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Politics and/of Representation (Panel 6)

posted on 2024-07-04, 13:31 authored by Elke WeissmannElke Weissmann, David Levente Palatinus, Will Stanford Abiss, Gloria Salvado-Corregter, Fran Benavente, Sonia de Sa

Will Stanford Abbiss (independent scholar)

“It’ll be easier for everyone with me gone”: The Resurgence of Inequality (and Commercialism) in The Crown

In its final two seasons, The Crown (Netflix, 2016-23) moves away from the post-heritage ideologies I have previously identified in the series (Abbiss, 2023; 2024). The British sociopolitical context, now represented by Prime Ministers John Major (Jonny Lee Miller) and Tony Blair (Bertie Carvel), is minimally explored compared to previous seasons, while even Queen Elizabeth (Imelda Staunton) is frequently marginalised in favour of a protracted telling of Princess Diana’s (Elizabeth Debicki) final weeks. Perhaps even more troublingly, a matter at the heart of contemporary discourse around the British family, the allegations that Prince Andrew was the perpetrator of sexual abuse in 2001, is ignored by The Crown, in stark contrast with its ambiguous treatment of Prince Philip in its early seasons. Screenwriter Peter Morgan’s revisiting of his film The Queen (2006), one of the original inspirations for The Crown, ultimately presents a narrower and more individualistic interpretation than the film and television seasons that precede The Crown’s depiction of the 1990s and 2000s. While previous seasons, notwithstanding their focus on the monarchy, aimed to show the breadth of British society, the final seasons expose a predilection for the privileged class, ending the drama on a note of inequality.

This paper identifies the ideological shift in The Crown’s concluding years, situating this alongside developments in Netflix’s commercial strategies. As Netflix and other leading streaming services implement ad-supported tiers within their services, a development scholars are beginning to grapple with (Lotz and Eklund, 2024), they are becoming ‘multi-sided platforms’ in a manner previously considered exclusive to AVoD services (Chalaby, 2023). As the boundaries between categories of streaming services become porous, the capacity for pioneering SVoDs to maintain complex drama productions has come under threat. This aligns with the recent words of The Sopranos (HBO, 1999-2007) creator David Chase, who told The Times that risk aversity is now once again pervading the television industry. As one of Netflix’s earliest commissioned dramas, and unusual by spanning the service’s eras of distinction and commercialism, The Crown’s conclusion is an illuminating example through which to explore the present moment of multinational streaming television, and the storytelling possibilities that may be becoming more remote.

Glòria Salvadó-Corretger and Fran Benavente (Pompeu Fabra University)

Slow clones in television fiction to reflect on urgent contemporary challenges: the revealing role of Dougie Jones (Twin Peaks: The Return, David Lynch, 2017) and Commandant Van der Weyden (P’tit Quinquin, Bruno Dumont, ARTE, 2014, 2018)

In this paper, we examine the figure of the “slow clone”, or the “idiot double”, through the series P’tit Quinquin (Bruno Dumont, ARTE, 2014, 2018) and Twin Peaks: The Return (David Lynch, Showtime, 2017). The slow clone is a character that functions in a similar way in both series. He subtly reveals (from the limits of the human condition, as defined by María Zambrano) the darkest and most chaotic parts of his moment in time, that is, Le Pen’s racist France and Trump’s America; and brings out local evil (evil associated with a geographic area), domestic evil and abstract evil. The slow clone, as previously alluded to, draws upon the idiot figure, which has a long tradition in literature and film. The idiot and chaos go hand in hand (Desbarats, 2015), that is why it will be essential to analyze the idiot double in the television works of Lynch and Dumont through five central ideas:

- the idea that they move and think in a very slow manner, which is the starting point for all misunderstandings they provoke and a way of bringing out all urgent problems contemporary world has.

- the idea of the defective double and the relevance of the act of birth (Zambrano, 2019).

- The importance of the body, slow gestures and slapstick, and its genealogical relationship with burlesque characters, such as Langdon, Keaton, Tati or Lewis.

- The archetype of the idiot as a narrative figure, who disrupts the structure of any story, in a way that disturbs and dislocates serial fiction conventions and opens a space for reflection on contemporary problems.

- The idiot as a figure in limbo, or a dispossessed character without memory, who comes from “out there”, and has lost the capacity to speak, but accepts having a double as normal.

He finds himself in constant (slow) movement despite lacking a destination, causing revelation with no intention of doing so and appearing not to notice his surroundings but shows acute awareness (Zambrano, 2019). Both the idiot double in P’tit Quinquin and in Twin Peaks. The Return, as duplicated characters, facilitate repetition, which is a key device in serial fiction. They generate stories that restart continuously. They live in worlds that are ruptured, nonsensical, grotesque and lost, but striving to make sense. The idiot finds a perfect space for his existence in this environment. As we see in these two series, the idiot double functions as an “envoy” (Zambrano, 2019) who finds himself outside of space and time, as he inhabits an open and available non-time (Maillard, 2019). Furthermore, he resides within the confines of the word (he doesn’t talk) and of the story (he is unaware of the world in which he lives) (Pardo, 2019). However, he has the power of sight. These two series also have this capacity: they see beyond their plots. As said by Rosset (2019), the idiot has the ability to approach the real and in these television shows, through the slow clone, we very crudely discover the contemporary world.

Sónia de Sá (University of Beira Interior)

Television fiction in Portugal and the subtlety of neo-colonialist discourses

The representation of women in Portuguese fiction from the colonial period, almost 50 years after the revolution of 25 April 1974, which put an end to more than half a century of dictatorship and colonialist wars in various African countries, maintains, through subtle neo-colonialist discourses, the limiting traits of white women's privilege over black women (colonised) and absolute submission to white men (colonisers) and fearful domination over black men (colonised). In a contemporary reading of Portuguese colonialist history, this paper analyses the figure of the white Portuguese woman based on two television fictions: Três Mulheres (Alvarães, Garcia & Ventrell, 2018-2022) and Glória (Lopes, 2021). The research techniques applied are film and discourse analyses. The first conclusions show that a) the narratives indicate a neo-colonialist continuum of superiority of white people over black people; b) the representation of white women is, in public, as housewives or creators who pave the way to freedom, and, in private, as submissive-victims of the white male figure; and c) the fictionalised constructs in audiovisual format tend to show new ways of silencing the colonising past through the victimisation of white women and the silencing of black women.


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