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ReFocus: The Films of Paul Schrader$
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Michelle E. Moore and Brian Brems

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474462037

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474462037.001.0001

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“Just Being Transparent Baby”: Surveillance Culture, Digitization, and Self-regulation in Paul Schrader’s The Canyons

“Just Being Transparent Baby”: Surveillance Culture, Digitization, and Self-regulation in Paul Schrader’s The Canyons

Chapter:
(p.155) Chapter 9 “Just Being Transparent Baby”: Surveillance Culture, Digitization, and Self-regulation in Paul Schrader’s The Canyons
Source:
ReFocus: The Films of Paul Schrader
Author(s):

James Slaymaker

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474462037.003.0010

Paul Schrader’s micro-budget 2013 feature The Canyons was almost unanimously disparaged upon release, with critics pointing to its emotional detachment, flat digital aesthetic and lack of realistic characterization as its major flaws. This chapter rails against these criticisms and explores the complex aesthetic, socio-political, and moral purpose of Schrader’s film. The chapter argues that a theoretical approach to The Canyons as an expression of the post-humanist condition fostered by the influx of surveillance cameras and social media into the fabric of everyday life allows us to perceive of his work as a cultural tool that forces us to reflect upon our relationship with media images. A reading of the feature through the theoretical framework of Foucault's visual economy of self-regulation fills a gap within Schrader scholarship by arguing for an interpretative paradigm which investigates the symbiotic relation between alienation, narcissism and the mediatised nature of contemporary social experience at the centre of The Canyons, thus offering a substantial insight on the fragmentation and disintegration of affect and personhood within a digitized culture.

Keywords:   Paul Schrader, The Canyons, Digital cinema, Foucault, Cameras, Alienation

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