Acceptance and the acceptable

Michael Powell's Peeping Tom stands as a landmark film in terms of the controversy that it generated and, consequently, the directorial career that it ruined. As Adam Lowenstein notes, the brouhaha of the time has determined most readings of the film. He argues, instead, for locating it within the British New Wave, and, most importantly, within its reflection of the social crisis of the time. What was so troubling to the critics of the period, he finds, is not the film's horrors but their...

All Too Real When Fantasy Becomes Reality

In moving towards an account of the pleasure experienced by the spectator in the act of watching a 'disaster movie' or other fictional representations of a seemingly 'unpleasurable' nature, several models have been considered identification with a 'hero' the control of repression by the 'neurotic' or 'non-neurotic' spectator masochistic and sadistic fantasy mastery through repetition or fetishization. These same models are likely to have extended into the spectator's initial experience of the...

Amy West

Caught-on-tape must be one of the more evocative entries in television's phrase book. The object of capture is a moment of crisis a natural disaster, a criminal act, a private perversion, a hilarious physical blunder. Because the incident is unforeseeable, the circumstances of capture can be characterised as inadvertent, meaning that the recorded moment arises out of a critical co-incidence of rolling camera and spontaneous or aberrant incident. Notions of entrapment and containment offered up...

Animation and the real

Many recent live action films use computer animation in order to shore up their verisimilitude. In other words, the animation is invisible in the sense that no one recognises it as animation the use of computer animation to render the magnitude of crowd scenes in Titanic (1997), for example. The animated imagery in such examples is co-opted by the more dominant frame of live action. Another prime example is the recent furore over the character of Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy - is he...

Beyond the Crimson Mask Documenting the Body

Several times a year, I look at something and I say, 'This is going to be dangerous and it could turn out real bad, but it's got to be done for the sake of history'. Beyond the Mat focuses on three wrestlers, former WWF star Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, and two 'Hardcore Legends', battle-scarred veteran Terry Funk and the a younger, but scarcely less damaged, Foley. The film does not want for drama J Roberts' awkward reunion with his estranged daughter, Funk's emotional 'final n match' (there...

Beyond the Horizon of Imagination

It has been observed that Freud's paper 'Beyond The Pleasure Principle', with its exploration of repetition compulsion, offers the foundations of a more recent theoretical model, that of Trauma Theory. Peter Buse cites Cathy Caruth's definition of trauma, observing the debt owed by 'trauma theory' to Freud In its most general definition, trauma describes an overwhelming experience of sudden or catastrophic events in which the response to the event occurs in the often delayed, uncontrolled...

Coda Inadvertent television

As one of the slickest reality television formats in production, Survivor exemplifies the second generation shift away from an aesthetics of amateurism. Unlike some of the programme examples discussed here, Survivor resists self-reflexive references to television production and fashions itself on the 'polished drama' which Wigley's production design eschewed. In fact, the show's producer Mark Burnett strenuously resists association with the reality television label, coining the terms...

Dean Lockwood

Rational critique, for Walter Benjamin, belonged to a world of innocent vision, 'where perspectives and prospects counted and where it was still possible to take a standpoint' (1979, originally 1928 89). This world no longer existed for Benjamin, and now, even more than in his time, the eye is constricted and clouded by proliferating representations. An Enlightenment critic such as Marx had recourse to the visual rhetoric of traditional metaphysics, opposing the 'natural vision of natural...

Differences

But there are substantial differences between the 'spectacle of the real', in this case, and the Hollywood equivalent differences that clearly code one as 'reality' and the other as part of the realm of fictional-entertainment spectacle. Certain aspects of the images function as markers of modality, signalling their status as one or the other the term, from linguistics, is used by Robert Hodge and David Tripp, in a different context, to suggest 'ways of situating messages in relation to an...

