Inspired by growing bodies of scholarship on global media and new media, this issue of the Velvet Light Trap offers a varied examination of how these foci might work together. The majority world is taken as the starting point for investigations of new media forms of production, distribution, and exhibition and their effects on global cultures. The term majority world, coined by Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam, underscores the global power imbalance evidenced in the exclusion of the majority of the world's population from the elite group of postindustrial nations with true decision-making power. Similar divisions have characterized film and media scholarship, with scant attention given to the impact of new media outside of a Western context. Thus, we asked film, media, and new media scholars to consider how the majority world has been shaped by, and shaped, technologies ranging from digital filming technologies to satellite television, mobile phones, video games, and beyond.
Matt Sienkiewicz's article, "Hard Questions: Public Goods and the Political Economy of the New Palestinian Televisual Public Sphere," carefully pursues questions about the structural mechanics of Palestinian media production and distribution. He does so by analyzing the public affairs show The Hard Question, which is funded not by Palestinian organizations but by the U.S. State Department and a U.S.-based nongovernmental organization. Using both traditional public good theory and the disciplines of international political economy and developmental theory, Sienkiewicz weighs the benefits and disadvantages of multiple funding models and platforms for shows that focus on specifically domestic Palestinian concerns and are meant to serve as an alternative to Palestinian state television.
In "Video Games for the 'Next Billion': The Launch of the Zeebo Console" Ben Aslinger takes the 2009 release of the Zeebo gaming console as an opportunity for reflection on the direction of games scholarship, the realities of piracy outside the global North, and the new technical possibilities for game developers. The Zeebo itself, a small, inexpensive video game console, is expected to be launched in the BRIC nations (Brazil, India, China) and elsewhere, bringing home-console play to a new audience of middle-class families. Citing a general bias toward the priorities of gamers in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan, Aslinger challenges academic, professional, and popular gaming cultures to consider the needs and preferences of gamers in the majority world.
In "Auto-Motivations: Digital Cinema and Kiarostami's Relational Aesthetics" Scott Krzych reads Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami's shift from analog to digital filmmaking through the lens of D. N. Rodowick's conception of the virtual life of film. Krzych argues that reflexivity is too reductive a descriptor for Kiarostami's work, instead proposing that we adopt the term relational aesthetics to account for the challenges his work poses to our understanding of the ontology of cinema. Krzych then applies this concept to an insightful analysis of 10 (2002), arguing that the filmmaker's depiction of the relationship between technology and human is a radical departure from his earlier work. Krzych's article provides a welcome reevaluation of Kiarostami's oeuvre in light of the changing conceptions of the medium that the digital revolution has engendered.
Brian Hu's article, "Korean TV Serials in the English-Language Diaspora: Translating Difference Online and Making It Racial," examines how online fan discourse around the Korean television serial Love Story in Harvard models what he labels "affective translation communities." Hu's close and careful description and analysis of Love Story in Harvard's fan Web sites seek to deepen our understanding of how such sites might emotionally engage [End Page 1] community members, with a particular focus on issues of racial identity. Hu's case study offers a thoughtful corrective for those who might privilege the rational over the affective when describing online fan communities.
In "The New Navajo Cinema: Cinema and Nation in the Indigenous Southwest" Randolph Lewis offers a first look at an emerging group of young Navajo filmmakers, using them to argue for the heuristic qualities of national cinema formation. By shedding light on an understudied body of film and considering how it can push theories of national cinema in new directions, Lewis provides a...