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Film, Theater, and Performing Arts > Film and Media Studies

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The Battle over Marriage Cover

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The Battle over Marriage

Gay Rights Activism through the Media

Leigh Moscowitz

Over the past decade, the controversial issue of gay marriage has emerged as a primary battle in the culture wars and a definitive social issue of our time. The subject moved to the forefront of mainstream public debate in 2004, when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom began authorizing same-sex marriage licenses, and it has remained in the forefront through three presidential campaigns and numerous state ballot initiatives. In this thorough analysis, Leigh Moscowitz examines how prominent news outlets presented this issue from 2003 to 2012, a time when intense news coverage focused unprecedented attention on gay and lesbian life.

Beautiful TV Cover

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Beautiful TV

The Art and Argument of Ally McBeal

By Greg M. Smith

During its five-year run from 1997 to 2002, the popular TV show Ally McBeal engaged viewers in debates over what it means to be a woman or a man in the modern workplace; how romance factors into the therapeutic understanding of relationships; what value eccentricity has and how much oddity society should tolerate; and what utility fantasy has in the pragmatic world. In addition to these social concerns, however, Ally McBeal stood out for being well-constructed, narratively complex, and stylistically rich—in short, beautiful TV. Starting from the premise that much of television today is "drop-dead gorgeous" and that TV should be studied for its formal qualities as well as its social impact, Greg M. Smith analyzes Ally McBeal in terms of its aesthetic principles and narrative construction. He explores how Ally's innovative use of music, special effects, fantasy sequences, voiceovers, and flashbacks structures a distinctive fictional universe, while it also opens up new possibilities for televisual expression. Smith also discusses the complex narrative strategies that Ally's creator David E. Kelley used to develop a long-running storyline and shows how these serial narrative practices can help us understand a wide range of prime-time TV serials. By taking seriously the art and argument of Ally McBeal, Beautiful TV conclusively demonstrates that aesthetic and narrative analysis is an indispensable key for unlocking the richness of contemporary television.

Before the Crash Cover

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Before the Crash

Early Video Game History

Edited by Mark J. P. Wolf

Following the first appearance of arcade video games in 1971 and home video game systems in 1972, the commercial video game market was exuberant with fast-paced innovation and profit. New games, gaming systems, and technologies flooded into the market until around 1983, when sales of home game systems dropped, thousands of arcades closed, and major video game makers suffered steep losses or left the market altogether. In Before the Crash: Early Video Game History, editor Mark J. P. Wolf assembles essays that examine the fleeting golden age of video games, an era sometimes overlooked for older games’ lack of availability or their perceived “primitiveness” when compared to contemporary video games. In twelve chapters, contributors consider much of what was going on during the pre-crash era: arcade games, home game consoles, home computer games, handheld games, and even early online games. The technologies of early video games are investigated, as well as the cultural context of the early period—from aesthetic, economic, industrial, and legal perspectives. Since the video game industry and culture got their start and found their form in this era, these years shaped much of what video games would come to be. This volume of early history, then, not only helps readers to understand the pre-crash era, but also reveals much about the present state of the industry. Before the Crash will give readers a thorough overview of the early days of video games along with a sense of the optimism, enthusiasm, and excitement of those times. Students and teachers of media studies will enjoy this compelling volume.

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Being Available and Reachable

New Media and Cameroonian Transnational Sociality

The book investigates what have become of Cameroonian transnational family and friendship ties in the age of the mobile phone and the internet that make people readily available and reachable. Most theoretical literature states that these tools of sociality cement transnational social relationships through instantaneous interaction. To capture the different experiences and impressions on the significance of these media in easing communication for migrants and non-migrants, Tazanu draws on ethnographic accounts based on his fieldwork in Freiburg (Germany) and Buea (Cameroon). He argues that it is mainly the migrants who maintain or are expected to maintain ties with non-migrants back in Cameroon through calls and material support. The main finding of the study is that cell phones and the internet have facilitated discontents, grudges, insults, fights, avoidance, arguments and estrangement of relationships much more than they have contributed to binding friends or families through direct mediation. Underlying these aspects of distanciation are the high expectations and sometimes contradictory motives for instant virtual interaction. Non-migrantsí accounts suggest that direct availability and reachability should lead to uninterrupted transnational interaction and also that the cultural practices of remittances from migrants are easily requested and coordinated. Such motives are generally contrary to migrantsí wishes, willingness or ability to support friends and families in Cameroon. These unexpected outcomes arising from rapid speed of interaction questions the advantages that are often associated with instant sociality across space and time. The finding is a call for the cultural background and life-world experiences of media users to be taken into consideration when theorising the significance of information technology in the debate on media globalisation.

