Monday, April 04, 2016

SCMS 2016 Final Day :(

Sunday mornings are even more appropriate for porn (studies), particularly the Pornography is a Fighting Word: Sex Media and the Law panel. Laura Marks' "The New Wave: The Fall Out of Traci Lords" discussed the reedited Talk Dirty To Me Part III which shoddily cuts out scenes featuring an underage (under USA law) Traci Lords and replaces her with actress Lisa De Leeuw. For Marks, the reedit speaks to several tensions within porn fandom and history. Porn fans feel betrayed and lied to by the industry. Covers advertise scenes and even stars that do not appear in a film/video. And the reedit conveys the industry's cavalier attitude toward artistry. For instance, the new scenes were shot on video while the original was shot on film making for an in-your-face sloppiness. But such attitudes leave porn fans in a difficult place since they also have to defend the artistry/importance of pornography much of the time. Marks positions the reedit at the threshold of the turn to video and eventually gonzo, especially in a masturbation scene in which the director's instructions are left on the soundtrack. direction.

Peter Alilunas' "Regulation, Authenticity, and Pornography: The Legacy of “Freeman v. California”" focused on the landmark case in which porn producer Harold Freeman was arrested for pandering due to the sex acts in the film Caught From Behind (1982). Five female (but no male) performers were brought to trial and maintained that they were performers, not prostitutes. As Rhonda Shantell stated, "the sex acts were totally devoid of sexual arousal, gratification, or pleasure." However, the jurors only read the screenplay and concluded that the acting stopped when the sex began. In short, the pleasure was believed and Freeman was convicted on five counts of pandering. Appeals determined that the performers were acting sex rather than having actual sex. In 1988, the California Supreme Court found that the pandering law had no bearing on adult films and the US Supreme Court declined to hear any appeals. At stake here is the very definition of pornographic realism. But I was equally intrigued/repulsed by Dennis Conte of the Los Angeles Vice Squad who harassed performers and coerced them into testifying.
Constance Penley was the respondent and in her scholarship discovered that the porn industry is more afraid of censorship from Verizon and Google than any government obscenity trials. She also reported on a pleasant 45-minute phone conversation she had recently with a Los Angeles Vice Squad officer who told her "Our job would be so much easier if you could just tell us what obscenity is."
Then it was off to the Sound Studies SIG and my illustrious panel, Tracking Sound: On Film Music, Aesthetics, and Narrative. Paula Musegades' "Communism, Propaganda, and Music: Aaron Copland’s Film Score for Lewis Milestone’s The North Star"(1943)" covered the myriad songs in Milestone's de facto propaganda film about partnering with the Soviet Union to defeat the Nazis. Dana Andrews and Farley Granger sing! For "Love Me Tonight (1932) and the Development of the Integrated Film Musical," Hannah Lewis looked at early scripts for Rouben Mamoulian's masterpiece at the Library of Congress and revealed that the filmmakers were far more interested in technological innovation than so-called integration. In fact, one earlier script provided more narrative motivation for the tenuously integrated numbers than what wound up in the film. Finally, Matthew McDonald's "Behind the Whirring Machinery: Narrative Levels in the Coen Brothers’ Films" analyzed the interplay of narrative elements that distort the distinction between diegetic and non-diegetic. Oh yeah, and my paper, "Music is heard, not seen: Grand Rights and the Visualization of Song in Hollywood Cinema" was FABULOUS!

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