Giovanna Maina, Sunderland University and Federico Zecca, University of Udine: Turn on the Red Light! The Very First Steps of Italian Porn

The presentation is based upon 1970s  Italian popular cinema and how it could be characterised as a “sexual escalation”, due to increasingly explicit images of nudity and sexual acts that surpassed the limits of what was traditionally described as ‘softcore’. The study highlights that by the second half of this decade, directors and their teams were now experimenting with new modes of sexual representation that would only be realised in the 1980s.

The proliferation of magazines is also considered as a medium that worked as a “cultural mediation” for Italian consumers, which contributed to the normalisation of hard-core images amongst its contemporary movie consumers. The presentation goes through a survey conducted by Italian adult magazines partnered with analysis of  controversial movies such as the Black Emanuelle series, in order to describe the process through which characteristics of Italian erotic culture of the 70s provided the conditions for the hard-core cinematic production of the following decade, on both a creative and an industrial level.


Mark McKenna, Sunderland University: Plastic Nostalgia: In Remembrance of the ‘Video Nasty’

This paper foregrounds Mark’s own nostalgia for the period and collecting practices that have led him to his object of study. Considering 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.

The study talks of residual media forms and their ability to carry 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.

In addition, the positioning of residual media forms will also be considered, which are 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 presentation then discussed 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.

Mark also discusses the idea of  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.

 

Birmingham Centre For Media And Cultural Research

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