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November 1994, Week 4


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"Russell A. Potter" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 28 Nov 1994 13:38:47 CST
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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Nicole Matthews <[log in to unmask]> writes:
>I am unsure about the assumption that highlighting the conditions
>of production of mass cultural images is automatically subversive.
Agreed.  It's a question of how it's done, and to want ends, and how
positioned in society.
>Pierre Bourdieu in "Distinction" points out that a
>distanced, ironic viewing position, which focusses on the formal
>qualities of an art work or medium, is most often taken up by those with
>privilege (both on the basis of class/education and on gender).  Patrice
>Petro and Tania Modleski have also pointed out that this emphasis on "critical
>distance" has meant that women have frequently been described as passive
>and conservative consumers of mass culture.
I think these views are condescending to both the 'non-privileged' and to
women. It's the grand Academic "we" once again implying that the unwashed
masses are too far down on the anti-Platonic ladder of Irony to "get" po-mo
cultural productions.  So "formal" qualities are only for the elites to
B.S., I say.  Listen to the music of working-class UK punkers, or hip-hop
artists such as the COUP, Paris, Public Enemy, or the Disposable Heroes of
Hip-Hoprisy; there's as much or more contrapuntal irony to the minute there
as in the EBN videos. I also am not sure that I agree that cut-up
productions are necessarily more "distant," or their consumption more
"passive" -- for some viewers/listeners, maybe, but certainly not all.  One
of the things I like about EBN is that their videos, rather than joining
the queue at MTV or VH1, are played on-site at concerts or in the streets
via their ghostbusters-style video mobile unit -- the video equaivalent of
a Jeep loaded with high-wattage speakers.
>While it's certainly possible that works like EBN can be dangerous to
>"hegemony", I wonder how this might happen, given that the very kind of
>viewing which they encourage is associated with privilege.
This seems reductive to me: if to view with irony is "associated with
privilege," what kind of viewing *would* be revolutionary for the masses --
literalistic?  If, when seeking to find or formulate anti-hegemonic arts,
we must eschew all modes of consumption/production associated with
privilege, it seems to me we'd be left with a pretty bare pallate.
On the other hand (to agree with you partially), I think many academic
marxists, feminists, and other activists have an overblown concept of how
muh damage what they're doing inflicts upon 'the system.'  In fact, by
producing principally papers, conferences, and academic books, many of
these would-be revolutionaries are fitting *into* the system just as neatly
as their more conservative counterparts.  Something *more* is needed, and
to me the EBN project is at least a potential indicator of what that *more*
might be ....
poor george was far too  |  russell a. potter  |  sand screws inside septic
thin to feel the sword   |  english dept.      |  shoes, singing telephone!
                         |  colby college      |
it's after the end of    |  waterville, maine  |  amor appetitus quiddam est
the world -- Sun RA      |  [log in to unmask] |        - St. Augustine