Praxes of popular culture

No. 1 - Year 9 - 12/2018

Editorial

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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Featuring

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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This article considers the inclusion of the real-life “slash” fandom in the canon storyline of the CW/WB show Supernatural, and the consequent exploration of the taboo idea raised by the fans: of a sexual relationship between its two central characters, who are brothers. By including references to fan fiction, Supernatural opens a space to question normative sexual identity constructs. This article draws on an argument by Michel Foucault that homosexuality is a social construct that emerged as a way to deal with the “problem of male friendship.” In the context of Foucault’s argument, Supernatural’s treatment of its “slash” fan fiction allows for polysemic interpretations of the brothers’ relationship to coexist with the platonic “canon” storyline, opening the door to ideas of sexual fluidity and the “queering” of its characters by fans.Keywords: fan fiction, sexual identity, Foucault, intimatopias, Supernatural Supernatural is an American primetime show centered on a monster-of-the-week mystery format, led by the fictional brothers Sam and Dean Winchester (played by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles), hunters of supernatural phenomena. In the fourth season, the brothers are in the midst of their usual investigation when they discover a book series that tells their own life story. As they begin to investigate this odd phenomenon, they discover that this book series has fans. Thus, the show’s real-life fandom is integrated into the “canon” storyline. What follows is an immediate reference to “slash” (“The Monster”)....

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Mediating Sexual Citizenship: Neoliberal Subjectivities in Television Culture is a collection of case studies dealing with neoliberal framing of gendered and sexual contemporary citizenship. The authors situate their analysis in the current landscape of television production as well as in the scholarly work dealing with the issues of gender and sexuality in television culture and otherwise. As they point out in the introduction of the book, contemporary television of the 21st century must be understood through the lens of technological changes in television transformation, which created divergent ways of constructing narratives, distributing them across various platforms, and finally, making space for new ways of consuming television content. Transformation by divergence has not become evident solely in the technological extent of creating content, but it also affected the ways of storytelling. Television narratives are no longer bound to formulas used in network television, intended for industrial-like production and mass viewership. This opened up space for experimental ways of constructing storytelling as well as engaging in more complicated representations, especially those concerning gender and sexuality. In the introductory note of the book, the authors are aiming for perspective of television as a site of cultural discourse but also as a highly commercial product. ...

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This paper is an attempt to decode the linguistic games in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1962) using corpus linguistics. Stylistic devices will be analyzed through a reference to the dominant metaphors and the ironic tone of the playwright. The playwright invents many linguistic games which have thematic functions; they are meant to parody the American middle-class values and institutions. Fun, verbal battles, guessing games, baby talk, and word-play are used by George and Martha to ensnare their guests in their dysfunctional marriage. I will also refer to the role of deixis in translating the playwright’s lamentation over the transformation of the American motherland into the locus of “ashes.” The bitter reality, the failure of success, and sterility have encouraged the protagonists to move from reality to illusion and to invent a fantasy child who exists linguistically (and not biologically). The aim is to mislead the guests and to validate their unhappy marriage. What is specific about George and Martha is that they insult each other, they blur the boundaries between the private and the public, and they have failed to carry out the functions of a happily united family. Characters will go back to reality at the end of the play; “reality exists at the moment when language stops” (Bigsby 282). In other words, characters will face reality and acquire a realistic vision about their situation when they solve the linguistic enigma. The final goal of the paper is to create an interdisciplinary zone between linguistics and the literary text. ...

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