culture by reminding us that within this system, we are after all, "consumers" of images and cultural forms, which only exist to terrify us.

A fun, yet important book!
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