Douglas Kellner

During the past decades, the culture industries have multiplied media spectacles in novel spaces and sites, and spectacle itself is becoming one of the organizing principles of the economy, polity, society, and everyday life. The Internet-based economy has been developing hi-tech spectacle as a means of promotion, reproduction, and the circulation and selling of commodities, using multimedia and ever-more sophisticated technology to dazzle consumers. Media culture itself proliferates ever more...

E Shifts to be more like a movie

S Some of these absences were gradually removed as coverage developed, and the gap between reality and movie images was reduced in some respects. Footage from ground level, at the time of the impacts and of the collapse of the towers, was supplied quite soon, providing a more up-close-and-personal impression of the events, including eyewitness testimonials on September 11 and images of people running for and taking cover. It did not take long for a villain, Osama Bin Laden, to be suggested, in...

Empire Skyscrapers Surveillance and Spectacle

Tall buildings and web-cameras are partners in the architecture of transparency the drive for an expanded horizon links both the aspirations of the glass tower and the surveillance image. This connection was made abundantly clear in a video installation by the German artist Wolfgang Staehle that coincided with the events of September 11. Staehle's exhibition included three real-time video projections web-cast from various locations around the world Berlin's television tower, the Comburg...

Frances Bonner

Much has been written from a cinematic and cultural studies perspective about medical imaging and films of operations, but the principal focus has been on the medical interpretation of such imaging and the use of documentary film by the medical profession, rather than what will be the concern here - the televised screening of such material to a lay audience. Both Lisa Cartwright (1995) and Jos van Dijck (2002), notable scholars in the field, have published historical studies of early medical...

From Hollywood to Reality TV and Beyond

'A genuinely trans-disciplinary text that provides a rich framework within which to think about spectacle in the 21st century.' The Spectacle of the Real From Hollywood to 'Reality' TV and First Published in the UK in 2005 by Intellect Books, PO Box 862, Bristol BS99 IDE, UK First Published in the USA in 2005 by Intellect Books, ISBS, 920 NE 58th Ave. Suite 300, Portland, Oregon 97213-3786, USA Copyright 2005 Intellect Ltd All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,...

From Money Shot to Chair Shot Wrestlings Hardcore Aesthetics

The word 'Hardcore' already suggests a pornographic dimension, in Williams' sense of a 'frenzy of the visible'. Pornography, as Tanya Krzywinska suggests, displays an investment in 'the encoding of authenticity and verisimilitude' (1998 159), the 'generic promise to show everything and hide nothing' (165). In wrestling, the Hardcore gaze is embodied in fans' desire to see corporeal evidence of the real within a fictional spectacle. The 'sight of bodily pain' is one example Williams gives of a...

Geoff King

Hollywood special effects offer spectacular creations or re-creations that make claims to our attention on the grounds of their 'incredible-seeming reality'. They can appear both 'incredible' and 'real', their appeal based on their ability to 'convince' - to appear real in terms such as detail and texture - and on their status as fabricated spectacle, to be admired as such. At a seemingly very different end of the audio-visual media spectrum, 'reality' television offers the spectacle of,...

Globalization Technological Revolution and the Restructuring of Capitalism

Behind the genesis and ascendancy of the expansion of media spectacle, the rise of megaspectacle and of the new virtual spectacle of cyberspace and an emerging Virtual Reality (VR), are the twin phenomena of the global restructuring of capitalism and the technological revolution resulting from the explosion of new forms of media and communication technology, computer and information technology, and, on the horizon, biotechnology. In earlier writings, I introduced the concept of technocapitalism...

Reality with Feeling

For detractors of reality TV and or sentimentalists, the difficulty with real-love shows is the same love displayed for the camera cannot be real. Such a concern, however, is first and foremost rooted in a suspicion of the medium itself. Unlike film or cyberspace, television promises actuality but functions as a medium, a means of transmitting a view of a particular scene across distance (hence the etymology of its name). Even documentary or live transmission is thus open to questions about...

