Monday 30 December 2013

Transparent Brains

It is that time of year again - the usual 'ten things' run-downs [click-bait] are being replaced by 'ten best of 2013' lists. 'Tis the season to ignore.
However, I did find this hidden amongst one such list. I remember the Nature article this is based on, but I missed the accompanying video regarding the CLARITY technique: removing lipids from the brain to expose its connections. The result is a transparent brain map. Prepare to sit slack-jawed through this insane video. The advances made in neuroscience this year are staggering. 

Saturday 28 December 2013

Wealth Inequality

While prepping a lecture on inequality and distributive justice, I came across the above infographic video. This video has been kicking up a stink in various camps - some are calling it socialist propaganda, for example. Whatever one's political affiliations or opinions about fairness, the disparity between reality and common perception of reality is terrifying. My interest here is in how the common perception came to be so skewed. 
The video offers no suggestions about how we go about fixing the wealth disparity in America. Its aim is to promote awareness in order to counter erroneous perceptions about the current economic state. At least in part, misconception has led to toleration while the discrepancy has increased. Although the video does not promote a particular financial resolution then, it does provide a much needed "reality check", and at least raises questions about equality and fairness.       

Friday 27 December 2013

Opt-in Porn Blocker Blunders

David Cameron's plan to blanket block adult material via an opt-in filtering system was always likely to fail. The Internet is too vast to block for all material featuring words such as 'rape' and 'porn', for example. 
It is no surprise then that the system has been a little too over-zealous. My book Torture Porn is no doubt one of the contributing titles that led to the British Library website being blocked by the filter. Other causalities included the NSPCC website and various gay rights websites. The biggest face-palm of all is that the Government's own 10 Downing Street webpage was blocked, as was Clare Perry's website: that is the same Clare Perry (see picture) who spearheaded the blocking campaign. What a farce.  
Even if the system did work, a new lexis would quickly develop to bypass the filter's algorithm, and would keep evolving. As it transpires, such steps are not necessary because the technology has been immediately gazumped. It only took 24 hours for a Chrome patch to be released that allows users to bypass the filter entirely. Note that it has not yet been necessary for anyone involved in making porn to lift a finger...

Pornhub User Stats 2013

Pornhub Insights header image
Pornhub have released their annual stats breakdown: very interesting reading.

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Monday 23 December 2013

Censorship: Dangerous Games Documentary

A lovely little 8 minute documentary about the censoring of the "horror" game Night Trap

Saturday 21 December 2013

Short Film: Invocation (2013)

Starting to feel all warm and festive? Well FORGET IT. Robert Morgan is back with a  creepy-as-hell short about a cute teddy bear...

Thursday 19 December 2013

The Sexualisation Report

People are worried about sexualization; about children becoming sexual at too young an age; about the ways in which women may be being defined by their sexuality; and about the availability and potential effects of online pornography, to name but a few of the often repeated concerns.

This report has been compiled by Feona Attwood, Clare Bale and Meg Barker based on contributions from over thirty academic experts, drawing on research from a wide range of subject areas, including medicine, health and social care, media and communication studies, cultural studies, psychology, sociology, education, and gender & sexuality studies.

You can access the report here

The report addresses the wide range of issues relating to sex, sexuality and sexual health and wellbeing that seem to underpin public anxieties that are now commonly expressed as concerns about ‘sexualization’. These include STIs, pregnancy, addiction, dysfunction, violence, abuse, sex work, sexual practices, different forms of sexuality, medicalization, commerce, media and popular culture. It aims to summarize what is known – and not yet known – on each of the main areas of concern.

The report has been written with a range of professionals in mind; people whose job it is to inform and advise others about sex, sexuality and sexual health and who need to draw on the best possible information. This includes journalists and broadcasters, policy makers, educators, therapists and other health professionals. This is very much a living report, offering an overview of what research tells us at the moment. Our intention is to find ways of developing and expanding this, in order to offer professionals an up to date and reliable source of information about a wide range of issues relating to sex, sexuality and sexual health.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Terrified of the Creepy Computer Cold Caller

Time reporter Zeke Miller argues with a cold caller - a computerised/automated "person" who seems to have some kind of identity crisis or a dogged assurance that she exists. This is utterly creepy and makes me never want to answer my phone again.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Trailer Trash: Kill the Rapist (2014)

The jury is out on whether this is going to be any good, but I really like the 'you decide' gimmick: call in to vote on whether the rapist should be ritually slaughtered! I would love to see the poll results, and I'm curious to see if the alternative end will be included as a DVD bonus (if it is even shot).

