Archive for March, 2008

Tiny Screens Redux

I’ve been planning to write about a couple of recent articles by Wall Street Journal film critic Joe Morgenstern on changing screen cultures but have been distracted by a number of other things, so here’s a slightly truncated and much delayed version of that blog entry.

First, on February 23, Morgenstern bemoans the “death knell” of theatrical exhibition after watching a child watching her iPod at a movie theater instead of the movie on the big screen.  Like most of these articles, there’s a lot of generation angst about kids today and their newfangled devices, although I think Morgenstern is somewhat more forgiving of millennials than Denby.  And while moviegoing as an activity may be waning somewhat (although even this point is debatable, given last year’s record box office take), the article seems to overstate the degree to which younger viewers are turning away from watching movies on a big screen (i.e., Morgenstern throws in a couple of anecdotes and takes them to stand in for an entire generation).

More recently, Morgestern followed that article up by insisting–again–that size matters and kids today, all of whom seem to be blithely platform agnostic, simply don’t realize that bigger is better. But at least Morgestern acknowledges the fact that he finds today’s generation completely inscrutable: “For the first time in history adults don’t know how young people think. One could argue that adults have never known, and until psychology came along, didn’t care. But now the perplexity is profound. How do multitasking, multicurious, multiprivileged, multidistracted and multiscattered kids process information? With all those windows open on their digital world, how will they follow complex narratives? What will sing to them, stir their souls, seize their imaginations?”

Here, I think that what is interesting is that Morgenstern assumes that all that multitasking will ultimately disable the ability to follow complex narratives when, in fact, those “multiple windows” may be part of that complex narrative.  Or at least part of the means for decoding that complex narrative.  I’m not suggesting that the new modes of storytelling are better than the classical or modernist–and male–cinema that Morgenstern is implicitly privileging (note his desire for “new Coppolas, Altmans, or Renoirs”), but to suggest that kids can only pay attention to something for the duration of a webisodes underestimates audiences and content producers alike.

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Publication News

Taking a quick break from moaning about some dental work I had done this week to celebrate some good news: I just found out more or less officially that two essays I’ve submitted for publication will soon find their way into print. The first article, “What a Difference a Day Made: Database Narratives and Avatar Subjectivities in the Alternate Reality Film,” which builds from a chapter my dissertation, will soon appear in a collection edited by Christina Lee and published by Continuum entitled Violating Time: History, Memory, and Nostalgia in Cinema. The chapter looks at the ways in which Run Lola Run, Me Myself I, and Sliding Doors negotiate the new storytelling possibilities presented by digital narratives such as video games. The book is due to go on sale in September, and it’s an impressive collection of essays, so definitely check it out.

A second article, “Video from the Void: Video Spectatorship, Domestic Movie Cultures, and Contemporary Horror Film,” pending some revisions, has been accepted to the Journal of Film and Video. It looks at the subgenre of “media horror” films, including The Blair With Project, The Ring, and The Last Broadcast. This essay started as a conference paper I delivered on The Ring just a few months after I started this blog. I had this piece on the back burner for a couple of years, but given the ongoing focus on mediated vision in recent horror films such as Cloverfield, I thought it would be worth getting this piece out into print.  More later, after I know full publication information.

And now back to a medium-sized stack of papers I need to grade….

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Carolina on Their Mind

It hasn’t happened yet, but it looks like North Carolina will soon be inundated with some serious campaigning, especially given that the state is one of the largest states left to hold a primary. I’m not sure if this is good news–even I’m sick of the campaign at this point–but it’ll be interesting to live in a state where the primary actually seems to matter.

Since several of my students read my blog and have asked about voting in primaries, I just wanted to point to a couple of websites where you can register to vote. To vote in the May 5 primary, you have to be registered by April 11, and as far as I can tell, North Carolina rules stipulate that as long as you are registered as a Democrat or as unaffiliated, you can vote in the primary. So, for my local readers, here are a couple of ways to register online.

Update: Edited slightly to clarify some details.

