keeps them honest. (These are both, of course, highly debatable proposi-
tions.) But both films invoke this figure only to bring him low— to demon-
strate the immorality of objectivity and to provide the audience with an
identification figure we can follow along the path to political enlightenment.
I can’t see any essential difference in methodology between Boat People
and Under Fire, but still, Under Fire was praised to the skies by many of
the same critics who dismissed Boat People out of hand.
I think Hui, in a strange way, has been punished for
commenting as well. Anthropologists turned
their observational technique on American culture, and sociologists
sought to use media to understand the group dynamics of wartime and
postwar society. Other academics, brandishing the tools of what was
emerging as “mass communication research,” tried to sample and mea-
sure the collective delusions promoted on the radio or the movie screen.
Émigrés associated with the Frankfurt School merged these strategies
with large doses of post- Hegelian philosophy. Adorno and Horkheimer’s
Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944) proposed
sponsored by their local media
outlet, the Church, was a true story of local heroes staged for “the edifi ca-
tion, honor, utility, and profi t of the city.” 28 Likewise, modern television
executives would doubtless profess their sincere journalistic goal to be the
enlightenment of the public through the transmission of useful and profi t-
able information of direct relevance to daily life; just as the ostensibly more
secular American television viewer (reared on at least the appearance of a
separation of church and state)29 would be likely to profess that the con
103; defi ned, 117; and fact, 131;
manual, 121– 22, 124; organization
I N D E X 145
of, 127– 28; and resemblance, 113,
119; and sensation, 125– 26, 129–
31, 133– 34; and temporality, 130
Dialectic of Enlightenment (Adorno),
Difference and Repetition (Deleuze),
digital event, use of term, 64, 128
digital panoramas, 65– 66, 68n16
digital technologies: indexicality,
disappearance of, 5, 22– 23, 71;
normative image in, 106; ontol-
ogy in, 2, 6– 7; representation of
time in, 56, 71; 3- D modeling,
101; transition to, 1, 47, 65, 70;
to have demonstrated the tendentious ways a gangster film con-
tinued to relay doubts about the terms of social and cultural transfor-
mation in 1930s America, even after censorship and historical change
ought to have diminished its impact. Specifically, I have attended to
how the gangster narrative sets up internal choices for the audience
that are aided by alluding to collective memories ofan oppressive state
20. Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, "The Culture Industry," in Dialectic of
Enlightenment, trans. John Cumming (New York: Continuum, 1972) (original
1957), remains a useful collection of 1940s pieces. Interestingly, a 1945 ar-
ticle by Theodore Strauss declared both Agee and Farber highbrow critics
writing “over- complicated” prose. See “No Jacks, No Giant- Killers,” Screen
Writer 1, no. 1 ( June 1945): 7.
The quotations and summaries pertaining to Adorno come from
Adorno and Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment, ed. Gunzelin Schmid
Noerr and trans. Edmund Jephcott (Stanford University Press, 2002), 102,
103; Adorno, “On Popular Music,” Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung 9 (1941):
17– 48; and Adorno, “The
Across the U.S.-Mexico Border (New York: Lexington Books, 2000), 4.
6. George Stocking, Race, Culture, and Evolution: Essays in the History of
Anthropology (New York: The Free Press, 1971), 232.
7. Though not a political radical, Vasconcelos to a great extent modeled himself
on the fi rst commissar of the enlightenment of the fi rst Soviet government,
Anatoly Lunacharsky, particularly because he shared Lunacharky’s emphasis
on the importance of education to postrevolutionary state formation.
notes to pages 15 – 24 : 183
See John Ochoa, “Jose Vasconcelos
Commissar of Enlightenment, in effect the minister responsible for culture
6. Speech delivered to ARRK (the Association of Revolutionary Workers of Cinema-
tography) in July 1931. Printed in “Kinematograficheskaia komediia i satira,” Proletarskoe
kino, 1931, No. 9, 4– 15, 15. A slightly longer excerpt from this speech is included below in
“Film Comedy and Satire” .
7. One copy fortunately did survive (but not a copy with the color sequence).
8. For the full review, see “Eisenstein on Medvedkin’s Chaplinesque Genius” .
9. A dig at
, if that same spectator laughs as theatergoer at
an unscripted event that is unintentional (and which appears thus to the au-
dience), we are faced anew with the moral dilemmas that have long dogged
theater. Enlightenment theorists problematized those dilemmas especially
pointedly, raising questions about the degree of sympathy or cruelty with
which audiences respond not to characters but to other living beings, on
stage or off . Imagine, for instance, that when the eighteenth-century actor
Whitfi eld exposed the bald pate of Samuel Reddish during some botched