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Plastic Nostalgia: In Remembrance of the 'Video Nasty

MCKENNA, Mark (2014) Plastic Nostalgia: In Remembrance of the 'Video Nasty. In: Invited Speaker, October 2014, Birmingham City University. (Unpublished)

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Abstract or description

Residual media forms carry with them an imprint of the past, a palimpsest evoking memories of the places we have been and the people that we have met. Discussions surrounding these constructions rarely consider the medium although in the age of the digital download and the virtual product, lamentations over the loss of the tangible and the materiality of the old are increasingly commonplace. These objects of prior consumption, be they vinyl, video or super 8mm could, in starkest terms be defined simply as carriers or delivery mechanisms, as mediums secondary to the message that they deliver, a message that can now be received on any computer anywhere in the world. However to define these objects as simply carriers is to deny the associations that we imbue, associations inextricably linked to the physicality, the tangibility and the experiential properties that are indelibly associated with our nostalgias for the object: the latest record, the bestselling book, and the video-cassette and the experiences that accompany the acquisition, engagement and interaction with these objects. The positioning of residual media forms is often determined by the aesthetics inherent in the object itself; vinyl positioned as a superior format to its digital counterpart or the contemporary concerns over the loss of the physicality of the printed page over a digital facsimile. The sense of loss associated with these arguments is repeatedly positioned as a binary; the quality of the record or the physicality of book, all acting as opposites in justification for the continued interaction with increasingly obsolete media forms. Video as a format has never been afforded the benefit of being repositioned in this manner, repeatedly designated as inferior it has consistently remained of the losing side of any discussion relating to its quality since the advent of its digital successor DVD. And in the United Kingdom much of the research into video has tended to focus on the moral panic surrounding the ‘video nasties’ and the censorship of the films included in that list, 72 films that were banned in 1984 under the Obscene Publications Act. In the 30 years since these films were criminalised, the cassettes have become collector’s items and are now exchanged for hundreds and sometimes thousands of pounds, acting as a catalyst for many in a return to this redundant technology. In this paper I will foreground how my own nostalgia for the period and collecting practices have led me to my object of study. I will consider the burgeoning community of collectors, examining the nostalgic discourses that accompany interactions with the medium before discussing the debates over critical distance that often accompany research into an area of ones own fandom.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Keynote)
Faculty: School of Computing and Digital Technologies > Film, Media and Journalism
Event Title: Invited Speaker
Event Location: Birmingham City University
Event Dates: October 2014
Depositing User: Mark MCKENNA
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2019 10:32
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 13:54

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