Arthur Asa Berger, as with noted theorists like semiotician Umberto Eco, draw upon major popular culture texts in an effort to relate (if not translate) the theoretical language their essays and books map out. As I’ve noted in class on several occasions, it was an excitably fortuitous event that two of our course textbooks have drawn upon James Bond as a textual artifact worth analyzing. This initial coincidence has benefitted in several robust ways. First, the canon of Bond has allowed us to map and explore progressions within the spy genre. Genre theory can offer a helpful way to introduce and absorb both the core concepts within communication studies (think about Berger’s Focal Points Model) while they also expand our knowledge of cultural studies as an area of discourse and socio-political critique (think of Castleberry’s chapter “Understanding Stuart Hall’s “Encoding/Decoding” through TV’s Breaking Bad“). In addition, this semester coincided with the onslaught marketing campaign for MGM/Sony’s latest Bond film, SPECTRE. While we’ve explore the history and canon of Bond and the spy genre to help us make sense of the terms, theories, and methods presented in our books, the marketing campaign for SPECTRE unfolds in such a way as to give us weekly talking points on the positive and negative reactions going into and coming out of the film industry. Thus, by studying SPECTRE‘s marketing efforts closely, we’ve expanded our own scholarly discourse into areas of industry studies and audience studies, which special attention to the role fandom plays in audience and reception studies.
To recap our midterm, each of you was assigned a double feature textual analysis that compared/contrasted two films from the Bond canon, one a contemporary Bresnan-Craig eras (90s-present) and one from the vintage Connery-Lassenby-Moore-Dalton eras (60s-80s). In closing the circle of media texts and their circulation, as well as the uniqueness surrounding diverse viewing perspectives (your laptop in your bedroom, the living room TV, the monitor in our classroom, the screens in your pocket that haunt your every step), our class final encompasses a field trip to the local cine-mecca of film spectacle indulgence, the IMAX screen at Warren Theaters. The IMAX, by design, presents a unique viewing experience; one that purports to immerse its audience within the film experience, breaking the fourth wall of voyeurism toward something more invasive. Given the right kind of film playing, the unique screening process lives up to the hype. For this reason, the class final involves screening SPECTRE as a class for most, with a 6-day window of opportunity for those that cannot get out of work schedules. Part I of the Final encompasses the viewing portion (a labored process in its own right). Part II involves the post-screening discussion session we will hold collectively, where your participation and reaction is essential to your grade in this hybrid mode of Media Studies analysis. Finally, Part III involves your development of a 250-500 word film review of SPECTRE since our normal classroom meeting time offers so little opportunity for everyone’s voice to be heard equally. You will post your film review in the comments section below on THIS blog post. You will also submit a Word doc. form of the review to our D2L Dropbox so as to ensure that you did not merely copy/paste a review from somewhere else online. Rather, I encourage you to make our reviews unique by incorporating some distinct terminology from the course readings into your film review (but by all means, let’s leave Berger’s focal points behind for this one, as we have completely exhausted that method to the point of mass saturation). I might normally allow a longer window to submit reviews, but because writing about viewing experiences is such a timely activity, where recall is paramount to turnaround, and because to be fair I am sure there was very little note-taking in the theater, let’s work to submit film reviews by Tuesday, November 17.