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Chapter 8 Regression and Jouissance

Harrington, Seán J. Indiana University Press ePub

While Fantasia was structured by eroticism in aid of a conscious utopia (the creation of a cross-class consumable product), the succeeding features of the pre-war era of Disney were structured by a threat levelled against the idealised image of primordial union with the figure of the mother: an unconscious utopia. This chapter begins its discussion of what would become Disney’s most affective narrative formula by clarifying the concept of the regressive, followed by analyses of Dumbo (1941) and Bambi (1942). These discussions introduce different aspects of the regressive narrative, the concluding points of which will be amalgamated in a conclusion to Part Two of this text: a conception of the Disney form as a regressive cinematic apparatus, utopian in its presentation.

The Regressive

The facets of adulthood and compliance with paternity are considered profoundly negative in the classic Disney era. This path away from the adult in favour of un-castrated childhood represents a regressive choice in the film’s narrative. Rather than orienting the narrative along the lines of the Oedipal dilemma, the viewer is brought backwards along earlier organisations of structure. This is the essence of the Disney narrative, an essence which is intrinsically transgressive in terms of patriarchy, yet seemingly too commodified and impotent to raise issue among censors or mainstream critics. It is this contradiction that exists between transgression and innocence that leads to so many of the critiques and parodies of Disney in popular culture; these critiques shall be discussed in the conclusion to this text.

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2 Farida Benlyazid’s Initiation Narrative: A Door to the Sky (Morocco, 1988)

Florence Martin Indiana University Press ePub

As soon as Dunyazad enters the Sultan’s chamber, Shahrazad’s narration becomes clearly bifurcated: thanks to the presence of her sister, the storyteller addresses two audiences as the same time. Shahrazad, having placed Dunyazad (the familiar, powerless, female character) alongside the Sultan (the less familiar, powerful male figure), is thus able to play with the familiar and with power, and find the adequate terms to address both audiences at once, as she makes the alien and the strange familiar, so as to enthrall the Sultan with her tales.

Similarly, a Maghrebi woman director tells a story to an audience in the know at home, and another one abroad. This is where the notion of transvergent spectatorship arises as a descriptor of today’s viewers of Shahrazad’s cinema. Two films in our corpus give two widely different interpretations of such a phenomenon: Farida Benlyazid, in Bab al-sama maftouh/Une Porte sur le ciel/A Door to the Sky, constructs her double audience and shifts from one to the other in the middle of the filmic narrative. Hence it addresses two distinct audiences one after the other. On the other hand, Selma Baccar, in Khochkhach/Fleur d’oubli/Flower of Oblivion (see chapter 7), keeps the extra-diegetic gaze in flux. Flower of Oblivion requires the extra-diegetic viewer to change perspectives throughout the film via an ingenious system of relays through the gaze of various intra-diegetic spectators.

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Medium 9780253017451

From Slave to Master: Cabiria (1914) and Maciste (1915)

Jacqueline Reich Indiana University Press ePub

IN OCTOBER 1914, AS ITALY DEBATED INTERVENTION INTO World War I, a young Benito Mussolini wrote in the socialist newspaper Avanti: “Reality is moving at an accelerated pace. We have had the very singular privilege of living during the most tragic period in world history. Do we want to be – as men and as socialists – inert spectators to this grandiose drama? Or don’t we want to be – in some way and in some sense – protagonists?”1 The deliberate use of theatrical or cinematic terminology – “spectators” and “protagonists” – within the context of Mussolini’s eventual rejection of socialism due to his support for intervention into the war echoes significant political and cultural developments that would reverberate throughout the coming years: what would Italy’s role as a nation be in the larger international context, and what role would individual Italians play therein? It also indicates the increasing importance that theatricality and performativity played in Italian culture, society, and politics. This transformation occurred during a crucial transitional phase in Italian cinema as films became more ideologically marked in support of nationalist policies and as the film series (and subsequently the film serial) passed from short one- to two-reel films to a feature-length format, both episodic and self-contained.