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Sunday Links

So, I’m more or less in shock over the fact that there are only six weeks left in the semester.  I’m more than ready for summer, so that I can focus on getting some serious writing done, but the next few weeks are shaping up as especially busy, with all kinds of activities both on campus and off.  I’ll post another reminder later this week, but for now I just want to mention that I’m one of the organizers of a couple of film screenings in support of Women’s History Month here at Fayetteville State.  On the next two Thursday nights (March 20 and 27), we’ll be screening Chisholm ’72 and Daughters of the Dust, starting at 6 PM in Lyons Hall 120/121.  I’ll have more information about those screenings later this week, but feel free to email me (chutry[at]msn[dot]com), if you have any questions.  And, now, some links:

  • There’s an interesting New York Times article about Film Streams, a new art house theater, in Omaha, Nebraska.  The article illustrates the challenges of maintaining an art house in a smaller city such as Omaha, which is actually about twice the size of Fayetteville, making our art house theater, the Cameo, seem like even more of a gem.  The theater’s founder, Rachel Jacobson (who appears to have attended the University of Illinois when I taught there), discusses her decision to go the nonprofit route and the difficulties of raising money from locals who may not recognize film as an art.
  • Via Sergio Leone and the Siren, who also has an extended rumination on the value of a good credits sequence in shaping the tone of the film, this fantastic little clip, in which we see the credits to Star Wars as they might have been imagined by longtime Hitchcock credit designer Saul Bass.
  • Movie Marketing Madness has a blog post on some of the online marketing techniques for The Dark Night, including a mock campaign website for Harvey Dent.  The website itself includes a nice parody of contemporary political websites.
  • And while I continue to find content like the Harvey Dent site interesting, I’m also becoming grumpier about the ways in which major media conglomerates are increasingly relying on fans themselves to do much of the work in marketing Hollywood films, often for free.  Alex Juhasz has an interesting post on these issues in her discussion of a “user-owner dialectic” on YouTube.  In revising my book, I’ve been trying to develop a somewhat more skeptical language for talking about the ways in which YouTube has been promoted as essentially democratizing.
  • Sam Ford mentions the launch of a new peer-reviewed academic journal, Transformative Works and Cultures.  From the call for papers: “TWC publishes articles about popular media, fan communities, and transformative works, broadly conceived. We invite papers on all related topics, including but not limited to fan fiction, fan vids, mashups, machinima, film, TV, anime, comic books, video games, and any and all aspects of the communities of practice that surround them.”
  • Cinema Tech documents a number of significant convergences, including one between TiVo and YouTube.  Now, some TiVo users can access YouTube videos on their set-top box.
  • Also worth noting: Imax and Texas Instruments are now working together, with Imax installing TI digital projectors in many of their theaters (see also the Hollywood Reporter, which notes the degree to which this move represents a significant shift in Imax’s business model).
  • And, finally, because I somehow never noticed it before, I just wanted to mention the Participant Productions blog, which provides a nice overview of the intersections between movies and social activism.  And via their Twitter posts, a YouTube Channel, “I Am Voting For…,” which shows celebrities explaining what issues are motivating them in 2008.

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Power Blogging

Jason Mittell has an interesting discussion of a blog scuffle between Michael Newman, an academic blogger and a friend of mine, and the bloggers at Vulture, an entertainment blog affiliated with New York Magazine. The conflict began when Mike criticized Vulture for revealing spoilers in the headlines to at least of their posts. Vulture responded by ripping Mike’s use of academic language, and Mike has since responded, pointing out not only that others have complained about Vulture’s bad habit of spoiling TV shows in their headlines but also that Vulture’s spoiler habit is complicit with the major media outlets’ desires that we watch shows “live” rather than TiVoing them to watch at our own convenience.

I don’t know that I have terribly strong sentiments either way here, in part because I write primarily about film and not television, but I’m generally in agreement with Mike that spoiling in headlines is pretty uncool. That being said, I’ve been thinking a little lately about how “spoilers” might work in film reviews, and in particular, I’ve been wondering if the “conspiracy” between Miramax and U.S. film critics not to reveal a spoiler, such as the widely discussed “secret” at the heart of Neil Jordan’s The Crying Game, would have been possible today, especially given the number of film and entertainment blogs out there (to date myself a little, I wrote my first paper as a Ph.D. student on the implications of the marketing of the secret). As I recall, only one or two mainstream critics chose to reveal the secret without a spoiler warning, and there was even some debate about the implications of nominating Jaye Davidson for a “best supporting actor” Oscar, given his role in the film. But now, I have little doubt that such a “spoiler” would have likely emerged sooner, possibly altering how Miramax would have marketed the film. Obviously this is speculation to some extent, but I do think that spoiling does fans a disservice, especially given that more viewers are encountering television asynchronously, in much the same way that a platformed release such as The Crying Game reached smaller cities weeks or months after playing in bigger cities and receiving reviews in national newspapers. That being said, I think the ultimate effect of the critics’ conspiracy of silence around The Crying Game may have been to stifle conversation about the film’s complicated politics of race, gender, and national identity, which was essentially my conclusion when I wrote the paper. Still, I think Mike’s larger point–that spoiler warnings are a matter of etiquette for those of us who watch TV asynchronously–is essentially valid.