If you meet this man cross the road

Cannibal Holocaust's roots lie in the 'Mondo' (or 'shockumentary') cycle sparked off by Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi's Mondo cane (1962) indeed, Deodato chose Riz Ortolani as the composer for Cannibal Holocaust specifically on account of his score for that first 'Mondo' movie. Its more recent ancestry can be traced to the cannibal cycle launched by Umberto Lenzi's Il paese del sesso selvaggio (Deep River Savages) (1972), a cycle to which Deodato's also contributed Ultimo mondo...

Matching Up The Bachelor

Characterized by the formatting trope of group isolation, the programming trend initiated by Big Brother (1999 and after) can be usefully termed the 'intimate strangers' genre. These programmes all bring together a group of people with no previous connections and place them in a setting geared to intensify intimacy according to Paddy Scannell these shows involve 'not so much the merely as the purely sociable' (2002 277). In my formulation, I would say that the 'intimate strangers' genre is so...

In Pursuit of Pleasure

Why go to the theatre or the cinema at all Why watch representations of things and events which are often of a distressing nature What is the allure of the seemingly unpleasurable Tim O'Sullivan et al. observe that The relation between language and the unconscious has been shown to be one of the determinants of pleasure - even in such apparently desexualized activities as watching television or cinema (especially the latter) there is an element of voyeurism from which the pleasure may derive....

Kathy Smith

I was sitting on a bed in a small white room in North Africa, watching CNN when the storm broke. I switched on the television in time to see a plane hit a skyscraper. Another disaster movie. It took seconds to realize - from the shaking images, the silences broken by the clattering of the cameras and exclamations of bystanders, then the shocked and shocking commentary - that this was not a film. I called to my companion sitting outside on the terrace, who arrived just in...

Lee Rodney

Of the numerous documentary 'vignettes' of Afghan life that flooded American media in October 2001, there was one that focused on the unlikely subject of popular haircuts in Kabul. The picture, posted on the MSNBC news-site, featured a well-groomed Afghan teen admiring his new haircut in the mirror of a barber shop. The picture and story were taken from a news item that ran earlier that year, in January 2001, stating that local barbers had been jailed in Kabul for specializing in a new style...

Leon Hunt

Wrestling is the only sport which gives such an externalised image of torture. Wrestling has become so good at creating the illusion of disaster that when disaster does hit, it's very difficult to tell the difference. (Chant sometimes heard at wrestling matches) February 2000 The WWF WWE Pay-Per-View No Way Out climaxes in a Hell in a Cell match.1 Mick Foley (a.k.a. 'Cactus Jack'), beloved by fans for his risk-taking manoeuvres, challenges top 'heel' Triple H for the Heavyweight title as the...

Mercenary media

To The other charge levelled against the film is that it exploits precisely what it purports to condemn. Thus Alain Garsault in Positif stated that 'Cannibal Holocaust would deserve only a contemptuous silence were it not for the 2 enormous hypocrisy of its authors', adding that rarely had this familiar technique is 'been employed with such obvious and such total bad faith' (1981 65). This, I & would argue, is actually a much more complicated matter than that of the film's a racism, and...

Mike Wayne

Within film studies, discussion of the horror film has been dominated by the genre's most popular sources of fear monsters, vampires and psychotics. Ghosts, as a specific strand within the horror film, have attracted somewhat less critical interest, although possession, often demonic, rather than the residue of something once human (the ghost 'proper'), has figured within studies of the genre (Creed 1993, Krzywinska 2000). Methodologically, critical approaches to the horror genre have been...

Notes

1 Debord's The Society of the Spectacle (1967) was published in translation in a pirate edition by Black and Red (Detroit) in 1970 and reprinted many times another edition appeared in 1983 and a new translation in 1994. Thus, in the following discussion, I cite references to the numbered paragraphs of Debord's text to make it easier for those with different editions to follow my reading. The key texts of the Situationists and many interesting commentaries are found on various Web sites,...

