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Jane Fraud Brings Buzzwords Back From Her Trip! She’s Still Away Though, So If Any Of You Could Explain Them That Would Be Swell!

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Hello chaps,

As I mentioned in my previous post, last week was spent away at an academic conference in a far off city full of pretty girls, good drinks, and more pretty girls. Needless to say, I am excited to be back at home and holding down the Fraud loft after a whirlwind trip. However, all debachery aside, the conference was super informative and I was able to learn a lot about the current state of affairs in my field of study and meet some brilliant people who are passionate about making the world a safer place for media, new and old. In the spirit of this I want to share with you some of the trends that were undeniably present.

Neo-liberalism was the word of the day as almost every single panel had something to say critiquing this form of modern politics, particularly its connection to women and consumerism, especially as this manifests itself in reality television. There were a large number of papers on Kim Kardashian, 16 and Pregnant, and HBO‘s Girls, all exploring the consequences of neo-liberalism and its more deranged effects on both women and men. Many panellists and commentators had a lot to say about the way neo-liberalism has created a new generation of millennials who believe in anti collective endeavours and solely exist for the purpose of self promotion. As they were discussing this, I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone else was thinking of Mad Men and its nostalgic vision of America that is both critical and damaging. Damaging in the fact that a lot of the characters’ less favourable characteristics are being emulated by those of us who grew up knowing better (i.e. casual sexism, day drinking, smoking).

Post-feminism was perhaps the second big term that came up over and over, with scholars generally agreeing that its rhetoric of “it’s feminist as long as you choose it” must go. They cited examples from many films and television shows of girls using this false sense of security to fall victim to the system of gender oppression all over again. In other words, just because you choose to be a modern day Betty Draper doesn’t mean it’s a feminist move, it means that you choose to be a modern day Betty Draper and while conditions at home are better, like you have your own bank accounts and cell phone, giving up access to means of production (read: having a job) is still a risky move. Much to think about there.

Tons of papers on Homeland (didnt get a chance to hear those), (video) Game Studies, surveillance, comics (and their adaptations on screen), and a host of other really cool topics; there were also many on queer theory and film studies as a discipline distinct from media studies or English.

Much knowledge and work is still up for grabs for we who are just getting started, especially when it comes to television (particularly reality tv) and its impact on teens and children. The hot questions of the hour being, “Will a generation raised on reality tv understand the divide between the public and the private? Will brand creation trump artistic output and if so, where will the true artists go?” All great things to think about as I continuously rework this column and its content for you, my brilliant readers. But, for me, the biggest thing I take away from a huge multi layered conference on cinema et al. is that the humanities and liberal arts are still a huge part of what gives us enjoyment in life and that’s why we study them, to see how the things that move us reflect the world we live in (how many of you go home and do physics tests for fun? It’s ok if you do, clearly you like music/film too if you’re here). We come to a site like this to read about music, to talk about what creates the soundtrack to our lives, and to build a community based around the things we love.

We have our first kisses to certain songs we swear we will never forget (mine was “Californication“, right when the album came out like a million years ago), and when we are sad we turn on our favourite tracks to elevate our mood or let it take us as far down as we need to go before we start to look up again. That’s why I love cinema, because like music it tells the story of us, of our culture, our joys and pains. It helps us express what we can’t. A good movie will make us laugh, a great movie will bring us to our knees, and a brilliant movie will change our lives. And for this reason I say all media is just as important as the hard sciences. Yeah, electric engineering tells us why the mp3 plays, but the humanities tells us why we turn in on in the first place, a symbiosis of science and art.

So, dear readers, why do you love film (or music)? What films changed your life?