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Chapter 12

MDSA01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 12: Mikhail Bakhtin, Grotesque Body, Orgasm

Media Studies
Course Code
Ted Petit

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Chapter 12: Erotic Analysis
Example of slash fiction in Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an example of how media audiences
create and circulate their own media content.
From Instagram, to Youtube, media consumers are increasingly becoming media consumers
as well.
The key to understanding audience activity is pleasure.
Theories of Pleasure: An Overview
Initially, pleasure, both an audience experience and an academic pursuit was ignored or
In the 1980s, when media scholars began to attend carefully to audiences, pleasure emerged
as a subject of sustained inquiry. Although it became increasingly common, pleasure itself
continued to be disparaged.
In the 1975 book, The Pleasure of the Text, by French semiotician Roland Barthes, he made
an important distinction between two types of pleasure: plaisir and jouissance.
oBoth arise out of audience-text interaction
oThey involve very different modes of approaching or interacting with texts and thus
function in different ways
oPlaisir describes a comfortable and comforting pleasure that emerges from a passive
interaction with the text. This works to preserve the ideological status quo, making it
conservative and hegemonic. It is often associated with consumption because it
accepts the text in its own terms.
oJouissance (translated into English as “bliss, ecstasy, or orgasm”) is an ecstatic and
disruptive pleasure that emerges from an active engagement with the text. Instead of
submitting to the text, audiences rework and remake the text to serve their own needs
and desires. It is associated with the pleasure of production. Other referred to s the
“erotics of reading”
Media erotics reflects a concern with the sensuous, transgressive, and productive ways
audiences interacts with texts.
The term erotic derives from Eros, the Greek god of primordial lust, sublimated impulses,
creative urges, and fertility. Like Eros, errotics or eroticism has two principle traits or
dimensions, one involving prohibition, taboo and transgression and the other involving
expenditure, dissemination, and production.
Thus eroticism is at once transgressive (or the status quo) and productive.
oTransgression refers to an action or artistic practice that breaks with the prevailing
cultural codes and conventions of society.
Transgressive practices are typically not so public or dramatic and are not
limited to political activists and media audiences.
oBy productive, we mean generative of alternative pleasures, meanings, and identities.
To use the text to serve purposes other than what they were intended for. Productive

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practices co-create the text, facilitating new habits of seeing, thinking, and being in
the world and by extension, counterpleasures that trouble and disturb the status quo.
Eroticism concerns subjective desires and not simply an innate urge to reproduce. It is unique
to humans because only we can experience shame, profound enjoyment.
Transgressive Texts
No media text is inherently transgressive, since what is transgressive in one context may not
be in another context.
Two kinds of texts with strong potential for facilitating transgression are writerly texts and
carnivalesque texts.
The Writerly Text
Roland Barthes distinguished between readerly and writerly texts.
oReaderly texts are one whose meaning is relatively clear and settled and therefore
asks very little of the audience. It is designed to be passively consumed. Ex: Steve
Spielberg’s film Jaws.
oWriterly texts are more unfinished and unsettle and thus invite the audience to co-
create the meaning. This favors the active involvement and interpretation of the
audience. Ex: Cloud Atlas.
Barthe’s distinction is similar to Umberto Eco’s differentiation between closed and open
texts. In it, closed and opened texts vary in their degree of strategic polysemy.
oClosed texts are less polysemous and open texts tend to be more polysemous.
Two features that are common to many writerly texts are: intertextuality and polyphony.
Intertextuality concerns the ways that texts gesture or refer to other texts. This increases the
texts polysemic potential.
oStrategic intertextuality are intentional, meaning that the producer of the text
deliberately made reference to another text. There are three types that the text
discusses (but many more in reality):
Parodic allusion describes a type of intertextuality in which the primary text
incorporates a caricature or parody of another text. This commonly seen on
The Simpons and Family Guy. It is commoly used for comedic effect,
mocking or poking fun at the text it is mimicking.
Creative Appropriateness refers to a stylistic device in which the primary text
incorporates an actual portion or segment of another text. The inclusion of
another text is usually done for artistic or creative reasons. Ex: hip hops songs
that sample the beats of other songs.
Self-Reflexive Reference reflects an intertextual strategy in which the primary
text gestures to external discourses or events in a manner that demonstrates a
self awareness of its own cultural status or production history. It is the most
difficult to recognize because it relies on insider of fan-based knowledge. Ex:
when the dialog between two characters also comments on something that
recently happened in the personal life of one of the actors.
oTactical intertextuality initiates references an outside text by an audience member
rather than by the producer of the text; the gesture is unplanned and unintentional. Ex:
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