Keywords (HUM415)

Screen violence:

Excellent work today. Nothing’s more gratifying than when people step up and engage with the substance of the course. Some really savvy readings of the clips we screened as well. We could even attempt to plug them into the concepts in Jameson’s essay. For example, the Call of Duty advert operates within the mode of pastiche: it references cultural texts such as The Rolling Stones (part of the “soundtrack” to what Jameson identifies as “the first postmodern war”); The Matrix (the highly-stylized movements of some of the on-screen figures such as the guy in the paper hat); Black Hawk Down; and a number of familiar celebrities. In addition, the advert of necessity (I think) but perhaps unwittingly evokes the so-called War on Terror.

District B-13 also exhibits elements of pastiche, refusing to take itself seriously, and offering the audience pure spectacle instead. There is a whole tradition of (to speak very generally) Asian martial arts which provides the body language of the actors– a tradition which is never explicitly acknowledged and becomes the basis of flashy moves and posturing. The spiritual dimensions of those traditions are, of course, never invoked.

I’m harder pressed to know what to do with Romper Stomper, which seems to emphasize “gritty” realism over spectacular visual effects. At the same time, however, we could recall the soundtracking of the chase sequence which made me (anachronistically) think of the opening shots of Train-Spotting.

A list of key terms drawn from Jameson’s essay:

cultural logic

late capitalism


“cultural dominant”




“the nostalgia mode”


“the waning of affect”



subjectivity/ the subject

If you’re interested, we could explore some of these concepts using contemporary cultural forms and practices such as the sample, hyperlinking, and the “reality” show.


5 thoughts on “Keywords (HUM415)

  1. Travis Carroll

    Reflecting a bit on violence, and Call of Duty. This may interest you, as well as the class:

    The advertisement is for Dead Space 2. The whole idea behind the marketing is that the game is so violent and gory that your mother will hate it (but of course, the average teenager [consumer] will love it). I think it’s only about 30 seconds in length, so if you have the time you should watch it. They even went to the length of making the website titled:

    1. apciv Post author

      I finally watched the game trailer. So the selling point for the target consumer is “your mom’ll hate this”– but maybe there’s a way that playing into that whole discourse of young-people-actively-seeking-out-things-that-will-upset-or-annoy-their-parents is less transgressive than it is safely recuperated. I’m not sure of the best way to phrase it. There’s something almost old-fashioned about the notion that some imaginary kid is trying to test his mom by playing gruesome, hyper-violent games. As opposed to huffing paint-thinner and torturing animals, I mean. What’s your take on it?

      1. Travis Carroll

        I definitely think there’s an appeal to the rebelliousness of a teenager. However, I think it also applies to the idea that most parents are not up to par when it comes being ‘cool’ or in sync with the new cutting edge fads. A teenager’s mom generally isn’t going to be wearing a certain brand of clothing that is in style, or doing something that the teenager defines as entertaining and fun like shooting an Airsoft gun in an open field with his friends, or in this case playing Dead Space 2. Therefore because she doesn’t do it, or doesn’t approve of it, it automatically must be amazing.

        Another thing I just thought of as well, is the idea that the younger generation is more often than not more liberal than one’s parents. Therefore, by the parents association of being more conservative the values of a parent and a child do not always see eye to eye.

    2. Ariel Johnson

      I was thinking of this commercial when in class as well. I really thought it took into action the idea of “young-people-actively-seeking-out-things-that-will-upset-or-annoy-their-parents” as well. All the ideas above are about how the parents perceive it to be horrible, thus, the child or teenager likes it even more. Kids strive to be different from their parents, I know I did, and this game is fitting in perfectly to the child’s or teenager’s thoughts on what their time should be consumed with.

  2. sas

    Came back to this page just now to review something…
    Regarding the Dead Space 2 ad, it clearly plays into what they (and myself) imagine to be the logic of this particular demographic, with the general consensus being, as Travis mentioned, that the average mom is uncool and doesn’t “get” much of what her young teen does, says, or feels. Additionally, my impression is that the debate over the psychological effects of video game violence has been so long-standing, at this point, that countless young people have likely been on the receiving end of a lecture about it by an adult- most likely by their mothers, or other mother-type figure. The satiric element of the parody lies in the reaction of the women, which in this context, serves to function as an identifier with it’s intended audience, and sends a kind of conspiratorial message to impressionable viewers: trust us, we get it, even if they don’t. We know what’s up in the gaming world. You should totally buy this game.

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