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Being Hal Ashby

Life of a Hollywood Rebel

Nick Dawson

Hal Ashby (1929–1988) was always an outsider, and as a director he brought an outsider’s perspective to Hollywood cinema. After moving to California from a Mormon household in Utah, he created eccentric films that reflected the uncertain social climate of the 1970s. Whether it is his enduring cult classic Harold and Maude (1971) or the iconic Being There (1979), Ashby’s artistry is unmistakable. His skill for blending intense drama with off-kilter comedy attracted A-list actors and elicited powerful performances from Jack Nicholson in The Last Detail (1973), Warren Beatty and Julie Christie in Shampoo (1975), and Jon Voight and Jane Fonda in Coming Home (1979). Yet the man behind these films is still something of a mystery. In Being Hal Ashby: Life of a Hollywood Rebel, author Nick Dawson for the first time tells the story of a man whose thoughtful and challenging body of work continues to influence modern filmmakers and whose life was as dramatic and unconventional as his films. Ashby began his career as an editor, and it did not take long for his talents to be recognized. He won an Academy Award in 1967 for editing In the Heat of the Night and leveraged his success as an editor to pursue his true passion: directing. Crafting seminal films that steered clear of mainstream conventions yet attracted both popular and critical praise, Ashby became one of the quintessential directors of the 1970s New Hollywood movement. No matter how much success Ashby achieved, he was never able to escape the ghosts of his troubled childhood. The divorce of his parents, his father’s suicide, and his own marriage and divorce—all before the age of nineteen—led to a lifelong struggle with drugs for which he became infamous in Hollywood. And yet, contrary to mythology, it was not Ashby’s drug abuse that destroyed his career but a fundamental mismatch between the director and the stifling climate of 1980s studio filmmaking. Although his name may not be recognized by many of today’s filmgoers, Hal Ashby is certainly familiar to filmmakers. Despite his untimely death in 1988, his legacy of innovation and individuality continues to influence a generation of independent directors, including Wes Anderson, Sean Penn, and the Coen brothers, who place substance and style above the pursuit of box-office success. In this groundbreaking and exhaustively researched biography, Nick Dawson draws on firsthand interviews and personal papers from Ashby’s estate to offer an intimate look at the tumultuous life of an artist unwilling to conform or compromise.

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Being Rita Hayworth

Labor, Identity, and Hollywood Stardom

Adrienne L McLean

Who was Rita Hayworth? Born Margarita Carmen Cansino, she spent her life subjected to others' definitions of her, no matter how hard she worked to claim her own identity. Although there have been many "revelations" about her life and career, Adrienne McLean's book is the first to show that such disclosures were part of a constructed image from the outset. McLean explores Hayworth's participation in the creation of her star persona, particularly through her work as a dancer-a subject ignored by most film scholars. The passive love goddess, as it turns out, had a unique appeal to other women who, like her, found it extraordinarily difficult to negotiate the competing demands of family, domesticity, and professional work outside the home. Being Rita Hayworth also considers the ways in which the actress has been treated by film scholarship over the years to accomplish its own goals, sometimes at her expense.

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Best Years

Going to the Movies, 1945-1946

Charles Affron and Mirella Jona Affron

Best Years shines light on a critical juncture in American history and the history of American cinemaùthe end of World War II (1945) and a year of unprecedented success in Hollywood's "Golden Age" (1946). This unique time provides a rich blend of cinema genres and typesùfrom the battlefront to the home front, the peace film to the woman's film, psychological drama, and the period's provocative new style, film noir. This book focuses on films that were famous, infamous, forgotten, and unforgettable, with big budget A-films, road shows, and familiar series share the spotlight.

Between Page and Screen: Cover

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Between Page and Screen:

Remaking Literature Through Cinema and Cyberspace

Kiene Brillenburg Wurth

Since the earlier twentieth century, literary genres have traveled across magnetic, wireless, and electronic planes. Literature may now be anything from acoustic poetry and oral performance to verbal--visual constellations in print and on screen, cinematic narratives, or electronic textualities that range from hypertext to Flash. New technologies have left their imprint on literature as a paper-based medium, and vice versa. This volume explores the interactions between literature and screenbased media over the past three decades. How has literature turned to screen, how have screens undone the tyranny of the page as a medium of literature, and how have screens affected the page in literary writing? This volume answers these questions by uniquely integrating perspectives from digital literary studies, on the one hand, and film and literature studies, on the other. "Page" and "screen" are familiar catchwords in both digital literary studies and film and literature studies. The contributors reassess literary practice at the edges of paper, electronic media, and film. They show how the emergence of a new medium in fact reinvigorates the book and the page as literary media, rather than signaling their impending death. While previous studies in this field have been restricted to the digitization of literature alone, this volume shows the continuing relevance of film as a cultural medium for contemporary literature. Its integrative approach allows readers to situate current shifts within the literary field in a wider, long-term perspective.

Beyond Casablanca Cover

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Beyond Casablanca

M. A. Tazi and the Adventure of Moroccan Cinema

Kevin Dwyer

In Beyond Casablanca, Kevin Dwyer explores the problems of creativity in the Arab and African world, focusing on Moroccan cinema and one of its key figures, filmmaker M. A. Tazi. Dwyer develops three themes simultaneously: the filmmaker's career and films; filmmaking in postcolonial Morocco; and the relationship between Moroccan cinema, Third World and Arab cinema, and the global film industry. This compelling discussion of Moroccan cinema is founded upon decades of anthropological research in Morocco, most recently on the Moroccan film sector and the global film industry, and exhibits a sensitivity to the cultural, political, social, and economic context of creative activity. The book centers on a series of interviews conducted with Tazi, whose career provides a rich commentary on the world of Moroccan cinema and on Moroccan cinema in the world. The interviews are framed, variously, by presentations of Moroccan history, society, and culture; the role of foreign filmmakers in Morocco; thematic discussions of cinematic issues (such as narrative techniques, the use of symbols, film as an expression of identity, and problems of censorship); and the global context of Third World filmmaking.

Beyond Dolby (Stereo) Cover

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Beyond Dolby (Stereo)

Cinema in the Digital Sound Age

Mark Kerins

Since digital surround sound technology first appeared in cinemas 20 years ago, it has spread from theaters to homes and from movies to television, music, and video games. Yet even as 5.1 has become the standard for audiovisual media, its impact has gone unexamined. Drawing on works from the past two decades, as well as dozens of interviews with sound designers, mixers, and editors, Mark Kerins uncovers how 5.1 surround has affected not just sound design, but cinematography and editing as well. Beyond Dolby (Stereo) includes detailed analyses of Fight Club, The Matrix, Hairspray, Disturbia, The Rock, Saving Private Ryan, and Joy Ride, among other films, to illustrate the value of a truly audiovisual approach to cinema studies.

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