This chapter brings the look at the history of mothers between the 1980s onwards on network television up to date and reveals much about the fictional representation of mothers and how that relates to motherhood in the present century. Looking to the political ramifications of some of these fictional representations reveals much about attitudes to motherhood. The chapter also notes the migration of motherhood into HBO’s original drama series.
The book examines the representation of mothers on quality American television investigating how their portrayal links to their economic and political oppression. Arguing that mothers on television betray a deep cultural misogyny, it concludes that patriarchy has an investment in the ways our televisual mothers are positioned.
Like much of his prose and nonfiction, Baldwin’s poetry follows his actual
and figurative movement between Europe and America against the backdrop of his
homeland’s constant refusal to work through its racist, imperialist, and
heterosexist legacies. The 2014 reissue of his two poetry collections,
Jimmy’s Blues (1983) and Gypsy
(1989), as Jimmy’s Blues and Other Poems urges us to
revisit Baldwin’s poetry as an expression of his ideas and sentiments
through a different lens: that of a blues poetics. In Baldwin’s poetry,
the blues provide an aesthetic and epistemic framework for his expression of a
radical internationalist politics of liberation.
This chapter complicates the notion of the ‘outsider’ film through an analysis of Black Audio Film Collective’s Twilight City (1989). An essay film about the birth of a new, global London, Twilight City’s central project involves a depiction of London from ‘outside in’. If the nation’s imperial history and its enduring legacies rendered most visibly in form of migration are generally considered to be an ‘outsider’ or external experience in the British context, Twilight City positions these histories as constitutive components of the rise of global London. As such, this is a film that privileges an ‘insider/outsider’ position, one that oscillates in deliberately unsettling ways between the two. The central conceit of the film concerns a daughter who responds to a letter from her mother, who left London for Dominica thirty-five years ago and now longs to return. The film’s structure already poses a complex ‘insider/outsider’ relationship between one who never left and the other who wants to come back after a lengthy period away. Moreover, in utilising archival imagery, inserts of historical monuments and interviews that are interwoven in classic essayistic fashion, Twilight City activates what Homi Bhabha refers to as the ‘past-present’. This chapter argues Twilight City situates itself in exactly this transitional phase by staging a series of entanglements between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ that suggests the impossibility of viewing the city’s global future without consideration of a host of previous ‘Londons’.
Cinematic streaming and the digital happening in globalising London
Michael A. Unger
Keith B. Wagner
As a cinematic-cum-multimodal audio-visual-orbital feat, livestreaming is nothing less than presentational wizardry and a narrative storytelling that works against-the-clock. This type of filmmaking is embodied as premise and constraint in Woody Harrelson’s directorial debut Lost in London (2017). This feature film creates what is referred to as a digital ‘happening’: it situates the profilmic event of shooting a long-take film with the technological caveat that one camera records the entire film as it develops in real time. This single long take premise also required that Lost in London be shot entirely on location and set in the theatre district of London in the early morning of 20 January 2017, while streamed simultaneously into 550 theatres in the United States and one in London. Lost in London’s globality is unmistakable. Its placeness and demographic richness become key tropes to ponder and that complement and reinforce London’s multicultural supremacy. This chapter argues Harrelson’s honest approach to London’s superdiversity in this film is not just an American filmmaker’s appropriation of this global city’s geography but a film that expands London’s global status as a tourist but also multicultural hotspot, unparalleled in our world system of cities. Thus, globalisation in practice is detachable and mediated in Lost in London’s dense material and urban fabric: both in architectural form and in the cast and ethos of its characters found on screen. Most important, it showcases liveness as a performative interaction between filmmaker and viewer to create a cinematic artifact – a one-off moment – that captures both event and experience but also culture and geography with aplomb.
In comparison with other metropolitan cities, London is rarely featured in Hong Kong cinema. The only exceptions are two films made by British Chinese director Leong Po-chih, who was born in the UK in 1939, raised in London and trained at the BBC. This chapter examines two films made by Leong in the 1980s that were set in London: Jingleon peipaa (1984) and Ping Pong (1986). In both films, London is featured not as a fantastical cosmopolitan wonderland but as a site of brute reality. On the one hand, London is the linguistic, cultural and sociopolitical root of British Chinese and middle-class, young and Anglicised Hong Kongers. On the other, it is also a site of deceit, violence and subjectival confusion, which actively occupies and colonises the subjectivity of these individuals, yet ostensibly ostracises them as the others. This chapter argues that London is featured in Leong Po-chih’s films not as a crystallisation of cosmopolitanism. Instead, it is best understood as a site where the illusion of cosmopolitanism is contested, negotiated, deconstructed and reconfigured in the eyes of the colonised subjects. The chapter’s argument is constructed by first contextualising and historicising what London was – and to some extent, still is – for British Chinese and Hong Kongers during the 1980s. The chapter also conducts a close comparative analysis of these two films, with reference to other representations of London in Hong Kong cinema, including Lee Chi-ngai’s Daoma ji (2014), which features London as a fantasy for its Mainland Chinese audience.
This chapter argues that Sex and the City reveals a progressive and radical version of mothering. Using Miranda as a case study, and applying Adrienne Rich’s formulations of the institution of motherhood versus mothering, we can see how the restrictions placed upon women through the institution of motherhood can be revolutionized. Miranda’s story reveals a progressive potential that allows the viewer knowledge of a full unexpurgated version of pregnancy that is missed by most of the critical community.
This chapter argues that, through an application of Lacanian psychoanalysis, Ruth Fisher, who finds herself at the centre of a family of adult children after the sudden death of their father, Nathaniel, offers us the opportunity to observe a grieving woman beset by the challenge of mothering her adult children. Ruth is another version of the post-menopausal maternal figure but, this time, the portrayal of the older mother is much more sympathetic. Alan Ball’s Ruth is a complex and sensitive portrayal of the complexities of middle-aged motherhood.
This chapter focuses on the first two seasons of The Sopranos, how it has come to define HBO’s move into the global television landscape and is the series that most fully articulates HBO’s brand equity on the global stage. Arguing that the representation of Livia Soprano, read through Freudian psychoanalysis, offers us an insight into the way motherhood is viewed within very patriarchal worlds and sets the tone for many series that come after.