Film

A Production Designer's Cinema Historical 139 Authenticity in Popular Films Set in the Past 12. The New Spatial Dynamics of the Bullet-Time Effect 151 Lisa Purse 13. 'I was dreaming I was awake and then I woke up and 161 found myself asleep' Dreaming, Spectacle and Reality in Waking Life 14. Cannibal Holocaust and the Pornography of Death 173 Julian Petley 15. Beyond the Blair Witch A New Horror Aesthetic 187 Peg Aloi 16. Spectres and Capitalism Spectacle and the Horror 201 Film 17. Looking...

Part The legacy of lowtech reality

At first glance, much reality programming of the early twenty-first century bears little resemblance to the non-narrative, crash-edited, episodic madness of When Good Pets Go Bad and other classic titles. The elaborate studio-based contrivance of the Big Brother household, the cheerful transformation arc of property makeover shows, the self-reflexive selection processes of Popstars and other talent quest formats or the convoluted set-dressing of historic formats such as 1900 House is _ now...

Paul Ward Introduction

The relationship between film and dreaming is complex and multilayered. Much has been written that directly compares the cinema viewing experience with the dream state indeed this is one of the underlying strands of much psychoanalytic film theory, the psychic mechanisms through which spectators relate to the sounds and images on the screen (see for example Ellis 1982 38-61 Baudry 1976). There are also films that represent some form of utopia (or dystopia) and, by so doing, invoke thoughts of...

Possession

Thus far we have seen that the spectre can be read as a sign or trace of a repressed sociality or, what is only a symptom of the same thing, a repressed group within society. The spectre thus testifies to the deadening of our capacities for intersubjective recognition on which solidarity and collective life depends. But the spectre can also function as a sign of the deadening of our interior life as subjects subjected to the rule of capital. Possession narratives, in which the autonomy,...

References

Best, Steven and Douglas Kellner (2001) The Postmodern Adventure. Science Technology, and Cultural Studies at the Third Millennium. New York and London Guilford and Routledge. Castells, Manuel (1996, 1997, 1998) The Networked Society. Malden, Mass. and Oxford UK Debord, Guy (1967) Society of the Spectacle. Detroit Black and Red. Horkheimer, Max and Theodor W Adorno (1972) Dialectic of Enlightenment. New York Huizinga, Johann (1986) Homo Ludens A Study of the Play-Element in Culture. Boston...

Rotoscoping and realism

The convergence and overlap between media forms is figured, quite literally, by the rotoscope technique, where 'live action' is re figured by animation. Live action footage is 'drawn over', a frame at a time. In Waking Life, the protagonist, Wiley Wiggins, tries to work out if he is asleep or awake my argument is concerned with the way that this dreaming waking life metaphor is a useful one for those investigating the dialectic between live action and animated forms, and the relative levels of...

Similarities

The main points that led to the evocation of movie images in relation to the attack on the World Trade Centre are quite straightforward, along the lines already indicated. The fireball that erupted when the second tower was hit was reminiscent of the ubiquitous fireball-explosion images of recent and contemporary Hollywood action-disaster movies, including images of exploding aircraft and exploding buildings. This is true in general (fireball explosions wrecking buildings and destroying...

Simulated factuality

Arguments by documentary theorist John Corner that we might be moving into a post-documentary period echo concerns raised earlier by Brian Winston that the documentary is facing some type of crisis (Corner 2000b Winston 1995, 1999). These concerns are often placed in relation to the impact of new media technologies such as Web TV, Internet spycams, and interactive voting games. Richard Kilborn is one commentator who has argued that their use in contemporary forms of television such as reality...

Spatial Domesticity

Spatial construction and navigation of the house and garden is central to playing The Sims. In play mode, even without player-driven mouse action, the Sim avatars continue to move through space and engage in on-screen activity. The representational code of these navigable spaces is adapted from architectural modeling and the cinema to visualize the way humans and architectural spaces interact. As director, camera operator and production designer, the player has an active role within the...

