WGS271Y1: POP Culture Exam Review
January 10 : Space, Race, and Alien Invasions
R: Be Afraid: America’s paranoid history
HOOD: a covering for the head and neck with one opening for the face; a gangster or
similar violent criminal (short for hoodlum)
NEIGHBOURHOOD: ones own neighbourhood
This sense that the frame implicitly guides the interpretation has some resonance with the
idea of the frame as a false accusation.
ALLEGORY: a story, picture, etc. which uses symbols to convey a hidden or ulterior
meaning, typically a moral or political one; a symbolic representation; an extended or
continued metaphor; or, a narrative “in which the agents or actions, and sometimes the
setting as well, are contrived by the author to make coherent sense on the „literal,‟ or
primary level of signification, and at the same time to communicate a second, correlated
order to signification.
“But they‟re fucking monsters aint they? “
METAPHOR: a figure of speech in which a name or descriptive work or phrase is
transferred to an object or action different from, but analogous to, that to which it is
Metaphor is “doubly alien”: it is a name that belongs elsewhere and one which
takes the place of the word, which “belongs”.
What is at stake is the „cutting off‟ of figured from the social and material
relations which over determine their existence, and the consequent perception that such
figures have a „life of their own‟. Stranger fetishism is a fetishism of figures; it invests the
figure of the stranger with a life of its own insofar as it cuts ‘the stranger’ off from the
histories of its determination.
Encounters with aliens are bodily encounters, encounters in which slime and skin
slide off one another: we are already touched by alien forms (we are touched, in our very
withdrawal from the slime of the alien skin). Our disgust at the abjection of alien forms
allows us to contain ourselves. WE shiver and tremble and pull our hands away; it is a
January 17 : Zompocalypse Now, Part 1
R: World War Z
It had happened when the boy and his father were moon fishing, a term that describes
diving for treasure among the sunken ruins of the Three Gorges Reservoir. With more
than eleven hundred abandoned villages, the hope of recovering something valuable.” The last one to be exposed was a withered old woman…she was shaking her bony fist at
the doctors. This is your punishment, she shouted. This is revenge for Fengdu.
The ZOMBI(e) in American Cinema: a brief history
Expoliation: a figure of exploited labout became the exotic backdrop for American
melodrama. Zombie master. The threat as no central source of authority attached to it.
Consumption: used as a critique of American Consumer culture. Lose the zombie
master- end of order as we know it- uprising
Infection: Faster, smarter, full of rage Connected to capitalism, emotion, rioting.
The Politics of Disposability…
- millennial zombies are the kind of economic waste
- they are the ones that are rendered redundant
- they are the group that is growing
He believed that to try to protect everyone would stretch the government‟s resources to
the breaking point, thus dooming the entire population. He compared it to survivors from
sinking ship, capsizing a lifeboat that simply did not have room for them all. Redeker had
even gone so as far as to calculate who should be “brought aboard”. He included income,
IQ, fertility, an entire checklist of „desirable qualities‟, including the subjects location to a
potential crisis zone. This first causality of the conflict must be our own „sentimentally‟
was the closing statement for his proposal, for its survival will mean our destruction.
January 24: Zompocalypse Now, Part 2
R: World War Z
THE OUTBREAK NARRATIVE: the repetition of particular phrases, images and story
lines produced a formula that was amplified by the extended treatment of these themes in
the popular novels and films that proliferated in the mid 1990s. Collectively, they drew
out what was implicit in all of the accounts: a fascination not just with the novelty and
danger of the microbes but also with the changing social formations of a shrinking world.
Disease emergence dramatizes the dilemma that inspires the most basic of human
narratives: the necessity and danger of human contact. Human networks become the
conduits of viral destruction. The routes traveled by communicable disease light up the
social interactions- the spaces and encounters, the practices and beliefs- of a changing
Human Life Threats to like…
The epidemiological precedent of an „index case‟ responsible for subsequent outbreaks
quickly transformed [those first infected] from victims to agents- and embodiments- of
the spreading infection” The metamorphosis of infected people into a super spreaders is a convention of the
outbreak narrative, in which human carriers rhetorically bring the virus itself to life.
