JUMP CUT
A REVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY MEDIA

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Click here for illustrated version of no. 53 contents, suitable for printing.

No. 53, summer 2011

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Hollywood

The tracks of Sully’s tears: disability in James Cameron’s Avatar
by Dana Fore
Examining disability issues in Cameron's futuristic fairy tale reveals more complex and potentially sinister ideas at work.

The Social Network: the contemporary pursuit of
happiness through social connections

by Robert Alpert
The Social Network reenacts the U.S success myth and places it in the contemporary context of virtual realities in which connections are monetized and each person is emotionally detached from the next.

Baz Luhrmann’s Australia: when excess isn’t parody
by Stephen Papson
Parody, excess and mythology intermix, producing contradictory readings of Luhrmann’s Australia.

Fear and loathing on Brokeback Mountain
by Craig Snyder
A gay love story for the ages? Let's hope not. A textual analysis of how homosexual desire is disciplined within Brokeback Mountain.

There's a sucker born every minute. Audiences blog about Sucker Punch.
by Chuck Kleinhans
A search for the film Sucker Punch on the microblog Tumblr provides a rich data collection to study commonplace audience discourse about a commercial entertainment film and New Media as an example of phatic communication.

Reframing

Decay of the aura: modern art in classical cinema
by Susan Felleman
A study of real works of art—including figural sculpture, “Entartete Kunst” (works of modern art deemed “degenerate by the Nazi regime), and abstract painting—as incorporated into three popular fiction films of the classic period (The Song of Songs, 1933; Venus vor Gericht, 1941; and The Trouble with Harry, 1955), reveals that when an art object becomes part of a fiction film, it enters a space of its own symbolic appropriation; aura is replaced by (unstable) signification.

Oil drilling and the search for the “golden shrimp”:
the myth of interdependence in oil drilling films

by Robin Murray and Joe Heumann
Louisiana Story (1948), Thunder Bay (1953), Dead Ahead: The Exxon Valdez Disaster (1992), Black Wave: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez (2009), and Crude (2009) draw on a mythology that suggests the oil and fishing industries can work interdependently once appropriate safety precautions are in place.

American Medusa: Bette Davis, Beyond the Forest, femininity, and Camp
by David Greven
King Vidor’s Beyond the Forest allows us to consider the feminist and queer relevance of the theme of female transformation in Bette Davis films and to revisit and challenge the category of the Camp Classic.

Taken by Muslims: captivity narratives in
The Lives of a Bengal Lancer
and Prisoner of the Mountains

by Claudia Springer
A 1935 Hollywood film's vilification of Muslims is countered by a nuanced Russian film from 1996, with both revolving around the abduction of non-Muslims by Muslims.

A question of audience: revisiting Perry Henzell’s The Harder They Come
by Ulrick Casimir
A modern attempt to unpack Henzell's iconic film, analyzing the complex relations between British and U.S. conceptualizations of the Caribbean and the film itself.

International cinema

At the global market: Ousmane Sembène’s Moolaadé
and the economics of women’s rights

by Amy E. Borden
As both a tool used by contemporary activists, such as Tostan, and within its plot, Ousmane Sembène’s final film Moolaadé demonstrates how West African women may gain collective access to juridical and political power by using local cultural customs to resist the practice of female genital cutting.

Serbian cutting: assemblage and the archival impulse
in the films of Dušan Makavejev

by Greg DeCuir, Jr.
"If Serbs are fond of slaughtering people, there must be a method of film cutting that corresponds."

Global capital’s false choices in the films of Laurent Cantet
by Jessica Livingston
By looking at the four major films of French filmmaker Laurent Cantet, we receive a valuable window through which to view the false choices offered by the contemporary neoliberal economy.

Narrating topography: Still Life and the cinema of Jia Zhangke
by Eric Dalle
Jia Zhangke’s environmental fiction film, Still Life, explores the effects of the Three Gorges Dam on the emotional lives of individuals from different social strata.

