Now showing items 1-20 of 40

    • RuPaul's Drag Race and the Toronto Drag Scene

      Martin, Russ; Popular Culture Program
      The debut of the television show RuPaul’s Drag Race (Barbato, Bailey, and Charles) in 2009 marked the start of a new drag boom. The program’s commercial success throughout the 2010s brought drag performance into the mainstream cultural arena, prompting a host of effects on the historically grassroots culture of drag. This thesis project explores the show’s impact on one particular geographic community, the Toronto drag scene, which has been active in some capacity for at least 70 years. This ethnographic study is drawn from a year and a half in the field in the Toronto drag scene and a series of semi-structured interivews with nine research participations who took part in the 2018 edition of the Toronto-based drag pageant Crews and Tangos Drag Race. Using this group as a case study, this thesis demonstrates how Drag Race has influenced both the politics and aesthetics of the Toronto drag scene. Drawing from scholar Will Straw’s work on scene theory, I argue Drag Race now acts as global drag culture’s dominant system of articulation (Systems 369) and that it not only dictates trends in drag, but also provides the contemporary drag fan a rubric for understanding drag’s cultural meaning. I contend the show influences how drag is interpreted by fans and informs how gender, race, and economics are negotiated in the Toronto drag scene. Drag Race has created a new, economically-driven global drag scene, which looms large over the local scene in Toronto. Using Straw’s concept of lines of influence, I argue there is a two-way dialogue between local drag in Toronto and the Drag Race-driven global drag scene. The participant interviews and field work showcased in this project demonstrate how the Toronto drag scene receives, re-interprets, and resists the vision of drag presented by Drag Race.
    • Gender and Genre in 21st Century Visions of Sherlock Holmes

      Lackey, Jennifer; Popular Culture Program (Brock University, 2015-01-23)
      Sherlock Holmes has been one of the most-adapted characters in literature since his first appearance in A Study in Scarlet in Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1887. Each new adaptation must offer innovations that bring freshness and contemporary appeal to time-worn stories and concepts or risk irrelevancy; analyzing these changes closely sheds light on shifts in societal constructs. Taking this as a starting point, this thesis examines Sherlock and Elementary from a perspective of feminism and queer theory via methods of discourse and genre analyses, with texts ranging from 1931 to the present as objects of comparison. The research illuminates constructions of masculinity as they have changed over time, particularly the movement from an orderly, stable, rational construction of hegemonic masculinity to one that is chaotic, often violent, and anti-heroic in at least some aspects while still being invested in the status quo.
    • Blood, Sweat and Cheers: Absurdist Crime Films and Contemporary Society

      Meisner, Christopher; Popular Culture Program (Brock University, 2013-04-09)
      Within the crime film tradition there is a plethora of sub-genres all of which relate to crime and its consequences. However, directors Joel and Ethan Coen, Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch, all of whom create plots around crime and criminality, have been difficult to pin down and attribute to any given sub-genre. This thesis demonstrates that an absurdist philosophy can be used to effectively examine the content of the previously mentioned filmmakers. Through an analysis of these filmmakers and their better known works compelling evidence is revealed suggesting that these filmmakers may all belong to the emerging crime film sub-genre known as absurdist crime films.
    • "All The Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues": [Post]Oedipal Fatherhood And Subjectivity In ABC's Lost

      Kilic, Gozde; Popular Culture Program (Brock University, 2013-04-08)
      ABC's popular television series Lost has been praised as one of the most innovative programs in the history of broadcast television primarily due to its unique storytelling content and structure. In this thesis, I argue that in spite of its unconventional stances in terms of narrative, genre, and character descriptions, Lost still conforms to the conventional understanding of family, fatherhood, and subjectivity by perpetuating the psychoanalytic myth of the Oedipus complex. The series emphasizes the centrality of the father in the lives of the survivors, and constructs character developments according to Freud's essentialist and phallocentric conception of subjectivity. In this way, it continues the classic psychoanalytic tradition that views the father as the essence of one's identity. In order to support this argument, I conduct a discursive reading of the show's two main characters: Jack Shepherd and John Locke. Through such a reading, I explore and unearth the mythic/psychoanalytic importance of the father in the psychology of these fictional constructs.
    • "I'm Your Biggest Fan, I'll Follow You ... " Lady Gaga, Little Monsters and the Religious Dimension of Fandom in Pop Music

