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Comedy and Cultural Critique in American Film$
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Ryan Bishop

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748643073

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748643073.001.0001

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The Constitution of the Real: Documentary, Mockumentary and the Status of the Image

The Constitution of the Real: Documentary, Mockumentary and the Status of the Image

(p.58) Chapter 3 The Constitution of the Real: Documentary, Mockumentary and the Status of the Image
Comedy and Cultural Critique in American Film

Ryan Bishop

Edinburgh University Press

Cinema’s apparent veri similitude — its ability to document that which appears before the lens — provided the source for early non-fiction film experimentation and opened the door for propaganda and misinformation. The work of a clutch of theorists and film-makers addressd in this chapter questions the changing status of the image, cinema’s self-reflexive engagement with this status, and the fomenting and/or quelling cultural criticism. This inquiry explores the aesthetics of the documentary as a genre in the creation of that oxymoronic phenomenon of media called ‘unmediated representation’. Along with the now-standard aesthetic qualities of the genre, documentary gains its unique filmic status by partaking of the historical authority of the newsreel and its presentational format, a kind of visual store of collected moving image memory and historical events that is amplified exponentially with the coming of television, and later the internet and online streaming, as well as platform-to-platform media sharing.

Keywords:   Documentary/mockumentary, the visible, prosthetic vision, Michael Moore, Orson Welles, Woody Allen, ‘War Neuroses’ (1915), Jean Baudrillard, Martin Heidegger, Paul Virilio

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