Movies: Spring Breakers (2012) – Part 1

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Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers (2012)

                     Post-Cinematic Affect

                         Without a doubt, our “world of hypermediacy … and ubiquitous digital technologies” has altered our very state of being (Shaviro 9). Politics, popular culture, war and economy play vital roles in fabricating what Steven Shaviro calls, the “contemporary condition.” Steven Shaviro is a cultural critic known for his writing about film theory and criticism. In his book, Post-Cinematic Affect, Shaviro describes post-cinematic affect as the analysis of the structure of feeling. This form of production emerged to analyze and express the contemporary human condition, which was heavily affected by globalization, capitalism, technological advancements and neoliberalism (Shaviro 5). Nowadays, directors flock to post-cinematic affect as a method of reaching their audience in a more sensory and personal manner. Movies such as: The Big Short (2008), Requiem for a Dream (2000) and Spun (2002) focus on creating an emotional landscape rather than just a moral. These works “give voice to a kind of ambient, free-floating sensibility that permeates of our society today” (Shaviro 3). This essay poses to analyze the way in which Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers (2012) embodies the theoretical framework of post-cinematic affect. Through subject matter and thematic; soundtrack and actors; and style and editing, Spring Breakers (2012) exemplifies post-cinematic affect. Ultimately, the goal of post-cinematic affect is to reflect the contemporary condition and represent its social spaces and processes. Korine first demonstrates this technique through the film’s subject matter.

Amoung the many things that have evolved throughout the life of cinema, subject matter and thematic too have changed tremendously. Drugs, sex, addiction and violence are now prominent themes in these films and Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers (2012) is no different. His film focuses on the critic of contemporary youth culture. In the film, four female protagonists embark on a spiritual journey away from their hometown. Three of them are rebels and one is a closeted-Christian girl; together they venture to Florida during Spring Break to find themselves. Korine begins by playing on youth culture’s fascination with “finding” themselves. The film also mixes in drugs, power, violence, sex, innocence and growth to relate to the generation that learned everything from the world of television and MTV. Spring Break, popular culture and partying also play vital roles in Spring Breakers (2012). The U.S phenomena came into prominence in the late 90s at the same time that MTV began to peak; hundreds of thousands of students will attend Spring Break this year. Its incredible popularity is why is poses as the perfect representation of youth culture. With the use of pop culture royalty, such as James Franco and Selena Gomez, Korine creates a film, which becomes the pulp of popular culture. Rappers, drugs and violence are used to evoke a strange sense of nostalgia that reminds the viewer of contemporary music videos and video games. “Pretend it’s a video game,” the girls tell each other before carrying out a robbery: the line is both symbolic and critical of today’s youth. The subject matter reflects post-cinematic affect because it focuses on issues that are significant to the MTV generation: A generation that is obsessed with notoriety, popular culture and video games. The female protagonists share a singular, grandiose aspiration: to become “bad bitches.” Korine uses a popular western phenomenon at the centre of his film, along popular culture’s favourite actors, and commonly fetishized themes to create post-cinematic affect. Style and editing are used for this purpose as well.

Shaviro, Steven. Post-Cinematic Affect: Introduction & Corporate Cannibal, Washington, USA: O-Books, 2010. Kobo Ebook.

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