      Ferencz, Keri; Popular Culture Program (Brock University, 2013-04-02)
      This thesis examines the religious dimension of fandom in popular music, taking as an object of reflection Lady Gaga and her fans. I combine fan studies with theories of immanence as well as Deleuze and Guattari's notion of the process of becoming, and provide a theoretical reading of the relationship between Lady Gaga and her most fervent fans, the 'little monsters.' Both fandom and religion promise a stable sense of identity and authentic community to devotees. Performing deconstructive discourse analysis on three of Lady Gaga's music videos, I demonstrate how fandom, like organized religion, can simultaneously be an emancipatory practice and a practice that seeks to deny individual subjects their agency. This thesis provides a new theoretical framework for understanding fandom, and illustrates how the purported benefits of both fandom and religion can only be gained when the figureheads of each group are symbolically destroyed by the members themselves.
    • Representations of swinging London in 1960s British cinema : Blowup (1966), Smashing Time (1967), and Performance (1970)

      Centawer-Huisman, Marlie; Popular Culture Program (Brock University, 2012-04-03)
      This thesis explores the representation of Swinging London in three examples of 1960s British cinema: Blowup (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966), Smashing Time (Desmond Davis, 1967) and Performance (Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg, 1970). It suggests that the films chronologically signify the evolution, commodification and dissolution of the Swinging London era. The thesis explores how the concept of Swinging London is both critiqued and perpetuated in each film through the use of visual tropes: the reconstruction of London as a cinematic space; the Pop photographer; the dolly; representations of music performance and fashion; the appropriation of signs and symbols associated with the visual culture of Swinging London. Using fashion, music performance, consumerism and cultural symbolism as visual narratives, each film also explores the construction of youth identity through the representation of manufactured and mediated images. Ultimately, these films reinforce Swinging London as a visual economy that circulates media images as commodities within a system of exchange. With this in view, the signs and symbols that comprise the visual culture of Swinging London are as central and significant to the cultural era as their material reality. While they attempt to destabilize prevailing representations of the era through the reproduction and exchange of such symbols, Blowup, Smashing Time, and Performance nevertheless contribute to the nostalgia for Swinging London in larger cultural memory.
    • The new blockbuster film sequel : changing cultural and economic conditions within the film industry

      Bay, Jessica; Popular Culture Program (Brock University, 2011-10-14)
      Film sequels are a pervasive part of film consumption practices and have become an important part of the decision making process for Hollywood studios and producers. This thesis indicates that sequels are not homogenous groups of films, as they are often considered, but offer a variety of story construction and utilize a variety of production methods. Three types of blockbuster sequel sets are identified and discussed in this thesis. The Traditional Blockbuster Sequel Set, as exemplified by Back to the Future (1985, 1989, 1990) films, is the most conventional type of sequel set and capitalizes on the winning formula of the first film in the franchise. The MultiMedia Sequel Set, such as The Matrix (1999,2003) trilogy, allows the user/viewer to experience and consume the story as well as the world of the film through many different media. The Lord a/ the Rings (2001, 2002, 2003) set of films is an illustration of The Saga Sequel Set where plot lines are continuous over the entire franchise thus allowing the viewer to see the entire set as a unified work. The thesis also demonstrates how the blockbuster sequel sets, such as the Pirates a/ the Caribbean (2003, 2006, 2007) franchise, restructure the production process of the Hollywood film industry.
    • Manufacturing 'authenticity' : a case study of the Niagara wine cluster

