The Social Factory

the blog of King's CMCI PostGrad Society

The Libidinal Economy of Music Videos by Toby Bennett

In 1981, Video famously Killed the Radio Star with the launch of MTV. This was supposed to be pop music’s moment of Wagnerian spectacle, the harmonious integration of artforms in glorious technicolour – and, yes, there are plenty of examples that live up to such a claim. But it turns out that if you chisel away at a Gesamtkunstwerk for long enough, then all you’re left with is twerk. It’s a familiar story: MTV now rarely shows music videos (even if it does sync music harder and faster than almost anyone else), online streaming sites have become the medium of choice, and videos themselves are talked about in terms of their view-count far more than their creativity. So, over thirty years later, has YouTube finally killed the music video?

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Cultural and academic ‘value’ – Toby Bennett

Last night saw the launch of Dave O’Brien’s book ‘Cultural Policy: Management, Value and Modernity in the Creative Industries’, the thrust of which is outlined in his recent Guardian article, Is ‘creativity’ arts policy’s big mistake?

A doubly contentious idea, the word ‘value’ is as slippery as ’culture’, potentially signifying everything and nothing – and certainly carrying different weight depending on the world in which you’re operating, whether that be the university, industry, politics, or creative practice. Most provocative, for me, was O’Brien’s suggestion that the questions brought into view by cultural policy cut to the very heart of what it means to be modern. In response, the event had Kate Oakley, Andy Pratt and Geoffrey Crossick discussing their own experiences at navigating those tricky waters with varying degrees of success.

A consensus emerged which was founded on a will to move beyond the ‘old and tired dichotomies’ of aesthetic value and economic value, and perhaps use value and exchange value, which forever trouble those working in the creative industries – something at the heart of the current AHRC project headed by Geoff Crossick. But it is not just culture that repeats such dichotomies; from this, perhaps, unusual starting point was launched an impassioned defence of the sanctity of research.

Prompted by concerned questions from audience-members representing various cultural and third sector institutions, the panellists avowed their commitment to translating research into plain speaking and bridging the worlds of industry and practice with that of the university. But, crucially, the ‘value’ of research in and for itself was stressed, each panellist distancing themselves in their own way from a purely instrumental use of academic insight.

The ivory tower was defended, partly because, as Kate Oakley observed, ‘not everyone in society wants to be engaged all of the time’ – but mostly because detachment is a necessary predicate for producing policy work that that does not merely serve the needs of ideological dogma. In professor Pratt’s succinct words, ‘what kind of citizens do you want your society to produce?’: for academics, artists, workers and consumers alike, this would seem to be the most urgent question of what it means to be modern.

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Today in “Kimye”: Kanye West’s video for “Bound 2”


Kanye West just premiered his latest video for “Bound 2” on Ellen, and it might be just the thing to get last week’s Lilly Allen video  off everyone’s mind. By the way, I just love how we are talking about music videos in general, feels like a pre-Jersey Shore era, but online, when MTV was actually about music. Anyway, in this video, majestic landscapes and animals are followed by West and images of his fiancé/baby’s mama Kim Kardashian. It’s quite a sight to see, and will be the talk of the Internet this week, no doubt. The song is actually my favorite off “Yeezus,” it’s got more of that old school soul-influenced Kanye, the kind of stuff that Ghostface Killah still approves of when it comes to Mr. West’s work.

Check out West’s interview with Ellen here.

-Stefania Marghitu

Rachel O’Neill introduces a response from the editors at Feminists@Law to the recent LSE Law event ‘Is rape different?’

Some of you may have heard about the recent LSE Law event ‘Is rape different?’, at which invited speakers Helen Reece and Barbara Hewson argued that rape victims are in some sense responsible for being raped. Providing a platform for these kinds of views at institutions such as the LSE lends legitimacy to victim-blaming attitudes which are already prevalent in contemporary UK culture. The editors at Feminists @ Law have put together a response to the event, which commentators can support via the comments function:

Alison Nastasi celebrates female horror directors

“Most horror movies are generally told from a male perspective, despite the fact that studies have shown the audiences for these films are 50% female. There have been some powerful genre movies made by women, featuring feminist leanings and a strong female viewpoint. We wanted to highlight these works — those films that bypass the stereotypical (naked) damsel in distress trope and call attention to the male gaze, sometimes turning it back onto itself. If the only names that come to mind when discussing horror are Hitchcock and Romero, let this list also serve as an introduction to fantastic female filmmakers who enjoy scaring the hell out of their audiences.”

“Our appetite for digital memory and electronic is costing the earth” – Prof Anna Reading examining the materiality of images and digital memory

“Are you only seeing red? Asked Professor Anna Reading, Head of the Department of Culture, Media and Creative Industries, to a public audience of around 350 at the Museum of Art  (MASP) in Sao Paulo on 17 October. ‘Then by the end of this talk, I hope you will see green instead’.”

From iCloud to Upturned Planet.