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

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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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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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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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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