By Laura Kipnis
Ebook by way of Kipnis, Laura
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Extra info for Ecstasy Unlimited: On Sex, Capital, Gender, and Aesthetics
And on the contentious subject of positive images, we should note that this is now a favored representational mode of a self-congratulatory and socially obfuscating liberal entertainment industry. There are probably more AfricanAmerican women judges in one week of prime-time television than in the entire American judiciary—a simulacrum of racial equality absent the demand to actually achieve it. In theory, too, what ties these essays together is the position that the task of a politically engaged theory is to articulate the possibilities of a popular political resistance and contestation, taking one's direction from existing political movements and struggles.
Part of this argument entails describing why it is that the possible moment of a political and contestatory modernism—or any cultural politics that seeks some ground of autonomy, whether outside the present, outside the commodity, or, arguably, from outside dominant modes of representation—is no longer viable. 2 The fact is that capitalist culture is capable of assimilating even the most "revolutionary" sorts of themes without ever putting its own existence and REPOSSESSING POPULAR CULTURE continuation into question.
This seems to me an important project. 3 But outside film theory the term "male gaze" (along with its companion term "objectification") has filtered down through aesthetic theory and practice, through feminist art history and criticism, even to some extent into the culture at large, as omnipresent theoretical givens. One finds everywhere, even in feminists who are virulently antipsychoanalytic, the reliance on some version of "the male gaze" as a cornerstone of a feminist aesthetics; the male gaze seems also to have become imbricated in general theoretical usage with a Foucauldian theory of panoptic vision to produce a theoretical brick wall of a monolithic, determinate male gaze.