‘Sequels’ paper

The paper is ‘finished’. By that I mean it has been submitted for the PhD level course I am doing in Sweden. I realised my paper was testing the internal thresholds of the ‘essay’ medium in its attempted becoming-book. I had to discipline it through a code of spatialised scholarly convention. My argument was not going to spill from my pages into others. It was to be trapped!!!!

HU HA HAHAAHAHAhahahah HUHAHAHAhahahaha HUAHAHAhahahahah… [that was an evil laugh]

Anyway… so I have all these other examples that I have started on and could easily be turned into chapter length pieces, for example, one is on Pulp Fiction and the other is on the Matrix frachise (in both I explore sequel as repeated simulacra, albeit in different ways). I treat them both to the hot light of my ‘sequel’ interrogative methodology. Then there is a chapter on the political economy of enthusiasm (that I am going to have to write for my thesis), perhaps this can be my back burner project throughout my thesis. Some of the ideas are very similar. Plus it allows me to explore concepts in a different milieu.

I have contacted a few journals to see if there is any interest in publishing it. It is something of a mongrel paper, not quite cinema studies and not quite philosocultstuds, there is even a becoming-political economy about it, too. I am feeling very tired just thinking about it. Below is a copy of the email I sent off to one journal:

Dear editorial collective,

I am enquiring about the possibility of submitting a paper for submission. The problem is I have very little experience in the ‘cinema’ field. The only thing I have had published remotely related to cinema is an article I wrote for Street Machine magazine on the 100 Best Car Movies of All Time (the top five were selected by readers). I can send you a first draft of this if you like, although the published version and my initial version are quite different in some aspects. The paper was written for a PhD level course on ‘Mediated Cultures’ I am taking in Sweden as I am here on exchange. In some respects my article is a response to having to ‘deal’ with media in my thesis. My PhD thesis is on modified-car culture. I also have an interview with Mr A, the executive producer of the Getaway in Stockholm series of films, soon to be published in Autosalon magazine. Meeting up with one of the makers of GiS was a central reason for coming to Sweden.
Needless to say the sequels paper is more of a hoon understanding of cinema than a cinephile understanding (if that at all makes sense). I found the ‘problem’ of the sequel very intriguing and something that has not really been dealt with in the current cinema literature. I outline what is at stake for fans of film series and the ‘Hollwood cinema machine’ that makes them. I am not sure what to do with the paper, but I think it is at least worth finding out if you might be interested. Below are the title and abstract details.
Glen Fuller.

Title: movie sequels, movie events and the political economy of enthusiasm

Abstract: This paper is written in response to fan backlash against the Alien vs Predator movie. I explore the conundrum of the ‘inferiority of the blockbuster sequel’. The contemporary state of Hollywood cinema allows for and indeed encourages the production of sequels due to the emergence of the movie as ‘media event’: the blockbuster. The ‘blockbuster’ is defined in terms of how it is and is not what Dayan Katz and Elihu Katz’s call a ‘media event’. The specific problem for fans and the Hollywood cinema machine is the period between the ‘original’ movie-event and the ‘sequel’ movie-event. There is an affective momentum building/manipulation process associated with this in-between period and it is explored using the conceptualised tools of anticipation and expectation. The relationship between fan-based enthusiasm and what Jonathan Beller calls the Cinematic Mode of Production is explored in relation to the specific role of ‘desire’. The Hollwood cinema machine and the enthusiasm of fans have different stakes in the problem of the sequel. The Spiderman franchise is offered and explored as an example of the successful blockbuster sequel.

