Vampires: a structural analysis

Daniel R. Smith

A homage to the memory of Christopher Lee. Dracula.

In his recent The Utopia of Rules (2015), David Graeber has – somewhat unwittingly but completely fortuitously – given popular voice and defence to a structural analysis in popular culture. His analysis of fantasy novels, films, TV shows and video-games as the fantasy-escape, but ultimately inverted yet homologous bureaucratic universe, to our working lives is surely one of the best diagnoses for the secret pleasure, and utopian fantasy to our everyday bureaucratic existences. Science fiction is the new social realism (Jameson, 2013). Continue reading

The sacking of Clarkson and the symbolic ‘symbolic castration’ of Top Gear

Daniel Smith

The BBC have sacked Jeremy Clarkson and are now looking for a replacement. How are we to interpret this move? Does the immense, slightly baffling, popularity of the show rest upon Jeremy Clarkson or does the format go more toward explaining its success? Continue reading

Devon Country Noir: Broadchurch, mourning and ‘disrupted’ Englishness

By Daniel Smith

I have to admit, with some possible embarrassment, that ITV’s Broadchurch (currently in its second series) is incredibly watchable. First and foremost it evokes nostalgic feelings in me towards the West Country and in fact features my alma mater, the University of Exeter, as Wessex Crown Court; second that it has two of the best British actors in it (David Tennant and Olivia Coleman) and three, well, it’s beautiful to look at. As comedian Diane Morgan put it during her satirical take on Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe, “despite the fact it has all death and grieving in it, its bright and lovely and sort of Instagram looking, like an advert for Flora or Cadbury’s Flake, so it’s dark but also colourful …” Continue reading

The return of the English gentleman

By Daniel Smith.

Britain in 2015 is a strange country. Increasingly it feels as if we are living among ghosts, haunted like Hamlet in the court of Elsinore and equally hard pressed at how to decide how we feel about this. Part of the problem, I contend, is that the ghosts appear in such unlikely clothing and appear as such unlikely figures. In this article I explore this through two case studys, the case of Jack Wills clothing and Jaguar adverts for the new F-type coupe. What I try to situate is how these two cases illustrate the mythical reappearance of ideas, notions and representations of privlege which fit the contemporary landscape – a culture of capital where inherited wealth counts more now than it did for our great grand-parents, as Piketty (2014) has shown, and where old notions of class refuse to go away. As Savage (2014:597) rhetorically observes : “…is Jane Austen’s world so different from ours? Have we really left behind the elitism and pervasive inequality characteristic of aristocractic society and the Belle Époque?” As I argue in my new article, the ghosts live among us but we simply fail to recognise them completely as we develop strategies to allow for their appearance through vanishing mediators.

Smith, Daniel R. (2015), The Gent-rification of English masculinities: class, race and nation in contemporary consumption, Social Identities.

References :

Piketty, Thomas (2014), Captial in the 21st Century, (Cambridge: Harvard)

Savage, Mike (2014), ‘Piketty’s challenge for sociology’, British Journal of Sociology, 65(4): 591-606.

The Existential Dimensions of the Creative Economy: Insights from a re-reading of Kierkegaard

Daniel R. Smith

The creative industries have a strong socialist thread within them. Or so the story goes. Much of the literature on the communism of capital, in various spheres, stresses the communality of acts of production: value is made out of a common collaboration, a community of productive activities which is both the beginning and end of the social life of the community (e.g. Negri, 2011). Yet while this argument is, theoretically, very compelling I can’t help but notice that those in the creative economies don’t themselves articulate the communism of capital. Instead they remain stuck between a claim to the communality of the industry and the capitalist realities they remain positioned within. One case in point is YouTube. Continue reading