His Soul Shatters at about 0.23: Spankwire, Self-Scaring, and Hyperbolic Shock

Kennedy, J (2013) His Soul Shatters at about 0.23: Spankwire, Self-Scaring, and Hyperbolic Shock. In: Controversial Images: Media Representations on the Edge. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, UK, pp. 239-253. ISBN 0230284051

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Abstract / Summary

The edited collection 'Controversial Images' acknowledges the contested and under-theorized nature of 'controversy' in contemporary media imagery. Drawing on new perspectives in cultural studies, the collection offers a wide variety of case studies of recent media controversies reflecting the broad range of image types circulating in new media landscapes. The collection makes the case for a nuanced consideration of media imagery that resists demonization of audiences and uncritical calls for censorship. Our work in Chapter 14 focuses on YouTube reaction videos to the Spankwire video, a two and a half minute video montage dubbed 'One of the Scariest Videos Out There' after going viral in 2007-8. Originally intended as a taster for a body-modification website, the video was circulated on YouTube and other sites for its shock horror qualities. Showing scenes of genital modification, suspension and needle-play, the montage was labeled as 'extreme pornography' and became the subject of an attempted prosecution. The chapter describes findings from structured analysis of audience reaction videos and the comments they invoke posted on YouTube in response to the Spankwire montage. Exploring how the montage is seen through viewer reactions, the videos and commentaries allow for close consideration of the participatory pleasures of shock and horror for the audience. The work locates the montage as a kind of user-generated cinema of attractions, drawing on the shock and sensation of the traditional 'freak show'. Emphasis is placed on a ludic community of experience for the audience, requiring participation, self-scaring, bravery and emotional exhibitionism, and suggesting much more complex responses to controversial images than those traditionally assumed for audiences. The chapter contributes to an ongoing research theme around online user-generated narratives. The chapter was co authored with equal contributions from both Professor Smith and myself.

Item Type: Book Chapter
ISBN: 0230284051
Depositing User: Julia Kennedy
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2013 14:20
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2017 16:03
URI: http://repository.falmouth.ac.uk/id/eprint/298

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