The US intended to go permanently on the offensive marching forward every day, until
every trade of sponged and purged and it need be blasted from the face of the Earth.
January 31 : Fairytales, Fantasies and Fascism
R: The Girl Can Help It *
Allegory is the story where what happens at the level of plot has a coherent meaning and
there‟s a separate meaning at different levels. (characters, etc) Symbolic interchange
between actions, choices and limits of characters. Constrained by genre and the actions,
choices and limits of characters; constrained by circumstance (what characters do,
decisions that they make, historical context)
Fairy tale: a story involving fantastic forces as beings; a story in which improbably events
lead to a happy ending
Magic Realism: a kind of modern fiction in which fabulous and fantastical events are
included in a narrative that otherwise maintains the reliable tone of objective realistic
report, designating a tendency of the modern novel to reach beyond the confines of
realism and draw upon the energies of fable, folk tale. The fantastic attributes given to
characters in such novels- levitation, flight, telepathy, telekinesis- are among the means
that magic realism adopts in order to encompass the often phantasmagorical political
realities of the 20 century
The Hero‟s Journey: a hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of
supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won:
the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on
his fellow man.
I very deliberately designed the idea of the fantasy world to be extremely uterine. We
used a fallopian palette of colours: we used crimsons and golds, and everything in the real
world is cold and straight. You can see it in the not-so-subtle entrance to the tree.
Theweleits central contention is that the Freikorps soldiers were afraid of women. Indeed,
not just afraid, they were deeply hostile to them and their ultimate goal was to murder
them. Women, in their view, came in only two varieties: Red and White. The White
Woman was the nurse, the mother, the sister. She was distinguished about all else by her
sexlessness. The Red Woman on the other hand, was a whore and a communist. She was
a kind of distillation of sexuality, threatening to engulf the male in a whirlpool of bodily
and emotional ecstasy. This, of course, was the woman, the Freikorps solider wished to
kill, because she endangered his identity, his sense of self as a fixed and bounded being.
In this manner, Mr. Theweliet links the Freikorps soldiers‟ fantasies of women to their
practical life as illegal anti-communist guerillas: the republic had to be destroyed of
because it empowered the lascivious Red woman, while it failed to protect the White
woman‟s sexual purity. Parable about Power:
Permits access to a physical body but denies it exit by subtly disrupting the link between
relative and absolute bearing, but confusing the self control of itself through
disorientation of the body.
February 7 : Consuming Youth
R: The Real Hunger Games: Battle Royale *
CONSUMING YOUTH: youth as being consumed as a kind of fuel and youth as
- consuming youth as the tainting of youth
- hunger games; consumed as a spectacle; violence as a spectacle
BODY POLITIC: a group of persons politically organized under a single governmental
authority; a people considered as a collective unit.
The republic is a body; the position of the head in the republic is occupied, however, by a
prince…the place of the heart is occupied by the senate, from which proceeds the
beginning of good and bad works. The duties of the ears, eyes and mouth are claimed by
the judges and the governors of provinces. The hands coincide with officials and soldiers.
The feet coincide with peasants perpetually bound to the soil.
Transforming body is central to the horror genre; its main symbolic function is to
challenge definitions of what it means to be human.
The proper body of the symbolic does not metamorphose; it is recognizable, fixed,
The possibility of bodily metamorphosis attacks the foundation of the symbolic order
which signifies law, rationality, logic, truth. By this, the human body is seen to represent
or reflect the ideals of the body politic. It too should be upright and consistent,
conforming to the laws of biology and physics.
- the proper body, it is recognizable, fixed and trustworthy
- the transformation body- boundaries keep shifting, changes shape
- bodies that metamorphose begin to attack the wholeness, stability, purity of that
- changing bodies are threatening
- the body becomes a stant in, for the connective society
- a lot of political theorists think of things going wrong at a level, and at a political
unrest of disobedience
- WWZ: zombie outbreak vs. different nations of idea of body politic and its
relation to the body -> zombie becomes an infection (outbreak narrative) within a
national body that needs to be contained.