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Medium 9780253021359

5. Oscar Micheaux’s Within Our Gates: The Possibilities for Alternative Visions

Pearl Bowser Indiana University Press ePub

MICHELE WALLACE

Within the closed world they create, stereotypes can be studied as an idealized definition of the different. The closed world of language, a system of references which creates the illusion of completeness and wholeness, carries and is carried by the need to stereotype.

—Sander Gilman, Difference and Pathology1

The role of stereotypes is to make visible the invisible, so that there is no danger of it creeping up on us unawares; and to make fast, firm and separate what is in reality fluid and much closer to the norm than the dominant value system cares to admit.

—Richard Dyer, The Matter of Images2

The most prominent conceptions of black stereotypes in cinema studies, as conceived by Donald Bogle and Thomas Cripps, define such representations too narrowly—as harmful, reductive, and denigrating.3 Even recent endeavors to revise old approaches, for instance that of Ella Shohat and Robert Stam, do not quite succeed in addressing some of the most problematic issues. Rather, their emphasis is on devaluing stereotype analysis generally as an outmoded and not sufficiently subtle “negative/positive images” criticism.4 If we are to avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater, we need to follow the deconstructive work of Sander Gilman, Eve Sedgwick, and Richard Dyer and reconceptualize stereotypes or “types” as something of greater importance, ambiguity, and theoretical sophistication.5 Otherwise, distinguishing aesthetic achievement from the presumably deadening influence of stereotypes becomes all but impossible.

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Medium 9780861966608

Chapter 1 Globalization, Media and Empire: An Introduction

NoContributor John Libbey Publishing ePub

The act of communication in itself is an arguably insufficient object of study: communication is no more nor less important than the universe of both silence and noise from which communication emerges and which gives it shape, just as the spaces between objects represented in a painting have vitality no less essential to the scope for meaning of the whole. To understand communication we must understand that which is not “there”. To communicate is simultaneously not to communicate; to enlighten may at the same time obscure; to inform may deceive. From such a premise, we should conclude that the title of this book is much less than the product of its silences.

For many decades from its inception during the first half of the twentieth century scholars advanced the study of media when more correctly they may be said to have promoted a propaganda of public opinion and pluralism; they concentrated on the place of media within the nation rather than media’s role in construction of the nation. In dealing with the administrative entity that we call the state, and the cultural product to which it lays claim and that we call the nation, they understated the dependence of these upon the play of symbolic power through media. Their focus on media within the nation took insufficient account of the play of international interests, technologies, finance, and ideologies in shaping media; and marginalized the adventures of national media on international markets, and the role of media in securing the compliance of populations both domestic and foreign with the international political and economic ambitions of domestic and transnational elites. Transnational dimensions of media activity were first presented (in the 1960s) in the context of benign discourses of modernization and democratization, or discourses of cultural protection for local (often elite) cultural products, in preference to malign discourses of imperialism, whose relevance should surely have been acute in the decolonization context of that period. When in the 1970s scholarship did seize on the importance of media as tools of political, economic and cultural subjugation of nations, classes, genders and races, in competition for the earth’s resource and for the precious time and trusting fealty of citizens, subjects and employees, discussion soon reverted to audiences and the nebulous processes by which human beings struggle to make meaning from texts on the basis of limited cognitive and cultural resources. The political economy of media as agents of both imperialism and resistance, was further diverted, hijacked even, during the 1990s, by discourses of globalization that focused on markets and regulation more than interests and social classes, on discontinuities between modern and pre-modern more than continuities, on the surface chatter of trade and cultural policies more than long-term strategies of power. Discourses of globalization, attending to interdependencies, networks, transformations of space and time, transnational corporate networks, the seductions and utilities of corporate products, constant assurances of goodwill for mankind and a better future, stand in sharp opposition to the discourses of imperialism, with their attention to hubris and control, victimage and justice, and the critical interrogation of media as vehicles of product promotion, distraction, and self-exculpatory consolations for, diversions from and denials of an incessant savagery and enslavement that, with particular intensity these past few hundred years, has visited alike colored and white, man and woman, and the very earth itself, its creatures, forests, oceans, and air. Neither set of these incompatible narratives is complete: globalization theories focus on the benefit of liberal markets and understate the continuance of protected markets (e.g. US government subventions and favorable tax policies in such areas as agriculture and movies). Imperialism theories excoriate the nefariousness of the empire’s cultural product yet are reluctant to acknowledge the potential for liberation in exposure to new informational and entertainment paradigms and technologies.

