Psychoanalysis (part two): Screen and apparatus theory
The preceding chapter explored basic concepts of Freudian psychoanalysis and how they might be used to analyze or explicate cultural artifacts such as individual film and TV texts, or textual systems (genres) like the horror film or the psychological thriller. This chapter explores some of the complex and sometimes contradictory ways psychoanalysis has been used to theorize the very act or process of watching films. (These theories have rarely been applied to television studies for various reasons, not the least of them being that many of them are dependent upon a highly structuralist model of theatrical exhibition, which is no longer the standard for film viewing, and was never the standard for television viewing.) As such, this chapter explores psychoanalysis in terms more global than local. It examines the concepts that developed when theorists began to use psychoanalysis to account for the psychic appeal of cinema, and/or to describe the psychic mechanisms at work when we watch films. These ideas explore how Film with a capital F (and especially a certain kind of film-the classical realist text or Hollywood-style film) works in conjunction with our conscious and unconscious desires and drives. And although the concepts explored in this chapter can be and have been used to explore individual film texts (as in the case study that concludes this chapter), they were more regularly used to explore the mental or psychic processes of film viewing in and of itself.