No, I'd never seen it before. Am I the only one on my LJ f-list circa 2005 who hadn't? >_< The only reason for watching it now was that I stumbled upon a cheap copy of the movie on Blu-Ray.
Random impressions (because I can't be bothered with anything more coherent):
-The entire movie was an argument, and it even had a thesis statement at the end. Needless to say, I like that sort of thoughtful construction. Props to them!
-All of the NYC scenes were shot in London. If I hadn't known that from architecture alone, well, the cars being on the wrong side of the road was a big clue.
-I know NOTHING about glam rock, but talk about a love/hate letter to David Bowie! At least, in the end, there was some amount of redemptive romance and optimism.
-Ewan McGregor gave a great performance, and he sang his character's songs live. Unfortunately, though, his American accent wasn't exactly award-winning. At one point I actually had to turn the subtitles on because his pronunciation was so mangled.
-Toni Collette's accent...or, rather, wanderings between American and British English, was practically masterclass. And Christian Bale's Manchester accent was as good as it gets from anyone who isn't from there. (And yes, years of living in England have attuned me to such things.)
-Gleaned from the director's commentary track: Miramax's audience research found that the movie rated most highly among females under 25. Lulz.
-Also gleaned from the director's commentary track: Yes, Todd Haynes was totally reading all the fanfiction.
-Finally, in the end, the symbolic torch of transformative possibility (the green pin) was passed to the next generation...who happened to be a journalist. Twenty years later, six-odd months into a profoundly regressive political climate, this just makes me feel depressed.
Every eight months or so, I find myself thinking that I really ought to try breathing life back into this LJ. But then I realize I don't have anything in particular that I want to say. And besides, I gradually began moving my social media activities to other platforms, i.e. Twitter in 2007, Facebook in 2009.
It’s not the same, though.
You see, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr, the last of which (God help me) crashes my browser with a trillion animated GIFs, are like scrapbooks, telegrams, and short commentary. LJ, on the other hand, is basically a longform prose blogging platform with additional social media functionality layered on top—it is, as its name implies, for journaling—and it made it easy for the everyday person to blog.
More crucially still, it spearheaded a brief cultural moment, circa the early to mid-2000s and now over, wherein it became normal for everyday, ordinary people to write publicly about the day-to-day minutiae of their lives. And oh my! did they ever, in fabulous detail…and in well-organized paragraphs composed of complete sentences.
On LJ, there are harrowing tales of suicide attempts
and the death of a woman from Stage IV cancer documented in real time
. I was never acquainted with either of these women whose LJs I’ve just linked, and they are not Wikipedia’s definition of “notable,” but their stories are valuable documentary evidence of ordinary lives. And crucially, they remain out there—for public consumption.
These days, parents and teachers warn children not to post embarrassing personal material on the internet because “the internet is forever,” and those ill-advised nude photos you posted at age eighteen may haunt you when you decide to run for president at fifty-five. It’s good advice, of course. It’s just too bad that it’s all too often untrue.
Stuff disappears. For example, I used to have a personal webpage during my high school/college years. Some of you on LJ may even remember it. But it’s gone now, gone along with the server that hosted it, and the onetime university “Lecturer in Publishing and Digital Media” assures you that the bulk of its content is no longer available anywhere. Presume that I no longer even have personal file backups of that old website, and it truly is gone forever. Much of the internet has been flushed permanently down the memory hole in this and similar ways.
Good riddance, you say? Well, I suppose that depends on how you define value in the first place. Sit in on as many academic presentations as I have, though, and you’d be amazed how much ends up proving valuable to someone, somehow.
As a social researcher whose curiosity never switches off, my concerns—and occasionally renewed personal interest in LJ—are therefore twofold:
1) Its status as a publicly accessible archive of detailed informal histories.
2) My concern that social media platform both shapes and constrains the form in which online documentary evidence of the present takes, and my existential worry that what has largely replaced LJ is, by general comparison, superficial and impoverished.
The larger issues are complicated, tangled up in questions of privacy, intellectual property, political economy, and so forth. But at least when it comes to the ephemeral traces that I personally leave behind, increasingly I have come to conclude that it is important to both proactively preserve them and, going forward, to think carefully about how, and where, I go about producing new material.
The Autumn issue of The Fountain
, a newsletter distributed to current members and alumni of Trinity College, Cambridge, will feature a two-page introduction to my doctoral thesis research titled, "Transnational Manga, Transnational Research."
I am, according to the editor, the first current PhD student ever invited to write up her scholarship in this venue, and it strikes me as a very savvy move. The College's alumni have made a significant contribution to the cultural/creative sector for a long time, yet they tend to be underrepresented in Trinity's public image. In some small way this article serves to remind them that their work is valued.
Now that's a thought I can get behind.
It's only appearing on the 7 day table, but since the article
went live but a week ago, I suppose 18 recorded downloads ain't bad...
I've taken a picture (to make it last longer, of course):
By the way, the final section includes an argument built upon a rather personal story. My mother, who hasn't read anything I've written since high school, made a point of taking a look at the PDF I sent her because the story involves her. She thought it was good writing and told me yesterday that her dad (my grandfather, deceased for the better part of two decades) would have been proud. Apparently when I was a kid he predicted that I would become a writer. There is no higher compliment.
Also gratifying: Over dinner one evening, while the article was still under review, I ran the aforementioned argument by my supervisor, one of the most important names in publishing research. He said, quite simply, "I think that's right."