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Medium 9780253012531

2. Locating the Pixelated Jew: A Multimodal Method for Exploring Judaism in The Shivah · Isamar Carrillo Masso and Nathan Abrams

HEIDI CAMPBELL Indiana University Press ePub

Isamar Carrillo Masso and Nathan Abrams

THE VIDEO GAME THE SHIVAH (WADJET EYE GAMES, 2006) opens with the epigraph: “A Goy [non-Jew] came up to Rabbi Moishe to ask, ‘Why do rabbis always answer with a question?’ to which Rabbi Moishe replied, ‘Why not?’ ” In a similar Talmudic style, this chapter opens with a question: “Where has the pixelated Jew gone?” In popular culture, images of the Jew have been examined over many formats – art, film, television, cartoons, comics, graphic novels, online, and so on – but to date, despite their prevalence, images of Jews in video games have yet to be fully explored. This is partly because, in general, representations of race and ethnicity in video games are relatively unexplored and thus undertheorized.1 Furthermore, given the volume of research dedicated to analyzing the Jewish contribution to American visual culture, such as film,2 it is surprising to note that comparatively little work has been done on Judaism as a distinctive set of religious practices, behaviors, beliefs, and values. As a consequence, it is possible to read entire books on these subjects that have almost no references to Judaism qua Judaism.

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Medium 9780861967179

Chapter 9 Aftermath

James W Castellan John Libbey Publishing ePub

The impact of the First World War cannot be fully comprehended by reading statistics about the millions of casualties. These are in the end only figures. Some images tell a far more striking story. After four years of fighting, when on 11 November 1918 the guns fell silent, the frontline area between the English Channel and the Swiss border had changed into a completely devastated landscape. Treeless, scarred by mine craters and endless trenches zigzagging through muddy fields and ruined villages – these relics from the Great War as seen from a bird’s eye view resembled an horrendous scene from Dante’s Inferno that would stick in the minds of numerous soldiers who were fortunate enough to return home.

Many books have been written on the way this tremendous war was remembered in literature and poetry. Statesmen and generals wrote their autobiographies. Military regiments all had their official histories compiled. Political movements originated in the trenches, notably fascism which propagated the belief that life was a continuing struggle in which only the fittest should survive. In many respects the Great War was internalized and continued to be very much alive, if only in the minds of the men and women who had experienced it. The war provided invaluable ammunition for the Nazis as a propaganda issue and to take revenge on old enemies. On the other side of the political spectrum, the war also was a powerful motive for politicians like the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to avoid a repetition of events, search for appeasement with Germany and “peace in our time”. It is one of the great tragedies of the 20th century that it had to take a second global conflict before the long-term effects of the Great War were completely annihilated.

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Medium 9780253006790

4 Wars and Gambits

Stephen M. Norris Indiana University Press ePub

Dzhanik Faiziev’s film The Turkish Gambit, a mystery set amidst the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, debuted in February 2005. It went on to earn $18.5 million—more than any other film in Russian history—besting the previous year’s blockbuster, Night Watch. Produced by Konstantin Ernst, the head of Pervyi kanal, and Leonid Vereshchagin, Nikita Mikhalkov’s producer at Studio Tri-te, The Turkish Gambit was both hailed and reviled as a sign that Russian cinema had either refound its footing or lost the battle with Hollywood altogether. To supporters, the fact that the film topped the Russian box office for three weeks straight (eventually another Russian film, Shadow Boxing, bested it), was a sign of Russian cinematic strength. Russian films led the box office for the entire month of March 2005, the first time this feat had been achieved since communism’s collapse. For detractors, however, this “victory” meant nothing, for it represented a triumph of Hollywood style over Russian substance. “Russian” cinema, for some critics, had ceased to exist, replaced by action films that deliberately used American conventions to dumb down the masses.

