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“Undoing” Gender

Nexus of Complicity and Acts of Subversion in The Piano Teacher and Black Swan

Neha Arora and Stephan Resch

Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher (2001) and Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (2010) are films about women directed by men. Both films unorthodoxly chart women artists’ struggle with the discipline imposed on them by the arts and by their live-in mothers. By portraying mothers as their daughters’ oppressors, both films disturb the naïve “women = victims and men = perpetrators” binary. Simultaneously, they deploy audiovisual violence to exhibit the violence of society’s gender and sexuality policy norms and use gender-coded romance narratives to subvert the same gender codes from within this gender discourse. Using Judith Butler’s and Michael Foucault’s theories, we argue that Haneke and Aronofsky “do” feminism unconventionally by exposing the nexus of women’s complicity with omnipresent societal power structures that safeguard gender norms. These films showcase women concurrently as victim-products and complicit partisans of socially constructed gender ideology to emphasize that this ideology can be destabilized only when women “do” their gender and sexuality differently through acts of subversion.

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Resisting the Psycho-Logic of Intensified Continuity

William Brown

David Bordwell (2002) has described contemporary mainstream cinema as a cinema of intensified continuity. When we combine Bordwell's analysis with that of recent cognitive work on attention, especially with work on edit blindness, we discover some intriguing results. For example, the increased rate of cutting in contemporary cinema serves to keep our attention continually aroused, but, at the same time, that which arouses our attention—the increased number of cuts—becomes decreasingly visible. That is, the greater the number of cuts made in the services of continuity editing, the less we are able to spot them. If, while watching contemporary mainstream cinema, the attention of viewers is aroused but viewers are decreasingly capable of spotting the reasons why this is so (i.e., the cuts themselves), then does this also serve to make contemporary mainstream cinema “post-ideological,” because it concerns itself only with “intensified” experiences? Or, as this article argues, does the sheer speed of contemporary mainstream cinema renew the need for the ideological critique of films?

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Screening the Slob

Neoliberal Failure, Fatness, and Disability in “King-Size Homer”

Mackenzie Edwards

This article explores the archetype of the slob, narrowing in on its depiction in the episode “King-Size Homer” from The Simpsons (1989–), the long-running satirical animated series created by James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, and Sam Simon. More than simply analyzing what constitutes the slob, this article focuses on how the slob operates. Attention is paid to the enmeshing of fatness and disability. The undercurrent of neoliberal ideology that runs through the episode is made apparent. The article works intersectionally to understand the slob as being someone who is abject in a multitude of ways. Finally, it considers the topic of disidentification and the possibilities that it opens up for a better analysis and understanding of the episode. And throughout the article, the key themes of failure and the pursuit of failure are explored.

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The (Pre)Posterity of Virgin Queen Iconography in Kapur’s Elizabeth Films

Evdokia Prassa

This article examines the quotations of Elizabeth I’s iconic portraiture as Virgin Queen in Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth (1998) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), and their effect on our a posteriori conceptualization of the depicted body of the female sovereign. Using Mieke Bal’s concept of preposterous history, I argue that Kapur’s transposition of Virgin Queen iconography onto celluloid results in a “(complex) text” that “is both a material object and an effect” (1999: 14). Bal acknowledges that the complexity that lies in the material results of the artistic quotation is not necessarily subversive, as it is dependent on the quoting artist’s ideological premise. Indeed, Kapur’s intermedial quotation of Elizabethan portraiture imbues the highly complex body of the female ruler with contemporary heteronormative notions of female sexuality, thereby reducing it to an object for the male gaze.

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Fantasy, Realism, and Other Mixed Delights: What Have Film Analysts Seen in Popular Indian Cinema?

Sara Dickey

Much commentary on Indian cinema unreflectively equates film with fantasy. Writing in this vein may depict audiences as emotionally and cognitively undeveloped, while it represents those critics and viewers who prefer realism as sophisticated, rational, and mature. Those scholars of Indian cinema who examine fantasy and realism in depth, however, often draw different conclusions about both cinema and its consumers. Some note the close relationship between fantasy and reality, and thereby represent audiences as more savvy than do those who superficially link film with fantasy. Others analyze the privileging of cinematic realism as an element of socio-political ideology, or examine viewers' own application of realist criteria to films, thus further complicating the image of Indian cinema consumers as irrational and infantile. In continuing to pose these concepts as a dichotomy, however, cinema scholars reproduce some of the assumptions that underlie the standard usage in film criticism.

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Guest Editor's Introduction

Phenomenology Encounters Cognitivism

Robert Sinnerbrink

”—that synthesized, often in an eclectic manner, semiotic, psychoanalytic, and structuralist/poststructuralist theory and philosophy while remaining committed to a critical (ethico-political) perspective on ideological structures rather than empirical or explanatory

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An Otaku with Chinese Characteristics?

Localizing Japanese ACG Currents in Lu Yang's The Beast

Fred Shan

medium, style, or national culture, leading curator Barbara Pollack to ask: “how could this possibly be Chinese art” ( Pollack 2018: 2 )? To Pollack, Lu hails from a new generation born into a China keen to substitute ideological orthodoxy for market

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Emotional Responses to Savior Films: Concealing Privilege or Appealing to Our Better Selves?

Erin Ash

—are valuable cultural artifacts for extracting and deconstructing the dominant ideologies that characterize our society ( Hughey 2014: 15–16 ). As the history of Hollywood films, box office records, Academy Award nominations, and critics’ reviews imply, films

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Passing for Children in Cate Shortland’s Lore

Andrew J. Webber

developmental stage which is especially subject, and susceptible, to identity formation and deformation under the pressures of social and political ideologies. These pressures are not least enacted upon and through the body, and embodied identity is put under

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Reviews

Tru Leverette and Barbara Mennel

cinematic representations of mixture as illustrative of social ideologies on race and nation. Analyzing over forty classic and contemporary American and French films, Asava studies national shifts in representing mixture that demonstrate social views on