But, like Jason, I’m equally intrigued by the ways in which power gets played out in this particular debate. As Jason points out, the folks at the Vulture fault Mike for “laying down ‘power-knowledge’ from on high” through the use of academic jargon. Mike, in turn, reads the Vulture blog–as I likely would–as part of a “media elite” (Jason’s term), part of the media industry itself, a perception that is reinforced by the access that many popular culture journalists have to popular culture creators through interviews, etc., access that is sometimes difficult to get as academics. Of course, as Jason points out, academics–at least those of us in tenure-stream jobs–are granted quite a bit of authority and autonomy, so this relationship is not a simple one by any means. These overlapping vectors of authority prompt Jason to ask, “who is the elite here? And what’s the role of the academic who reaches out to a broader audience, not from the lofty heights of the university but via the generic frame of a WordPress or Blogger site? Who has the power-knowledge here?”

To some extent, my guess is that this industry-academy divide may be complicated by a number of factors, including the academic desire for some degree of autonomy from the object of analysis, but I think that most academics writing about popular culture would like more access to people working in the industry and not less, as Jason points out in his original post. And the seal of approval associated with writing for a major magazine such as New York Magazine is quite a bit different than an academic writing on his or her personal blog. But I’d also imagine that it depends on the “industry” as well (that is, independent and DIY media makers might be more accessible than mainstream media producers), so I’m not sure there are a lot of easy answers here. But if any of my readers have any interpretations of how these power relationships work within the film and media blog communities, I’d love to hear them.

Update (3/16): I’m not terribly satisfied with the “divide” between academic and journalistic media blogs that I’ve described here. My sense is that the opposition between these two categories is somewhat blurrier than I originally suggested, and in my case, I’ve generally had cordial relationships with virtually all of my fellow media and film bloggers, so to suggest the existence of a “divide” seems a little misleading.

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Winter Soldier 2008 Hearings

One of the many frustrating elements of the 2008 Presidential election has been the fact that pretty much every other news story has been pushed off the front page and, essentially, out of the consciousness of the American public. I’ve barely heard a mention on cable news of the fact that the war in Iraq reached its fifth anniversary this month, and while it’s difficult to view the Iraq War as “news” at this point, something is lost when we focus to intensely on the horse race between Obama and Clinton. With that in mind, I fear that the 2008 Winter Solider hearings, modeled on the 1971 hearings that called attention to the atrocities taking place in Vietnam, will not receive the attention they deserve. I’ve been watching an listening to the stream via The Real News Network (found via Brave New Films), which has also anthologized some of the more provocative testimony, including some powerful comments from Adam Kokesh.

While it’s difficult to get a full sense of the hearings from the brief section I’ve sampled, the testimonies remind me quite a bit of the 1971 Winter Soldier hearings, with many of the Iraq War veterans describing the ways in which the people of Iraq become dehumanized in the war and the everyday cruelties that such dehumanization allows, a point that Steven Mortillo’s halting testimony underscores, while Clifton Hicks and Steven Casey describe indiscriminate killings that took place in Iraq and the impossibility of differentiating between “civilian” and “enemy.”  But the phrases that keep coming back to me are the ones where soldiers describe doing or witnessing things they never imagined themselves doing, of being alienated from the actions they committed.  The Real News Network has anthologized quite a bit of this testimony, so do check it out.

The Winter Solider hearings also raise some important questions about the role of documentary in Iraq, something I’ve been thinking about for some time. As Jose Vasquez explains in this Washington Post article, “The ubiquitous nature of video, photo and technology really sets this apart.” And while many of the soldiers use video and photographs to illustrate the violence committed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Winter Soldier hearings are valuable in contextualizing what is happening in Iraq and why the war should end.  At the same time, I wonder how this archive of information–of documentaries, videos, news reports, and other material–will be used and even how much of it will be permanently stored, especially given the ephemerality and impermanence of digital media.  I’m not sure if I have a specific larger point here, but I do wonder how this tremendous archive will be incorporated into a larger narrative about the war in Iraq–and about war in general.