Spectacles and Spectres

Since its introduction into the English language from Old French in the fourteenth century, the word 'spectacle' (derived from Latin) has retained its original meaning of 'a show'. But not any old show. The term implies some organisation of the visual field that is out of the ordinary. Many of the debates and different conceptualisations of the term 'spectacle' turn on this relationship to, and conceptualisation of, the everyday or the norm. In the debased and overused lexicon of marketing...

Stage and Screen

Considering first, then, the economy of the relation between spectator and representation in respect of the medium through which this event was witnessed, it is widely recognised that the experience of the televisual spectator necessarily differs from that of the cinematic or theatric spectator. Wendy Wheeler and Trevor Griffiths acknowledge the immediacy of theatre, observing that In the theatre, and unlike film, the economy of seeing and hearing we are offered is just as immediate and as...

The aura of snuff

I have already explained at some length elsewhere (Petley 2000) why I believe that the commercially made 'snuff' movie is an entirely imaginary creature, and other sceptical examinations of the myth can be found in Johnson and Schaeffer (1993) and Kerekes and Slater (1995). Although this is most emphatically not - pace Black (2002 68) - to deny the possibility that real murders may have been filmed or otherwise recorded by their perpetrators for purely private purposes. My earlier contribution...

The Horror of the Public Sphere

The term 'public sphere' has been closely associated with the work of the communications philosopher J rgen Habermas. The public sphere refers to those social mechanisms - in which the media are crucial - for forming 'publics' that can critically engage in dialogue, debate and understanding of the society around them. In The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (originally published in the early 1960s) Habermas argued that the emerging property relations of capitalism were...

The Problem of the Intelligentsia

All men are intellectuals', Gramsci once famously noted (we can forgive him the gender specificity) 'but not all men have in society the function of intellectuals' (1971 9). The intelligentsia are the growing fraction within the social division of labour who work with knowledge, whose central role is the production and dissemination of knowledge. Fredric Jameson argues, in relation to conspiracy films, that within popular narrative frameworks still largely grounded in individual agency, the...

The Return to Fantasy

I suspect that in the wake of September 11, disaster movies will no longer hold the same appeal it is one thing to watch from the safety of the knowledge that 'this could never happen', and quite another to watch in the knowledge that it could and has, that the distance has been lost. The event has required the mobilising of different forms of spectatorship it has altered our framing of such events, and significantly altered our horizon of imagination. It may be fortuitous for Hollywood that by...

The Spectrality Effect

The word 'teratology', meaning the study of monsters, usually now refers to the biological study of birth defects, but a teratology was, in the Middle Ages, a collection of tales about disturbing natural occurrences, often taken as signs of God's wrath or warnings of some impending cataclysm. An inkling of what I mean by the spectacle as teratological can be found in Maxim Gorky's perplexity on y attending a showing of Lumi re Brothers' films touring Russia in 1896. Of the a experience, Gorky...

Voyage au bout de labominable

It is precisely these carefully erected and culturally sanctioned distinctions between fictional and factual modes of representing death that Cannibal Holocaust violates and tramples on at every turn. And it is for this reason, I would argue, that the film is still capable of generating such opprobrium and outrage in a cinematic culture far more suffused with images of carnage than was the one into which it was born. It is this, too, which makes Cannibal Holocaust such a different kind of film...

The Culture of the Spectacle

Sports has long been a domain of the spectacle with events such as the Olympics, World Series, Super Bowl, soccer World Cup, and NBA championships attracting massive audiences, while generating sky-high advertising rates. These cultural rituals celebrate their society's deepest values (i.e. competition, winning, success, and money), and corporations are willing to pay top dollar to get their products associated with such events. Indeed, it appears that the logic of the commodity spectacle is...

Peg Aloi

Following the runaway commercial success of the low-budget 'fake documentary' The Blair Witch Project (1999), a number of American independent film-makers attempted to imitate the film's unique production elements and recreate its raw but subtle visual aesthetic. Despite its containing no trace of what might be called cinematography, art direction, or traditional narrative structure, the film does possess a signature 'look' (resulting from the use of hand-held cameras and the setting of key...

