Picturing Institutions: Intellectual Work as Gift and Commodity in Good Will Hunting
As we are about so many things, Americans are conflicted about higher education. Given the insistently tiered nature of institutions of higher learning, along with the influence of popular forms on cultural attitudes, it’s not surprising that these conflicts surface in commercial films set on college campuses. To take a recent example, underpinning the 1997 film, Good Will Hunting, is a set of complex and often contradictory assumptions about intellectual work and the institutions that foster it. Intellectual talent is both a blessing and a product to be purchased, one that will eventually become currency in the market place. It is, in other words, both gift and commodity.