When I wrote about the re-release of the original Winter Soldier documentary in 2005, I mentioned the fact that the documentary was essentially buried in 1971, playing pretty much exclusively in a few museums and independent theaters despite strong opposition to the war. And I fear that something similar is happening here. There is a solid article in the Washington Post (which I mentioned earlier), but beyond that, there seems to be far too little discussion of the hearings as everyone seems far more concerned about what Obama’s pastor said in a sermon ten years ago or what Geraldine Ferraro thinks about Obama’s campaign.

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Friday Links

Just a few links to check out because I really don’t want to grade papers right now:

  • Brave New Films has a new Fox Attacks Obama video, and I think this one is especially effective. The short video documents the introduction of certain anti-Obama smears (the assertion that he’s anti-patriotic or that he shares the beliefs of Louis Farrakahn) on Fox News and their eventual repetition on other news outlets, such as Tim Russert’s attempt to grill Obama during one of the debates.
  • The real reason Miley Cyrus was presenting an Oscar a few weeks ago: that 3-D Hannah Montana movie made a lot of money. There’s some interesting stuff in that Variety article about the future of motion picture exhibition, including a continued emphasis on the role of theaters in disseminating alternative content, including sporting events and, of course, concerts. David Halbfinger has more on the studios’ continued promotion of 3-D exhibition in theaters.
  • Pamela Cohn has a detailed entry promoting some of the big events at this year’s Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham. I’m still hoping to make it for at least a day or two, but my schedule in April is already pretty crowded.
  • Speaking of documentary, congrats to Agnes for being named one of Gina Telaroli’s ten most indispensable film blogs. The full list names a number of personal favorites, including Green Cine Daily and
  • The Nation has a mention of the upcoming Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan hearings, sponsored by the Iraq Veterans Against War and modeled on the Vietnam War Winter Soldier hearings held in 1971 and documented in the film, Winter Soldier, a film that truly astounded me when I had the chance to teach it last fall in my “Documenting Injustice” course.

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It’s probably worth mentioning that I’ve now been blogging for five years.  Not much to add to that other than to remark that I had no idea that it would become such an important part of the way that I remain connected with colleagues and friends.  I can honestly say that the decision to blog has had a profoundly positive impact on my academic career, if only because it enable to me to forge connections with colleagues at other institutions, although the semi-daily practice of writing about film and media has helped me to flesh out my research interests in some really productive ways.

But I’m also always reminded that I started this blog in part because I wanted to vent frustrations about what I perceived at the time to be a misguided decision to go to war in Iraq (and to seek out connections with others who shared that sentiment).  Sadly, we’re marking the fifth anniversary of that decision as well, with nearly 4,000 U.S. soldiers dead and countless Iraqis either displaced or killed by the war and its ongoing aftermath.

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Watching the Professors

I’m writing for a relatively immediate deadline, so I won’t have time to write a longer SCMS wrap-up, but you might take a look at Kristina’s summary of two of the panels I wish I’d been able to attend (as always, many of the panels I wanted to see were competing with each other).

Meanwhile, Siva points to a somewhat unsettling Chronicle blog post on Blackboard’s plans to expand their course management services to include a “video surveillance” service.  Ostensibly designed to help make campus security officials aware of campus emergencies, such as school shootings, the service would allow “security officials to view live and recorded video over a campus computer network.” Quite obviously this service goes well beyond Blackboard’s traditional–and rather clunky–classroom management tools, raising a number of important questions about how this video material will be used (thanks to Siva for the link).

