WHY SO MANY FOOD PROGRAMS?

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THE CULTURAL MEANINGS OF FOOD AND EATING CONVENTIONS ANALYZED THROUGH ANTHROPOLOGICAL CONCEPTIONS OF CULTURE.

1) Following R. Benedict’s definition of anthropology as “the study of human beings as creatures of society. It fastens its attention upon those physical characteristics and industrial techniques, those conventions and values, which distinguish one community from all others that belong to a different tradition”, in these notes I will try to analyse the conventions of food and eating. I find the topic most interesting, in that it asks to discuss a matter that offers a number of insights into human societies, and its symbols and meanings. Food is everywhere… food, and the way, and the reason why, too, we eat certain foods, in certain contexts.

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PORNOGRAPHY, MEDIA VIOLENCE AND CENSORSHIP

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‘THE LIBERAL VIEW OF CENSORSHIP PROVIDES CONTEMPORARY PRODUCERS OF FILM AND TELEVISION THE LICENCE THEY NEED, TO INCORPORATE PORNOGRAPHIES. THESE INCLUDE THE GRAPHIC DEPICTIONS OF SEX ITSELF, BUT EXTENDS TO COVER SEXUAL ABUSE, PHYSICAL VIOLENCE AND TORTURE. THESE SEQUENCES ARE FREQUENTLY ENACTED TOWARDS THOSE WHO ARE OTHERWISE TRADITIONALLY MARGINALIZED’.

The Durango-95 purred away real horror show – a nice, warm vibraty feeling all through your guttiwuts. Soon, it was trees and dark, my brothers, with real country dark. We filled around for a while with other travellers of the night, playing hogs of the road. Then we headed west, what we were after now was the old surprise visit. That was a real kick and good for laughs and lashings of the old ultra violence.
Alex (voice-over) – A Clockwork Orange, 1971

My being raped moved something in me so deeply that I could no longer look at it: I’d had a fear of men all of my life. [America woman]
Women Viewing Violence, p. 15

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BRAZIL’S DESIRES AND FEARS

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“Cinema Novo put Brazil’s face on the screen. It exposed our contradictions, our desires, our fears, and our convulsive energy.”
Walter Salles

Throughout this essay I shall aim to consider the relation between Glauber Rocha’s Black God White Devil (1964) and the ‘movement’ he was part of, and one of the main theorists, Cinema Novo.

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PASOLINI: REALITY PRECISELY AS IT IS

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NEOREALISM WAS THE KEY INFLUENCE IN POST-WAR ITALIAN CINEMA. ITS STATED AIM WAS TO BRING AUDIENCES TO ‘THINK ABOUT REALITY PRECISELY AS IT IS’ (ZAVATTINI).

I was twenty, not even – eighteen,
nineteen… and I had been alive for a century,
a whole lifetime
consumed by the pain of the fact
that I would never be able to give my love
if not to my hand, or to the grass of ditches
or maybe to the earth of an unguarded tomb…
Twenty and, with its human history and its cycle
of poetry, a life had ended.
(from Pier Paolo Pasolini, A Desperate Vitality)

On the one hand, without a doubt neorealism was the key influence in post-war Italian cinema.

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THE BODY IS A CULTURAL CONSTRUCTION

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A fundamental concept in the history of medicine is the body. A basic definition of medicine is “the science and art dealing with the maintenance of health and the prevention, alleviation, or cure of disease.” That is, medicine deals with the body. But what exactly do we mean by the word “body?” Is it an objective, biological, clearly defined entity, or is it a cultural construction?

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WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE “MODERN”?

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“Walls and spheres and immobility! For two thousand years people have believed that the sun and all the stars of heaven rotate around mankind. Pope, cardinals, princes, professors, captains, merchants, fishwives and schoolkids thought they were sitting motionless inside this crystal sphere. But now we are breaking out of it, Andrea, at full speed. Because the old days are over and this is a new time. For the last hundred years mankind has seemed to be expecting something. Our cities are cramped, and so are men’s minds. Superstition and the plague” (B. Brecht, Life of Galileo).

“Imagine a man, who as here has laid his ear as it were on the heart chamber of the world-will, who feels the mad desire for existence flow outwards into all the veins of the world in the form of a thundering torrent or of the gentlest spraying brook, should such a man not suddenly shatter into pieces?” (F. Nietzsche, Birth of Tragedy)

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POLITICS ISN’T WORKING? LOOK AT THE MEDIA

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AS IT IS FREQUENTLY ARGUED, ‘POLITICS ISN’T WORKING’ AND THE MEDIA HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO A ‘CRISIS IN POLITICAL COMMUNICATIONS’ CREATING AUDIENCES WHO ARE POLITICALLY CYNICAL OR APATHETIC.

“What’s going on now in journalism is what I call the Studio 54 phenomenon – pushing the envelope, seeing how far we can go before we close the place down. It seems to be an unwritten rule to see how much we can get away with as journalists. I don’t believe there is moral decay in society. And I don’t believe the Lewinsky scandal and the coverage of it indicated such decay. I think we are better off than we were in the ‘50s. And like Studio 54, I think human nature will tell us when it’s time to close down.”

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STARDOM AND AUTHENTICITY

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IN POPULAR REPRESENTATIONS OF STARDOM/ CELEBRITY, THE STAGING OF ‘REVELATIONS’ SETS UP THE PROMISE OF ESTABLISHING THE STAR’S AUTHENTICITY BEYOND THEIR PUBLIC IMAGE.’ WHY IS THE SEARCH FOR ‘THE AUTHENTIC’ CULTURALLY SIGNIFICANT?

The matter of authenticity in our so called post-modern society is of great interest, in that it cuts through a number of satellite issues: in a media saturated age, it relates to art, audience reception, democracy, accessibility to information, education, politics and so on. The point is that with the rising importance of Fourth Estate, in its dialectics with ideology, it becomes harder and harder to discern the fake from the real, the authentic from the manufactured.

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WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE WATCHDOG ROLE OF THE FOURTH ESTATE?

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DO THE MEDIA NOW SERVE TO UNDERMINE AMERICAN DEMOCRACY?

On a flight to Egypt a few weeks ago I was handed over a copy of the International Herald Tribune. A couple of paragraphs in the section ‘Briefly – United States’ in the bottom left corner of page 9 caught my attention:

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BE REASONABLE, DEMAND THE IMPOSSIBLE

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THE EVENTS OF MAY ’68 IN FRANCE HAVE BEEN SEEN AS THE EXPRESSION OF A RESURGENT MARXISM, AS AN EXISTENTIALIST REBELLION, AS A POST-MARXIST LEFTISM, AS THE POLITICS OF DESIRE, AND EVEN AS POSTMODERN POLITICS. WHAT WERE THE IDEAS AND ASPIRATIONS THAT DROVE THE EVENTS?

“Let us conclude: those who are unable to change methods when the times demand it doubtless prosper as long as they remain in step with fortune; but they are lost as soon as fortune changes. As for the rest I think it is better to be too bold than too cautious…”
Machiavelli, The Prince

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