No Jurisdiction

Legal, Political, and Aesthetic Disorder in Post-9/11 Genre Cinema

By Fareed Ben-Youssef

Subjects: Film Studies, Popular Culture, American Studies, Cultural Studies
Series: SUNY series, Horizons of Cinema
Hardcover : 9781438489278, 252 pages, July 2022
Paperback : 9781438489261, 252 pages, January 2023

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction. Hollywood at Ground Zero: Confessions of a Conflicted Fan

1. "It was like a movie!": Theorizing the Eerie Symmetries of a War on Terror

2. On the Frontier between Hate and Empathy: The Post‑9/11 Border Western

3. Femmes Fatales as Torturers and Lost Detectives in a Fragile City: Post‑9/11 Noir

4. Soaring Above the Law: The Post‑9/11 Superhero

5. "9/11 Transformed the Whole Planet, Not Just America!": The War on Terror's Shadow across Global Law and Cinema

Works Cited

A deeply personal study of post-9/11 film that exposes how genre can frame the shifting meanings of the War on Terror and its impact on American law and culture.


No Jurisdiction interweaves autobiography and analysis to explore how a disabled American of French-Arab descent justifies his love for the (super)heroes who destroy brown people like himself. Framing Hollywood genre films as a key to understanding a crisis-filled world shaped by the global War on Terror, Fareed Ben-Youssef shows how, in response to 9/11, filmmakers and lawmakers mobilized iconic characters—the cowboy, the femme fatale, and the superhero—to make sense of our traumas and inspire new legal landscapes. The competing visions of power produced in this dialogue between Hollywood entertainment and mainstream politics underscore genre cinema's multivalent purpose: to normalize state violence and also to critique it.

Chapters devoted to the Western, film noir, superhero movies, and global films that deploy and comment on these genres offer compelling readings of films ranging from the more apparent (The Dark Knight, Sicario, and Logan) to the more unexpected (Sin City, Adieu Gary, The Broken Circle Breakdown, and Tokyo Sonata). Through narratives of states of emergency that include vaguely defined enemies, obscured battlefield boundaries, and blurred lines between victims and perpetrators, a new post-9/11 film canon emerges. No Jurisdiction is a deeply personal work of film scholarship, arguing that we can face our complicity and discover opportunities for resistance through our beloved genre movies.

Fareed Ben-Youssef is Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies at Texas Tech University.


"This book examines cinematic responses to 9/11 in genre cinema of the twenty-first century. Negotiating film/media studies with cultural theory and social theory, it explores the ways films not ostensibly about the attacks channel various anxieties and fears surrounding them. The book's major strength is its confident close analysis of individual films within a cogently defined social/cultural context, but it also has the advantage of mounting a sustained argument from an individual point of view, one given added heft by being from an Arab-American's perspective." — James Morrison, Claremont McKenna College