Popular Culture Key Theory Points 2

Part 2, weeks 7-11

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Week 7 - Is Popular Culture Sexist?

  • Laura Mulvey; Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema - to be looked-at-ness, women as bearers of meaning rather than makers of meaning, phallocentricity (the phallus - symbolic of force, power and social order), scopophillia (the pleasure of looking)
  • Paul Bowman - Ayo Technology; uses Mulvey's insights to argue that the Ayo Technology video exemplifies auto-eroticism of women and phallic potency (men with guns, external powerful objects, extension of man's ego)
  • More key terms: phantasy (psychoanalytic way of saying fantasy) leit-motif (a theme, idea, image that gets repeated again and again) diegesis (flow of the story) male gaze (sexualising, objectifying way of looking at women - there to be looked at by men)
  • "deconstruction and intensification of gender" Donna Haraway
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Week 8 - Is Popular Culture Racist?


  • Stuart Hall - Race: the floating signifier - watch lecture on Youtube
  • Post colonialism - representations of race after colonialism
  • Racialise - you aren't born into a race you're racialised by a culture; race is a concept that is lived/felt but there is no coherent scientific definition
  • Essentialism - taking complex group of people/culture and stripping down to a few essentials - stereotyping
  • Symptom - psychoanalytic side of things; symptoms of cultural anxieties
  • Orientalism - Edward Said - watch Prezi videos
  • Discourse - a particular "language" a conversation surrounding topics (Foucault - history organised around discourse)
  • Power/knowledge - a Foucault term, in his mind power and knowledge cannot be separated; Said used this idea to say that knowledge about the East and Orient allowed Western societies to have power and control over them


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Week 9 - Is Popular Culture Separate From Our Bodi

  • Disciplined bodies, docile bodies, volatile bodies
  • power/knowledge; from last week
  • Built on Althusser's ideas about ideological state apparatuses; Foucault wanted to move away from Marxism and made Althusser's ideas more nuanced and complex 

Panopticism; seeing everything/being able to see everything: if we are aware/worried we are being watched we behave differently - term coined because of Jeremy Bentham's panopticon
Panopticon -
circular prison with a central tower - guards in central tower, inmates cannot see each other or communicate with one another, people not sure if being watched but could be watched at any time. Discipline yourself to assume that you're always being watched
believes the panopticon caught on everywhere - the knowledge that you are being monitored changes your behaviour
Liz Grosz - Volatile Bodies; physical bodies disciplined by discourse without even realising; female body intensely codified e.g thigh gap. Cicatrizations and scarifications mark body as public, collective social category; read rest of quote on prezi
KEY QUESTIONS: In a panoptical society, does voyeurism become more common? Does a panoptical society intensify forms and forces of “normativity"? Society asking you to do something, not be something - No one really cares about norms and values, all that matters is efficiency. 

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Week 10 - Is Popular Culture National?

Popular Culture constructions of nation: Olympics opening ceremonies, Coca-Cola in all sorts of different languages and ideas about nation.

THINK UK POPULAR CULTURE REFERENCES IN SITCOMS - humour that doesn't translate elsewhere; think the AWFUL Inbetweeners US remake and how the humour didn't work > BUS W**KERS to BUS TURDS (!!??!)

Benedict Anderson Imagined Communities; idea of nation as the imagined political community -
culturally constructed, brought about by the rise of the printing press and subsequent demise of Latin as dominant language and the rule of the church; imagined as limited -Nation imagined as limited because: finite, if elastic boundaries beyond which lie other nations. No nation imagined as coterminous with mankind, even at the pinnacle of colonialism, was never a dream that it would all be Britain. "the dominant fiction"
Edward Said - Imagined Geographies; do the Zionists have a claim to Palestine? Jewish claim is not the only claim or the main claim – Arabs have greater claim because they have a much bigger history. Don’t care where the claim came from, nobody has a claim that overrides all the others and entitles people to be driven out of the land. The imagination of a place
Race and Place Once our minds are organised by ideas of nation, we organise them in terms of ethnicity, and then the world is organised according to who should be where and who’s allowed to be where and why

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Week 11 - Is Popular Culture Translatable?

Popular culture is translatable, transferrable, transmoveable, but things move all the time and things are never exactly the same, basic semiotic argument underlying this today
REY CHOW - definition of translation;  1. Translation as transcription; 2. Translation as transformation from one medium to another - linked to tradition on the one hand and betrayal on the other; e.g book adaptations to cinema; betrayal of original - value original meanings, prejudices against translation of meaning
Theodore Adorno – has to be unique enough, has to sound similar enough to engage us
Walter Benjamin – the “task of the translator” essay – you have to modify the destination language in reverence for the original language – just changing the words into their direct meaning doesn’t work, the style/play/way in which the text works should be translated
DIFFERENT KINDS OF TRANSLATION; aesthetic translation (Indian robes becoming part of hippie culture), genre translation (grafting of different musical genres e.g rap metal), translation across categories (television programmes structured differently to normal network tv but not quite films - Netflix), things travelling cultural borders (martial arts becoming popular with poor black and hispanic communities because exposure to Bruce Lee films) 

We tend to think that ‘translation’ is the translation of one thing from one context to another - context is the 'untranslatable' - things that you can't modify and what causes betrayal

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