Men and Masculinities (16:5, 2013) and Film-Philosophy (17:1, 2013)

CoverTwo more journals have recently published their end-of-year issues. Men and Masculinities (16:5, 2013) contains a number of articles themed around medical issues (TOC below)

Accruing Masculinity Capital: Dominant and Hegemonic Masculinities in the 2004 Political Conventions
Sheryl Cunningham, David Domke, Kevin Coe, Anna Fahey and Nancy Van Leuven

Moving through Illness with Strong Backs and Soft Fronts: A Substantive Theory of Men’s Help-seeking during Cancer
Lisa M. Wenger

Using the Inequitable Gender Norms Scale and Associated HIV Risk Behaviors among Men at High Risk for HIV in Ghana and Tanzania
Dominick Shattuck, Holly Burke, Catalina Ramirez, Stacey Succop, Betsy Costenbader, John Dekyem Attafuah, Erasmus Mndeme, Jessie Mbwambo and Greg Guest

Glitter(Foot)ball Tactics: Negotiating Mainstream Gender Equality in Iceland
Mafalda Stasi and Adrienne Evans

Psychological Characteristics of Tunisian Infertile Men: A Research Note
Badii Amamou, Yousri El Kissi, Samir Hidar, Souhail Bannour, Khadija Ayoubi Idrissi, Hedi Khairi and Bechir Ben Hadj Ali

Film-Philosophy ISSN 1466-4615The new mammoth issue of Film Philosophy (17:1, 2013) is also available. The issue is comprised of 25 articles (see TOC below). From next year, the issue format is being abandoned in favour of a per-article publication system in order to avoid back-logging. For the time being, the journal is still not accepting new submissions.

The Facts Before Our Eyes: Wittgenstein and the  Film Noir  Investigator (1-18)
Keith Dromm

'How Can It Not Know What It Is?': Self and Other in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner  (19-50)
Andrew Norris

Ghost in the Shell 2 , Technicity and the Subject (51-67)
Daniel Hourigan

Throne of Blood  and the Metaphysics of Tragedy (68-83)
Henry Somers-Hall

'That Man Behind the Curtain': Atheism and Belief in  The Wizard of Oz (84-95)
Justin Remes

Film Noir as  Point de Capiton :  Double Indemnity, Structure and Temporality (96-114)
Ben Tyrer

Shooting for Dead Time in Gus Van Sant's  Elephant  (115-133)
William Little

Bad Memories: Haneke with Locke on Personal Identity and Post-Colonial Guilt (134-153)
Justine McGill

‘Misfortune’s Image’: The Cinematic Representation of Trauma in Robert Bresson’s  Mouchette  (1967) (154-176)
Mark Cresswell, Zulfia Karimova

The Ister : Cinema's Interruption (177-192)
Linda Daley

Otherness and the Renewal of Freedom in Jarmusch's  Down by Law : A Levinasian and Arendtian Reading (193-211)
Mark Cauchi

Mimesis Reconsidered: Adorno and Tarkovsky  contra  Habermas (212-233)
Simon Mussell

Nietzsche and Bad Conscience on  Mosquito Coast  (234-244)
James Edward Gough, Sue Matheson

The Closure of the ‘Gold Window’: From ‘Camera-Eye’ to ‘Brain-Screen’ (245-264)
Morgan M Adamson

A New/Old Ontology of Film (265-280)
Rafe McGregor

Internal Needs, Endoxa and the Truth: An Aristotelian Approach to the Popular Screenplay (281-295)
Daniel McInerny

Extreme Makeover: Art and Morality in  The Shape of Things  (296-314)
Joseph H. Kupfer

‘Even the Ghost was more than one person’: Hauntology and Authenticity in Todd Haynes’  I’m Not There  (315-330)
Carolyn D'Cruz, Glenn D'Cruz

I’m Glad I’m Not Me: Subjective Dissolution, Schizoanalysis and Post-Structuralist Ethics in the Films of Todd Haynes (330-347)
Helen Darby

