Within Our Gates (1920)

Within Our Gates (1920)
“Getting Recognized More and More”: Donald Trump and Within Our Gates “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice.” These are the incredible words of the leader of the most powerful nation in the world. To compound the horror of it, President ...

“Clinton’s Daisy Chain”

“Clinton’s Daisy Chain” As Eric Barnouw taught us long ago, one astonishing thing about the 1964 Doyle Dane Bernbach ad campaign featuring “the daisy girl” is that it was produced at the moment Lyndon Johnson was planning the escalation of US fighting in Vietnam. In the one-minute spot, a young girl picks leaves off of ...

The Nice Guys (2016)

The Nice Guys (2016)
“Nice Guys Finish First” This is my 150th post since I started writing regularly about films in current release, and it’s time to revisit my statement of purpose, a defense of learnedness as a framework for discussing the cinema. In applying Walter Benjamin’s famous essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” ...

“Toward a Cinema of Failure”

I often tell my students that my life is mostly failure. The acceptance rate at most academic journals in which I publish is 15%. That means, for every successful essay I write, some five will not get published. There is tremendous value in pulling back the veil on a career and showing students the messy ...

Melancholia (2011)

Melancholia (2011)
“The Latitudes of Home” Southern Illinois is abuzz with anticipation of two total solar eclipses, the first to take place on August 21, 2017. Indeed, the greatest duration of this eclipse will pass almost directly above my house in Makanda. I am just as excited as anyone else, but perhaps for very different reasons. Southern ...

Ghostbusters (1984)

Ghostbusters (1984)
“Defrosting Reaganite Entertainment” A new cultural studies book series, “Object Lessons” provides an exciting opportunity for materializing media studies. Each book is devoted to the history and symbolic importance of an otherwise academically invisible everyday object. The early volumes in the series are devoted to such eclectic items as phone booths, hotels, golf balls, remote ...

2012: A “Top Seven” List

2012: A
No Monologism, Not Now (full screen ahead, seven interpretations, seven intertexts) In reflecting upon the films of 2012, I thought I would deconstruct the idea of a top ten list, and try to build something very different. And, who better to consult than Jacques Derrida, the father of deconstruction. In his hilarious essay, “No Apocalypse, ...