Recent Comments

examples of past and present Klingon character design
Alla Gadassik

Richard Dyer, “The Light of the World” in White: Essays on Race and Culture (Routledge, 1997).

Stuart Hall, “The Spectacle of the ‘Other’” in Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices (Open University, 1997).

Adilifu Nama, Black Space: Imagining Race in Science Fiction Film (University of Texas Press, 2008).

Paul Glavey

I’m not familiar with the idea of ‘Postsouthern’, thank you for the reference. What I have found is there is a sense of plausible deniability on the part of many people here (UK/Europe), about the use of the Confederate flag. The geographic remove is offered by some as a justification for its continued use, like the internationalisation of the flag cuts the connections with its origin. Others mitigate its presence by pointing to a love of rock and roll/rhythm and blues/blues music as evidence of no racist intent (this can be found on various forum discussion boards). One possibe point of comparison of symbols and subcultures is the adoption of the swastika by punks. Starting with Dick Hedbidge’s Subculture: The meaning of style, you can find discussions of how the symbol was appropriated; used as a means to shock and, “within an alternative subcultural context, its primary value and appeal derived precisely from its lack of meaning: from its potential for deceit.” (p117). The use of the swastika in punk has moved on from there and in certain contexts has become a truncated reference and the signifiers of the symbol stop at punk and never go back as far as the original usage. For some this seems to be the same, either as a deliberate refusal to engage with the original context of the flag or not. With the Confederate flag there is arguably a less immediate, deliberately offensive usage. In some ways the flag has remained a constant; as a signifier of America, rebellion etc,and the political climate has come round to offering it fuller significance. The photograph in the slides of the flag patches was taken in August in France at a ‘retro’ festival which had rock and roll/rockabilly bands playing but was more mixed (vintage cars, motorbikes, stalls etc). The stall was selling a range of Harley Davidson branded patches etc, stars and stripes bandanas, handbags with sugar skull pattern and then along side all that a board of patches for the Front National and Neo Nazi symbols. I have never seen those symbols at explicitly rockabilly events but it shows the overlap that has emerged (or become more explicit perhaps) in some quarters with these symbols. The flag is also flown at some sports events in Ireland. As Cork is known as the ‘Rebel County’, and wear red jerseys, some of their supporters bring the flag to gaelic games matches. Over the summer there was an explicit call post-Charlottesville to stop this: https://www.irishtimes.com/sport/gaelic-games/cork-gaa-officers-condemn-flying-of-confederate-flag-1.3188344

Joshua Jackson

A lot of what Paul’s saying about the Confederate Flag falls within a critical framework that Southern Studies scholars use to understand the role of southern symbols after World War II. That understanding is framed in terms of the “post-South,” i.e., the place the South became during postmodernity, which is to say, Americanized, globalized, and otherwise absorbed, exported, and assimilated into the culture of the rest of the United States and globe, especially at a time when globalization started to run its course. For a more comprehensive introduction to the term, see Martyn Bone’s entry for the term “Postsouthern” in _Keywords for Southern Studies_ (2016).

This process of divorcing symbols of the South from their historical roots, and particularly the Confederate Flag and other antebullum imagery, could also be viewed as part of a trend that John Egerton calls “The Americanization of the South,” which might also be said to entail the “Southernization of the Globe.”

What I think Paul brings forth with this post, especially in his discussion of the Confederate Flag’s appropriation around the globe, are implications of the Southernization of the Globe. I think we spend less time engaging in discussions about the Southernization of the Globe because we, and by “we,” I mean Southern Studies scholars like me, prefer to talk about how the monolithic South doesn’t *really* exist, especially as it’s portrayed in popular media, and that there are exceptions to the rule of blanket conservatism in the US South. This pivot gives us more room to talk about people and texts that aren’t all white in our scholarship. However, doing this important work may have created a bit of a blind spot when it comes to noticing how symbols of the American South have been appropriated abroad. Which is why I think that dealing with the Southernization of the Globe — especially if it can be traced to the insurgent populism (and surprising popularity) of far-right and alt-right political subcultures in Europe — should be a consideration for everyone thinking about the cultural context of the Confederate Flag today.

Carrie Fisher Then and Now
Mariana Lins

I have been watching the fans’ reaction surrounding Carrie’s death since December on social media and I noticed most of them seemed to share a very unique bond with her. Their mourning, as Tanya already pointed out, undoubtedly had a lot to do with their personal associations, but what really impressed me was the amount of stories they shared regarding mental illness and drug addiction. It seems to me that Carrie’s fragilities, to a certain extent, brought people closer to her more than her acting accomplishments. Do you agree?

Carrie Fisher: Wishful Drinking
Mariana Lins

The intersection of Fisher’s stardom, mental health advocacy, and candidness about substance abuse that you pointed out here can also be seen on the cover of Shockaholic, the next memoir she wrote after Wishful Drinking, in 2011. Again the picture of Princess Leia is on the cover, but we can’t see her face. Last year, her last memoir The Princess Diarist’s cover finally had a picture of Leia on it though. I wonder if the absence of her face in the first two books but not in the last one can be explained by her settling down when it comes to this role.

Carrie Fisher and the ageless princess
Mariana Lins

Tanya, I think Princess Leia’s character herself is already a great contribution to the women’s representation in sci-fi movies. After The Force Awakens premiere and the event I just described in my piece, I feel that Carrie’s reaction was very positive to the discussions on ageism, although, as an actress with few opportunities in Hollywood, she could not avoid Disney’s pressure under her weight, for instance. She was very outspoken, and that was nice of her, and very opened to discuss how uncomfortable and humiliating, to say the least, was the body shame culture in industry, but ultimately she was never really able to escape from that. For many reasons she had to give in somehow. Even so, both Carrie Fisher and Princess Leia, whether as a sex symbol or a general, gave us the chance to bring this subject to light so that we can rethink the double standard imposed by Hollywood and how it affects our own perceptions and consumption as audience. We can no longer ignore the aging process in pop culture.

Carrie Fisher: Wishful Drinking
Tanya Zuk

This is a wonderful analysis of an image and icon! Though I always knew that Lucas had kept the rights for merchandising, it never occurred to me how that would affect the actors and their own need to interact with the icons they have portrayed, which is particularly important for Carrie Fisher and Princess Leia—as the two are so often publicly intangled.

Carrie Fisher Then and Now
Tanya Zuk

I think the public mourning of cultural icons highlights no only the areas of impact that icon was most associated with, in the case of Carrie Fisher—Star Wars, mental health and addiction advocacy, and feminism, but it is also a public mourning for the personal associations where celebrity intersects with mundane life.

Carrie Fisher and the ageless princess
Tanya Zuk

I know Carrie Fisher encouraged Daisey Ridley to “fight for her costume” to make sure that she was comfortable in her outfits, and in control of her representation within the franchise. How do you think Carrie (and other women in Hollywood) are helping younger generations (both actress and audiences) gain more control over their image, whether as a sex symbol or as a general, young or aged?

Virginia Massignan
Tanya Zuk

I like your attention to the different generations involved in the event, since it’s an important element of the resonance and circulation of these images, and of successfully making fan activism a lesson in civic duty for younger generations.