Join the Chicago Film Seminar on February 27th at 7:30 pm for our annual graduate student panel, featuring graduate students Benjamin Aspray and Sabrina Negri. Zoran Samardzija will serve as respondent.
Gross-out as Gatekeeper:
Disgust, Anti-comedy, and Taste Distinction in Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job!
by Benjamin Aspray
Psychologist Susan B. Miller describes disgust as “the gatekeeper emotion,” and indeed, the wide-ranging scholarly concepts of disgust almost unanimously understand it as signifying the transgression of a boundary, whether biological, cultural or social. Hence its use in comedy, a close ally of transgression - particularly gross-out comedy, the film and TV subgenre centered on the human body’s impolite functions. But whereas many accounts of gross-out comedy understand it as a populist discourse, celebrating universal animal drives in defiance of civil society’s inhibitions, few consider its potential for the contrary: deliberately alienating the viewer and flouting popular appeal. This excerpt from my dissertation examines disgust as an aesthetic strategy of “anti-comedy,” an oblique form of comedy that emphasizes its own failure. The paper focuses in particular on the case study of Cartoon Network’s late-night sketch comedy series Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job! (2007-2010), arguing that the series’ extreme gross-out gags are emblematic of the cultural logic of narrowcasting in that their confrontational aesthetic acts as a gatekeeper for a self-consciously exclusive taste public.
Benjamin Aspray is a PhD candidate in Screen Cultures at Northwestern University. His dissertation, “Comedy Vomitif: Comic Disgust and Spectacles of the Body in Contemporary Film and Television,” examines the aesthetic and cultural meanings of lowbrow physical comedy since the mid-1990s. He has presented at the SCMS Conference in Chicago and Montreal and the Screen Studies Conference in Glasgow.
Film As Archival Object:
Analog Film Materials and the Evidentiary Value of Archival Holdings
by Sabrina Negri
The digital preservation of analog moving images faces scholars and archivists with challenges that have been overlooked in most of the literature dealing with the theoretical implications of digital cinema. One aspect that has not received the attention it deserves is the way in which digital technology shapes our understanding of the concept of analog. This talk will investigate how digital preservation shifts the status of analog film materials from objects of use to archival objects, and will discuss the consequences of this transition on the evidentiary value of film materials.
Sabrina Negri is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. Her research interests include film archiving and preservation, Italian colonial and post-colonial cinema, and detective fiction. She published essays in international journals such as Cinéma&Cie, Intérmedialités, and Journal of Film Preservation. She is currently working on a dissertation on the digital restoration of analog films.
The Graduate Student Panel will be held at DePaul’s Loop Campus in the Daley Building at 14 E. Jackson Blvd., Room LL 102, using the State St. entrance located at 247 S. State.