      Charest, Caroline; Popular Culture Program (Brock University, 2010-10-26)
      In this thesis, I use "Fabricating Authenticity," a model developed in the Production of Culture Perspective, to explore the evolving criteria for judging what constitute "real" and authentic Niagara wines, along with the naturalization of these criteria, as the Canadian Niagara wine cluster has come under increasing stress from globalization. Authenticity has been identified as a hallmark of contemporary marketing and important to cultural industries, which can use it for creating meaningful differentiation; making it a renewable resource for securing consumers, increasing market value; and for relationships with key brokers. This is important as free trade and international treaties are making traditional protective barriers, like trade tariffs and markups, obsolete and as governments increasingly allocate industry support via promotion and marketing policies that are directly linked to objectives of city and regional development, which in turn carry real implications for what gets to be judged authentic and inauthentic local culture. This research uses a mixed methods research strategy, drawing upon ethnographic observation, marketing materials, newspaper reports, and secondary data to provide insight into the processes and conflicts over efforts to fabricate authenticity, comparing the periods before and after the passage of NAFT A to the present period. The Niagara wine cluster is a good case in point because it has little natural advantage nor was there a tradition of quality table wine making to facilitate the naturalization of authenticity. Geographic industrial clusters have been found particularly competitive in the global economy and the exploratory case study contributes to our understanding of the dynamic of '1abricating authenticity," building on various theoretical propositions to attempt to derive explanations of how global processes affect strategies to create "authenticity," how these strategies affect cultural homogeneity and heterogeneity at the local level, and how the concept of "cluster" contributes to the process of managing authenticity.
    • Steeltown scene : genre, performance and identity in the alternative independent music scene in Hamilton, Ontario

      Holt, Joshua.; Popular Culture Program (Brock University, 2009-02-16)
      This thesis examines the independent alternative music scene in the city of Hamilton, Ontario, also known, with reference to its industrial heritage, as "Steeltown." Drawing on the growing literature on the relationship between place and popular music, on my own experience as a local musician, direct observation of performances and of venues and other sites of interaction, as well as ethnographic interviews with scene participants, I focus on the role of space, genre and performance within the scene, and their contribution to a sense of local identity. In particular, I argue that the live performance event is essential to the success of the local music scene, as it represents an immediate process, a connection between performers and audience, one which is temporally rooted in the present. My research suggests that the Hamilton alternative music scene has become postmodern, embracing forms of "indie" music that lie outside of mainstream taste, and particularly those which engage in the exploration and deconstruction of pre-existing genres. Eventually, however, the creative successes of an "indiescene" permeate mass culture and often become co-opted into the popular music mainstream, a process which, in turn, promotes new experimentation and innovation at the local level.
    • Produced subjectivities and productive subjects : locating the potential of the self-reflective blog

      Zurba, Zorianna.; Popular Culture Program (Brock University, 2008-02-16)
      Blogging software has popularly been used as a mode of writing about everyday life to interact with others. This thesis examines the political potentials that are opened up by self-reflective blogging. The self-reflective blog is a synergy of self-reflective practices and computer-mediated communication. A genealogy of the history of computer-mediated communication and various public self-reflective practices is conducted to uncover affect as the utility of various economies of subject production. Efforts made to blog-like the efforts made to interact online in other CMCs-are positioned as a kind of affective labor. Adapting Hardt and Negri's (2005) theorization of the multitude, whereby affective labor-the production of social relationshipsis a kind ofbiopolitical production, affect will be determined as a kind ofbiopolitical power that exists in everyday life.
    • Bonds away : baseball mythology and the 2007 home run chase