Cinma vrit and the authenticseeming

Commentators have noted how reality TV and The Sims take up aspects of the observational documentary (see, for example, Dovey 2000 Roscoe 2001 Winston 1999). From the late 1950s, practitioners of the US Direct Cinema movement asserted that shooting in sequence, the long take, the jumpcut and avoiding voice-over narration or the interview would permit a more accurate representation of r reality. Contact between subject and camera operator director was reduced to the absolute minimum to create...

Pleasure in the Unpleasurable The Allure of the Disaster Movie

Returning, then, to a consideration of the allure of the 'disaster movie', and the role of the spectator in respect of the pleasure of the representation, Sigmund Freud (in his account of 'Psychopathic Characters on Stage') suggests that the spectator is a person who experiences too little, who feels that he is a 'poor wretch to whom nothing of importance can happen', who has long been obliged to damp down, or rather displace, his ambition to stand in his own person at the hub of world affairs...

Cybernetics for modeling behavior

As systems for simulating realism, Big Brother and The Sims deploy different but associated cybernetic models or game rules for exploring and understanding human sociability and thus engaging audiences players. A typical simulation consists of a number of agents that are given an environment to live in and some rules to follow' (Ryan 2001 63). By changing variables the user can experiment with the model and experience different simulation outcomes. These simulation environments then conform to...

Notes on Contributors

Michele Aaron lectures on film int he department of American and Canadian Studies at the University of Birmingham. She is editor of The Body's Perilous Pleasures (1999) and New Queer Cinema A Critical Reader (2003) and has published a number of articles, most recently on Jewishness and gender, and queer film and cinematic fiction. She is currently completing a book entitled Spectatorship the Power of Looking On. Email michele.aaron brunel.ac.uk Peg Aloi teaches creative writing and film studies...

Not as Fake as You Think The Real and the

Sharon Mazer characterises pro-wrestling as 'a sport that is not, in the literal sense of the word, sporting a theatrical entertainment that is not theatre' (1998 3). Even more paradoxically, it is 'the one sport in which participants lose legitimacy when they move from 'amateur' to 'professional'' (4). Amateur wrestling is an authentic (if not especially popular) sport, while the WWE has coined the phrase 'Sports Entertainment' for its staged grappling. Some pro-wrestlers are authenticated by...

Ethics of Emotion

There is no discounting the fact that by peddling the ideology of requited love, these shows foreground a certain moral imperative about how, and whom, one should love. And inevitably, a moral imperative attached to practices of love will have gender implications. Indeed, there is something quite uncomfortable about a programme which screens close-ups of women crying while the man at the centre of it all poses thoughtfully elsewhere and muses calmly about the seriousness of what he is doing....

Spectacle Economy

Since Debord's theorization of the society of the spectacle in the 1960s and 1970s, spectacle culture has expanded in every area of life. In the culture of the spectacle, commercial enterprises have to be entertaining to prosper and as Michael J. Wolf (1999) argues, in an 'entertainment economy,' business and fun fuse, so that the E-factor is becoming a major aspect of business. Via the 'entertainmentization' of the economy, television, film, theme parks, video games, casinos, and so forth...

Michele Aaron

According to psychoanalytic film theory, cinema, indeed any visual representation, depends upon the spectator's acceptance of an illusion as a form of reality. The relationship between illusion and reality, between the spectacle and the real, is a fascinating subject of considerable history with film studies, and, since '9 11' and its spectacular convergence of disaster movie and actuality, an ever hotter topic. My concern in this chapter, however, lies not so much with the qualities or...

Debord and the Spectacle A Critical Engagement

In using the concept of spectacle, I am obviously indebted to Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle and the ideas of the Situationist International so acknowledging the debt, I might also say that there are three major differences between my engagement of the concept of the spectacle and Debord's model. First, while Debord develops a rather totalizing and monolithic concept of the society of the spectacle, I engage specific spectacles, like McDonald's and the commodity spectacle, the Clinton...

