Media objects: emotion, experience and the psychopolitics of popular culture – Professor Caroline Bainbridge

Inaugural lecture at Roehampton this evening:

If going to understand cultural politics, need to understand relationships to self hood through interaction with media.

Freud. In 1920 after death of daughter – formulated idea of compulsion to repeat – a wish to find a way of mastering difficulty – try to control but control not in our hands.

Prince. There’s joy in competition. Went to Prince exhibition – wore whote gloves to handle Prince’s guitar – invited to keep gloves as memento of physical contact with guitar.

Turn to media favourites to work through unconscious responses to world and politics. 

Media saturated. Sense of identity bound up in this. Media meaningful because of coordinated activity. Large number of fragilities around – fear, anxiety, pain mostly on show. Use media as psychological to understand who we are and how relationships formed with other people.

Seeming banality – politics get mapped on e.g. Brexit and passport colour. 

Donald Meltzer – injustice of social order – shown in Girlhood film,  feminism. Idea of aesthetic – express political idea – relief from pain of growing up disenfranchised, shows how young women found solace, cinematography creates new possibilities for tones of skin. Girls sing but not heard in clip where dancing. 

Entanglements with media objects – how do we use for consolation. Are we in therapeutic age – work of Donald Winnicott, Christopher (Bolis?).

Object is not inanimate – when we encounter a human,internalise a version, create & retain psychological profile. Certain objects – transitional – significant to us. Look for substitutes as we mature through life. Object meaningful when relate – make it part of ourselves or remove a painful experience. Object can tolerate being destroyed either in fantasies – is external. Shores up fractured sense of identity.

Holding seemingly impossible ideas in tandem through psychoanalysis. Mamma Mia example – 1 in 4 ppl bought DVD. Stage show & film directed by 3 women, story about 3 women. ABBA songs dealing with emotional life experience. This comes out when we encounter objects in unexpected places e.g. unexpectrd reminders – hearing ABBA songs at weddings etc 

Mamma Mia also object of denigration and ridicule. Might have to put up with disparaging comments but can hold onto our joy of film. Sticking finger up.

Psychopolitics on the move.

In 2008 In Treatment ( originally Israeli).  Only one storyline in US version changed. Pilot dropping bomb scene wad replaced as seen as difficult to transpose culturally to US. Decision to change storyline based on one in Iraq – fantasies of US identity, dominance, democracies of change, war and guilt. For viewers in other countries – what do fantasies mean based on our understanding of our role / geopolitical identity. Local versions in 16 other countries didn’t have US story.

Collapse of moral and social values. #metoo

TV drama provides objects which we can use to regulate our own lives. Fragment our own experiences whilst projecting onto these objects. 

Psychological problems and celebrity – obsession with disclosure – highlighting difficulties and overcoming obstacles to emotional support.

Increase demand of on-demand viewing and binge watching. Addiction metaphors. Greed often present in dramas that people binge watch. Greed linked to contemporary experiences of emptiness & loneliness. 

Relatedness now imagined in the ether – endless smartphone and social media – gives rise to activity such as binge watching. TV drama gives outlet from desperately seeking stuff to make us feel good. Looking for way out of anxieties thrown up by digital media. 

Psychoanalysis been out of fashion but still has unique potential for understanding how we think about the world.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: