Praxes of popular culture

Broj 1 - Godina 9 - 12/2018

Uvodnik

Years after the Frankfurt School, Roland Barthes’s work, Laura Mulvey’s film analysis, The Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, various essential books and readers on popular culture, countless conferences and gatherings on popular culture that have taken place all over the world, it may seem that trying to point out the importance of popular culture in yet another scholarly journal is mundane. However, certain phenomena prove that this kind of topic is a necessity: the omnipresence of comic-book adaptations – such as the recent Black Panther phenomenon that has many global and local social, cultural, political, and economic implications, not least through the money-making promotions of certain kinds of active citizenship (NGOs’ promoted voter registration in theaters) – or videogame adaptations and rampant sexism and racism in one of the most successful industries of the day, or constant claims about the connection between mental health issues and video games, as well as the ongoing on- and offline struggle to give the neglected, minor voices their representation in popular products, or the timely #MeToo movement that called out Hollywood first and then almost entire creative industries on violence, coercion, and taking advantage over women. Popular culture is an industry as well as a community; it is profitable and it is marginal; it is equally monumental and trivial. The truth behind one of the most analyzed aspects of human culture today shows that it is ever-changing, transformative, that it is one of the most productive praxes for creators and audience alike, and, in the end, that it has important social, cultural, political, and economic effects, simultaneously producing affects and emotionality. ..

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Izdvojeno

The cultural treatment of wagelessness and welfare as its potential relief serves as a potent example of how popular culture has long functioned as a site at which American society articulates and negotiates its anxieties. Observing a recent departure from the figure of the “welfare queen” as the privileged site at which anxieties related to welfare are organized, and linking this change to the neoliberal transformations of welfare in the United States introduced by the 1996 reform, this paper adopts a Foucauldian approach to the issue of government in order to set the ground for an analysis of contemporary films which negotiate the conditions of wageless life in what has often been termed a post-welfare society. Looking at Beasts of the Southern Wild and The Florida Project as illustrative of a broader representational trend, this paper examines the role of popular culture in negotiating social changes by exploring the ways in which the two films negotiate dominant discourses of personal responsibility and work opportunity through the newly emergent figure of the “surplus population.”...

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This paper examines the impact of sacrificing queerness when adapting comics into films, which cater to wider audiences – specifically, queer elision in Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther (2018) and illusions of queerness in Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman (2017). The difference between elision and illusion is crucial, and so approached using different analytical modes. Black Panther’s analysis is rooted in the production process, exploring how/why queerness is erased by drawing comparisons to the explicit queerness of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxanne Gay’s comics. The analysis of Wonder Woman focuses on in-depth textual analysis of both Greg Rucka’s comics and Jenkins’s film to illustrate how queer illusions functions across media. Despite these films being hailed as progressive, this paper illuminates how motivations to hide queerness when moving to wider audiences are rooted in homophobia and protecting profit margins.Keywords: queer, comics, comic-book movies, superheroes, Marvel, DC, Wonder Woman, Black Panther, film adaptations, homosexuality...

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Contrary to common understanding that an objective is a distinctive feature of every game, the success of process-oriented games (Nielson et al.) shows that linear narratives are not the only way to tell game stories. The Last of Us, despite being a goal-oriented video game, undermines the focus on its objective of “saving humanity” by refusing to let the player fulfil that goal. Saving humanity is a “noble” sentiment that is not only a “universal” moral value but one of import from a biological standpoint. This paper argues that the game’s insistence on making “questionable” choices on behalf of the player and its depiction of a selection of contrasting social structures are a narrative ruse to unsettle ethical complacencies of the generic player, who brings to the game such moral systems to analyze the game as are incompatible with its temporal and spatial specificity. The question of the admissibility of textual analyses based on external moral parameters is of relevance not exclusively to literary studies but to narratives in new audio-visual media as well. This paper attempts to place player reactions to the questionable character choices at the heart of the game story in a continuum between absolute player identification with narrative elements and complete detachment from the game narrative which facilitates play in an objective manner. This study employs a close analysis of the game text and player vis-a-vis critic responses to the narrative peculiarities of this game. ...

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NOTE: Due to a possible editorial conflict of interest the author did not participate in the editing/publishing process of this issue of the journal.What this analysis proposes is a reevaluation of the crucial, and often neglected, issues of space/place within the Batman opus, concentrating primarily on Batman’s use of various spaces/places in order to enforce control and/or discipline. The study will initially be premised on the use of the Foucauldian discourse regarding the implementation of invisible control and therefore power, structuring its arguments around the theoretical concepts of the dispositive/apparatus as well as Bentham’s Panopticon. The paper will develop the idea of the Batcave as the actual site of control, the starting point of the Foucauldian notion of the “gaze being alert everywhere” (Discipline and Punish 195). Symbolically made visible by the prominent brightness of the Bat-signal, but nevertheless constantly hidden from the eyes of the criminals, the Batcave assures the presence of power that “should be visible and unverifiable” (Foucault, Discipline 201), and therefore exerts discipline. The paper will also address the issue of Crime Alley as a site of inversion by using the theoretical concept of heterotopian space as proposed by Foucault, as well as Gaston Bachelard’s idea of subjective/domestic spaces. Following the idea of a space recoded by tragedy, the analysis will explore the immunity of Crime Alley in relation to Batman’s disciplinary praxis and the Panoptic gaze, as well as its potential to subvert Batman’s “laboratory of power” (Foucault, Discipline 204)....

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