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More than Fifteen Minutes of Fame

The Changing Face of Screen Performance


Ken Miller

More than Fifteen Minutes of Fame tracks screen performance’s trajectory from dominant discourses of realism and authenticity towards increasingly acute degrees of self-referentiality and self-reflexivity. Exploring the symbiotic relationship between changing forms of onscreen representation and our shifting status as social subjects, the book provides an original perspective through international examples from cinema, experimental production, documentary, television, and the burgeoning landscape of online screen performance. In an emerging culture of participatory media, the creation of a screen-based presence for our own performances of identity has become a currency through which we validate ourselves as subjects of the contemporary, hyper-mediatized world. In this post-dramatic, post-Warhol climate, the author’s contention is that we are becoming increasingly wedded to screen media – not just as consumers but as producers and performers.


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CHAPTER THREE: Schizo Performances and Möbius Formations 93


93 CHAPTER THREE Schizo Performances and Möbius Formations A postmodern emphasis on flux, multiplicity, transformation, and becoming (as espoused by Deleuze and Guattari), rather than stasis, unity, and essentialized being is highly suggestive of the way that a range of contemporary media performances tend towards fragmenta- tion as opposed to integration and coherence. While performances in many feature films and television dramas clearly still operate accord- ing to the principles of unified and more or less in-depth explorations of character traits and objectives, at least as many media performances (indeed, probably many more) are now presented to us as a series of superficial and fragmentary moments. The performances that we see in a myriad of forms such as music videos, television commercials, sketch-based comedies, variety shows, and ‘actuality’ programming ranging from The Amazing Race and The Jerry Springer Show to nightly news and current affairs broadcasts, tend to be haphazard, chaotic and non-unified in comparison to the strict hierarchies and conventions that regulate performances in conventional realist narra- tives. As Internet entrepreneur, Jonah Peretti, wrote in 1996 regarding the “visual cacophony” awaiting the contemporary viewer with “re- mote control in hand”: The viewer is encouraged to identify with cops, thieves, surfers, businessmen, princes, paupers, housewives and athletes, to name but a few. Indeed, on MTV all of these characters may make an appearance in the course of a two minute video.1 In a realist narrative drama, the performance of a character is gener- ally expected to conform to a...

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