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Wednesday Night Links

Had a couple of hours to kill because I somehow managed to finish writing my SCMS presentation a day early.  I know I’ve mentioned that before.  I’m not bragging or anything, just mildly incredulous.  But that gives me just enough time to point to a few links I found while scouring the web this afternoon:

  • Hacking Netflix has an interesting article about a two-year agreement between Blockbuster and IFC where “Blockbuster will have an exclusive 60-day rental window for physical and digital rentals, with distribution rights for 3-years.”  The “exclusive deal” prevents a situation similar to what happened a couple of years ago when Blockbuster signed a distribution deal with the Weinstein Company.  I tend to agree with a lot of the comments that
    this isn’t a terribly good deal for the filmmakers.  I’d probably be a little more indignant about having to wait to watch IFC films, but I’m so far behind in my movie watching that I don’t have the energy.
  • Via the Cinetrix, a reminder that voting for the audience award for the Cinema Eye Honors documentary awards
    is now open.  If you go to the awards site, you can see short previews of all of the nominated films, which you should then go and add to your Netflix queue.
  • Agnes has an update on Michael Moore’s proposed “Documentary Night in America:”   According to indieWIRE’s Anthony Kaufman, documentary filmmakers seem to like the idea while industry insiders are skeptical about the plan’s feasibility. I still like Moore’s idea quite a bit.  I think there’s plenty of room to experiment with innovative screening practices that will provide indies and documentaries with more theatrical opportunities.  More on that later, if the mood strikes.
  • And for my readers who are superhero and Michael Chabon fans (I’m guessing there are dozens of you), a New Yorker article by Chabon on Superman (via Thompson on Hollywood).

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SCMS Blogging

Leaving tomorrow morning for Philadelphia for the annual Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference, so posting will likely be relatively light over the next few days.  I may try to blog some of the panels I attend, but given some of my other obligations at the conference, I probably won’t have a lot of time.

My panel on Film and the Internet is scheduled for 2 PM on Saturday (I’ll be talking about D.I.Y. distribution on the internet), so if you’re attending the conference, I hope you’ll get a chance to stop by and say hello.

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A Remix You Can Believe In

Remember that Jack Nicholson video endorsement I posted, like, two days ago? You know, the one that Michael described as “utterly pathetic” here in the comments section and that left Filmmaker Magazine editor Scott Macauley shaking his head and saying that the election is getting “too bizarre.” Well, Karina reports that an Obama supporter has already crafted a response, and to no one’s surprise, it’s a much better video, essentially turning Jack’s image and endoresment against itself.

As Karina notes, the film sets up a dialogue between Jack, as representative of Hillary’s campaign, and a the Obama campaign, which is represented by a series of black and white titles. Most of the clips from the new video, with one or two key exceptions, come from The Shining, and we watch as Jack becomes increasingly frustrated, his nervous tics and gestures becoming more and more prominent. I’m not sure I have much to add to Karina’s reading, other than to say that the Obama video is much sharper, both in its engagement with the original “Jack and Hill” video and with Jack’s star image.

I’m not surprised to see someone come up with a response to Jack and Hill, but I’m surprised–and pleased–that it was this good.

Update: All of this Jack and Hill stuff gives me a good excuse to link to Molly Lambert’s analysis of Nicholsonian masculinity over at This Recording.

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Monday Links

Gearing up for this year’s SCMS conference in Philadelphia. The paper I’m presenting–on internet film distribution–is basically done, so this year hopefully I won’t be hastily writing in the hotel bar minutes before my presentation as I had to do at one conference a few years ago. I know that some of my regular readers will be attending the conference, so hopefully I’ll have a chance to run into some of you at the conference. I know that there is some discussion of a Dr. Mabuse meetup, but haven’t heard anything official about a time or place. On a side note, here’s some of what I’ve been reading and watching now that midterm grades are turned in:

  • Loading the Playlist for Your Future: Via Brave New Films, the website, Hillary Speaks for Me, which allows Hillary Clinton supporters to upload 30-second videos explaining why they think she should be our next president. Obviously, it would have been better for Clinton had the site launched somewhat earlier, but it looks like a cool way to tap into all of those hip young videomakers like Jack Nicholson.
  • Ominous Narrators: Andy Cobb has a sharp parody of those “Red Phone” ads that the candidates been airing (Clinton’s 3 AM ad is especially bad). It’s a little dispiriting to see all of the presidential candidates playing the fear card yet again, and Cobb’s response to that is pretty effective (h/t techPres).
  • An interesting interview with Chicago 10 director Brett Morgen. Morgen has some interesting things to say about the Oscar nominating process and, more importantly, the reception of his documentary, which makes extensive use of rotoscoping animation (a la Richard Linklater’s A Scanner Darkly and Waking Life) . Given the intensity surrounding the Democratic nominating process, Chicago 10 looks like an incredibly timely film.
  • Ana Domb has a blog post on From Here to Awesome, one of the more enticing online distribution models out there.
  • An interesting NYT article on the viability of the DVD as a format. The article suggests, among other things, that DVD sales are starting to lag, with the internet seen as a major culprit.
  • In an article for FlowTV, Alisa Perren takes on the genre I love to hate (or hate to love): the quirky indie. But she turns some of the cynicism directed at the genre on its head by attaching the sentimentality of films like Juno with a certain presidential candidate.

