Issue 21.4 (Winter 2023)


“Have You Got Any Soul?”: Reinterpreting High Fidelity’s Relationship to Black Cultural Production

By Alyxandra Vesey  

EXCERPT: But in order to fully account for High Fidelity and Cherise’s relationship to Black cultural production, we must finally consider adaptation and representation alongside the practice of covering. The cover song is one of popular music’s richest intertexts. On a formal level, High Fidelity’s soundtrack reuses or reworks many of the same music cues featured in the film while modifying its narrative decisions to foreground and deepen High Fidelity’s intermedial relationship to Black musicianship.

Click here for Vesey’s tie-in blog post, “Flipping Over High Fidelity

George Miller’s “Old-Fashioned Hollywood Studio”: Corporate Authorship at Kennedy Miller, 1981-1991

By James Douglas  

EXCERPT: The underlying element in the firm’s organizational structure in this decade is its consistent access to finance. The firm’s achievement of contin-uous production – and thereby the retention of its ensemble – was possible because of uniquely felicitous economic conditions. The international success of Mad Max had given Miller and Kennedy a significant reservoir of capital with which to establish their enterprise and self-fund development work, while its commercial performance had simultaneously opened doors to investors eager to finance production – one story has the financing of The Road Warrior requiring only two phone calls (Enker 1988).

Diegetic Existence: Transmedia Instauration in Artists’ Cinema

By Jade de Cock de Rameyen 

EXCERPT: For the first time in his career, Serra makes an installation and a feature film from the same rushes: libertines are seen hiding in some eerie, nightly woods, watching or cruising among abandoned sedan chairs. Serra’s works share, in part, filmic ‘content’…One lacks a plot, the other is firmly grounded in a historical narrative. One is practically wordless, the other filled with lengthy and literary dialogues. One portrays anonymous body parts partaking in the orgy in disconnected sequences, the other makes each actor recognizable, and so are the erotic acts they perform.

Of Fleas and Parasite: Unpacking Class and Space in Bong Joon-ho’s Barking Dogs Never Bite (OPEN ACCESS)

By Bonnie Tilland and Beth Tsai 

EXCERPT: While Parasite in 2019 exposes social inequality and labor precarity in South Korea – and by extension, globally – Barking Dogs in 2000 highlighted labor precarity alongside some particular Korean problems of corruption. Perhaps, it does not need to be said that South Korea at the turn of the millennium was still a developing economy, while by 2019 it had become a global leader in many respects. In Parasite, Bong criticizes South Korean society for ignoring the underclass who still lives in startlingly substandard housing despite the country’s economic rise; in Barking Dogs, he criticizes the society for having developed the country on shaky foundations, ignoring the lessons to be taken from the frantic pace of industrialization and development of the 1970s and 1980s.

Reconsidering Remarriage: Stanley Cavell and the Vicissitudes of Genre

By Kyle Barrowman

EXCERPT: Bringing Up Baby may well feature in the characters played by Grant and Hepburn great candidates for a remarriage comedy, but Howard Hawks did not make a remarriage comedy. In and of itself, then, Bringing Up Baby is not a remarriage comedy. (Neither, for the same reasons, is It Happened One Night.) And the larger point to be made is that Cavell’s lack of theoretical rigor muddies the conceptual waters vis-à-vis genre to the point where, theoretically, no films which feature a man, a woman, and the possibility of a relationship can be disqualified.

Click here for Barrowman’s tie-in blog post, “ A Pitch of Polemics: Stanley Cavell and the Sound(s) of Scholarship”

Bluebeard Meets Ivy: The Botany of Love in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread

By Sina Movaghati

EXCERPT: Echoing the Bluebeard tale, Phantom Thread portrays an oppressive couturier who lures women into romantic relationships, brings them to his fashion house, and throws them out once he loses interest. But if Anderson configures Reynolds Woodcock’s persona as allusion to a notorious folklore figure, from where does he derive Alma’s persona as an equally-fatal wife who periodically poisons her husband, causing him each time a near-death experience?

