We opened the class with a friendly reminder from Jaap that we only have one more week until our final papers are due. Do not email them, they must be turned in, in hard-copy.
Jaap then showed us a clip from the film Super-8 by J.J. Abrams. In the clip a group of young teenagers prepares to film a a scene from their amateur movie on super-8 film stock. However, in the middle of the filming a train is run off the tracks by an oncoming flatbed truck and the kids must run for their lives as the train explodes all around them. We talked about this clip in relation to nostalgia. We noted the Irony in Spielberg’s celebration of traditional filmmaking while at the same time the film relies heavily on big-budget state-of-the-art special effects as a way to further the plot of the film. We also noted how the film seems to have a nostalgia for movie-made childhood. In other words the film yearns for the type of childhood one might find in earlier Spielberg films like E.T. or Close Encounters rather than a childhood that existed in the real world. We noted how fan-culture and cinephilia greatly expanded with the advent of digital filmmaking because this style of filmmaking made it much easier for the amateur filmmaker to shoot and edit a film without much previous experience.
Next Rob did his presentation on Jenkins article pertaining to the fan-culture surrounding the Star Wars franchise. He noted how fan culture in general changed with the oncoming of the franchise and how the advent of the internet allowed for new and more convenient means for fan culture distribution by these fan boys. He discussed Jenkins idea of folk culture and how he views fanboy participation as folk culture because it has grassroots campaigning, mass participation and a version of a barter economy. He noted how Jenkins states that pop culture is what happens to mass culture as it is pulled back into folk culture by members of society. He noted how Jenkins feels web film is good for the budding auteur filmmaker and that Jenkins advocates participation over prohibition filmmaking in that it is better for there to be a synthesis between the media conglomerates and the amateur filmmakers rather than a block put up between the two groups.
We followed this up with a short film from the Animatrix which is a collection of short films that are an expansion of the universe of The Matrix because the audience gets info from these films that they did not otherwise get in the original films. We noted the difference between participatory and interactive forms of entertainment. We noted how interactivity is when new technologies are designed with a set environment that people are free to interact with but not expand upon, such as a video game. A participatory form of entertainment is like when fans make their own video based off of popular films. These fans are making up their own ideas that are completely free of a set environment that they must abide by.
Next I did my presentation on Todd McGowan’s incredibly dense article on his unique interpretation of Mulholland Drive by David Finch. The article was pretty rough and I cannot say that I am disappointed that I don’t ever have to read it again. In the article McGowan states how he feels that fantasy is something that helps an individual find reality. He feels that it is the traumatic collision of fantasy and desire that forces a person to come into contact with the real and that this experience basically always sucks for an individual. He states that in Mulholland Drive this moment came when Betty and Rita find Diane’s dead body in her apartment because this is when the mise-en-scene starts to become more bleak and dark and this is also when the film stops having even a casual sense of temporality. He also feels that the film is a good representation of the female fantasy because the female fantasy inevitably goes on to long after the realization of the sexual relationship, this is because fantasy can no longer be held together when desire for sexual relationship has been satisfied. McGowan also states that Lynch is making a comment about Hollywood in general because he doesn’t feel that they take fantasy far enough. This is because hollywood is trying to make us unaware of the fantastic elements within film, Lynch feels that you should make it obvious to the viewer, that you should reveal what is fantasy to the audience. I think. We ended the class with a discussion on what we all feel was fantasy and what was a dream in the film as well as what we thought the blue box meant. Which was obviously not a unanimously agreed upon conclusion.