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Saturday Doc Links

Recovering from writing one article and starting to think about getting my SCMS paper together.  But I just wanted to mention two documentary links that are well worth checking out:

  • Agnes points to an NPR interview with Pat Aufderheide, in which Pat discusses “the future of documentary.”  The interview addresses a number of recent issues, including the controversy over the Oscar qualification process and the role of new technologies and institutions in making documentaries available to a wider public.  The host, Michael Felling, spends far too much of the interview trying to belabor the (false) point that Michael Moore is not a documentary filmmaker, but Pat handles his arguments rather well, pointing out that documentary doesn’t claim to be objective but to tell stories “honestly.”    More than anything, however, the interview made me incredibly nostalgic for the E Street Theater in DC where I used to catch all my documentaries on the big screen.  Also, if you haven’t read Pat’s most recent book, Documentary Film: A Very Short Introduction, it’s well worth checking out.
  • A.J. Schnack has a nice list of the top 25 festivals for documentary films.  Given my experiences with Silverdocs and Full Frame, I was a little surprised not to see them ranked higher, but I’ve only attended those festivals as a spectator and not as someone working in the industry.  In general, the entry provides a great overview of what festivals can do to make themselves better venues for promoting documentary films.

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Hillary Nicholson?

I’m pretty fascinated by this new video released by the Hillary Clinton campaign* in which Jack Nicholson endorses Clinton for President. The video consists of scenes from some of Nicholson’s most prominent films (Batman, The Shining, A Few Good Men, to name a few) used to reinforce Clinton’s credentials as a candidate. Nicholson as the Joker asks, “Hubba hubba hubba, who do you trust?” While Jack Torrance from The Shining reminds us that “things could be a whole lot better” to underscore Clinton’s health care plan. The ad culminates with Nicholson telling us that he “approves this message,” a gesture that reminds us that this is no mere compilation but a genuine endorsement.

What I find interesting about the video is how some of the scenes that are used are actually associated with characters –or at least behaviors–we are meant to find unlikeable. I’m not really talking about the Joker here because Nicholson’s performance was one of the most enjoyable aspects of Burton’s Batman. But the shot of Nicholson as Bobby in Five Easy Pieces (quoted in the Hillary video saying “I’ll make this easy for you”) comes from a scene where he insults a diner waitress in a sexualized manner. And the scene taken from A Few Good Men, in which Col. Jessup tells us that there is “nothing sexier…than a woman you have to salute in the morning,” he follows that up by describing the experience of getting “a blow job from a superior officer.” Probably not the association that Clinton would want. I don’t know whether anyone other than a pretty serious film buff would recognize the allusions or remember what has been deleted, but the semiotic static here struck me as a bit odd.

Beyond the fact that he agreed to endorse her, the general semiotic associations with Nicholson’s status as star–many of the characters he plays are rebel figures who don’t fit within existing social institutions–create an interesting fit for the Clinton campaign. Of course, one of the implications could be that Clinton is throwing caution to the wind with this video, showing that she’s willing to take a few chances in terms of her public image. At any rate, it’s too bad this video just crossed m radar this afternoon. I just mailed off an article on the ways in which campaigns have appropriated some of the techniques of user-generated videos, and I would have loved to write about this one.

On a side note, I found it somewhat amusing that the Clinton campaign video chose not to use any footage of Nicholson from the one film where he played the President.

* Actually, on closer inspection, I don’t think the ad was released by the campaign. That being said, it’s still not terribly effective as an endorsement of Clinton. Here’s a short article from The New York Times on the subject.

Update: In other popular culture meets the Presidency news, Jason Mittell has a pointer to a Slate video that highlights the parallels between Barack Obama and Matt Santos, the presidential candidate played by Jimmy Smits in the final seasons of The West Wing.

Update 2: Here’s an AP story that clarifies that the video was made by Nicholson with a little help from A Few Good Men director Rob Reiner.

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