The Limitation of the Bottle Episode: Hegel in Community

By Ryan Engley

EXCERPT: The task before us is not to exhaustively catalogue all that a bottle episode is but to theorize what it does. Through its articulation of the limit, the bottle episode establishes a formal, narrative, and existential aesthetic that is unique to television. By trapping characters in closed settings such as a meat locker or an elevator, or locking them inside an apartment, the spatial constraint of the situation generates its own drama. My claim, however, is that what ‘bottles’ characters is not strictly physical space but the shape of an intractable existential predicament. Bottle episodes constrain characters, forcing them to find ways out of their present situation, one that would ordinarily represent a social and structural impossibility. Far from simply being ‘cheap TV’, a close study of the bottle episode shows that what began as a financially necessary production format is a complex theoretical form.

Click here for Engley’s tie-in podcast episode, “Theorizing the Bottle Episode”

Film Bleu: The Development of Cinematic Aesthetics and Disavowal of Cultural Traditions in Hong Kong Crime Cinema

By Yi Sun

EXCERPT: In the Hong Kong context, an additional marked tendency was that blue and red began to take on distinct and divergent meanings. On the one hand, red, in certain instances, represented traditional Chinese culture but was overshadowed by blue in signifying the films’ generic identity. In other words, red was becoming progressively dissociated from the local crime film genre. On the other hand, blue was exempted from carrying national or regional cultural implications but became cinematically and generically symbolic, playing an essential role in creating ambience for and adding stylistic quality to the films.

2023 SCMS Television Studies SIG Graduate Student Essay First Prize

“Throwing Shows Against the Wall and Hoping for the Best”: NBC, Quality, and the Emmy Race for Outstanding Drama Series in the 2010s

By Elizabeth Walters

EXCERPT: NBC’s approach demonstrates that the Emmy Awards have less value to broadcast networks than to cable channels and streaming platforms, whose economic model relies on targeted viewership and who need the validation and promotion of an Emmy to differentiate their programming in an increasingly crowded landscape. The ongoing consolidation of media entities provides an additional wrinkle, compelling us to also consider the function of the Emmy Awards for a contemporary industry in which viewers are fragmented by taste and demographics yet often unified by the corporate ownership of broadcast, cable, and streaming properties.


Review by Ezra Winton

How Documentaries Went Mainstream: A History, 1960-2022 by Nora Stone, Oxford University Press, 2023

EXCERPT: Stone’s exhaustive account of key players, films, and trends articulates a trajectory the author portrays as an ascent from rags to not-quite-riches (it is the very few who get rich from documentary after all)…This argument is buttressed by number-crunching analysis and underscored by feature interviews with industry movers and shakers. It is at times a granular historical account, the kind of careful, detailed analysis of industry largely missing from the scholarly field of Documentary Studies…contributes one crucial industry piece to the sprawling global puzzle of non-fiction cinema.

Click here for Stone’s recent Short Takes piece, “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: Documentary Distribution After the Streaming Wars”

Review by Madison Barnes-Nelson

Consent Culture and Teen Films: Adolescent Sexuality in US Movies by Michele Meek, Indiana University Press, 2023

EXCERPT: Meek traces the slippery definitions of consent over time, reviewing important legal landmarks and feminist scholarship that brought conversations around consent to the forefront of US culture. Ultimately, Meek finds ambiguous understandings of consent in present-day US films, even though the word itself has become ubiquitous in everyday conversations around sexual agency and abuse…a worthy addition to the growing field of feminist scholarship on teen sexual agency, offering a rich snapshot of consent culture discourses and representations in the 21st century.

Review by Haohan Meng

Screen Media and the Construction of Nostalgia in Post-Socialist China by Zhun Gu, Palgrave Macmillan, 2023

EXCERPT: Meek traces the slippery definitions of consent over time, reviewing important legal landmarks and feminist scholarship that brought conversations around consent to the forefront of US culture. Ultimately, Meek finds ambiguous understandings of consent in present-day US films, even though the word itself has become ubiquitous in everyday conversations around sexual agency and abuse…a meticulous examination of the dynamic evolution of nostalgia portrayed in Chinese screen productions over the past three decades.