Film, television, and the postmodern
There are many terms in critical-cultural studies that have varied and/or ambiguous meanings (and/or are used in various and/or ambiguous ways), and postmodernism is certainly one of them. It is also a term-like many of the others-that is charged with political and ideological ramifications. For some people, postmodernism suggests a new world order of equal access to media technologies and unfettered participation in the public sphere, primarily due to new communication protocols to which everyone allegedly has access (at least in the West). Conversely, other critics and theorists see it as the ultimate triumph of Western capitalism and its stranglehold on meaning, culture, and the political process. How one feels about postmodernism is often based on how one feels about modernism. For example, some critics of postmodernism see it as the debasement of serious, high-minded artistic modernism: the terms “vulgar modernism” or “modernism for the masses” tap into those sorts of feelings. Yet other critics see postmodernism as freedom from the Eurocentric elitism allegedly at the core of modernism. Still others feel that postmodernism is basically a meaningless buzz word, and that it really contributes little to our ongoing understanding of culture, politics, and mass media forms. This chapter does not share that sentiment, seeing postmodernism as a term that encompasses interesting shifts in how we think about history, about aesthetics, about philosophy, about capitalism, and about ideology: in other words, how we think about and theorize culture. Like the other models/ theories/methodologies introduced throughout this book, postmodernism can be thought of as another form of aesthetic or cultural analysis applicable to film and TV (and cultural artifacts in general).