DOI: 10.3366/jspp.2024.0069 ISSN: 2752-7514

A Moving Image of Scepticism: Cavell on Film, Gender, and Gaslighting

Jonathan Havercroft

This article examines the political themes in Cavell’s philosophy through a reading of the film Gaslight in the context of contemporary American politics. It demonstrates how Cavell’s ideas offer valuable insights into gender politics, fascism, and propaganda in American society. The article proceeds in three sections, first reviewing Cavell’s ontology of film and genre to elucidate his claim that film embodies scepticism. Next, it analyses gaslighting in the film as an enactment of gendered politics of scepticism and explores Cavell’s resources for responding to it. Lastly, it investigates the political implications of gaslighting, particularly in light of its association with post-truth politics, using Cavell’s interpretation as a philosophical framework to understand instances like Donald Trump’s manipulation of America.