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Todd Berliner

Abstract

In this reply to four commentaries on my book, Hollywood Aesthetic: Pleasure in American Cinema, I address several conceptual and methodological issues raised by the respondents. Those issues include the book's focus on aesthetic pleasure; the functions of narrative, style, ideology, and genre in Hollywood cinema; the relationship between ideology and aesthetics; the use of scientific research in the humanities; normative aesthetic evaluations; real versus hypothetical spectators; and the practices of aesthetic film analysis.

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How Motion Shapes Thought in Cinema

The Embodied Film Style of Éric Rohmer

Maarten Coëgnarts

Abstract

This article provides an embodied study of the film style of the French filmmaker Éric Rohmer. Drawing on insights from cognitive linguistics, I first show how dynamic patterns of containment shape human thinking about relationships, a concept central to Rohmer's cinema. Second, I consider the question of how film might elicit this spatial thinking through the use of such cinematic devices as mobile framing and fixed-frame movement. Third, using Rohmer's Comedies and Proverbs series as a case study, I demonstrate how the filmmaker applies these devices—and with them the spatial thinking they initiate—systemically to shape the relationships of his films visually. Lastly, I use the results of this analysis to provide discussion and suggestions for future research.

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Introduction

Visibility and Screen Politics after the Transgender Tipping Point

Wibke Straube

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“Is He Talking to Me?”

How Breaking the Fourth Wall Influences Enjoyment

Daniela M. Schlütz, Daniel Possler, and Lucas Golombek

Abstract

In this study, we empirically investigate the enjoyment-related consequences of the TV trope of breaking the fourth wall (B4W), which is when a fictional character addresses viewers directly. Based on the model of narrative comprehension and engagement, we assume that B4W contributes to viewers’ cognitive and affective enjoyment by intensifying the parasocial interaction experience (EPSI). Alternatively, B4W could reduce enjoyment by disrupting viewers’ transportation into the narrative. We report two experiments with a total of N = 658 participants and three different stimuli based on the TV series House of Cards (HoC) and Malcolm in the Middle (MitM) as well as the movie Deadpool (DP). Analyses revealed that B4W increased the EPSI, which in turn fostered enjoyment.

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Los Roldán and the Inclusion of Travesti Narratives

Representations of Gender-Nonconforming Identities in Argentinian Telenovelas

Martín Ponti

Abstract

In Argentina, trans people have experienced extreme marginalization exacerbated by authoritarian dictatorships. Despite this history, since the return of democracy in the 1980s Argentina has witnessed legislative changes as an outcome of extensive trans activism. Travestis became more visible as they protested police brutality. Travesti mobilization brought more visibility, specifically within the media industries. To elucidate their participation in media, this article focuses on travesti celebrity Florencia de la V in Los Roldán (2004–, Telefe). I examine the representation of travestis on telenovelas and how fictional characters have an effect on structuring a star's career through the telenovelas’ ability to blur the distinctions between character and star. Ultimately, this article questions the introduction of mainstream audiences to gender-nonconforming characters through the industry's incorporation of travesti stars in relation to themes of scandal and domesticity. I build on the work of trans scholars Blas Radi and Lohana Berkins, who theorize travesti identities as politicized non-binary bodies.

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Lieke Hettinga and Terrance Wooten

Eliza Steinbock, Shimmering Images: Trans Cinema, Embodiment, and the Aesthetics of Change (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019), 248 pp., ISBN: 9781478003885 (paperback, $24.95)

Jian Neo Chen, Trans Exploits: Trans of Color Cultures and Technologies in Movement (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019). ix +184 pp., ISBN: 9781478000877 (paperback, $23.95)

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Shadows, Screens, Bodies, and Light

Reading the Discursive Shadow in the Age of American Silent Cinema

Amy E. Borden

Abstract

Considering how American publications wrote about x-ray, still, and photochemical motion pictures as shadows reveals a discursive bridge among the three varieties from the performance practice of ombromanie (shadowgraphy). This process produced shadows of performing bodies where the bodies were accompanied by the impression created by the interaction of the bodies and the light source. That organization of bodies and technology, as complex as a body and a fluoroscope or as low-tech as hands, a candle, and a screen, can help historians contextualize popular narratives of early cinema that suggested audiences believed that motion pictures were real enough to jump offscreen. The resulting images drag the profilmic event and the peculiarities of the medium into a cultural understanding of cinema's potential to both represent and display life in motion.

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Janet Staiger

Abstract

Todd Berliner's Hollywood Aesthetic: Pleasure in American Cinema (2017) offers useful broad theoretical arguments about how to understand our pleasures in viewing cinema. Yet, moving to individual cases requires recognizing the historical conditions of spectatorship including contemporaneous ideological issues, levels and types of knowledges, and cooperation (or non-cooperation) by a spectator.

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Patrick Keating

Abstract

In this article, I offer a response to Todd Berliner's splendid book Hollywood Aesthetic. Although the book is an innovative and well-crafted contribution to the study of Hollywood cinema, I argue that it underestimates the extent to which unity and coherence contribute to the aesthetic value of a film.

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Jess Dorrance

Abstract

This article analyzes the film and installation Toxic (2012) by Berlin-based artists Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz in order to reflect upon the politics of racialized queer and trans subjects becoming images and to consider the ways we might care for these images in the archives of history. I revisit my original argument about Toxic, which positioned the artwork as an intersectional “archive of feelings” that was paradigmatic of a moment in the late 2000s and early 2010s when many Western antiracist queer/trans communities were focused on critiquing the violences of gay pride assimilationism and its politics of transparency. I then turn to Christina Sharpe's “ethics of care” and Eric Stanley's work on opacity to analyze how this reading may work toward the politics of transparency it seeks to critique. In response, I develop the concept of queer/trans messiness as a set of aesthetic, performative, affective, and historiographical strategies present in Toxic, which produce different grammars of seeing and being seen, different ways of navigating the incommensurability between struggles for social justice, and different modes of representing antiracist queer/trans history.