The Journal of Popular Film and Television

Editorial inquires

should be directed to the Co-Editors:

 
Dr. Michael T. Marsden       Dr. Gary R. Edgerton

Dean of the College
and Academic Vice President

 

Professor and Dean
College of Communication

214 Main Hall  

218D Fairbanks Center

St. Norbert College   4600 Sunset Avenue
100 Grant Street   Butler University
De Pere, Wisconsin 54115-2009    Indianapolis, Indiana 46208-3485
     
Email: Michael Marsden   E-mail: Gary Edgerton
     

Submitted manuscripts should be double spaced in all parts (including end-notes and references) and should follow the MLA Style.  Manuscripts should also be submitted exclusively to this journal.  Submissions to the journal should be made through Manuscript Central
http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/jpft. Each submission will be reviewed by our editors as well as members of our advisory board.  Please no faxed or e-mailed submissions.  The first-named author will be notified by e-mail of acceptance, rejection, or need for revision.  Instructions for preparing manuscripts for publication will be included in the acceptance letter.

 

 

 

Inquiries on reviewing should be directed to the Book Review Editor:

Dr. Brett Holden
Assistant Professor and Associate Curator
Gish Film Theater
238 Wolfe Center
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, Ohio 43403-0001

E-mail: bholden@bgsu.edu

 

 

 

The Journal of Popular Film and Television was founded in 1971 at the Popular Culture Center at Bowling Green State University. From 1980 to 2010, it was published by Heldref, a subsidiary of the non-profit Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation, located in Washington, D.C.  Currently the journal is produced and appears under the Routledge imprint for Taylor & Francis out of its Philadelphia office.

 

 

 

Critical Perspective

of The Journal of Popular Film and Television

 

Film and television are subjects of intense study throughout higher education today.  Popular culture has undergone a revolution during the last two generations, progressing from a discipline at the margins that was reflexively treated with contempt to one of the most widespread and productive topic areas in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.  The increased attention on film and television is clearly part of this overall acceptance and growing cachet now accorded popular culture in the academy.

 

The primary purpose of the Journal of Popular Film and Television is to provide a representative cross section to these outlooks, highlighting their heterogeneity, their critical strategies, and their main areas of interest. The intention of the editors is to broaden the literature to include the “public visions” of popular filmmakers and television producers, economic and industrial factors, and the idea that movies or TV series says as much about their respective audiences as they contribute to the development of their art forms.  This critical view is promoted in the study of motion pictures and television because of their vast popularity and widespread social influence, not despite these characteristics.

 

A sociocultural orientation to film and television has understandably matured and advanced in many diverse directions over the years, but one elemental assumption remains:  The first allegiance of this genre of criticism is to the cultural context and not to the medium.  As basic as this premise is, it powerfully asserts that film and television are cultural products and forms of social knowledge.  They are never neutral technologies, but only meaningful within their relationships to broader contexts, institutions, and discourses.

 

Also the Journal of Popular Film and Television has always been resolutely committed to the widest possible range of analytical views and techniques.  The journal has consciously promoted a posture of cultural pluralism, resulting in an intricate web of often interconnected though diverse critical voices.  Adhering to pluralism is far from unstructured and unsystematic, however; it is a frame of reference for understanding how film and television is studied from a popular cultural perspective:  This tradition holds that any cultural phenomena, including media, are far too complex to be adequately explained by any one all-encompassing theory.  No theory or resulting methodology is sacrosanct, no matter how popular it may be at a given time.

 

All theories are considered fluid, framing devices that are always subject to change and further refinement.  Methodologies, the techniques for applying theories and conducting criticism, are likewise regarded as processes to be used, adapted, revised, or combined as is warranted by each new research question.  Some theories and methods have, of course, been preferred over others in the development of popular film and television scholarship; variants of genre, sociocultural, institutional, feminist, and political criticism are all commonplace.  Still the key is that the specific research question should determine the approach, not the other way around.  An over fastidiousness in utilizing methods, moreover, usually signals a breakdown in critical thinking, thus placing more emphasis on the tools of enacting research than the goal of discovering something new and worthwhile to say.

 

Probably the most distinguishing assumption that actuates the study of movies and TV from a popular cultural orientation is the ardent belief that popular film and television criticism should be as democratized and accessible as the media it strives to define, describe, analyze, and evaluate.  No motion picture, television, or video subject is off limits for the word processor of the popular culturalist; from the viewer-friendly high-tech extravaganzas of Hollywood or the networks, to independent film productions or public television, to pornography, documentaries, webisodes, or computer-based multimedia works, no arbitrary or tacit boundaries should ever restrict a research topic.

 

Most popular film and television critics similarly view themselves not as detached experts but as representative members of the very audiences that watch these electronic media offerings.  The subsequent criticism is intended to be read, discussed, debated, and—it is hoped—appreciated by fellow viewers, not just professional colleagues.  Popular film and television analysts accordingly feel an obligation to decipher and demystify any conceptual models and wordings that are markedly arcane.  They are schooled in many theories and methodologies, some of  which are more easily understood in lay terms than others.  The basic rule of thumb is to avoid specialized language, as much as possible, if the same speculative frameworks and methodologies can be presented in simpler terms.  The discourse in popular film and television is not aimed at only a few specialists but will ideally have meaning for a broad audience of readers.

 

A major goal of this journal is to focus the critical thinking process onto popular film and television, which are routinely consumed in great quantities without much reflection at all.  Every author in the journal is a practicing critic who has employed past experiences and knowledge to make sense of the subject’s characteristics and qualities; reserved judgment in order to absorb as much new information as possible; reevaluated the original question in light of what’s been learned so far (modifying as needed); utilized conceptual tools, such as creating metaphors, thesis statements, and outlines, as organizing strategies; and mapped out and analyzed the subject thoroughly before drawing final conclusions according to a well-reasoned critical perspective.  This step-by-step overview is merely a blueprint on how to think critically; being a critic is far more imaginative in practice and often exhilarating.

 

Today we remain fully immersed in a media environment that ostensibly is invisible to us even as we busily operate inside it, habitually communicating and consuming electronic information in an often wide-eyed present tense.  We are, nevertheless, captaining our own cultural juggernaut, whether we choose to acknowledge responsibility or not.  We therefore need to consider where we have been and where we are going.  Engaging in critical discourse may not enable us to explain all of the intricacies and excesses of the popular media, but it surely equips us with an ever clearer view of who we are, what we value, and where we might be heading in the future.

 

Movies and television are still taken for granted by most people.  We routinely summon into our homes with a touch of a button the most extensive, albeit mediated rendering of a national heritage and culture ever available to humankind and, frankly, pay scant attention to the lessons it has to teach us.  We should do more than escape into this pool of imagery; we should investigate more closely the countless sociocultural and psychological clues about ourselves that are suggested on a continuous basis over the world’s motion picture and TV screens.  The Journal of Popular Film and Television is designed to encourage such critical practice, providing an assortment of models on which to assess the often complex and intimate relationships that most of us form with the popular films and television programs that we love (or love to hate).