Annotation: Pisters, Patricia and Wim Staat. 2005. Shooting the Family

Pisters, Patricia and Wim Staat. 2005. Shooting the Family: Transnational Media and Intercultural Values. Amsterdam : Amsterdam University Press. (Introduction and Chapter 12 by Patricia Pisters)

The anthology discusses how different types of filmic media (the authors themselves use the broader term “visual media”) – film, documentaries, TV series, videos – (re)present the contemporary family, and how the family is “redefined or even undermined by forces of globalization, migration, and intercultural encounters” (7). Playing on the meaning of the phrase “shooting the family,” the editors show that: 1) the family is “under pressure,” “being altered by the forces of globalization and migration,” and is therefore being “shot to pieces”; 2) matters pertaining to the family are “increasingly constructed and refigured in a mediated form,” and these reel families have become an important media for intercultural affairs” (7). In Chapter 12, Following Hamid Naficy, Pisters discusses what he calls “accented” (transnational migration) films, and argues that the family is not “as easily, happily, or necessarily ‘shot’” (i.e. defeated) as Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri suggest in their book, Empire. Hardt and Negri use the term “new barbarians” to refer to the new migrants of the world, for they destroy older ways of life as they construct new ones. The stance of Hardt and Negri towards migrants is not completely negative and they borrow from Spinoza the concept of love as a strategy for countering Empire (the term used by Hardt and Negri for the current neocapitalist and neocolonial world order). Love, according to Spinoza, is mostly about striving to survive, but it may also lead to various joyous encounters. The three “accented” film examples, Pisters suggests, can in fact be considered as counter-images of Empire. Using Gilles Deleuze’s theory on micropolitics, Pisters argues that one way of resisting  Empire is “precisely by shooting the family – with a camera” (198). As seen in the three films, the family in migration still “often appears to become a site for molecular negotiations between cultural values…” (208). Pisters critiques Hardt and Negri’s work for turning Spinoza’s ideas on love into an abstract political manifesto/dogma. On the hand other, films are “truly creative acts that show how love can be found” (209).These three films are examples of “creative power” that present “’speech acts’ and fabulations of new and intercultural subjects”(212). Pisters argues that the filmmakers “are very political in that they are creating fabulations that are enactments of Spinozist love, without any of the utopian connotations” (210).

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