The Contagion of the Image in William Malone's Feardotcom

By Jackson, Kimberly | Post Script, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview

The Contagion of the Image in William Malone's Feardotcom


Jackson, Kimberly, Post Script


As Jeffrey Sconce notes in his 1999 work Haunted Media, media technologies have always entertained a relationship with the supernatural and the occult. Ghostly images were believed to haunt nineteenth-century photographs, and voices from beyond the grave to speak through the radio, the phonograph, the telegraph, and the telephone. Media technologies, whether visual or phonic, open up a technological "other side," a "vast electronic nowhere" peopled with human spirits (126). The introduction of the television to homes across the country enhanced this relationship because through it stories of such hauntings could be broadcast to a mass audience, with both moving picture and sound. Sconce discusses television shows from the 1960s like Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, many episodes of which featured the television or other media as haunted or threatening devices. In these scenarios, media technologies are more than just media; they are affected by the material that passes through them. Narratives of haunted media suggest that this material--messages, images, voices--does not merely pass through; parts of it remain and leave their traces. Further, since these technologies act as extensions of human consciousness and perception, aspects of those faculties begin to rub off as well, resulting in narratives of technologies and technological devices imbued with their own will. The "other side" thus stores much more than the spirits of the dead; it provides the murky borderland for all sorts of other-intrusions to disturb the distinctions a society holds dear: conscious/unconscious, known/unknown, domestic/foreign, reality/unreality, life/death, mind/body, self/other.

We should not be surprised, then, that our newest media technologies have elicited their own ghost stories, especially because of their greater storage capacity. As Friedrich Kittler notes in Gramophone, Film, Typewriter, "The realm of the dead is as extensive as the storage and transmission capabilities of a given culture" (13). In our culture, this would mean that the realm of the dead has become almost infinite in scope. Indeed, a string of recent films, including The Ring (2002) and Ring II (2005), Feardotcom (2002), Pulse (2006), and One Missed Call (2008), places ghosts in the videotape, the Internet, the wireless signal, and the cell phone, respectively. In spite of their contemporary settings, such films follow their gothic heritage, espousing traditional plot lines and narrative structures. They have a more difficult task than their predecessors, however, as they must market themselves to an audience that has been largely desensitized to violent images. The signs are many that the days of gothic terror are done, and that horror in the postmodern world has been reduced to mere disgust, if that. Contemporary audiences are characterized by their inability to be shocked, by their general desensitization to images and narratives of violence. Contemporary horror films, if they are not parodies, focus almost entirely on long and detailed scenes of brutal torture, leaving nothing to the imagination.

As Fred Botting notes in "Future Horror: The Redundancy of Gothic," contemporary film is moving more and more in the direction of "the empty but effective artifice of cinematic techniques of immediate and shocking realization. The technological process supplants rather than reinforces reality, natural emotion, and subjectivity ... Sucked into the wake of technological realization, human faculties" are spat out: in evoking emotion to excess, artificial overstimulation brings human emotions to the surface in order to evacuate affect and supersede all sensory faculties (5).

Botting's analysis focuses on the way in which contemporary horror lacks the emotional and psychological depth of the gothic horror of centuries past. Unable to evoke true terror, such films settle for mere sensory stimulation. Further, unlike the reciprocal relation between consciousness and technological image that Benjamin notes in his 1935 essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," the contemporary film experience does not tend to expand human perception but rather to replace it. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Contagion of the Image in William Malone's Feardotcom
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.