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Issues

60.1 Fall 2020

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Spotlight

Scholar Spotlight: Soraya Murray

Interview by TreaAndrea M. Russworm

Soraya Murray is an interdisciplinary scholar who focuses on contemporary visual culture with particular interest in art, film, and video games. An associate professor in the Film + Digital Media Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Murray’s first book, On Video Games: The Visual Politics of Race, Gender and Space (I.B. Tauris, 2018), examines how post-9/11 era mainstream games mirror and are constitutive of larger societal fears, dreams, hopes, and even complex struggles for recognition.

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Research Articles

Elements of Post-Katrina African-American Documentary Film

Courtney R. Baker

Abstract: This article considers African American documentary film as a site of radical resistance and an archival repository of scenes of African American life. Examining films that emerged out of the crisis following 2005’s Hurricane Katrina disaster in the Gulf Coast, the article identifies recurring elements of the African American documentary genre, including an insistence upon Black people's presence. Four Hurricane Katrina-focused documentaries are discussed: Spike Lee's four-part When the Levees Broke (2006), Clyde C. Robertson's The Saddest Days: Katrina Stories through the Eyes of HBCU Students (2007), Tia Lessin and Carl Deal's Trouble the Water (2008), and Brent Joseph's A Loud Color (2006).

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The Horror of Discorrelation: Mediating Unease in Post-Cinematic Screens and Networks

Shane Denson

Abstract: The shift from a cinematic to a post-cinematic media regime has occasioned a great deal of anxiety for theorists and spectators alike, and the horror genre has been adept at channeling this unease for its own purposes, as is evidenced in movies that revolve around the proliferation of digital devices and networks as new media for ghosts, demons, and other forms of evil. This article argues that fears elicited in post-cinematic horror are more deeply rooted in the "discorrelation" of phenomenal experience and computational microtemporality.

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“Anybody with a buck”: Terry Turner and the Ecosystems of Film Promotion, 1920-1960

A.T. McKenna

Abstract: Terry Turner was one of the most influential film promoters of the twentieth century, but his achievements have been largely overlooked by film historians. As an exploitation man for RKO, he pioneered “saturation” releasing with his promotion of Hitler’s Children (Edward Dmytryk, 1943)—more than three years before David O. Selznick’s promotion of Duel in the Sun (King Vidor, 1946). Turner created multifaceted, multimedia campaigns, and he was a significant creative force within the industry. Turner's ecosystemic approach to promotion integrated many dynamic elements into his campaigns as he fulfilled his stated goal of targeting "anybody with a buck."

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The Hero’s Mass and the Ontological Politics of the Image

Constantine V. Nakassis

Abstract: This article explores the ontological politics of the image in Tamil cinema. Its focus is a particular scene from the 2011 film Mankatha (Venkat Prabhu) in which the protagonist, played by the “mass hero” Ajith Kumar, is slapped by a character played by Vaibhav Reddy. Taking the image not simply as diegetic representation but as performative act, Ajith fans were enranged at Vaibhav. As I show, multiple ontological and political claims on what an image is intersect in and manifest as this performative image-act. This multiplicity provokes rethinking of arguments by André Bazin and others about "the" ontology of the film image.

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Time, Digital Environments, and the Documentary Experience

Vinicius Navarro

Abstract: This article focuses on the temporal aspects of documentary media experiences in online environments, drawing attention to their processual nature and their ephemeral quality. While it makes a case for the loosely structured temporality of process, the article also discusses the forms these documentary processes take as well as the kinds of engagement with the world they produce. It treats these processes as distinctive occurrences, as experiences that are qualitatively different from other experiences, looking both at canonical examples of interactive documentary and at the spontaneous formations we associate with contemporary media activism.

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The Western Frontier and American Pulp in la Zone: Marcel Carné’s Terrain vague (1960) as Proto-Banlieue Film

Joy C. Schaefer

Abstract: This article examines Marcel Carné’s film Terrain vague (Wasteland, 1960) as a precursor to post-1980 banlieue (disadvantaged suburbs) genre films due to its representation of the transcultural and postcolonial dimensions of this marginalized space. Carné’s critically disparaged film was produced when US cultural imperialism and the Algerian War of Independence (1954–1962) converged in the metropole. In representing this context, the film presages banlieue film themes and media stereotypes that will intensify in post-1980 France; as the banlieue becomes increasingly racialized, it becomes more troublingly associated with the US ghetto and aberrant virility.

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