- Practice of selecting out a group of people and fortifying around them so that the
infection can‟t spread The horror, the horror: bodily transformation and disintegration
- main symbolic function of image of transforming body in the horror genre, is to
challenge definitions of what it means to be human
SOCIAL REPRODUCTION: the processes that conserve and perpetuate various aspects
of social structure over time. The concept of social reproduction refers to the processes
involved in maintaining and reproducing people, specifically the labouring population,
and their labour power on a daily and generational basis… It involves the provision of
food, clothing, shelter, basic safety and health care, along with the development and
transmission of knowledge, social values and cultural practices and the construction of
individual and collective identities.
Crises in Social Reproduction: the intergenerational bargain on which patriarchal
societies rest: youth exchange obedience for the promise of future power
- the processes that conserve and perpetuate various aspects of social structure over
- references institutional processes that the future looks somewhat similar to today
- perpetuation of social structure and raw material of society (future generations)
- social values, cultures, practices, etc.
- an underlying theme in these films in a crisis in social reproduction
- social reproduction rests on a bargain: young people exchange obedience for the
promise of future power
- natural disasters; the future is suppose to be a promise; what you‟re going to
Neoliberal Survivor Culture: “economic miracle”; cooperation between government and
industry during the Cold War spurs a period of record economic growth. (1960s-1980s)
“the lost decade”; the bursting of the speculative asset price buddle results in a major
- life is a game so fight to survive and see if youre worth it
- unsustainable economic practices and culture of neoliberal policies are
destabilizing the body politic and putting the possibility of reproduction in
- At the dawn of the millennium of nation collapsed the lost decade
- Sheer exercising of authority
How do the rules of the Battle Royale game exemplify/ intensity neoliberal culture?
- the collars militate against the possibility of classmates working together ->
Comparing Battle Royale and the Hunger Games - texts about culture that are about the idea of violence against youth as
- their purpose is to be consumed, to be watched, to make a profit
- in battle royale, the games are not broadcast as they are in the Hunger games
- hunger games registers violence visually much differently – not the same as the
visceral response create by much of the Battle Royale gore.
- In the hunger games, the viewer is not as invested in the deaths of any of the
contestants until Rue dies-> more anonymity in the characters (boy from district
4) as opposed to battle royale, where the viewer knows all the characters by name
- Visually, the hunger games is not as biting as the book
- The two protagonists are not as involved in the violence as their classmates/
fellow competitors are.
The Milennium Education Reform Act
- at the dawn of millennium the nation collapsed.
- At 15% unemployment, 10 million were out of work, 800 000 students boyotted
- The adults lost confidence and, fearing the youth, eventually passed the
millennium education reform act, aka BR
- The youth are something that scare society
Cabin in the Woods
- a comment on consuming youth in horror film for pleasure and entertainment
South East Asian economies are often cited as shining examples for western corporate-
minded politicians, engaged in destroying their national education systems, as well as
dismantling welfare safety nets. Popular examples of South-East Asian cinemas often
present the dark underside of what embracing (neoliberal) capitalism really involves. In
this light, Battle Royale operates as a return of the repressed symptom of a situation that
can only lead to apocalyptic violence. It is a dark end-of-the-millennium warnings of
what the twenty-first century might have in store for people of all nations.
Implicating the Audience?
- films, texts of visual culture, are asking us to think about violence against youth
people as a form of entertainment…as a kind of spectacle to be consumed
- the children themselves are entertainment
- why are we watching children hurt themselves? Is it necessary to have a love plot
February 14 : Queering Romance
R: Women Play Mostly Supporting Role Within Male-Dominated Vampire Trend *
R: What Would Buffy Do? Notes on Dusting Edward Cullen The Vampire
- erotic anxiety and corrupt desire
- the earliest vampires were very aristocratic
- the metamorphosing body
- free to change incessantly
- “…more alive than they should be.”
