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Film, Theater, and Performing Arts
American Humor and Its Discontents
In this examination of stand-up comedy, Rebecca Krefting establishes a new genre of comedic production, “charged humor,” and charts its pathways from production to consumption. Some jokes are tears in the fabric of our beliefs—they challenge myths about how fair and democratic our society is and the behaviors and practices we enact to maintain those fictions. Jokes loaded with vitriol and delivered with verve, charged humor compels audiences to action, artfully summoning political critique. Since the institutionalization of stand-up comedy as a distinct cultural form, stand-up comics have leveraged charged humor to reveal social, political, and economic stratifications. All Joking Aside offers a history of charged comedy from the mid-twentieth century to the early aughts, highlighting dozens of talented comics from Dick Gregory and Robin Tyler to Micia Mosely and Hari Kondabolu. The popularity of charged humor has waxed and waned over the past sixty years. Indeed, the history of charged humor is a tale of intrigue and subversion featuring dive bars, public remonstrations, fickle audiences, movie stars turned politicians, commercial airlines, emergent technologies, neoliberal mind-sets, and a cavalcade of comic misfits with an ax to grind. Along the way, Krefting explores the fault lines in the modern economy of humor, why men are perceived to be funnier than women, the perplexing popularity of modern-day minstrelsy, and the way identities are packaged and sold in the marketplace. Appealing to anyone interested in the politics of humor and generating implications for the study of any form of popular entertainment, this history reflects on why we make the choices we do and the collective power of our consumptive practices. Readers will be delighted by the broad array of comic talent spotlighted in this book, and for those interested in comedy with substance, it will offer an alternative punchline.
Sports in Film and History
Sports films are popular forms of entertainment around the world, but beyond simply amusing audiences, they also reveal much about class, race, gender, sexuality, and national identity. In All-Stars and Movie Stars, Ron Briley, Michael K. Schoenecke, and Deborah A. Carmichael explore the interplay between sports films and critical aspects of our culture, examining them as both historical artifacts and building blocks of ideologies, values, and stereotypes.
The book covers not only Hollywood hits such as Field of Dreams and Miracle but also documentaries such as The Journey of the African American Athlete and international cinema, such as the German film The Miracle of Bern. The book also explores television coverage of sports, commenting on the relationship of media to golf and offering a new perspective on the culture and politics behind the depictions of the world's most popular pastimes.
The first part of the book addresses how sports films represent the cultural events, patterns, and movements of the times in which they were set, as well as the effect of the media and athletic industry on the athletes themselves. Latham Hunter examines how the baseball classic The Natural reflects traditional ideas about gender, heroism, and nation, and Harper Cossar addresses how the production methods used in televised golf affect viewers. The second section deals with issues such as the growth of women's involvement in athletics, sexual preference in the sports world, and the ever-present question of race by looking at sports classics such as Rocky, Hoosiers, and A League of Their Own.
Finally, the authors address the historical and present-day role sports play in the international and political arena by examining such films as Visions of Eight and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. This important and unique collection illuminates the prominent role that sports play in society and how that role is reflected in film. Analysis of the depiction of sports in film and television provides a deeper understanding of the appeal that sports hold for people worldwide and of the forces behind the historic and cultural traditions linked to sports.
Reimagining Theater with Ten Thousand Things
Michelle Hensley, founder of Ten Thousand Things Theater in Minneapolis, shares more than twenty years of her company’s nationally unique work bringing professional theater to those in prisons, homeless shelters, adult education centers, and rural areas, as well as the general public. More than a chronological history, All the Lights On is also about the radiant power of theater. In this articulate and compelling book, Hensley distills what nontraditional audiences, along with the conditions her artists must perform under to reach them, have taught her about Brecht, the Greeks, Shakespeare, musicals, and the essence of what is necessary to make vibrant and essential theater. Her experiences lead her to conclude that theater artists become better and the art form itself much richer when everyone is included in the audience. In Ten Thousand Things productions, people from very different economic classes sit next to each other in the round and often experience unexpected connections with each other. Hensley writes in the introduction, “Not only do we have a chance to experience the multiple viewpoints of many characters in the play, but with all the lights on, we are able to consider the differing viewpoints of the other audience members seated around the circle. It all serves to increase, just a little, the radiance of our world.”
How the Market Transforms Information into News
That market forces drive the news is not news. Whether a story appears in print, on television, or on the Internet depends on who is interested, its value to advertisers, the costs of assembling the details, and competitors' products. But in All the News That's Fit to Sell, economist James Hamilton shows just how this happens. Furthermore, many complaints about journalism--media bias, soft news, and pundits as celebrities--arise from the impact of this economic logic on news judgments.