I am not sure how this will ‘fly’ with editors of a cinema journal… Also, I have sent a copy to the guy I was arguing with on IMDb message boards about the Alien vs Predator film. I stick the boot (book?) into Paul W.S. Anderson in this article. I am not sure if he was to ever read the paper he would actually understand what I am talking about (that is not a slight against his intelligence, it is just my argument draws on so-called ‘high theory’ that requires extensive reading just to get a grasp of it).

very tired… need some food… fuck, Pimp My Ride is on tonight… new series! very tired…

Work: Sequel Wars

I thought I had better put something up about the work I am doing at the moment. Here are the first two intro paras.
What is a sequel? For some fans passionate about particular movies the moniker ‘sequel’ signals a monstrous malediction of genius. Works of art are reduced to vehicles of merchandising. Film texts that were once indexes of personal and collective identification become mere prompts for megaplex popcorn with extra syrup. What is the nature of the awesome and destructive power sequels have over the first incarnations? The horrific violence wrought upon a film to turn it into a franchise can not be solely located with the capitalist spirit of lecherous studio executives to exploit enthusiasms. What audience is the franchised film sequel made for? Are we really the stupid subjects of sociocultural programming that allow purveyors of these ‘perversions’ to peddle their wares? Can the notion of a ‘sequel’ be rethought and articulated in such a way to encourage an enrichment of a ‘franchise’?
I have been prompted to write a paper after an exchange on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) message board for the Alien versus Predator (AvP) movie with an avid fan of the Alien series of films. I had posted some suggestions of what needs to be in the sequel to this movie. Innocent enough, I thought… My first respondent was A:3. I am calling this fan A:3, because his position was that after the three films in the Alien series, there was “no life in the series” and the fourth should not have been made. A:3 was particularly insulted by the AvP film. He believed the Predator series was a total shit, and joining it with the Alien series for a crossover film was an utter travesty. A:3 manned the message boards shooting down any post or response that discussed the possibility of a sequel to AvP. Incurring the wrath of this disgruntled fan, I discovered that the fan’s keyboard is mightier than the logical argument. He challenged me to find a sci-fi/action movie series where the final film in the series rated the same or better than the original (the ratings were provided by the user rating function on the IMDB site). After an hour of searching I gave up. The closest I could come were The Lord of the Rings series and the Evil Dead series. I later discovered the recent Spiderman series (another series of films directed by Sam Raimi) also has a higher rated sequel than the initial film. However, none of these are really sci-fi/action movies. I found the fact that almost no sequels at all managed to measure up to the initial film in the series absolutely amazing! Surely this must be one of the hard and fast ‘laws’ of cinema: a sequel will ‘always’ be worse.
Anyway, there is much to say about sequels. I start off by talking about the birth of the blockbuster and take a Deleuzian angle on the ‘culture industry’. What is commodified is not ‘culture’ per se but ‘enthusiasm’. Here I pull out some more Deleuziasms to do with desire. I am thinking about the ‘culture industry’ less in terms of the production of ‘culture’ in the form of cultural artifacts or ‘meaning’, but some forms of mass culture as ‘anti-production’ that ‘captures’ consumers in the desiring machines we call enthusiasm. Enthusiasm does not belong to the ‘cultural products’ (artifacts or meanings) but to the desiring machines that organise whichever assemblage the cultural products are part. What it results in is a ‘turnstyle capitalism’.
Perfect example of what I am talking about in its most docile form, and where I am getting inspiration for the term from, are sporting fans that are part of the assemblage of franchised sporting teams and the mass culture surrounding them. Quite literally a profit is extracted at the turnstyle as a direct manifestation of the fans enthusiasm for a sporting team (what I call a fan ‘object’ or, because it is not really an object but a constellation of intensities, the ‘fanject’).
Enthusiasm in the movie industry is different for instead of desire operating within the strict confines or thresholds of the way in which the fanject is (anti)produced, fans allow their enthusiasm (desire, but not so reactionary anymore) to break apart the confines of the organising principles which create the movie as fanject. This is evidenced by a particular mode of ‘script rewriting’ where instead of injecting the fanject assemblage with other fantasies, the concepts of which the intial movie is only but one example are allowed to morphogenetically become or ‘involve’. Sequels become ‘formulaic’ when sequels are produced with a mimetic relation to an ‘original’ that can be then reduced to the same. When this happens the concepts that organise the movie (fanject) remain potentialised. Yeah…
I am about 2 thirds the way into it at the moment.
Much work to do!