- deviating from the expected or normal; strange
- odd or unconventional in behaviour; eccentric
- arousing suspicion
- slang: homosexual
- “queering” romance twisting romance
- beginning is very quiet, viewer is unsure how to interpret the landscape
- there are also excessive moments; Virgina getting attacked by cats
An ambiguous coded figures, a source of both erotic anxiety and corrupt desire, the
literary vampire is one of the most powerful archetypes bequeathed to us from the
imagination of the nineteenth century
According to queer theorists Eve Kosofsky Sedgwixck: The open mesh on possibilities,
gaps, overlaps, dissonances, lapses, excesses of meaning when the constituent elements
of anyones gender of anyones sexuality aren‟t made to signify monothically
Since vampires are immortal, they are free to change incessantly. Eternally alive, they
embody not fear of death but fear of life; their power and their curse is their underlying
vitality… Vampires are not inhuman nor nonhuman nor all-too-human, they are simply
more alive than they should be.
What is queer about Eli?
- ambiguous gender identity
- ambiguous corporeal presentation
- incongruence in age/experience
- relationship with her father- strangely structured intergenerational relationship
The Queer Child
- children are supposed to be asexual or headed toward heterosexuality
- the queer child is the child whose play confirms neither the comfortable stores of
child (a)sexuality nor the supposedly blissful promises of adult heteronormativity
Cute boy-girl romance reads as evidence for the mature sexuality that awaits them, and
any homoerotic behaviour reads as harmless play among friends or as a mistake that can
later be corrected by marriage. People panic when that sexuality takes on a life outside
the sanctioned scripts of child‟s play. And nowhere is this panic more explosive than in the field of the queer child, the child whos play confirms neither the comfortable stories
of child (a) sexuality nor the supposedly blissful promises of adult hederonormativity.
Going Steady Scene
- right before this scene, she has just killed her formal companion and still has a
- the way that Oskar asks Eli to “go steady” is the language of the cute boy-girl
- Eli‟s immediately response is “im not a girl”
- By asking if anything has to change, Eli is hesitating; what is going steady
supposed to signify?
- Two 12-year-old bodies together in a very intimate scene but Eli is actually very
- young children are polymorphous perverse
- children will derive sexual gratification from all parts of their body
- pleasure from multiple sources
- as the child ages and develops normally, those channels for gaining pleasure will
become more confined/ restrained
- described adult homosexuals as suffering from “arrested development”
the ability to find erotic pleasure out of any part of the body. According to Freud, a young
child is, by nature “polymorphously perverse” which is to say that, before education in
the conventions of civilized society, a child will turn to various bolidy parts for sexual
gratification and will not obey the rules that in adults determines perverse behaviour.
Education however quickly surpresses the polymorphous possiblities for sexual
gratification in the child, eventually leading, through repression, to an amnesia about
such primitive desires.
Freuds theories led him to describe adult homosexual as suffering from the cases of
Growing Sideways (Stockton)
- the queer child alerts us to the possibility of growing sideways (the possibility of
alternate end points that aren‟t narrowly confined to particular channels
- Eli is in a moment of suspension- there is no growing up
- She may have the lived experience of centuries but there still remains a perpetual
There is “the matter of children‟s delay: their supposed gradual growth, their suggested
slow unfolding, which, unhelpfully, has been relentlessly figured as vertical movement
upward (hence, growing up) toward full stature, marriage, work, reproduction, and the
loss of childishness. Delay (…) is tremendously tricky as a conception, as is growth. Both more appropriately call us into the notions of the horizontal- which spreads sideways- or
sideways and backwards- more than a simple thrust toward height and forward time.
Non-Reproductive Connections and Messy Exchanges
- when Eli walks in without being invited, Oskar is testing her, although she knows
what is going to happen
- she‟s going it for him
- or maybe she‟s being manipulative?
- Their kiss leaves blood on his lips by this point she has already consumed his
blood; (no boundaries; implicating Oskar in the murder, sharing responsibility)
One could explore the elegant, unruly countours of growing that don‟t bespeak
continuance. I coin the term „sideways growth‟ to refer to something… that locates
energy, pleasure, vitality, and emotion in the back a