The Toxic Reigns of Resentment
An interview film on the emotion of resentment and how it defines culture and politics today.
Directed by Jürgen Schaflechner, Tim van den Hoff
Produced by Jürgen Schaflechner, Tim van den Hoff
Associate Producer: Sjoerd van Tuinen
Camera: Ruben Hamelink
Choreography: Marleen Hendrickx
Original Music: Smudged Toads
A Being in the World and Frontaal Film Co-Production
The revival of nationalism paired with xenophobia, an increasing tribalization of politics, and a public sphere oscillating between cruelty and sentimentality mark significant parts of our current political zeitgeist. Politicians, scholars and journalists alike speak of a culture of resentment that defines politics today.
"A brilliant moral and psychological analysis." Nadia Urbinati, Prof, Political Theory, Columbia University
How did we enter such a toxic climate? Are these developments a response to the ubiquity of neoliberal market structures eroding the basic solidarities in our society? Has the spread of social media triggered a culture of trolling and hyper moralization? And has the left given in to forms of politics where moralization and cynical mockery outdo collective visions of the future? This documentary film introduces and critically discusses concepts of resentment and their relation to our current political juncture.
Featuring interviews with Wendy Brown, Grayson Hunt, Rahel Jaeggi, Robert Pfalier, Gyan Prakash, Alexander Nehamas, Sjoerd van Tuinen, Peter Sloterdijk.
Grade Level: Colleges, Adults
US Release Date: 2020
Copyright Date: 2019
DVD ISBN: 1-948745-41-0
"Dense, comprehensive and sobering...This film astutely analyzes the roles of demographic and policy change, economic shifts and the codification of neoliberal ideas in fostering the undercurrent of resentment that is palpable in the rising waves of nationalism and xenophobia across the globe...It will be sure to inspire deep introspection and lively debate."
Davin Phoenix, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of California - Irvine, Author, The Anger Gap: How Race Shapes Emotion in Politics
"This film is terrific. The speakers have described brilliantly the phenomenology of resentment. They have depicted it as a self-destructive passion that vitiates social relations by generating rage and hatred. This resentment erodes human relations and compromises the possibility of amending the causes that generate it...A brilliant moral and psychological analysis."
Nadia Urbinati, Professor of Political Theory, Columbia University, Author, Me the People: How Populism Transforms Democracy
"Toxic Reigns of Resentment is a masterclass in this vexed concept, introducing viewers to a range of ruminations on an emotional disposition that has infiltrated virtually every aspect of contemporary life. The film is disturbing, provocative, even frightening. Mostly, it shows us some of the most interesting intellectual figures of our time thinking out loud, with all the vulnerability and tentativeness that this implies."
Robert A. Schneider, Professor of History, Indiana University, Author currently writing The Return of Resentment: The Rise and Fall and Rise Again of the Political Emotion
"It is a too rare event to find philosophical reflection targeted on a topic of central contemporary importance offered in a popular and accessible form. The Toxic Reigns of Resentment is a compelling demonstration of what public philosophy can be. Arranged as an oblique series of conversations and arguments, the documentary powerfully displays the complexity of the concept of resentment in relation to diagnoses of contemporary political culture. It is hard to imagine how this could have been done better."
J.M. Bernstein, New School for Social Research
"Smart, disturbing, and timely...Resentment is at play not only in populist right-wing, but also on the left, and not only on the margins but in the centers of political power...Engaging its historical, psychological, political and ideological dimensions, this film offers a refreshingly broad, clear-eyed, and erudite reflection on resentment, its origins, contradictions, and appeal. The breadth of compellingly articulated perspectives renders the film very effective in the classroom."
Adi Gordon, Associate Professor of History, Chair of European Studies, Amherst College, Author, Toward Nationalism's End: An Intellectual Biography of Hans Kohn
"Far more than self-help psychology, this film locates resentment as having a central place explaining extreme polarization in US politics and the culture wars of 'political correctness' on university campuses. Are we victims of our own reactive attitudes, or using them to underwrite crimes of injustice? Can toxic feelings of resentment ever serve the individual or common good? This provocative film will be fodder for great discussions in the classroom."
Allen Thompson, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Oregon State University, Co-Editor, Ethical Adaptation to Climate Change
"Polarization, scapegoating, and anger politics are gripping increasing parts of the world. This haunting film offers an intellectual's guide to why people are turning to a politics of hate and the consequences of doing so. Leading intellectuals from various academic disciplines dive deeply into the philosophy and even theology of resentment. They take us beyond the headlines to explain what is dividing and poisoning so much collective life. Prepare to be disturbed but also enlightened as this film provides us all more piercing vision."
Paul Wapner, Professor of Global Environmental Politics, American University, Author, Is Wildness Over? (Where Am I?)
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DVD includes SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, and scene selection.
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"I watched this movie and all my deeply held, bitter and vengeful feelings of resentment immediately disappeared."
Simon Critchley, New School for Social Research