October 20, 2005

Response to K-punk: we are figures in our fantasies K-punk's rejection of my reading of A History of Violence rests on one claim: that I "surrreptitiously resolve the film's ontological tension, by assuming that the 'Joey reality' is ontologically inferior to the 'Tom reality'. Yet, as he quickly concedes, I, in fact, do not do this: "As Jodi herself notes, the Stall domestic Paradiso is no more 'real'(istic) than the organized crime Inferno..." Nothing in my reading of the film suggests this ontological prioritization. Rather, as I emphasize throughout my discussion, the film is a set of interlocking fantasies and I read these fantasies as primarily those of the son (the possible angle of the wife's fantasies are clearly subordinate in that we don't get any sense of what sort of dilemmas she may be encountering; thus, the fantastic quality of the long-term, sexually hot, loving relationship with a perfect man who is ultimately a stranger seems, in a way, stifling, already resolved; so, in whose world would marriage be so resolved? the fantasy world of the son). The son faces, grapples with, what it is to become a man. He confronts, on one side, fantasies of the perfect family which provide unbearable, suffocating, impossible answers to the question of what it is to be a man. He confronts the obscene flipside of these fantasies in violence. Each side is as fantastic as the other--as I make clear in my reading of the film. Whatever symbolic resolution appears in the final scene is, of course, held together by fantasies....
This week in television Some people pride themselves on not watching television. I am not one of those people. Three television moments this week stuck with me. First, Colbert Report: I love his parody of O'Reilly. Colbert has the self-righteousness down pat. I like to think that fake news teaches people a kind of critical media literacy. But it could just be that it teaches people that all news is entertainment. Maybe these are the same poimt. Second, and relatedly, Rob Corrdry on The Daily Show. He did a bit where he read the Bush administration as a television series. The supposition was the seamless integration of news and entertainment media. So Corrdry talks about the thrilling aircraft carrier landing in season one, that sort of thing. But, then, in assesses the administration in terms of the narrative conventions of television: the Osama thread goes no where; he is the villain early in season one and then what happens? What I found interesting was thus the extra twist, the way that narrative or dramatic conventions could function as a normative or critical standpoint by which to judge an administration that itself works very hard to stage events (Corrdry's bit also brings these in), that pays propagandists, that spends more time and energy on the appearance of governance than on governing. Third, and completely unrelatedly, I love Boston Legal. What enchants me these days is the friendship between James Spader and William Shatner. It seems to me that television has a difficult time with male...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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