Redeeming the woman from Maoist China in China Cry: A True Story
by Jing Yang
This 1990 filmic narrative of the Christian redemption of a Chinese woman from Maoist political frenzy exemplifies residual U.S. Cold War thinking that serves to contain the ideological other.

Let’s get lost: unmapping history and Reformasi
in the Indonesian film Tiga Hari Untuk Selamanya

by Dag Yngvesson
Riri Riza's deceptively lazy 2007 Javanese Road Movie attempts to disorient itself from the pervasive sociopolitical apathy of contemporary Indonesian youth by slowly eviscerating the ubiquitous formal, narrative and cultural structures that have imbued the problems of recent history and resulting status quo with a nostalgic, translucent sheen.

The Nakba and the construction of identity in Palestinian film
by Inez Hedges
Performative memory serves as the counterweight to dispossession from the land.

Economics and cinema

Capital limits on creativity: Neoliberalism and its uses of art
by Jyotsna Kapur:
Why the “creative economy” is a capitalistic invention, hostile to art and ultimately to human creativity.

“Creative Industries,” neoliberal fantasies, and the cold, hard facts
of global recession: some basic lessons

by Chuck Kleinhans
The international financial crisis provides the ultimate stress test for myths about today’s media culture.

Media art and economics: resources
by Chuck Kleinhans
Annotated bibliography.

Politics of media production and distribution

Woman with the movie camera redux:
revisiting the position of women in the production classroom

by Jennifer Proctor, River E. Branch, Kyja Kristjansson-Nelson
A call and template for a responsive pedagogy addressing the pervasive violent representations of women in student films and the continuing under-representation of women the culture of production — a critical echo of and expansion upon Michelle Citron’s and Ellen Seiter’s call in 1981.

On cable, tech gods, and the hidden costs of DIY filmmaking: thoughts on ‘The Woman with the Movie Camera”
by Ellen Seiter
More thoughts on what happens to women's dreams of creative media making while in the educational system and beyond.

Digital distribution, participatory culture, and the transmedia documentary
by Chuck Tryon
Explores the role of digital media reshaping the distribution, exhibition, and reception of documentary films.

Claims to be heard: young self-expressivity, social change,
and the Educational Video Center

by Stephen Michael Charbonneau
A historical and critical overview of New York-based Educational Video Center, a leading youth media organization, and its auto-ethnographic work with disadvantaged communities.

Ethics, politics and representation in Child of Mine,
a television documentary on lesbian parenting

by Lizzie Thynne
Re-interviewing her main character from a documentary on lesbian custody she made for UK Channel 4, Lizzie Thynne explores the ethics and politics of filming one's own community for broadcast.

Porn

Clips, clicks and climax:
notes on the relocation and remediation of pornography

by Julian Hanich
Moving-image pornography on the Internet has facilitated and intensified the masturbatory experience due to a double tendency toward privatization and individualization. This becomes particularly obvious when compared to the time when porn films were projected in theaters and consumed with other, mostly anonymous viewers.

The excess of porn: response to Julian Hanich
by Magnus Ullén
Considering the relation between pornography and different media is important, yes; but it will be difficult to historicize pornography without first historicizing the mode of reading that gave rise to the concept of porn in the nineteenth century.

Back to the Golden Age
by Thomas Waugh
This brief intervention in the current conversation about porn contextualizes the debate within the history of porn studies and Jump Cut’s contribution since the 1970s to a materialist-feminist understanding of sexual representation.

Porn: it’s not just about sex anymore
by Nina K. Martin
Porn's shift to online and mobile device mediums has de-stigmatized the term to the point of banality, linking "porn" to non-sexualized notions of excess.

Beyond porno chic
by Jose B. Capino
Internet porn viewing and spectatorship at adult video arcades are more similar than we imagine.

Pornography, technology, and masturbation: response to Julian Hanich
by Peter Lehman
Society hysterically fears the dangers of pornography and masturbation while academia represses it, and that aspect of the historically complex interaction between media, technology and porn is lost in the process.

