All posts by Corey Cunningham

Ethnographic Misrepresentation through Voodoo Dolls

In our discussion of misrepresentation of indigenous tribes through cinema, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom acts as a perfect example of a complete ignorance to indigenous tribes of India. In fact when I have to admit the first and only time I watched the film, I came in halfway through, and was sure that the indigenous people were from South America. But I digress. Aside from the dinner scene which is just a comical representation of the culture there was something that I couldn’t get over and that was the use of Voodoo Dolls in the film. As we watched it I felt as though something was off,  so I decided to investigate and looked up the culture origins of Voodoo dolls. And the reality is it’s something that comes from New Orleans and can be traced back to Western African cultures. But the film uses as a action ploy to heighten the tension. It’s true that the film does much worse but it’s interesting to note how far the creators of this film takes the audience ignorance in order to create an action packed block buster.

Romanticism and it’s Function in Brokeback Mountain

While watching Brokeback Mountain there were two things that struck me. One was the film, initially, turning a pretty blatant blind eye to the time period in which the movie takes place, which does get corrected with a purpose later on.  The second is the amount of shots that were taken of the Wyoming landscape. As I watched the film, specifically as the two go back to Brokeback over the years, I saw how these two points are working in conjugation with each other to highlight the philosophies of Romanticism. Romanticism was a period of art during the 1800’s that focused on getting away from society and reverting back to beauty of nature in response to the industrial revolution. Writers and Poets like William Wordsworth, William Blake,  Henry David Thoreau (later on in the period), and the Hudson River School believed in the transitory and timeless qualities of nature that could allow human to reevaluate the status of their changing society. This philosophies, I would argue, seems to parallel the political message of this film. Keeping this in mind the my original question as to why the time period isn’t really noticed in the film, because Brokeback is an escape from the society and the time that doesn’t accept who their love. This is why we constantly see the long shots of the beautiful Wyoming landscape, nature, in the Romantic sense, is consider to be timeless.

Also, if at this point you don’t agree with this, I found this picture when you look up Brokeback Mountain . The painting being juxtaposed is by Alvan Fisher, a prominent Hudson River School painter.  http://


Expressing a view point from Friday

In lieu of the discussion we had on Friday I would like to bring in an outside source that was given to me by a friend with a similar universally objective take on things in life. He gave me this article from the Washington post The article has, what I’d like think as, a nice take on Identity Politics that sometimes feel as though they been become overly absorbed into our everyday lives. When, or rather if you choose to read this article I would ask that you keep one of the key arguments in Jean-Louis Baudry’s Ideological Effects of the Basic Cinematographic Apparatus  in mind; the argument which expresses the need to objectively study the cinematographic apparatus. Believing that the ideological surplus that comes with concealing the work lens could be used to dangerous ends if, as spectators, we forget the concealment of the work lens. In the spirit of that fear this article, in my opinion, serves as a wonderful example of the possible consequences in choosing to focus too heavily on identity politics when studying, for the sake of our class in this case, the cinematographic apparatus.

An Historical Anectdote to go alongside Mayne’s Argument

After reading  Paradoxes of Spectatorship Judith Mayne points out that cinema as an emerging discipline the “responses to appartatus theory are founded on a gap between the ideal subject postulated by the apparatus and the spectator who is always in an imperfect reation tothat ideal” (9). She used the “ideal romance reader” example as a way of explaining this relationship with the intentions of showing the veiwer, as a spectator, that they should be aware of this relationship.  This argument was no doubt very dense and abstract and I found myself understanding her argument better when I thought of a small anectdote from literary history, specficially fairty tales. In Jack David Zipes author of Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion he explains the universality of fairy tales with the purpose of soothing “the anxieties of children or help them therapeuticallly to realize who they are” (Zipes 6).  During Louis XIV’s reign the french began designing their folk tales into literary fairy tales,  including Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood.  But these literary fairy tales were “designed to rearragne the motifs, character, themes, functions, configurations in such a way that they would address the concerens of the educated and ruling lcass of late feudal and early capitalist societies” (Zipes 6).  Keeping Mayne’s argument in mind the french arisotcrats were trying manipulate the gap between specatator and the apparatus in order fix imperfect relation and create their “ideal citizens.” This historical anectdote in conversation with Mayne’s article, for me, gives an idea of what the possible consequences of homogeneity.