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Medium 9780253014078

6. A Second Nervous System: Acting and Thinking

Laleen Jayamanne Indiana University Press ePub

Eugenio Barba suggests that “spectatorial perpendicularity” (a consequence, in part, of our ability to stand upright and walk as a species with an evolved neocortex) has inbuilt limitations. For spectators to diverge from perpendicularity may mean an increased receptivity to forces, even those as light as “a gentle breath.” Receptivity to forces enables us to sense and attend to differential movements that cannot be calibrated from an invariant ninety-degree angle of certitude because the forces may be at the very threshold or limen of perceptibility. The differential between movements matters because it signals an emergence of something. The idea of “attention” in Barba’s statement does a lot of work, as the context of his practical and theoretical work is derived from several interrelated sources: a deep understanding of the history of world theater, especially Asian civilizational theater and its impact on European avant-garde theatrical thought, and his own cross-cultural theater workshops conducted over several decades. “Attention” here implies a theory of consciousness derived from a rich archive of Asian theatrical practices, which include the training of actors in highly codified disciplinary exercises. This training also has varying connections to Asian martial arts practices and those of meditative movement, such as certain forms of Tai-Chi that have a demonstrable martial arts application as well. There is a continuum of activity in these traditions in which regimes of meditation, fighting, dancing, acting, music are not thought of as absolutely separate from each other. This continuum of practices shows how a set of movements formulated to wound may be “sublimated” or, better, transposed into a dance of the nervous system or a subtle, calibrated awareness of the nervous system. Awareness, especially of breathing and of its control, calibration of the flow of energy, is integral to these practices. In Barba’s vivid, and anthropologically informed, pedagogical image of receptivity, the ear of corn is the attention of the spectator, while one can assume that the “gentle breath” is that of the actor, modulating his or her energy at a microlevel, even in stillness and at rest, and thereby harnessing a power to activate a receptive state in the addressee/spectator.

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Medium 9780253329059

Four Disney Does Dutch Billy Bathgate and the Disneyfication of the Gangster Genre

Elizabeth Bell Indiana University Press ePub

Robert Haas

Traditionally, Hollywood studios subdivided their annual production into specific genre films that, if nothing else, served as a useful way of striking a balance between product standardization and differentiation. Maintaining certain formulas that would stabilize audience expectations and, by extension, stabilize those audiences, was obviously in Hollywood’s best interests. But how does the category of genre “work” today when popular entertainment is undergoing such a massive recategorization brought on by the ever-increasing number of entertainment options and the fragmentation of what was once thought to be a mass audience into a cluster of “target” audiences? (Collins 1993, 243)

