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 television series Lost uses the motif of time travel to consider the problem of human free will, following the tradition of Humean compatibilism in asserting that human beings possess free will in a deterministic universe. This paper reexamines Lost’s final mystery, the “Flash Sideways” world, presenting a revisionist view of the show’s conclusion that figures the Flash Sideways as an outcome of time travel. By considering the perspectives of observers who exist both within time and outside of it, the paper argues that the characters of Lost changed their destinies, even though the rules of time travel in Lost’s narrative assert that history cannot be changed.Keywords: Lost, time travel, Hume, free will, compatibilismMy purpose in this paper is twofold. First, I intend to argue that ABC’s Lost follows a tradition of science fiction in using time travel to consider the problem of human free will, making an original contribution to the debate by invoking a narrative structure previously unseen in time travel stories. I hope to show that Lost, a television show that became increasingly invested in questions over free will and fate as the series progressed, makes a case for free will in the tradition of Humean compatibilism, asserting that human beings possess free will even in a deterministic world....

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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 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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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.When considering the complexity and intricacy of Japanese history, as well as the endless innovation and colorfulness which defined, over the centuries, the development of martial arts in Japan, a potential reader might be a bit skeptical about the ability to pick up just one book and find a clear, well-structured, and informative overview of a large portion of Japanese history. However, Alexander Bennett in his book titled Japan: The Ultimate Samurai Guide manages to do just that. Starting with a somewhat obvious and unavoidable chapter on the actual and metaphoric meaning/value of the samurai, Bennett initiates a narrative journey that, through its approximately 150 pages, never falters in conveying the main issues and pinpointing various crucial historical turning points. By opening with a self-explanatory title to the first chapter – “Who were the Samurai?” – Bennett colloquially dives into the historical intricacies of the Japanese bushi (samurai), initially defined by their elite warrior status, only to become the ruling class of Japan in the period from the 12th to the 19th century. While relying on various illustrations, directly or indirectly related to the subject at hand (a narrative dynamic present through the entire text), the author manages not only to provide a succinct overview of some of the major samurai-era figures and occurrences, but he also enriches the discourse with numerous historical trivia facts, successfully avoiding in such a way the dangers of an overly static historical recount. Perhaps the most interesting segment within this samurai/male-based narrative is the one focusing on the outcasts – women warriors, the ronins (samurais without a “master”), and the popularized and (unnecessarily) mystified ninjas. It is within this segment that the author’s academic and real-life experience comes to life and becomes articulated through a series of verbal sketches which properly contextualize the various mythical and cultural approaches to Japanese history. This analytic tone continues in the following two chapters as well. The strongly titled chapters “Core Concepts of Bushido” and “Killing as an Art Form” necessitate a lighter narrative tone not only due to the attempt to simplify complex philosophical and existential paradigms, but also to more successfully expose the intricate cultural undertones which characterize Japanese martial traditions. Ranging from the highly-ritualized seppuku (ritual suicide) to politics, literature and, finally, to martial arts schools and the aesthetic of death, Bennett touches upon a number of critical moments and concepts, and by doing so, he traces an evolutionary path of the samurai thought all the way up to its modern incarnations. The fourth chapter, “Martial Arts in Japan Today,” summarizes the previously described traditions, folklore, and philosophies into Budo – the martial ways of Japan. Developed around the idea of self-cultivation through discipline and dedicated training, Budo becomes, through the narrative of the author, not only a path to self-perfection but also an educational tool, as well as an active narrative, developed and modernized with the aim of internationally promoting Japan. Although this chapter could mark a logical conclusion to the narrative arc of the book, Bennett opts for two additional chapters titled “Life in a Japanese Dojo” and “Surviving Japan.” It is with these two chapters that the title of the book itself becomes much clearer. Instead of a potentially structurally rigid (although humorous) history lesson, the author reaches for years of his own personal experience in living, training, and working in Japan. The result is a fascinating, although unfortunately brief rundown of rules, traditions, and customs to which a non-Japanese ind...

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