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Y200 Politics and Film, Lecture #9

Y200 Politics and Film, Lecture #9
February 15, 2011

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Polf09 Polf09 Presentation Transcript

  • February 15, 2011
  • From McCarthyism to Multimedia Mergers
    • 1950-54 McCarthyism and the Blacklist
    • 1964 End of the Production Code
    • Hollywood reacts to the political movements of the 1960s (civil rights, the anti-war movement)
    • 1970s Rise of the “movie brats” and the new blockbuster films
    • 1980s Multimedia Mergers and the rise of the new infotainment technologies
  • Important Changes in Television
    • Rise of the 4th network (Fox).
    • Rapid spread of VCRs.
    • Cable TV: many new cable networks and cable channels with specialized content.
    • Future prospect of competition involving over-the-air broadcasters, cable operators, satellite broadcasters, and phone companies.
  • Market Penetration of VCRs
  • The Home Theater and Cocooning
    • Main movie-going is by young people on dates.
    • Families are retreating to “home theaters.”
    • Cocooning is a general trend in the US.
  • Siliwood
    • Digital technology already used in film production and post-production.
    • Studios use the Internet to advertise products.
    • Digital technology will be used increasingly for distribution.
  • Main Members of the Frankfurt School
    • Theodor Adorno
    • Max Horkheimer
    • Herbert Marcuse
    • Walter Benjamin
    • Leo Lowenthal
    Need to see the school as an offshoot of Marxism, with key issues being the failure of the European masses to rise to support the revolution in Russia and the rise of Fascism in Europe in the 1930s .
  • Key Ideas of Theodor Adorno
    • Popular culture in capitalist societies creates a false sense of “needs” in the public, thereby serving the dominant capitalist classes
    • Cultural goods become commodified and fetishized and judged on the basis of their exchange value and not their intrinsic value
  • The Creation of False Needs
    • “ Capitalist productive forces are capable, according to the [Frankfurt] School, of producing such vast amounts of wealth through waste production like military expenditure that ‘false needs’ can be created and met.”
    Source: Dominic Strinati, An Introduction to Theories of Popular Culture, p. 59.
  • Elements of Theodor Adorno’s Theory of Commodity Fetishism
    • Taking off from Marx’s distinction between exchange value and use value of commodities, Adorno says exchange value dominates use value in capitalist society via commodity fetishism = “the fantastic form of a relation” defined by a thing (money) and the value of objects in capitalist consumer societies
    Source: Strinati, p. 57.
  • Adorno on the Culture Industry
    • “ The culture industry intentionally integrates its consumers from above.”
    • “ The customer is not king, as the culture industry would have us believe, not its subject but its object.”
    • “ .. The concepts of order which it hammers into human beings are always those of the status quo.”
    Source: Strinati, pp. 62-63.
  • Theories of Walter Benjamin
    • Marginal member of the Frankfurt School
    • His major work, The Arcades project, was partially lost when Benjamin attempted to escape Nazi-occupied France by walking over the border to Spain.
  • Benjamin’s Ideas about Commodities
    • “ The dreams of the capitalist era are embodied in commodities. In their ensemble these constitute a phantasmagoria, constantly changing shape according to the tides of fashion, and offered to crowds of enchanted worshippers as the embodiment of their deepest desires.”
    Source: Essay on Benjamin by J.M. Coetzee at http://lists.tamil.com/lists/it/2001-01/msg00053.html
  • The Origins of Postmodernism
    • Rejection of the ideologies of the 19th century in light of the two World Wars and the holocaust.
    • Rejection of objectivity as the sole criterion of truth.
    • Emphasis on the importance multiple perspectives.
    Michel Foucault
  • Postmodernist Preoccupations
    • Consumption rather than production
    • Growing importance of:
      • advertising
      • marketing
      • design
      • architecture
      • TV journalism
      • raider capitalism
    Meta-narratives are in decline along with class-based categories like family, neighborhood, religion, trade unions, and the nation-state. Strinati, pp. 238-9.
  • Postmodernism and Contemporary Cinema
    • “ From the postmodern point of view, contemporary cinema is seen to be indulging in nostalgia, living off its past, ransacking it for ideas, recycling its images and plots and cleverly citing it in self-conscious postmodern parodies.”
    Strinati, p. 243.
  • Characteristics of Postmodernist Style
    • Emphasis on style, spectacle, special effects instead of character, substance, narrative and social commitment
    • Examples of postmodernist films:
      • Dick Tracy
      • Indiana Jones
      • Back to the Future
      • Brazil
      • Blue Velvet