Film genre criticism is enjoying a renaissance through the intervention of cultural critics and their attention to popular film. Carol J. Clover’s Men, Women, and Chainsaws (1992), for example, examines gender issues in the modern horror film; Jane Tompkins explores the cultural, aesthetic, and gender codes of the western in West of Everything (1992); and William Paul’s Laughing Screaming: Modern Hollywood Horror and Comedy (1994) treats the extremely popular and lucrative “gross out” movie. These new studies attempt to interrogate and rearticulate formalistic approaches to narrative cinema. Classifying films by genre in the 1990s, as either a conscious or unconscious act, allows critics to examine the complexities of audience/enunciation/identification, sociocultural values and their historical significance, and constructions of gender/sexuality. Genre theory sets these issues within a recognizable framework of filmic conventions by which meaning is interpreted in and through accepted patterns and expectations of particular films. To that end, genre conventions have, over the years, remained fairly constant. Westerns, horror, science fiction, and gangster films have maintained culturally accepted and constructed conventions that promote, through box office revenue, a profitable enterprise for the producers and distributors of the film. Even films classified as “postmodern” maintain generic conventions: the panoramic vistas, saloon shootouts, and enigmatic protagonist of Stagecoach (1939) are equally evident in Clint Eastwood’s “revisionist” Western, Unforgiven (1992), but the power of these conventions is disputable. The gangster genre, for example, has remained relatively unchanged since the 1930, S1 and John G. Cawelti claims it “may have reached a point of creative exhaustion” (1985, 519). Even use of the phrase “genre” may have reached a similar point. In a postmodern society, genre boundaries are routinely blurred, and critics often prefer to examine films in terms, not of generic expectations, but of audience expectations.

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Medium 9780253016454

Epilogue: Unfreedom as Critical Theory

Jesse Weaver Shipley Indiana University Press ePub

In examining an apparently disparate set of performances, styles, and interactions, this book shows how theatre discourse animates creative possibilities for urban life on the global margins. Theatre has been central to shaping Accra’s landscape and sensibility. These ethnographic and historical tales show how, as forms of cultural mediation change, the idiom of the trickster/storyteller shapes how audiences imagine new moralities and futures simply in the telling. Social actors claim moral power by realigning multiple historical and cultural contexts for their own purposes. Words and actions are made meaningful by linking them to past traditions, present collective beliefs, future wealth, and otherworldly spiritual anointing, conferring on speakers and listeners transformative potential. The focus of public life in urban Ghana has shifted from state political pageantry and cultural nationalist displays to dispersed media, religious, and popular imaginaries. Pan-African cultural spectacle was crucial to the moral authority of early independence nationhood. However, with the precarious conditions of the free market, various, diffuse, electronically mediated genres are reoriented toward individual success as a moral project, rather than collective national redemption. In Accra’s vernacular spaces, authority is conferred through a performer’s fluency in multiple symbolic registers: national, ethnic, religious, racial, stylistic, linguistic, commercial. Fluid code-switching delineates the possibilities of multiplicity as critical practice in the daily life of Accra.

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Medium 9780253007223

Chapter: 2. The Prior and Parallel Work

Michael Witt Indiana University Press ePub

The Common Tendency to Divide the Godardian corpus into successive discrete periods – the New Wave, the political work, the video years, and so on – emphasizes discontinuity over the sense of a single developing artistic project. It is clear that Godard’s œuvre to date is in fact characterized by a striking degree of continuity. The principle of recycling at the heart of Histoire(s) du cinéma, for instance, can be traced back to his earliest work. One of his first jobs in cinema, we recall, was as a professional editor working with preexisting material on documentary films for Jean-Pierre Braunberger, and on silent travel films for the Arthaud company.1 Similarly, one can trace a direct line from his irreverent remix of material shot and abandoned by François Truffaut, Une histoire d’eau (1958), to his late found-footage practice. The only really significant break, as we look back over his work as a whole, is the one resulting from the dislocation to his working practices provoked by his encounter with video. In this perspective, the œuvre falls into two major movements: from the postwar discovery of cinema and the early New Wave, via the neo-Brechtian critique of the society of the spectacle, to the political dead end of the early 1970s; and from the beginning of that decade – which marked the start of his sustained exploration of video technology, collaboration with Anne-Marie Miéville, development of a resolutely subjective project, and quest to resuscitate the simplicity and directness of early cinema – to the present. Godard’s output since this time constitutes a single integrated project, with Histoire(s) du cinéma at its core. This chapter examines key aspects of the organic relationship between the series and Godard’s prior and parallel output, especially some of the lesser-known and more experimental works, where the emergence of his concerns and techniques is often at its most visible. It begins with an examination of the genealogy of some of the series’ principal themes and stylistic characteristics, and goes on to explore the intertextual relationship between the series and the work he produced in parallel with it from the mid-1980s onward. It concludes with an analysis of a key metaphor in his project as a whole throughout this period, including in Histoire(s) du cinéma, that of “projection.”