This is the first book to develop an economic theory of news, analyze evidence across a wide range of media markets on how incentives affect news content, and offer policy conclusions. Media bias, for instance, was long a staple of the news. Hamilton's analysis of newspapers from 1870 to 1900 reveals how nonpartisan reporting became the norm. A hundred years later, some partisan elements reemerged as, for example, evening news broadcasts tried to retain young female viewers with stories aimed at their (Democratic) political interests. Examination of story selection on the network evening news programs from 1969 to 1998 shows how cable competition, deregulation, and ownership changes encouraged a shift from hard news about politics toward more soft news about entertainers.
Hamilton concludes by calling for lower costs of access to government information, a greater role for nonprofits in funding journalism, the development of norms that stress hard news reporting, and the defining of digital and Internet property rights to encourage the flow of news. Ultimately, this book shows that by more fully understanding the economics behind the news, we will be better positioned to ensure that the news serves the public good.
Laruelle and Nonhuman Philosophy
All Thoughts Are Equal is both an introduction to the work of French philosopher François Laruelle and an exercise in nonhuman thinking. For Laruelle, standard forms of philosophy continue to dominate our models of what counts as exemplary thought and knowledge. By contrast, what Laruelle calls his “non-standard” approach attempts to bring democracy into thought, because all forms of thinking—including the nonhuman—are equal.
John Ó Maoilearca examines how philosophy might appear when viewed with non-philosophical and nonhuman eyes. He does so by refusing to explain Laruelle through orthodox philosophy, opting instead to follow the structure of a film (Lars von Trier’s documentary The Five Obstructions) as an example of the non-standard method. Von Trier’s film is a meditation on the creative limits set by film, both technologically and aesthetically, and how these limits can push our experience of film—and of ourselves—beyond what is normally deemed “the perfect human.”
All Thoughts Are Equal adopts film’s constraints in its own experiment by showing how Laruelle’s radically new style of philosophy is best presented through our most nonhuman form of thought—that found in cinema.
Aesthetics and Politics in Modern Brazilian Cinema
Its best-known voice, filmmaker Glauber Rocha claimed that Cinema Novo was driven by an “aesthetics of hunger.” This scarcity of means demanded new cinematic approaches that eventually gave rise to a legitimate and unique Third World cinema. Xavier stands in the vanguard of scholars presenting and interpreting these revolutionary films—from the masterworks of Rocha to the groundbreaking experiments of Julio Bressane, Rogério Sganzerla, Andrea Tonacci and Arthur Omar—to an English-speaking audience.
Focusing on each filmmaker’s use of narrative allegories for the “conservative modernization” Brazil and other nations underwent in the 1960s and 1970s, Xavier asks questions relating to the connection between film and history. He examines the way Cinema Novo transformed Brazil’s cultural memory and charts the controversial roles that Marginal Cinema and Tropicalism played in this process. Among the films he discusses are Black God, White Devil, Land in Anguish, Red Light Bandit, Macunaíma, Antônio das Mortes, The Angel Is Born, and Killed the Family and Went to the Movies.
A compelling chronicle of the history of modern Brazilian cinema, Allegories of Underdevelopment brings to light the work of many filmmakers who are virtually unknown in the English-speaking world.
Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945-1980
Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945-1980 is a groundbreaking anthology that features papers from a conference and series of film screenings on postwar avant-garde filmmaking in Los Angeles sponsored by Filmforum, the Getty Foundation, and the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, together with newly-commissioned essays, an account of the screening series, reprints of historical documents by and about experimental filmmakers in the region, and other rare photographs and ephemera. The resulting diverse and multi-voiced collection is of great importance, not simply for its relevance to Los Angeles, but also for its general discoveries and projections about alternative cinemas.
The Rise of North American Moviemaking, 1923-1960
From the very beginning of cinema, there have been amateur filmmakers at work. It wasn’t until Kodak introduced 16mm film in 1923, however, that amateur moviemaking became a widespread reality, and by the 1950s, over a million Americans had amateur movie cameras. In Amateur Cinema, Charles Tepperman explores the meaning of the "amateur" in film history and modern visual culture.
In the middle decades of the twentieth century—the period that saw Hollywood’s rise to dominance in the global film industry—a movement of amateur filmmakers created an alternative world of small-scale movie production and circulation. Organized amateur moviemaking was a significant phenomenon that spawned dozens of clubs and thousands of participants producing experimental, nonfiction, or short-subject narratives. Rooted in an examination of surviving films, this book traces the contexts of "advanced" amateur cinema and articulates the broad aesthetic and stylistic tendencies of amateur films.