Ever since I noticed the "Most Read" feature on the Taylor & Francis website sometime back in 2011, my article
for Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics
has been the #1
Most Read. However, I've had absolutely no reason to believe that any of my other academic writing is particularly popular.
So it was with double-take shock that, in the process of looking up a couple of articles in Publishing Research Quarterly
this afternoon, that I noticed my 2009 article
"Books, Not Comics" was in equal first place on the Springer site's real-time updated Most Downloaded list. I actually read PRQ online reasonably often, and I have never ever
seen it on this list before!!!
What's going on? No clue. But I knew instantly that I had to screencap it before it was gone:
My syllabus for a course on "Print Media and Modernity" has been published in the American Sociological Association's online teaching resource database TRAILS
. It has also been listed as a Featured Resource since going live on the TRAILS
Here's the proof:
My Wednesday was evenly split between the three mysteries of academic labor: research, teaching, and service.
I spent the morning in the university library, reading other students' submitted doctoral theses and making some hard decisions about the writing up of my own. (Surprised, incidentally, that none of the theses I saw were printed on cotton rag paper.)
I spent the afternoon shadowing my supervisor while he was supervising undergraduates and taking notes on teaching practices. This is a part of a 9-month teacher training course offered by the University.
Finally, I spent the evening doing odd jobs related to my position as Co-Convenor of the British Sociological Association. I emailed the BSA office, emailed my fellow convenors (way too many emails, to be honest!), and hung posters advertising the annual conference all around the department and so-called Graduate Attic.
It was a ten hour work day, no joke. And of course I'm also in Week 4 of my Monster Cold and am now coughing till I see stars while I type.
In sum? Just another ordinary day in the life.
AX 2011 Anime and Manga Studies Symposium
(Los Angeles, California, July 1 - July 4, 2011)
Friday, July 1
2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Keynote Address: Prof. Ian Condry (Comparative Media Studies, MIT)
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Roundtable Discussion 1
Theoretical perspectives on Japanese visual culture
* Samantha Close (University of California, Irvine)
* Amanda Landa (University of Texas at Austin)
* Gino Zarrinfar (University of Hawaii Manoa)
8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Open Session 1
Andrea Gilroy (University of Oregon)
* This place is a nightmare: Globalization as horror in Katsuhiro Otomo's Domu
Casey Brienza (University of Cambridge)
* Manga Revolution or logical evolution? Field theory on the rise and demise of Tokyopop's U.S. publishing programme
Saturday, July 2
12:00 – 1:30 p.m.
Open Session 2
Sandra Alagona (Claremont Graduate University)
Sherrie Bakelar (University of Nevada, Las Vegas)
* Between Yasashii and Bushido: The balancing power of warrior mothers in anime
Annie Manion (University of Southern California)
* Modernity and pre-war Japanese animation
* Deborah Scally (Southern Methodist University)
Cogito, ergo anime: Some thoughts on using anime and manga in the classroom
3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Open Session 3
Paul Cheng (University of California, Riverside)
* History, memory and aesthetics in animation: Isao Takahata's Grave
of the Fireflies
Kukhee Choo (Tulane University)
* "Cool Japan": Soft power in the 21st century
Gino Zarrinfar (University of Hawaii Manoa)
* The Guyver and societies of control
Sunday, July 3
10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Open Session 4
Samantha Close (University of California, Irvine)
* Real ninjas make AMV's! Anime through the eyes of vidders
Northrop Davis (University of South Carolina)
* Title to be confirmed
Forrest Greenwood (University of Southern California)
* "Past fungibility": Examining the speculative value of history in the doujin works of Takeshi Nogami
Alex Leavitt (University of Southern California)
* "Open-source culture"" and the cult of Hatsune Miku
Roundtable Discussion 2
Teaching, writing and thinking about anime/manga: New directions, new opportunities
* Northrop Davis (University of South Carolina)
* Druann Pagliassotti (California Lutheran University)
* Kim Rudolph (University of Oklahoma)
* Deborah Scally (Southern Methodist University)
4:30pm - 5:00pm
Closing Remarks: Lawrence Eng (Anime and Manga Research Circle)
* Writing about otaku: Lessons from fandom, academia, and beyond
Why I am against the cuts to UK higher education: Tuition fees with big sticker prices hurt the working class, not the middle class. Middle class families will figure out how to work the system, while working class families take one look at the sticker price and figure there's no way they can afford that. Yes, debt distorts the life-chances of all but the most affluent, but the middle class will pony up. You'll see.
Also, to UK commentators who seem to have no clue how US higher ed actually works: So-called "private" colleges and universities in the United States still receive an important indirect public subsidy. They receive tax breaks if (as all the reputable ones are) they are registered non-profit organizations, and everybody, for-profit and non-profit alike, qualifies for federally-backed student loan money. (This, by the way, is the US version of the for-profit scandal. Why should the student loan system subsidize some corporation's capitalist accumulation?)
By the way, you shouldn't be using the THE rankings to assess anything about universities in the US, most especially not undergraduate education. Harvard ain't Cambridge. Most SLACs and regional institutions, where the best undergraduate teaching happens, do not appear on the list because their primary mission is teaching, not research. That said, I am a liberal arts college graduate and would be the first to line up in support of the foundation of a real US-style liberal arts college in the UK. (But New College of the Humanities ain't it.)