Comedy and Cultural Critique in American Film

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

Cinema mostly taught viewers how to understand cinema, constantly thematizing its addresses to and relationship to its audience. Comic cinema has provided a self-reflexive critique of this auto-technological or auto-medial training, allowing audiences to glimpse the many ways they were being conditioned and articulated in the mechanical era by this quintessential example of art form become industry. Comic cinema then considers through its own medial relations to the construction of human perception and consciousness (or aesthetics). Comedy and Cultural Critique in American Film adds to the conversation of film comedy in two primary, interrelated ways. One is it argues for the centrality of comedy in film as a means for staging (or attempting) cultural criticism. Another focuses on the powerful and sustained shifts in visual culture emergent in the 20th century that cinema helped generate, foster, and question. As a result, comedic film often addresses technology (industrial, mechanical, visual, digital, military, etc.) and techne generally that constitute the grounds of possibility for cinema itself that fall into its purview of self-reflexive cultural criticism. Cinema becomes an important site for producing and critiquing visual technology within US and global cultural politics, examining the status of the mechanically-produced and reproduced moving image, and the thematizing of its own power. In so doing, cinema simultaneously represents itself as a unique medium that is also part of a larger trajectory of visual and audiovisual technologies that have contributed not only to cinema’s formation but also created media environment in which it must function. (Article Abstract)

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Ashleigh Steele