The ethics and politics of memory in an age of mass culture
This chapter argues that the effects of capitalist commodification and mass culture are not exclusively privatising and therefore conservative; these forces have also opened up the potential for a progressive, even radical politics of memory: such a politics instrumentalises called 'prosthetic memory'. 'Prosthetic memories' are 'personal' memories, as they derive from engaged and experientially oriented encounters with the mass media's various technologies of memory. Perhaps more than in any other realm, the political potential of prosthetic memory has been explored in science fiction film. John Singleton's 1996 film Rosewood raises the question of whether white Children, and by extension, a white audience, can take on memories of racial oppression and in the process develop empathy for African Americans. Singleton uses cinematic identification to create the conditions under which audience members can take on prosthetic memories.
History, legend and memory in John Sayles’ Lone Star
John Sayles' Lone Star examines 'life beneath the ashes or behind the mirrors' by excavating the 'geological layers'. Sayles' film can be seen as in dialogue with the 'culture wars' debates in which issues of identity politics, multiculturalism and the representation of US history came to the fore, often embedded in the looser exchanges and controversies over so-called political correctness. Lone Star is a story of multiple borders, from the ever-present geopolitical southwest border, to those drawn through the diverse lives that intersect within the community of Frontera. Lone Star also refers ironically to the events of the Alamo as a mythic historic marker of border relations. As the film Lone Star ends, Sayles suggests that the latent possibility inherent in the experience of movies can be carried forward into life itself, that is, into the imaginative reconstruction of identity, community and nation.
This chapter explores some of the implications of computer generated imagery for the cinematic representation of the past. It focuses on the most contested and controversial area of contemporary fiction cinema's representation of the past, the use of documentary images as a mode of imaginative reconstruction or re-enactment. The chapter presents an argument that has been made by Alison Landsberg, who has coined the term 'prosthetic memory' to describe the way mass cultural technologies of memory enable individuals to experience events through which they themselves did not live. These arguments appear to have a particular salience for understanding the popularity and the larger cultural significance of films such as Forrest Gump, JFK, Glory, The Hurricane and Saving Private Ryan. The most striking uses of digital compositing and morphing in film is found in Forrest Gump, which digitally rewrites some of the most sensitive scenes of the American past.
This chapter focuses on the agonistic dimension of contemporary technological changes as manifested in cinema. While its new technical and stylistic possibilities suggested an early potential to contribute to political or aesthetic innovation, cinema actually carried the burden of memory in modernity. The collapse of the cinematic into its postcinematic other symptomised by Oliver Stone's film parallels a more widely perceived decline of perspective and critical authority in postmodernity. The postcinematic effort to manage memory through denaturalised representation aims to ameliorate the traumas of subjective, familial and social life. The palpable dysfunctions of technologised memory in Atom Egoyan's work encourage suspicion in viewers towards the images and actions before them. Egoyan continuously contrasts an acculturated, technologised metropole with the residual attractions of an organic cultural identity.
In May 1958, and four years into the Algerian War of Independence, a revolt again appropriated the revolutionary and republican symbolism of the French Revolution by seizing power through a Committee of Public Safety. This book explores why a repressive colonial system that had for over a century maintained the material and intellectual backwardness of Algerian women now turned to an extensive programme of 'emancipation'. After a brief background sketch of the situation of Algerian women during the post-war decade, it discusses the various factors contributed to the emergence of the first significant women's organisations in the main urban centres. It was only after the outbreak of the rebellion in 1954 and the arrival of many hundreds of wives of army officers that the model of female interventionism became dramatically activated. The French military intervention in Algeria during 1954-1962 derived its force from the Orientalist current in European colonialism and also seemed to foreshadow the revival of global Islamophobia after 1979 and the eventual moves to 'liberate' Muslim societies by US-led neo-imperialism in Afghanistan and Iraq. For the women of Bordj Okhriss, as throughout Algeria, the French army represented a dangerous and powerful force associated with mass destruction, brutality and rape. The central contradiction facing the mobile socio-medical teams teams was how to gain the trust of Algerian women and to bring them social progress and emancipation when they themselves were part of an army that had destroyed their villages and driven them into refugee camps.
silent and static figure sitting on a throne.
George V’s death allowed Herbert Wilcox to produce the
first talking – and royally sanctioned – Victoria. 31 His Victoria the
Great (1937) was one of the most popularfilms in the year of its
release, with cinemagoers in proletarian Bolton declaring it their
favourite movie. 32 In response to such acclaim Wilcox rushed out
Sixty Glorious Years , a kind of
inches in 1938 in the USA than any other
news figure. See Laura Hillenbrand, Seabiscuit: three men and a racehorse (London:
Fourth Estate, 2002), p. xi.
Liverpool Echo, 22.3.1938.
1932/3 Royal Commission on Lotteries and Betting, para. 218.
Sporting Chronicle, Racing up-to-date: a complete record of flat racing (Manchester:
Sporting Chronicle, 1938), p. 172.
S. Theodore Felstead, Racing romance (London: Werner Laurie, 1949), pp. 79–80.
Hartlepool Daily Mail, 30.7.1936.
Reviewed in the Cleveland Standard, 5.8.1939.
Stephen C. Shafer, British popularfilms 1929–1939: the
. Although the immediate focus
of the essay is M. Cavell, the larger target is the general
Enlightenment position, revived today in more than one quarter
(e.g., William Connolly, Richard Rorty, Robert Pippin, Jacques
Rancière) that popularfilm can serve to instruct us in
democracy. Indeed, perhaps here is the place to re-emphasize that I
criticize Cavell not because I think he is the
several times: with Gorbachev, Khrushchev,
Roosevelt, and Kennedy. Hope is still there. Hope is a foundation
for action against this empire.11
1 Interview with Oliver Stone, Santa Monica, CA, 8 December 2011.
Nick Hopkins, ‘UK gathering secret intelligence via covert NSA
operation’, Guardian (7 June 2013). Available at www.theguardian.
prism (accessed 1 March 2016).
2 Helen Stoddart, ‘Auteurism and Film Authorship Theory’ in Joanne
Hollows and Mark Jancovich (eds) Approaches to PopularFilm
retrospective analysis of the most popularfilms in Britain in 1957,
taking into account evidence from Picturegoer as well as Kine
Weekly , places the film in the top twelve. This seems all the more
remarkable for a ‘woman’s picture’ in a period of
rapidly declining female cinema attendance, suggesting an interesting
dynamic: women who are not getting out of the house very often do
go out to see a film