Presentation on theme: "CAT 1: Media Seductions Questioning Authenticity Elizabeth Losh"— Presentation transcript:
CAT 1: Media Seductions Questioning Authenticity Elizabeth Losh http://losh.ucsd.edu
Media Seductions and Election Day How do narratives, like the one in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, make appeals differently from images? How are documentaries and made-for-TV movies different from conventional political ads? How does race and representation still play a role in our national political discourse?
Make Sure to Bring Your Book to Lecture and Section!
Susan Sontag 1933-2004 On Photography (1977) and Regarding the Pain of Others (2003)
Thinking about Multiple Media Culture, Art, and Technology Some items in the list of our course description: “paintings, novels, plays, newspapers, photographs, films, comic books, television shows, videogames, and social network sites” Which ones does Sontag talk about? Which ones does she add? (Page 83 for what this is)
Reading with Time and Place in Mind School of Athens, Greece 450 BCE – 325 BCE The Age of Sensibility in England 1750-1820 Pre-Civil War United States 1845-1860 U.S. Occupation of the Philippines 1899-1913 The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 Weimar and Nazi Germany 1919-1933 and 1933- 1945 World War II - U.S. War with Japan 1941-1945 The McCarthy Era in the United States 1947-1957 Urban England: A Clockwork Orange 1962 and 1971 The Post-9/11 World of Digital Media
Why the Spanish Civil War? 1936-1939 “the first war to be witnessed (‘covered’) in the modern sense: by a corps of professional photographers at the lines of military engagement and in the towns under bombardment, whose work was immediately seen in newspapers and magazines” (21) “guaranteed the attention of many cameras because they were invested in the meaning of larger struggles” (36) “seen in a photo album or printed on rough newsprint” (120)
The War’s Literary and Artistic Record Virginia Woolf, Pablo Picasso, The Three Guineas Guernica
The Site of an Iconic Image Robert Capa’s “The Falling Soldier” (32-35, 47, 60-61, 120)
Sontag Pathos and the Legacy of Aristotle “Pity can entail a moral judgment if, as Aristotle maintains, pity is considered to be the emotion that we owe only to those enduring undeserved misfortune.” (Sontag 75) “They weep, in part, because they have seen it many times. People want to weep. Pathos, in the form of a narrative, does not wear out.” (Sontag 83)
Sontag Reads Plato: 96-97 Leontius in Book IV of The Republic “He struggled for some time and covered his eyes, at at last the desire was too much for him. Opening his eyes wide, he ran up to the bodies and cried. ‘There you are, curse you, feast yourselves on this lovely sight.’” Weegee, “Their First Murder”
Ron Haberle at the My Lai Massacre (Sontag 90-91)
Ron Haviv at the Bijeljina Massacre (Sontag 89-90)
Today’s Thesis Authenticity, for Sontag, becomes just one of the many superficial objections that she dismisses in defending the truth claims of photojournalism. Regarding the Pain of Others is largely a book that presents a series of counterarguments to the broad generalizations of other public intellectuals in contemporary debates about media influence who assert that dramatic images 1) tend not to be authentic, 2) aestheticize suffering, 3) glorify graphic violence, 4) invade the privacy of victims, 5) desensitize the public, or 6) render reality as a spectacle. While Sontag presents nuanced arguments against these detractors, she does so by reading remarkably few precise visual details in the complex images that she cites as evidence.
Immediacy and Synchronicity “To Catch a Death” Pulitzer Prize winning photograph by Eddie Adams of “General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Viet Cong prisoner in Saigon” (Sontag 59-60)
Sontag 60 More upsetting is the opportunity to look at people who know that they have been condemned to die: the cache of six thousand photographs taken between 1975 and 1979 at a secret prison in a former high school in Tuol Sleng, a suburb of Phnom Penh, the killing house of more than fourteen thousand Cambodians charged with being either “intellectuals” or “counter-revolutionaries.”