Thank you for your post, Catherine. Research like the one you present here opens up new possibilities for cultural criticism and presents great models for the interpretation of visual culture as a whole, even outside the realm of film studies. The online public sphere is dependent on visual interfaces and has collectively given birth to many forms of image making (e.g. selfies and the image macros). It is important that the Internet also become a site for academic analysis and critical questioning of these forms as well.
The field of contemporary art, for example, could benefit immensely from analyses like your “Refashioning the Femme Fatale?”, given the rise of video, multimedia, and Internet-based practices. While text alone has dominated criticism in this field for a long time, the models you and your colleagues are developing set the precedent for future academics and fans to explore further using an expanded toolset.
Fantastic post and comments! So much of this topic is tied up in our changing definitions of criticism and what it means to “critically engage” with media and one another. The spirit of scholarly media practice like this derives in equal parts from pop culture outputs like the fan video AND critical theoretical applications that might register more on the “serious” side of things. I think your post, Catherine, speaks to not only the ways academics and media scholars can utilize the tools usually relegated to non-critical audiences, but to how fans and media consumers in general might start to view their own output as critically revealing. The Idea is Process! :)
Catherine: I am drawn to the way your essay and ensuing comments here breaks down the binaries of critical and affective as has been noted but also that of the scholar and fan. Here, I am not just thinking of the worthwhile emotional investment that a scholar might have but the critical faculties often undervalued in the “fan.” I have seen this especially in my own work in the silent film area where many “fans” have not only encyclopedic knowledge of early cinema details and passionate thoughts on individuals and films, but also careful analysis of social forces, performers and performance, directorial signatures, and elements of film style. I have learned much from the silent film community in Los Angeles and feel strongly there is much to be gained from putting our work out to the public not only for their information and possible new objects of study, but as part of a larger and ongoing conversation.
I love the idea of letting go of the “precious object” of media scholarship and the willingness to see our work as something usefully in progress without the cover of “part of a larger work” that we often frame our conference presentations as a hedge against “incompleteness.” Our public practice with these works then becomes exercises in active listening and dialogue and the foundation for new possibilities for scholarship as you noted with Reframe and [in]Transition.
Suzanne, that’s a powerful manifesto right there! Thanks for articulating it in that way. Your final point is an especially important one.
One element I’m interested to emphasise after your intervention, particularly given that your own open source work has made such productive use of the notion of fans’ “revenge” (http://www.suzanne-scott.com), is that the concept of vengeance is indeed also central to Betz’s argument that I opened with.
I paint a particularly positive picture, above, of the energy that flooded into my work when it went online and when I risked making a connection, as you put it, “between [my] affective relationship with media, and [my identity as a media scholar]” in public for the first time. But there was definitely some revenge in there for me, too!
Having spent more than twenty years as a scholar closing off that connection, indeed, repressing it as I had been taught to do, obviously, had consequences. The relief and pleasure I experienced when I stopped doing that were powerfully palpable. So if your students are able to acknowledge and, even better, get in touch with their emotional investments early on in their work with you that’s a vital pedagogical outcome indeed, as hard as it is to achieve. Thank you.
Catherine, this really resonated with me both as an aca-fan, and as someone who teaches courses that require students to produce “open,” multimodal scholarship. When asking students to approach remix as a form of audiovisual argumentation, I’m not just requiring them to refashion themselves as public scholars, or assert their copyrights through fair use claims, I’m asking them to (as Pam eloquently notes above) make visible their emotional investments in particular texts and course concepts. The “playful” approach to media scholarship you discuss above is perhaps the biggest conceptual hurdle for my students, but it’s ultimately what makes the finished projects so rewarding and powerful. To embrace a more open vision of academia is to grow comfortable with the connections between our affective relationship with media, and our identities as media scholars- in this sense, fans and transformative fan works function as a perfect analog to consider how we might achieve this.
Thank you, Pam. Around the time I started blogging I was certainly very influenced by Henry Jenkins’ work on aca-fandom - both at his blog (http://henryjenkins.org) and in his more conventionally published work - and I was also reading Matt Hills’ work, in particular his object-relations-theory-infused investigation (in FAN CULTURES ) of the mechanisms of separation between the fan and the academic and of what was at stake in that separation.
Locating my work, for the first time, in the exposed space of the contemporary fan (the public sphere of the internet) collapsed that separation in productive and, for me, irreversible ways. When I started to blog, I began to care far more about engaging with a readership — and about caring for its enthusiasms — than I had in my previous, offline, scholarly work. I still engage in critical and reflective research and discourse, of course, but those elements usually follow on from practical explorations and experiments that aren’t limited in advance by notions of what I should be looking at as a scholar any more (see my discussion of this: http://aim.org.pt/ojs/index.php/revista/article/view/59/html).
As for cut and paste methods, while I’d always been way too attached to opening practically everything I wrote with epigraphs (still do!), it was blogging that made me take my experiments with montage and quotation seriously, that’s to say, *playfully* (that’s the very essence of FSFF), well before I began to engage in non linear editing of moving images and sounds. But you’re so right that all these ways of ‘writing’ make psychic investments much more visible. And again that can be very exposing….
A lovely post Catherine, bringing home the way open source academia dissolves the boundaries between academic scholarship and fan activity. Those boundaries were always permeable, but I think videography’s cut-and-paste way of ‘writing’ makes the processes and emotional/psychic investments of scholarly research visible. Potentially that leads to dissemination among wider, more diverse groups pf readers/viewers. Fans are critics, and critics are fans!
Hey Ana I love your post and also the images you’ve used to accompany it. Looking at the stills from Cheias de Charme on the animated ppt you’ve included I was struck by the very useful textual analysis you were performing of this novela and then by the fact that textual analysis of novelas is so rarely performed. There’s obvious reasons why it’s hard to do this kind of reading across telenovelas - there’s so much text to deal with. But I wondered if you had any ideas about why this kind of formal analysis of novelas is so rarely done.
Thinking about our next generation, I can only think of how awful it is going to be for those who are of color to grow up in this society. Like you pointed out, the almost dehumanization of people of color in video games as objects to be destroyed or “the enemy” is something that will affect our society. In today’s society, we (the 18-25 age demographic) tend to think of ourselves as progressive and accepting of all people, but we live in a society where everything is white-washed and people of color are dehumanized. Though we may not be consciously thinking about killing people of color, when it comes to violent video games, subconsciously the people that we target are those of color. I would be curious to see if in a video game that did not openly define the enemy, how many would shoot the person of color because they are seen as “dirty” or “evil”. Another aspect I liked that you hit on was the invisibility of people of color. Not only the fact that people of color are rarely the hero in the game, but the complete lack of characters that are not white. In response to that video, though it was coming off as sarcasm, it does make a valid point that, people of color are stereotyped and discriminated against even in online communities. The fact that I can go into a video game and easily make a character that resembles me slightly, while a person of color is only given two options is disgusting. In addition, when creating the characters in Sims, the darker the skin tone the more distorted their appearance appears to be. The video also makes a great point in showing that even “joking” racism, is still racism and still hurts a population.
Ana dear. Well I know I said some films were hard to find, but it is thanks to you and your “messy ” archive thar I got the education about Latin American Cinemas cult and otherwise.. In the first place.. I’m definitely guilt free about YouTube as a teaching aid…..This is partly because my own archive of VHSs isn’t supported by our systems at Sussex and even the DVD players here are likely to stick mid lecture. But I still have nagging doubts when YouT über becomes my go to research tool. What am I missing?