A Film by Robert Altman





Watch Nashville's Official Film Trailer:


"It Don't Worry Me" (Chorus):


Keith Carradine's "I'm Easy":


Gwen Welles as Sueleen Gay:











The Parthenon in Nashville, Tenenssee

Location of the climactic final scene





The film satirizes religion, politics, sex, violence, and the materialistic culture of a greater “musical country”, with its capital transferred to Nashville, which becomes a kind of microcosm of the proper country itself.


So, twenty-four colorful and extravagant protagonists compose a typical mosaic of showbiz: they come all together from nowhere at the same time, converging in a huge traffic jam and, eventually, witnessing a violent murder, all this in the midst of rivalry and trivial love, corresponded or not.








The American patriotism, born in the pattern of Protestant Reformation and imbued with the Puritan belief in a providential "collective action", took 350 years to develop. The seeds of patriotism, originated from a Theological activism which stressed the prevalence of collective over the individual salvation, began at the end of the decade of 1630s, in New England, and traveled throughout the continent, eventually becoming a national phenomenon, with repercussions in the Country’s current political culture.


But what does patriotism mean? Can someone determine what it meant during the American history, whether in prosperity and depression, in war and peace? Whether for a single individual in different situations, either to the national leading thinkers? And for Afro-Americans, farmers, women and men in the assembly line of factories? Is the patriotic propaganda then only active figure for the U.S. unity?






Sometimes in the rush of our daily busy lives, even the most absurd acts of dispute may be seen as “normal”. Actually, we live in a culture of extreme violence, completely trivialized. We live in times of total devaluation of human life determined by the tyranny of the market, which blocks our most genuine aspirations by creating a constant fear of shortages. And, in what concerns the most ordinary citizen, all that remains is the empty cult of consumerism, as if we could buy things not only to meet our needs but, also, to complete us, as a manner to achieve a more meaningful life through things.


As idealized by some more conscious specialists in Marketing, the philosophical discussion involving the ethical foundations of economic competition is mostly based on Emmanuel Lévinas’ “Theory of Exteriority and the Responsibility for the Others”. But the fact is that, despite the positive effects in terms of efficiency and innovation guaranteed by the competition between corporations, there would be an entire range of negative impact on the “otherness” of individuals, which is never considered in their own favor.


The culture of violence is built on competition which makes each individual or group a potential enemy of the other. Here, each class selfishly views the other as something to be surpassed, to be put behind. The power seekers try to “climb the ladder” by ruthlessly pulling down others. And children are taught to be unmindful of others in their ascent to success.


This madness called competition is, perhaps, the true spirit that united America throughout its history, being one of its face the national cult for guns, which was responsible not only for group massacres as seen at Virginia Tech but, also, by many other corpses, illustrious or not, as the Kennedy’s and the Lennon’s, or any of the most anonymous citizens. Incidents involving violence cannot be considered separately, being an undeniable evidence of an American national culture of violence.









           First of all, we must consider the concept of nationalism embodied as an ideology based on the premise that individuals should be loyal and devoted to a national state, surpassing any other individual or group interests. The modern nationalism is, therefore, a very modern concept as, until very recently, people used to be associated only to its native soil and local parental traditions, irrespectively of any territorial authorities.


But, actually, the subjectivity is, as theorized by Guattari and Rolnik, pluralistic and polyphonic, being the production of new meanings mobilized by a collective enunciation, sometimes extra-personal (automated economic, social, ecological systems), sometimes related to the individualistic psyche, typical of the human nature (systems of sensitivity of affection, desire).


The order in vigor produces, sometimes, a homogenization that leads to a certain type of subjectivity comprising a set of values more related to the market, and in which the person has a price as a work force or a consumption force. This homogenization produces the flattening of desire and subjectivity, being manifested through mechanisms of segregation, infantile behavior and culpability (Guattari and Rolnik, 1996).


So, much beyond the pure direct propaganda, the system has other more subtle own resources to impose its ideology. In our modern times, the cult to homeland appears hand by hand with violence at the collective level, being the notions of despite present even in the most innocent cartoon shown on television for kids. And, at the individual level, families still play a role in the annulment of the individualities, as evidenced in the sequence where Barbara Jean’s murderer talks to his mother on the telephone.


This particular scene is of crucial importance for the understanding of the sequence in which Barbara Jean is shot to death. On the stage assembled in front of the Nashville Parthenon, a singer, who represents the countryside ideals of a virtuous woman (just like a dedicated wife or mother), exercises her force conferred by an unrestricted fame singing a number which lyrics comprised all the strongest puritan family values. Therefore, Barbara Jean’s last song also brought in it a powerful ideology of the omnipresent state, reinforced by a huge flag of the nation-mother above the stage.






             It is through this only [the Union] that we are, or can be nationally known in the world; it is the flag of the United States which renders our ships and commerce safe on the seas, or in a foreign port. In short, we have no other national sovereignty than as the United States. It would be fatal for us if we had -- too expensive to be maintained, and impossible to be supported.






B I B L I O G R A P H Y:




  • McKENNA, George. The Puritan Origins of American Patriotism. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2007.



  • CURTI, Merle. The Roots of American Loyalty. New York: Columbia University Press, 1946.



  • PILISUK, Marc. The Hidden Structure of Contemporary Violence. San Francisco, CA.: University of California & Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc, 1998.



  • GUATTARI, F. Revolução Molecular: Pulsações Políticas do Desejo. São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1987.



  • GUATTARI, F. O Inconsciente Maquínico: Ensaios de Esquizo-Análise. Campinas: Papirus, 1998.



  • GUATTARI, E  &  ROLNIK, S. Micropolítica: Cartografias do Desejo. Petrópolis: Vozes, 1996.