Independent/Art/Avant-garde

Loin du Vietnam (1967), Joris Ivens and Left Bank documentary
by Thomas Waugh
Far from Vietnam, the collective French film of 1967, produced in solidarity with the Vietnamese people under U.S. attack, is explored in relation to its historical context on three continents, to its coalitional politics and the solidarity genre in general, and to the forum it provided to one contributor, veteran communist filmmaker Joris Ivens.

Re-conceiving Misconception: birth as a site of filmic experimentation
by Roxanne Samer
This cultural history of Marjorie Keller's birth film Misconception (1977) seeks to release the film from past dichotomizing interpretative binds with the hope of opening it up to further future interpretations, re-looking and better appreciation.

Horror

Archaeology of flesh: history and body-memory in Taxidermia
by Laszlo Strausz
As a grotesque body film with comic corporeal exaggerations, Taxidermia outlines a complex argument about 20th-century Hungarian history and historical memory.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: the Beginning:
a cultural critique of the Bush-Cheney Administration

by Rod Buxton
Through a dark poetics of brutality and mayhem, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: the Beginning explores the militarism and economic fallout that resulted from the political policies of the Bush-Cheney Administration.

It takes a child to raze a village: demonizing youth rebellion
by Andrew Scahill
When children attack! The child collective horror film presents a nightmare scenario of childhood in revolt — a revolution against systems of surveillance, control, and heterosexual kinship.

Books

Books on film sound
review by Michael Chanan
Two books about film sound come at their subject from completely different angles.
• Mark Kerins, Beyond Dolby (Stereo), Cinema in the Digital Sound Age
• Andy Birtwistle, Cinesonica: Sounding Film and Video

Iranian film opposing regimes of voyeurism
review by Jyotika Virdi
Displaced Allegories: Post-Revolutionary Iranian Cinema by Negar Mottahedeh
Post-Revolutionary Iranian Cinema is seen as a dynamic alternative to Hollywood's dominant voyeurism codes, while its narratives are displaced allegories that circumvent the state's modesty laws.

Darwin at the movies
review by David Andrews and Christine Andrews
This review of Barbara Creed's book Darwin's Screens also examines the use of evolutionary ideas in the field of film studies.

Star Trek’s allegorical monomyth
review by Elspeth kydd
David Greven in Gender and Sexuality in Star Trek: Allegories of Desire in the Television Series and Films tackles complex issues within this large and elusive monomyth.

Nobody’s baby
review by Kirsten Pike
Babysitter: An American History by Miriam Forman-Brunell
The book examines girls’ domestic labor in the U.S. and also offers significant insight into the contradictory ways that girls are imagined, debated, and targeted by experts, advisors, and creators of popular culture.

Sexual innocence and film: a look at scholarship on virginity
review by Susan Ericsson
Virgin Territory: Representing Sexual Inexperience in Film, edited by Tamar Jeffers McDonald
How can virginity be depicted in fiction film and television beyond dialogue or narrative moments when the condition of virginity ends?

Documentary studies: news from the front line
review by Russell Campbell
Sociopolitical documentary comes under intensive scrutiny in a cluster of new books.
Documentary: Witness and Self-Revelation by John Ellis
Recording Reality, Desiring the Real by Elizabeth Cowie
The Documentary: Politics, Emotion, Culture by Belinda Smaill
Intelligence Work: The Politics of American Documentary by Jonathan Kahana
The Right to Play Oneself: Looking Back on Documentary Film by Thomas Waugh

Documentary: intelligence and/or emotion?
review by Chuck Kleinhans
The Documentary: Politics, Emotion, Culture by Belinda Smaill
Intelligence Work: The Politics of American Documentary by Jonathan Kahana

Challenge for Change and participatory documentary filmmaking
review by Lyell Davies
Challenge For Change: Activist Documentary at the National Film Board of Canada. Edited by Thomas Waugh, Michael Brendan Baker and Ezra Winton.

The last word

Crisis politics
by the editors
Crises and drastic neoliberal economic makeovers.