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Friday, September 1 • 10:00am - 11:15am
E & M Conference (Track 3) - Smoke and Mirrors: Questioning Truth in International Cinema

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Paper #1: Documenting Fiction: Defining the Limits of Reality.

This study aims to delineate the porous boundary separating fiction and documentary by bringing together in conversation two films from a 1920s context, Robert Flaherty’s Moana (1926) and Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera (1929). In particular, it focuses on the theoretical implications of films where the camera either appropriates pre-existing, archival footage, or stages a re-enactment of a previous “history,” as it were. Vertov’s film adopts a sort of reflexive character, utilizing innovative cinematic techniques, such as superimposition, split screens, and fast and slow motion, altering raw footage that depicts Soviet urban life. On the contrary, Moana does not stage such a strong relationship between filmmaker and document, its documentary nature stemming from its goal to capture Polynesian life on film. In this paper, I argue that Moana and Man with a Movie Camera, though stylistically very different, both call into question emerging distinctions between documentary and fictional cinema in the interwar period. To me, a key issue that arises in comparing these two films is the relationship between documentary and truthfulness, which is arguably an urgent question, as we seemingly enter a post-factual period in the United States.

Paper #2: Nationalism and Escapism: Psy’s Gangnam Style and K-Pop Music Video

This paper analyzes the visual representation of South Korea and its capital city Seoul in K-Pop music videos including Psy’s Gangnam Style. In spite of its world wide popularity, the nationalism and sub-imperialism in Psy’s music videos have not been properly and critically analyzed. The images of South Korea and the capital city Seoul is often described with skyscrapers that only foregrounds the nation’s recent economic success, and in the process of the problematically selective description, Psy often positions himself as a metonymic representative of the nation. Therefore, this paper argues Psy’s music video’s reveals sub-imperialistic desire of recent Korean popular culture. This selective representation has its cost because it escapes from and oppresses upon historical wounds such as ugly period of military dictatorship. Whenever Psy’s music video deals with the 80s, the historical period is problematically infantilized as premature period. Likewise, other K-Pop music videos also show similar sub-imperialistic and nationalistic gazes in many different ways such as appropriating stereotyped Western images in highly decontextualized way or using techno-futuristic surreal set as a backdrop/

Paper #3: “Toga, Toga, Toga”: Fraternity Humor in the Depiction of Modern Film

“Toga, Toga, Toga.”  The drunken call to action can be heard across all fraternity houses on college campuses.  The call to action is not a new trend that popped up on the scene instead its part of the new wave of fraternity culture and humor.  With the 1978 release of the film, Animal House, fraternity humor transformed fraternal life recruiting potential new members into a life of excessive partying and low GPAs.  Thirty-nine years later, a new brand of fraternity humor has emerged from the darker side of fraternity life rather than the past of goofy and lovable losers of Delta Tau Chi.  With the fraternity movie release of Neighbors, fraternity humor in media has turned from zit-popping pranks of yesteryear to the hyper-masculine, male-chauvinist and female chasing Zac Efron in the quest to make the new neighbor’s life a living hell.  The two movies show a stark difference of current fraternity humor, coupled with the decades of change that fraternities have experienced.  Power is at the center of all fraternity humor because for men exploring and experiencing college life, the more incredible the story, allows that fraternity brother to solidify his reputation as a legend in the eyes of his peers.


Alexander Foy

Graduate Student, California State University Fullerton

Friday September 1, 2017 10:00am - 11:15am PDT
Hilton Long Beach Hotel

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