Guy Debord and the Society of the Spectacle

The concept of the 'society of the spectacle' developed by French theorist Guy Debord and his comrades in the Situationist International has had major impact on a variety of contemporary theories of society and culture.1 For Debord, spectacle 'unifies and explains a great diversity of apparent phenomena' Debord 1967 10 . Debord's conception, first developed in the 1960s, continues to circulate through the Internet and other academic and subcultural sites today. It describes a media and consumer...

Lisa Purse

The Matrix 1999 is a generic hybrid an action film that engages with a number of concerns familiar from science fiction literature and science fiction film. Certainly since its inception science fiction as a genre has been directly concerned with human beings' social and physical relationships to and interactions with technology. In contemporary science fiction, current and currently imagined technological developments inflect these concerns in particular ways. Mark Poster observes that,...

Artful reminders

Primarily, these highly self-reflexive films inhibit the spectators' ability to do that 'artful forgetting' by consistently reminding us that we are watching a film. We cannot suppress our status as spectators for the films are all about spectatorship. The radical charge of this spotlighting of the spectator's experience as the films' self-consciously merged-perspectives make evident is a fundamental avowal of the real. However, this radical charge is not a given in all self-reflexive films....

Viral Strategies

Baudrillard, for his part, suggests that the spectacle's prostitution of the Real compels what he calls 'evil' to re-emerge in new, terroristic forms. Attempting to write the other out of the world, we have forced it to take on a secret form, a form that we will be unable to tame and pat on the head 'What springs up in order to combat the total homogenization of the world is the Alien - monstrous metaphor for the corpse-like, viral Other the compound form of all the varieties of otherness done...

Michele Pierson

The Australian film critic, Adrian Martin, put his finger on something when he suggested in a review of Moulin Rouge Baz Luhrmann, 2001 that the film was 'all set design but no real mise-en-scene' 2001 A3, 5 . Here we have one of those risky, 'what if' propositions whose very formativeness is their most productive quality. As is so often the case with this kind of writing and not only film reviewing but academic writing too , there is less fun to be had in dismissing Martin's claim as obviously...

Waking Life rotoscoping and the optical unconscious

As Susan Buck-Morss points out about Benjamin's Arcades Project, it is underpinned by a theory of 'modernity as a dream world, and a conception of collective awakening from it as synonymous with revolutionary class consciousness' 253 . In other words, people are 'enchanted' by the specific conditions of capitalism, and modern life is very much analogous to a dream state. Underneath the surface of increasing systemic rationalization, on an unconscious 'dream' level, the new urban-industrial...

The Reality of Representation from Liveness to Embeddedness

In television's obsession with reality, where ordinary people are showcased as actors, and mundane situations as drama, we are asked increasingly to see ourselves as though on television, or video at least. This is not the same thing as being virtual, but rather occupying a feedback loop-living 'live'. This is a shift in terms of how we understand ideas such as simulation and spectacle a shift that emphasizes, not the disappearance of reality, but rather a reversal of how the problem is posed....

Part The aesthetics of amateurism

The caught-on-tape video-clip show proliferated, as legend has it, in the late eighties as a burgeoning number of cable stations, hungry for supply, came up against a screenwriters' strike in Hollywood. An abundant, United States-wide resource of pre-recorded images from personal handycams, store security cameras and police video archives proved the antidote, and much to the chagrin of the writer's union, 'unscripted TV' was born. Short extracts from these video tapes were quickly formatted...

The Passion for the Real

The seminal work on the spectacle is, of course, Guy Debord's The Society of the Spectacle 1999, originally 1967 . Debord proposed that under late capital social reality is visually organized. More than this, the modern media spectacle dispossesses humans of the use of their powers of creative praxis and immerses them in a wraparound imagistic consumerist environment that alienates them from 'real life' - that is, their constructive relation to social reality. Since Debord, some commentators...