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  • Gabrielle Hendricks

Fukuyama Judgement Day, Terminator and Capitalism

A night filled with alternative music, deep analysis of pop culture and open discussions about systemic issues of the world were showcased at the Mount St. Mary’s University’s Fukuyama Judgement Day lecture-concert.

Fukuyama Judgement Day was held on Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. in Knott Auditorium. This lecture-concert was the idea of Mount professor, Dr. Jack Dudley of the English Department. Dudley had the help of professors Dr. Mark Carlson, Dr. Timothy Fritz and Dr. Charles Strauss to conduct this complex intersection of music, history, film and ideological debates.

The lecture of Fukuyama Judgement Day surrounded the James Cameron’s 1991 movie, “Terminator II: Judgement Day” and the 1989 academic article titled, “The End of History,” by political philosopher, Francis Fukuyama and protest music of the 1990s, that of famous hip-hop group, Public Enemy.

At first glance, one would be confused as to how three different areas of action film, academic analysis and hip-hop correlate. Once hearing the idea of the project by its creators and viewing the event, the method to the ‘madness’ comes together cohesively.

Dudley said that Fukuyama Judgment Day is “looking at how music, history and cultural analysis of film can help us think more deeply about politics and we particularly imagine a decade like the 1990s.”

During the lecture, the professors talked about Fukuyama’s paper which entails his theory about western liberal democracy and capitalism of the 20th and 21st centuries becoming the dominant force in the world will lead to the end of ideological changes. By this, Fukuyama is saying that liberal democracy will spread universally and lead to strong beliefs in capitalism as one’s final goal rather than virtues such as justice, environmental protection and equality. Fukuyama’s idea ties to the “Terminator” film because it is a social commentary on capitalistic greed leading to the fall of society.

When asked about the “Terminator,” Dudley said, “People think of it as a big, dumb action film but it’s actually more complicated than they give it credit for.” He and the other professors show how the capitalistic ventures of the character Dr. Dyson in the film leads to the creation of evil robots that plague society.

They, then, related the message of Fukuyama’s writing and the “Terminator” film to the music of the 90s, from Public Enemy. They noted how music of the 90s was that of unhappiness with society and the young generation of that era wanting to break the system. They noted Public Enemy’s most known song “Fight the Power” as being a call for society to change.

Capitalism, in this lecture, was presented as a system that has historically oppressed marginalized groups and that “Fight the Power” is a call for the restricting of capitalism to stop oppressing people, particularly African Americans. The professors also pointed out that the main character of the “Terminator” film, John Connor, is a youth who wears a public enemy t-shirt. John Connor is a symbol of young people of the 90s trying to fight or escape the oppression of capitalistic greed as he runs away from evil robots who are the product of capitalistic ventures.

The lecture also tied to the heavy topic of capitalism rarely being beneficial to African Americans in society. This was covered in depth by Fritz, an African American professor. He pointed out that Dr. Dyson in the “Terminator” wants to play into the system of capitalism and almost succeeds until he is killed.

He said this is symbolic of African Americans being “sacrificial lambs” to the system. Fritz also posed the question, “Are black people expendable?” He leaves the audience to think about this viewpoint on the systemic oppression in capitalism.

The Mount lab band, directed by Carlson played music covers of the 90s in between lecture sessions. Instruments such as the electric guitar, drums and bass were used in their performances.

“The lecture is an opportunity to consider things like music as sources of much more than entertainment but to make connections, associations or contrasts between the ideologies that they represent,” Carlson added. The lab band exemplified Carlson’s point by covering songs such as Nirvana’s “Teenage Spirit,” a song of rebellion against western society.

Students in the lab band enjoyed taking on this project and showcasing their music in a new light. Guitar player Andrew Emmons (C’23) said that his favorite part of the event was “going up on stage and being back in person with people and jumping around on stage.” The lab band had quite an enthusiastic performance.

The audience also enjoyed the lecture-concert and formulated new concepts from it. Collins Nji (C’23) who had seen all the “Terminator” movies and was at the lecture-concert said, “I really liked what Dr. Dudley said about ideologies and how media influences our understanding of culture and society.” Collin’s take is one that seemed to resonate with most of the audience.

The Fukuyama Judgement Day will go down in Mount history as a fresh, open dialogue of how influences of entertainment and systematic government shape our lives as a whole, and leaves questions for us to ponder on.


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