@ASoulAFire @JaniceOCG #CynthiaAnnBaron wrote an article on how our media consumption habits are being manipulated & undermine real-life political resistance. We’ll chat w/her on 1/20/22 at 8 pm ET, on the TWN YouTube channel, when she joins “If America Fails?: The Coming Tyranny,” discussing Cults, Cultures and Religions in @HandmaidsOnHulu.
IAF guest expert, Cynthia Ann Baron, wrote the 2011 article, Subversive Fictions, and raises some important questions about the impact of our media consumption on our role, place and effectiveness as citizens. For example, Baron asks:
“. . . what is the attraction of ‘subversive’ movies and media stars; how could fictional representations be subversive acts; how did contact with ‘subversive’ movies become a politically radical gesture; why have ‘counterculture’ audiences come to value ‘subversive’ fictions?”
“Work by Raymond Williams,” Baron continues, “suggests that one way to answer questions like these is to consider, first, the degree to which we have become spectators of a world out there and, second, the way that industrial/post-industrial experience has channeled the expression of subjectivity into acts of consumption, to choices about what one watches and listens to, to decisions about what we value enough to bring into ‘private’ space. . .”
“…these safe forms of resistance have been given an inordinate amount of attention because they do not threaten the status quo.”
Living in insular worlds it’s as if our viewing of subversive media has become a substitute for actual resistance to oppression. Dr. Baron notes: “…these safe forms of resistance have been given an inordinate amount of attention because they do not threaten the status quo.”
She also refers to work “such as Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, 1988)” which shows how “the convergence of corporate ownership, massive bureaucracy, government interests, advertisers, and well placed private constituencies frame the world we are allowed and directed to see.”
Clearly Dr. Baron shares our concern about the limits on what we see in popular media, the need to seek alternative, independent media, and the fragmentation of media today. She points out, “. . .given the convergence of forces that have gained increased control over what we see in the world, today a person could go a lifetime without hearing any news about collective political action and extra-parliamentary opposition…Institutional powers have learned from their ‘mistakes’ in the 1960s; the only public protests that should be covered are ones fomented and orchestrated by the powers themselves. Anything else must be demonized, ridiculed, or censored.”
“. . .It is possible that prosaic political resistance is currently coalescing and increasing;” she wrote, “while invisible in mainstream media, challenges posed and solutions created by environmental groups, peace activists, human rights supporters, and others are discussed in small press publications and on independent media programs like Democracy Now. At the same time, it is very possible that absorption in the spectacle of corporate media culture is also on the rise.”
“Media culture amplifies the likelihood for and influence of apolitical cultural resistance. With corporate media regulating access to the world out there, rebellion against the status quo through lifestyle and consumer choices is presented as the first, best, and only real option…” Baron concludes.
“Institutional powers have learned from their ‘mistakes’ in the 1960s; the only public protests that should be covered are ones fomented and orchestrated by the powers themselves.”
So I wonder what Dr. Baron thinks about a TV show like The Handmaid’s Tale – available only by subscription – and still limited in what it shares about the process of resistance. The good news is, we’ll have a chance to chat with her in the near future. If there are questions you’d like Dr. Baron to explore, please let me know ahead of time. — LMO
WATCH Dr. Cynthia Ann Baron, Associate Professor, Theatre and Film, Bowling Green State University – LIVE – Thursday, January 20, 2022, 8 pm ET, on the TruthWorks Network YouTube channel, when she joins “If America Fails?: The Coming Tyranny,” in discussion on Cults, Cultures and Religions in The Handmaid’s Tale, modern American culture and film.
Dr. Cynthia Ann Baron is an Associate Professor in Theatre and Film at Bowling Green State University, where she researches and teaches; authors scholarly books and articles on subjects related to the discipline; and provides keynote speeches and other presentations at conferences both domestically and internationally. Her research and teaching interests include American Independent Cinema; Screenwriting; Taste Formation; Censorship; Food Studies; Women’s Cinema; and Actor Training, Stardom, and Screen Performance, among other subjects. She has taught courses on intersections between the film-media industry, national security, and cultural moments such as the Cold War and the Vietnam era. Some other courses Dr. Baron teaches are American Independent Cinema; Hollywood, Censorship, and American Culture; and Performance and Theatre in the Americas.
Most recently, she published Acting Indie: Industry, Aesthetics, and Performance (with Yannis Tzioumakis), (2020), which illustrates the many ways that actors contribute to American independent cinema and analyzes industrial developments; Modern Acting: The Lost Chapter of American Film and Theatre (2016), which, in part, highlights women’s key contributions to American film and theatre; and Denzel Washington (2015) where Baron traces the star’s persona and impact on mainstream society. Current book projects include: Recasting (White) Genres: Race, Ethnicity, and Performance in Contemporary Film and Television; Intersecting Aesthetics: Literary Adaptations and Cinematic Representations of Blackness, with co-editor Charlene Regester; and Imprisonment: Representation in Global Film and Media, with co-editor Karen Ritzenhoff. She is co-chair of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies Caucus on Class and has participated in events such as the Rethinking Realist Acting Conference in New York, and the Acting in Film Conference in Potsdam. — If America Fails: The Coming Tyranny, a TruthWorks Network Production
READ | Subversive Fictions: A Patina of Radicalism in Corporate Media Society | by Dr. Cynthia Ann Baron | Pure Movies | 8/14/2011