Nocitainment: the contemporary construction of pain as amusement
- 82 Downloads
In this article, I explore the management and construction of physical pain in video-clip-based television programmes, as well as the sociopolitical context in which these are embedded, and the form of subjectivity simultaneously celebrated and evoked. The analysis focuses on the popular MTV television series, Ridiculousness, in which internet video clips are commented on by the hosts for comedic effect. Many of these clips depict physical pain, usually as a consequence of a person having an accident. Drawing on Scarry’s The Body in Pain (1985), I show how a particular set of strategies are utilised and constructions are legitimated for the experience and interpretation of pain. These techniques not only bear a striking resemblance to the structure of torture but are also conservative in their effect as they promote neoliberal processes of subjectification and reiterate a particular form of masculinity.
Keywordscomedy masculinity neoliberal subjectivity pain television torture
- Billig, M. (2005) Laughter and Ridicule: Towards a Social Critique of Humour, London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Brown, S. (2016) ‘Violence and Creation: The Recovery of the Body in the Work of Elaine Scarry’, Subjectivity. doi: 10.1057/s41286-016-0013-7 (in press).
- Foucault (1995) Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, New York: Random House.Google Scholar
- Gavey, N. (2012) Intimate Intrusions of the Neoliberal Deceit, Paper presented at the 30th International Congress of Psychology (ICP), 22–27 July, Cape Town, South Africa.Google Scholar
- Goldberg, L. (2011) ‘MTV Renews Rob Dyrdek’s ‘Ridiculousness’’. The Hollywood Reporter, 17 October, http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/mtv-renews-rob-dyrdeks-ridiculousness-249348.
- Gorman, B. (2011) “Monday Cable: ‘Pawn Stars’ Back On Top, ‘Kardashians’ Finale, ‘The Closer,’ ‘Rizzoli and Isles,’ ‘Real Housewives’ and More”. TV by the Numbers, 7 September, http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2011/09/07/monday-cable-pawn-stars-back-on-top-kardashians-finale-the-closer-rizzoli-isles-wwe-raw-more/102800/.
- Halliwell, M. (2004) Images of Idiocy: The Idiot Figure in Modern Fiction and Film, Hants: Ashgate.Google Scholar
- Jones, O. (2011) Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class, London: Verso.Google Scholar
- Leech, M.E. (2008) ‘That’s not Funny: Comic Forms, Didactic Purpose, and Physical Injury in Medieval Comic tales’, Latch: A Journal for the Study of the Literary Artefact in Theory, Culture or History 1: 105–127.Google Scholar
- Maas, J.B. and Toivanen, K.M. (1969) ‘Candid Camera and the Behavioural Sciences’, AV Communication Review 17(3): 307–314.Google Scholar
- Milgram, S. and Sabini, J. (1979) ‘Candid Camera’, Culture and Society 16: 72–75.Google Scholar
- Miller, W.I. (1997) The Anatomy of Disgust, London: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Oksala, J. (2015) Johanna Oksala on Foucault, Marx and Neoliberal Subjects. Theory, Culture and Society, http://www.theoryculturesociety.org/johanna-oksala-on-foucault-marx-and-neoliberal-subjects/.
- Read, J. (2009) ‘A Genealogy of Homo-Economicus: Neoliberalism and the Production of Subjectivity’, Foucault Studies 6: 25–36.Google Scholar
- Scarry, E. (1985) The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World, New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Seidman, R. (2011) Monday Cable: ‘WWE RAW’ Tops Night, ‘Ridiculousness,’, ‘American Chopper,’ ‘Basketball Wives LA,’ ‘Carfellas’ and Much More. TV by the Numbers, 30 August, http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2011/08/30/monday-cable-wwe-raw-tops-night-ridiculousness-american-chopper-basketball-wives-la-carfellas-much-more/101860/.
- Thornton, D.J. (2011) Brain Culture: Neuroscience and Popular Media, Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
- Titze, M. (2009) ‘Gelotophobia: The Fear of Being Laughed at’, Humour 22(1/2): 27–48.Google Scholar
- Verhaeghe, P. (2012) ‘Capitalism and Psychology - Identity and Angst: On Civilisation’s New Discontent’, in W. Vermeersch ed., Belgian Society and Politics 2012: The Crisis Comes in Many Guises, Ghent: Gerrit Kreveld Foundation, pp. 53–63.Google Scholar
- Welsh, A. (2016) ‘Thursday Cable Ratings: Republican Presidential Debate Leads’, ‘Vikings’ rises. TV by the Numbers. Retrieved http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2016/03/11/thursday-cable-ratings-march-10-2016/.