Reality TV, Mock Found-Footage, and Horror’s Changing Relationship to Reality

Sayad, Cecilia (2015) Reality TV, Mock Found-Footage, and Horror’s Changing Relationship to Reality. In: King's College Research Seminar, 11 March, 2015, King's College London. (Unpublished) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Abstract

What happens to our relationship to the horror film when manifestations of the supernatural are presented as reality? There is a long and persistent tradition of approaching horror films as allegorical articulations of personal and social anxieties. These approaches establish an indirect relationship between the horror genre and a socio-historical reality—in Robin Wood’s famous analogy between the popular genre and Freud’s theory of the subconscious, horror becomes the space for the return of the repressed in the form of a monster that stands for something real, but is rendered in symbolic form. Though addressing a concrete reality, the horror film thus perceived is detached from it. This paper argues that the ghost hunting reality TV show and the mock found-footage horror movie challenge traditional approaches to the relationship between fact and fiction in the horror genre. These works’ focus on modern technology’s ability to at once register what the naked eye cannot see and produce astonishing effects weakens the boundaries separating the image from the surrounding world: the tension between fact and artifice extends to the tension between the apparatus’s ability to at once reveal and fabricate a purported ‘real.’ Drawing from studies of spirit photography and ‘haunted’ electronic media by Tom Gunning and Jeffrey Sconce, respectively, this paper examines paranormal reality shows and the mock found-footage horror in light of associations between new technologies and spectral entities dating back to the 19th century. Notions of televisual temporality are also employed to examine a sense of confusion between representation and reality in these works. I propose that the convergence of science and magic characteristic of earlier practices, as well as the illusion of simultaneity and liveness granted by the contemporary works’ aesthetics of reportage, offer a new way of understanding the horror genre’s relationship to factual reality, and by extension its place in both popular culture and everyday life.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Paper)
Uncontrolled keywords: horror film, horror genre, ghost hunting reality television, found-footage horror movie, occult, spirit photography, phantasmagoria, science and magic, reality
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PB Modern European Languages (inc film, TV and radio studies) > PB2994 Film Studies
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of Arts
Faculties > Humanities > School of Arts > Film
Depositing User: Cecilia Sayad
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2015 09:21 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2015 08:35 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/47973 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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