      Ventresca, Matt.; Popular Culture Program (Brock University, 2009-02-16)
      In 2007, Barry Bonds hit his 75 6th home run, breaking Hank Aaron's all-time record for most home runs in a Major League career. While it would be expected that such an accomplishment would induce unending praise and adulationfor the new record-holder, Bonds did not receive the treatment typically reserved for a beloved baseball hero. The purpose of this thesis is to assess media representations of the 2007 home run chase in order to shed light upon the factors which led to the mixed representations which accompanied BOlTds ' assault on Aaron's record. Drawingfrom Roland Barthes ' concept of myth, this thesis proposes that Bonds was portrayed in predominantly negative ways because he was seen as failing to embody the values of baseball's mythology. Using a qualitative content analysis of three major American newspapers, this thesis examines portrayals of Bonds and how he was shown both to represent and oppose elements from baseball's mythology, such as youth, and a distant, agrarian past. Recognizing the ways in which baseball is associated with American life, the media representations of Bonds are also evaluated to discern whether he was portrayed as personifYing a distinctly American set of values. The results indicate that, in media coverage of the 2007 home run chase, Bonds was depicted as a player of many contradictions. Most commonly, Bonds' athletic ability and career achievements were contrasted with unflattering descriptions of his character, including discussions of his alleged use of performance-enhancing substances. However, some coverage portrayed Bonds as embodying baseball myth. The findings contribute to an appreciation of the importance of historical context in examining media representations. This understanding is enhanced by an analysis of a selection of articles on Mark McGwire 's record-breaking season in 1998, and careful consideration of, and comparison to, the context under which Bonds performed in 2007. Findings are also shown to support the contemporary existence of a strong American baseball mythology. That Bonds is both condemned for failing to uphold the mythology and praised for personifYing it suggests that the values seen as inherent to baseball continue to act as an American cultural benchmark.
    • "The whole earth as village" : a chronotopic analysis of Marshall McLuhan's "Global Village" and Patrick McGoohan's The Prisoner

      Maggio, Nicole.; Popular Culture Program (Brock University, 2009-02-16)
      Marshall McLuhan's "global village", and his theories on communications and technology, in conjunction with Patrick McGoohan's television series The Prisoner (ATV, 1967-1968) are explored in this thesis. The Prisoner, brainchild of McGoohan, is about the abduction and confinement of a British government agent imprisoned within the impenetrable boundaries of a benign but totalitarian city -state called "The Village". The purpose of his abduction and imprisonment is for the extraction of information regarding his resignation as a government spy. Marshall McLuhan originally popularized the phrase "the global village" in The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making o/the Topographic Man (1962), asserting that, "The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village" (p. 31). This thesis argues that valid parallels exist between McGoohan's conception of "village", as manifested in The Prisoner, and McLuhan's global village. The comprehensive methodological stratagem for this thesis includes Marshall McLuhan's "mosaic" approach, Mikhail Bakhtin's concept ofthe "chronotope", as well as a Foucauldian genealogicallhistorical discourse analysis. In the process of deconstructing McLuhan's texts and The Prisoner as products of the 1960s, an historical "constellation" (to use Walter Benjamin's concept) of the same present has been executed. By employing this synthesized methodology, conjunctions have been made between McLuhan's theories and the series' main themes of bureaucracy as dictatorship, the perversion of science and technology, freedom as illusion, and the individual in opposition to the collective. A thorough investigation of the global village and The Prisoner will determine whether or not Marshall McLuhan and/or Patrick McGoohan visualize the village as an enslaving technological reality.
    • "Man of science, man of faith" : Lost, consumer agency and the fate/free will binary in the post-9/11 context

      Tkachuk, Susan.; Popular Culture Program (Brock University, 2009-02-16)
      In 2004, Lost debuted on ABC and quickly became a cultural phenomenon. Its postmodem take on the classic Robinson Crusoe desert island scenario gestures to a variety of different issues circulating within the post-9II1 cultural consciousness, such as terrorism, leadership, anxieties involving air travel, torture, and globalization. Lost's complex interwoven flashback and flash-forward narrative structure encourages spectators to creatively hypothesize solutions to the central mysteries of the narrative, while also thematically addressing archetypal questions of freedom of choice versus fate. Through an examination of the narrative structure, the significance of technological shifts in television, and fan cultures in Lost, this thesis discusses the tenuous notion of consumer agency within the current cultural context. Furthermore, I also explore these issues in relation to the wider historical post-9/II context.
    • "I might be a duck, but I'm human" : an analysis of clothing in Disney cartoons

      Dubin, Luke Baldwin.; Popular Culture Program (Brock University, 2009-02-16)
      Mickey Mouse, one of the world's most recognizable cartoon characters, did not wear a shirt in his earliest incarnation in theatrical shorts and, for many years, Donald Duck did not wear pants and still rarely does so. Especially when one considers the era in which these figures were first created by the Walt Disney Studio, in the 1920s and 1930s, why are they portrayed without full clothing? The obvious answer, of course, is that they are animals, and animals do not wear clothes. But these are no ordinary animals: in most cases, they do wear clothing - some clothing, at least - and they walk on two legs, talk in a more or less intelligible fashion, and display a number of other anthropomorphic traits. If they are essentially animals, why do they wear clothing at all? On the other hand, if these characters are more human than animal, as suggested by other behavioral traits - they walk, talk, work, read, and so on - why are they not more often fully clothed? To answer these questions I undertook three major research strategies used to gather evidence: interpretive textual analysis of 321 cartoons; secondary analysis of interviews conducted with the animators who created the Disney characters; and historical and archival research on the Disney Company and on the times and context in which it functioned. I was able to identify five themes that played a large part in what kind of clothing a character wore; first, the character's gender and/or sexuality; second, what species or "race" the character was; third, the character's socio-economic status; fourth, the degree to which the character was anthropomorphized; and, fifth, the context in which the character and its clothing appeared in a particular scene or narrative. I concluded that all of these factors played a part in determining, to some extent, the clothing worn by particular characters at particular times. However, certain patterns emerged from the analysis that could not be explained by these factors alone or in combination. Therefore, my analysis also investigates the individual and collective attitudes and desires of the men in the Disney studio who were responsible for creating these characters and the cultural conditions under which they were created. Drawing on literature from the psychoanalytic approach to film studies, I argue that the clothing choices spoke to an idealized fantasy world to which the animators (most importantly, Walt Disney himself), and possibly wider society, wanted to return.
    • Comics carnet : the graphic novelist as global nomad

      Bader, Edward.; Popular Culture Program (Brock University, 2007-11-16)
      An interdisciplinary approach is used to identify a new graphic novel genre, 'comics camet', and its key features. The study situates comics camet in a historical context and shows it to be the result of a cross-pollination between the American and French comics traditions. Comics camet incorporates features from other literary genres: journalism, autobiography, ethnography and travel writing. Its creators, primarily European rriales, document their experiences visiting countries that Europe has traditionally defined as belonging to the 'East'. A visual and narrative analysis, using theoretical perspectives derived from cultural and postcolonial studies, examines how comics camet represents the non-European other and identifies the genre's ideological assumptions. Four representative texts are examined: Joe Sacco's Palestine (2001), Craig Thompson's, Camet de Voyage (2004), Guy Delisle's Pyongyang (2005) and Mrujane Satrpi's Persespolis 2 (2004). The study concludes that the comics camet genre simultaneously reinforces and challenges stereotypical assumptions about non-European people and places.
    • News in the age of empire : two war scandals

      Legge, Jason.; Popular Culture Program (Brock University, 2009-11-04)
      This thesis argues that the motivations underpinning the mainstream news media have fundamentally changed in the 21 sl century. As such, the news is no longer best understood as a tool for propaganda or agenda setting; instead it seems that the news is only motivated by the flow of global network capitalism. The author contrasts the work of Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman with that of Gilles Deleuze. Chomsky and Herman's 'Propaganda Model' has been influential within the fields of media studies and popular culture. The 'propaganda model' states that the concentration of ownership of the media has allowed the media elite to exert a disproportionate amount of influence over the mass media. Deleuze, on the other hand, regards the mass media as being yet another cog within the global capitalist mechanism, and is therefore separate from ideology or propaganda. The author proposes that 'propaganda' is no longer a sufficient word to describe the function of the news as terms like 'propaganda' imply some form of national sovereignty or governmental influence. To highlight how the news has 'changed from an instrument of propaganda to an instrument of accumulation, the author compares and contrasts the· coverage of the Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal with that of the Haditha Civilian Massacre. Although similar in nature, the author proposes that the Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal received a disproportionate amount of coverage within the mainstream press because of its exciting and sensational nature.
    • 'What ever happened to breakdancing?' : transnational b-boy/b-girl networks, underground video magazines and imagined affinities

      Fogarty, Mary; Popular Culture Program (Brock University, 2007-11-04)
      In 1997, Paul Gilroy was able to write: "I have been asking myself, whatever happened to breakdancing" (21), a form of vernacular dance associated with urban youth that emerged in the 1970s. However, in the last decade, breakdancing has experienced a massive renaissance in movies (You Got Served), commercials ("Gotta Have My Pops!") and documentaries (the acclaimed Freshest Kids). In this thesis, 1 explore the historical development of global b-boy/bgirl culture through a qualitative study involving dancers and their modes of communication. Widespread circulation of breakdancing images peaked in the mid-1980s, and subsequently b-boy/b-girl culture largely disappeared from the mediated landscape. The dance did not reemerge into the mainstream of North American popular culture until the late 1990s. 1 argue that the development of major transnational networks between b-boys and b-girls during the 1990s was a key factor in the return of 'b-boying/b-girling' (known formerly as breakdancing). Street dancers toured, traveled and competed internationally throughout this decade. They also began to create 'underground' video documentaries and travel video 'magazines.' These video artefacts circulated extensively around the globe through alternative distribution channels (including the backpacks of traveling dancers). 1 argue that underground video artefacts helped to produce 'imagined affinities' between dancers in various nations. Imagined affinities are identifications expressed by a cultural producer who shares an embodied activity with other practitioners through either mediated texts or travels through new places. These 'imagined affinities' helped to sustain b-boy/b-girl culture by generating visual/audio representations of popularity for the dance movement across geographical regions.
    • Where's Albania? : staking out the politics of the real and reality in documentary cinema

      Metcalf, Graeme.; Popular Culture Program (Brock University, 2006-11-04)
      This thesis, entitled, "Where's Albania? Staking Out the Politics of the Real and Reality in Documentary Cinema," charts the documentary tradition's path from its first incarnations, as filmed travelogue or ethnographic study, for example, right through to its development as a form acting as an objective observer, reflexive commentator, and finally, as a postmodern hybrid. This thesis begins by locating the documentary tradition's origins in realism. Foregrounding documentary cinema as a realist style is important in that it is a contention that spans this entire study. After working through the numerous modes of documentary as outlined by Bill Nichols, I suggest the documentary is often best understood as a hybrid form drawing on numerous modes and conventions. This argument permits my study to make a shift into postmodern theory, wherein I examine postmodernism's relationship to the documentary both as being influenced by it, but also as subsequently forcing documentary cinema to look back at itself and reevaluate the claims it has made in the past, and how postmodernism has drawn these claims to the surface of debate. My thesis concludes with a study of the mockumentary. This analysis confirms the link between postmodernism and documentary, but perhaps more importantly, this analysis investigates postmodemism's critique of the image and representation in general, two elements historically linked to documentary cinema's success as "truth teller."
    • Theorizing it : Paris Hilton, the celebutante, and the It Girl lifestyle

      Robbins, Kristin.; Popular Culture Program (Brock University, 2009-11-04)
    • "Canada's toughest neighbourhood" : surveillance, myth and orientalism in Jane-Finch

      Richardson, Chris.; Popular Culture Program (Brock University, 2008-11-04)
      This study examines coverage of lane-Finch in popular Canadian newspapers in 2007. It explores the often-negative representations of the community through conceptual frameworks based on the work of Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes and Edward Said. The question it attempts to answer is: What knowledge and power relationships are embedded within depictions of lane-Finch in popular Canadian newspapers in 2007? The methodology is a version of critical discourse analysis based on Foucault's The Archaeology of Knowledge. It finds that predominantly-negative connotations of the neighbourhood are reinforced through the perpetuation of dominant discourses, the use of "expert" knowledge sources, and the discounting of subjugated knowledges or livedexperiences of residents. The study concludes by suggesting where further research within the realm of popular culture and community identity can be directed.