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Medium 9780253011046

3 To Catch Up and Overtake Hollywood: Early Talking Pictures in the Soviet Union

Edited by Lilya Kaganovsky and Masha Sal Indiana University Press ePub

Valérie Pozner

Translated from the French by
Andrée Lafontaine

ONE GENERALLY ASSOCIATES Hollywood’s influence on Soviet cinema with the musical comedies directed by Grigori Alexandrov after 1934, or with the grandiose plans conceived in 1935—following Boris Shumyatsky’s trip to Hollywood—of a studio built in the Crimea, entirely outfitted with American equipment (e.g., lighting, recording, mixing), with the potential to produce six hundred films per year. Hollywood’s influence on Soviet cinema, however, did not begin in the 1930s; it goes back to the mid-1920s, when American films dominated Soviet screens. For the Soviet film industry during the second half of the 1920s, Hollywood represented, above all, a competitive branch of the industry: a modern unit bringing together all aspects of production, synonymous with efficiency and productivity. When Sovkino launched its grand project to build a new studio (at the time, still referred to as a “factory”) in 1927, the press labeled it “Red Hollywood” and “Soviet Hollywood.”1

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Chapter 14 Global Corporations, Global Public Relations

NoContributor John Libbey Publishing ePub

The logos and advertisements sponsored by global corporations and the movies, video games, books, and music produced by global media conglomerates are now visible all around us. Less noticeable, however, is the work of the public relations practitioners who support the activities of those corporations and media organizations. Once considered a predominantly American activity, public relations is now routinely practiced around the world, by non-governmental advocacy organizations and charities as well as by corporations and governments. At its highest levels, public relations has itself become a global business, dominated by three publicly owned agencies that offer a wide range of services, from media relations, public affairs consulting, and reputation management to events planning, sports and entertainment marketing, and traditional advertising services. Our goal in this chapter is to discuss the main reasons for the worldwide expansion of public relations, describe the rise of the global umbrella agencies upon which corporate clients now depend, and consider the debates about the purpose, power, and ethics of public relations that these historical changes have inspired.

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Medium 9780253012531

3. The Global Mediatization of Hinduism through Digital Games: Representation versus Simulation in Hanuman: Boy Warrior Xenia Zeiler

HEIDI CAMPBELL Indiana University Press ePub

Xenia Zeiler

RESEARCH ON DIGITAL GAMES AND RELIGION HAS PRIMARILY concentrated on European and U.S. settings. Asian developments, except the Muslim Middle Eastern contexts of Syria and Palestine, have long been nearly completely overlooked.1 This is even truer when it comes to digital games that are related to Hindu and Buddhist traditions, regions, and audiences. Though in the first decade of the twenty-first century, several aspects of Hindu and Buddhist religions and digital media, namely the internet, began to be increasingly researched, so far this research has not extended to digital games.2 This is surprising since surveys, statistics, and projections on the role and importance of digital games in Asia or for audiences with Asian Hindu or Buddhist backgrounds regularly describe an ever larger percentage of users, as well as rapidly growing markets in the near future.

In this chapter I analyze Hindu deities and narratives in Indian-produced digital games and focus on disclosing negotiations of Hindu authority and identity in gaming contexts. I do so by discussing the first entirely India-developed digital game based on Hindu mythology, Hanuman: Boy Warrior (Aurona Technologies Hyderbad for Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, 2009), a console game produced for PlayStation 2. This game has caused heated debate on the appropriateness of incorporating Hindu deities in gaming environments. The debate surrounding the game has focused on the concepts of simulation and performance as opposed to the (pure) representation of Hindu deities, such as Hanuman, who is a major character in the Indian epic Ramayana and is mentioned in other important Hindu scriptures.

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