“Exceptional Zombie Cannibals” – Antonia Bird’s ‘Ravenous’ (1999) and the discourse of American exceptionalism

In the last couple of decades, a conflict has emerged between the perception of exceptionalist rhetoric as a historical symbol of American patriotism and the much more harrowing visions pervading the present-day political stage. For a historian of the antebellum era, such as myself, “American exceptionalism” is synonymic with a post-War of Independence period when America rapidly transformed from a remote and largely unexplored land mass into a force to be reckoned with in the world arena (as noted by non-American observers at the time such as Alex De Tocqueville). Continue reading

“Coward, take my coward’s hand”: Mudbound (2017) and the legacy of Hollywood’s anti-racist returning veteran films

On a dusty, unpaved main street veteran Jamie McAllan (Garrett Hedlund) leaves the local general store serving the outpost Mississippi Delta community near his brother’s farm. Suddenly, he drops to the ground. The noise of a car backfiring has returned him to his recent combat experience as a bomber pilot. As local men eye him suspiciously, help is offered in the form of the outstretched hand of Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell). The offer draws reproach from the onlookers for its disruption of local customs and hierarchy. It is 1946 and, while Jamie is white, Ronsel is black. Continue reading

Documenting Donald: A Trans-Media Post-Mortem about Documentary-Making during the 2016 Presidential Election

Media Coverage and the Presidential Election of 2016

‘Documenting Donald’ is a trans-media article which combines the written word with short films and interactive elements. Media elements are embedded into the article and should be activated by the reader at the appropriate place in the text. Embedded elements can be viewed within the article or as full-screen presentations. Continue reading

Black Films Matter: Reassessing Spike Lee’s ‘Do the Right Thing’ in Post-Ferguson America

Charged with social awareness and style, Spike Lee’s 1989 film, Do the Right Thing is nothing less than a street ballet. It fuses music with the body, giving characters idiosyncratic and physically charged expression to their narrative arcs. They shuffle, strut, stride, and twitch their way through the world, with changes in bodily (and musical) expression coming to signify much larger attitudinal shifts. These changes are important – they help the film to antagonise its audience, shining an uncompromising light upon the hidden subtexts of modernised racism, degradation, and white supremacy. Continue reading

Film Review: Trumbo (2015)

It would be naïve to expect a biopic to comprehensively cover the competing interests, shifting alliances and distinct beliefs among those blacklisted, greylisted, or progressive Hollywood more broadly. However, Trumbo comes to conclusions about courage and cowardice without context and, as such, its oversights are worth exploring. Part of the problem is that Trumbo seems uncomfortable with Dalton’s politics. How else to explain a film with such a curious lack of interest in its protagonist’s beliefs beyond that in the sanctity of the First Amendment? Continue reading

Review (Part Two) of IAAS Annual Conference

The design and implementation of a runaway artificial intelligence was a concern felt by many of the panellists. An AI that proved particularly threatening was one that may be built upon the incorporation of human minds into a computer network. The potential for an omnipresent surveillance filtered into an important term used at the conference – ‘hive mind’. Continue reading

Review (Part One) of IAAS Annual Conference

Usually in conferences, there are one or two panels that do not quite fit the theme. Not this year. Tied together by an excellent plenary from Dr. Lee Jenkins (University College Cork) it demonstrated the power that sight, surveillance, and vision possess on a multi-disciplinary scale. Continue reading

Review of ‘Avant-Gardes Now!’ Symposium

Throughout the whole day there were repetitions of specific phrases which became tagged to the definition of avant-garde. Notions of simulation and mimicry were frequently raised in relation to the differences between what is imagined, and what is supposed. Continue reading

Imagining a Female President: Commander in Chief and the unfinished business of presidential fiction

In the sixth SHAW post Gregory Frame considers the recent fictional depiction of a female US president in Commander in Chief and asks whether this television series gives us clues as to why there has yet to be a woman elected into the Oval Office. Continue reading

Film Review: In P.T. Anderson’s Inherent Vice Pynchon’s “Badass” prevails

Pynchon mentions, and praises, the “Badass” in one of his few essays: “when times are hard, and we feel at the mercy of forces many times more powerful, don’t we, in seeking some equalizer, turn, if only in imagination, in wish, to the Badass… who will resist what otherwise would overwhelm us?” Ultimately breaking noir convention, Inherent Vice does turn, if only in part, to the Badass detective. Bigfoot’s diligent respect for his deceased police partner’s memory, which further distances him from any thug-cop stereotype, leads him to have a very personal stake in Doc’s case and he ends up working more or less alongside the stoned PI. Continue reading