All posts filed under: Featured

The Branded Future: Brand-Placement Implications for Present Viewers and Future Narratives

by Barbara D. Ferguson In Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film Minority Report, set in the year 2053, the protagonist John Anderton is wrongly accused of murder and forced to flee his own law-enforcement colleagues. In a subway station where commuter crowds should offer anonymity, the advertisements lining every wall become dangers Anderton hadn’t considered. Floor-to-ceiling billboards for Lexus, American Express and Guinness scroll and flash with animated life, and, because retinal-scan identification has been integrated into marketing, the merest glance at an advertisement triggers a personalized appeal. As he enters the station, a woman’s voice assures him on behalf of Lexus, “The road you’re on, John Anderton, is the one less travelled.”1 “John Anderton,” hails a genial voice a few hurried steps further, “you could use a Guinness right about now!” The faster Anderton moves through the corridor, the more his name resounds from all directions in a cacophony of goods and services offered.2 The film’s plot progresses amid a sea of branding, with Lexus receiving the most prominent screen-time and -space, but with Aquafina, Nokia, Bulgari, …

Affecting Activist Art: Inside KillJoy’s Kastle, A Lesbian Feminist Haunted House

By Genevieve Flavelle Photo credit: Allyson Mitchell, Lesbian Rule, 2013. Courtesy of the Artist. On a warm fall evening in 2015 a lesbian feminist entity known as KillJoy opened her fang bearing mouth in the center of Los Angeles’s Plummer Park. Inviting audiences into her inner sanctum, the maligned matriarch elicited delight, horror, fear, sentimentality, laughter, and reverence for lesbian feminist herstories1 Viewers grouped together in line with friends, or perhaps friendly strangers, awaiting their turn to experience the novelty of a Lesbian Feminist Haunted House. Reaching the front of the line, visitors’ introduction to KillJoy’s Kastle was brusque as Valerie Solanas was back from the dead and working the door!2 Brandishing her infamous S.C.U.M. Manifesto, a ghoulish Solanas instructed groups that what they were about to experience would not be “part of the ordinary.” As a group was being informed about nudity and instructed not to take flash photography, I joined in time to be advised that the “KillJoy’s Kastle is best viewed by the light of your pussy—if you have one.” I quickly explained, as I …

“Your Bad Theory Helped a Killer Go Free”: Recession Anxiety, Surveillance Labor, and the Hauntology of the Digital in Sinister”

Written by John Roberts I. Introduction In a dimly lit home office, a writer gets to work: taking notes while screening home movies and hoping (needing desperately, in fact) to make sense of the footage somehow, to scrutinize the screen until it yields a meaningful, self-evident explanation of its visual contents. The writer is Ellison Oswalt, protagonist of Sinister (Derrickson, 2012), but this description, with slight modifications, could just as easily fit the (post-)cinematic spectator of Paranormal Activity (Peli, 2007), who examines that film’s home movies with the same level of investigatory intensity, and with similar outcomes: both will be fascinated and frightened by the images they see, and also be made palpably anxious by the evidentiary truths those images do and do not disclose. Shifting frames again, the description could apply as well to the spectator of Sinister (academic or otherwise), engaging in processes of narrative hypothesis-testing and thematic construction: a forensic construction of narrative that pieces together coherent meaning from a flow of audiovisual data in time. This essay explores how Sinister, in …