Truth, Autobiography and Documentary: Perspectivism in Nietzsche and Herzog (348-366)
Katrina Mitcheson

Left-over Spaces: The Cinema of the Dardenne Brothers (367-382)
Benoit Dillet, Tara Puri

Homeopathic Repetition and  Memories of Underdevelopment: The Dialectic of Subjective Experience and Objective Historical Forces (383-401)
Trevor James Cunnington

Charcoal Matter with Memory: Images of Movement, Time and Duration in the animated films of William Kentridge. (402-423)
David H. Fleming

The Philosophical Act of Seeing With One's Own Eyes: The Silent Films of Stan Brakhage (424-445)
James Michael Magrini

‘The Epidermis of Reality’: Artaud, the Material Body and Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc  (445-461)
Ros Murray

Monday 16 December 2013

Torture Porn: Currently Half Price at Palgrave UK


Until the 31st of December, Palgrave-Macmillan UK are selling my book Torture Porn: Popular Horror after Saw at half price (only £25). Just enter the promo code FESTIVE13 at the checkout
Grab yourself a seasonal bargain!

Sunday 15 December 2013

CFP: 1984: Freedom and Censorship in the Media – Where are We Now?

University of Sunderland – London Campus (23rd-24th April 2014)
In response to an overwhelming international interest from academics, we have decided to relocate the conference to the University of Sunderland’s London Campus. The conference will now take place on the 23rd and 24th of April 2014. In light the change in venue and dates, we are reopening the call for papers. The new deadline for the submission of abstracts is January 17th 2014.
The conference aims to examine censorship both nationally and internationally and in all forms of media.
Selected papers will be published with a leading UK publisher in a forthcoming edited collection based on the event.

Confirmed keynote speakers

Professor Martin Barker, University of East Anglia

Jerry Barnett,

Professor Julian Petley, Brunel University

Professor Clarissa Smith, University of Sunderland
In 2013 has raised concerns about new censorship measures. Jerry Barnett has referred to it as ‘Internet Censorship 1.0’, It seems that 2014 is not so far away from 1984 in terms of the social and political struggles for the control of the media landscape. Censorship is still the currency of the contemporary political discourse.
Worries over effects of media content and technologies are never far from the headlines. When anxieties centre on protecting children and the fortification of the social fabric, regulation often seems like the first resort. The year 2014 will see the thirtieth anniversary of the 1984 Video Recordings Act (VRA): this event offers the opportunity to reflect on how and why concerns about individual media technologies and particular media genres become so important that campaigners and politicians can claim that ‘the very soul of the nation’ is at stake. Using the VRA as a starting point, this conference aims to critically examine the key issues in politics and campaigning which shape calls for censorship. If new technologies always spark old anxieties around ‘effects’ and propensities to cause ‘harm’, what might we learn from extant legislation and their implementation? As we settle into the internet age and media on demand, policing national media borders seems ever more futile, yet the clamour for legislation to protect children and society shows no signs of abating.

We invite submissions that explore issues relating to censorship which may be specific to the history, implementation and legacies of the Video Recordings Act but we also welcome papers which examine media regulation/censorship in contemporaneous issues and their historical antecedents. Their broader cultural contexts, which are national and international in focus and which draw connections between

Suggested topics:

Evolving practices and technologies of media classification and/or censorship
‘Problematic’ media cultures
Regulation of representations of sex, gender and sexualities
Digital and online censorship
Oppositional voices
Protecting and questioning national borders
Campaigns and campaigners
Activism/activists and the political arena
International narratives of censorship
British regulation in a global context
National and international regulation/censorship
Documentary and avant-garde
Controversies around computer games
History of contemporary film censorship/classification
Audiences and the social experiences of censorship
Censorship and the creation of communities of dissent
Regulations and government policy

Proposals for individual papers or pre-constituted panels are welcomed. The submission deadline is 17th January 2014 and notifications of acceptance will be made by the 31st January 2014.
Proposals should include title, abstract (350 words), 3-5 key bibliographical references, along with the name of the presenter, institutional affiliation and biographical information (100 words), and email.
Panel organizers are asked to submit panel proposals including a panel title, a short description of the panel and information on all the papers following the guidelines listed above.
Panels may consist of three speakers with a maximum of 20 minutes speaking time each.

All submissions, expressions of interest and enquiries should be sent to:
Please see the conference website for more details: