#FSNNA22 Keynote: Turn On, Tune In, Get Out: Rethinking Escapism and Domestic Spectatorship

Caetlin Benson-Allott:

Beginning Turn On, Tune In, Get Out: Rethinking Escapism and Domestic Spectatorship

articulates the need for a theory of escapism, specifically as respite

has never felt the need to get out more than the past few years but where is there to go?

Theory: escapism as a spectatorial mode, one way viewers interpolate cultural objects

"Escapism is a desire that viewers bring to media irrespective of its genre, spectacle, exhibition context, or reception culture"

Viewers bring escapism, not vice versa.

Critics call things "escapist" when they think media's artistic merit doesn't align with its popularity

Escapism is frequently deployed in reference to media that has large fan communities

Historicizing the term "escapist," which was coined in the 1930s. (Benson-Allott is including a lot of detail so look out for her book on this topic later.)

"Escapism" is used both to argue that art should uphold morals AND that art doesn't need to engage with contemporary issues.

"Escapist" is used by critics to indicate a disconnect between a piece of art and themselves.

Previous work (by only 2 scholars) looks at escapism and whose pleasure is marginalized.

Others have focused on genre but not looked at how or why viewers engage in escapism.

As a viewer's sensibility changes, the viewer needs different escape.

If different types of movies can provide escape in a shared geocultural moment, then escapism can't be located in a particular piece of media or genre.

Escape from what? Not necessarily about a change of locale. "If it were, all fantasy films would supply escape to all viewers."

"Escape may be hard to achieve, but it is not site-specific."

Dr. Kimberly Hirsh at #FSNNA22:

Lots of talk here about how what we're escaping is being ourselves, which makes me think about the Daniel Tiger song: "You can change your hair or what you wear but no matter what you do, you're still you."

Caetlin Benson-Allott:

"Because pleasure is a process, it represents an escap-ing, rather than an escape."

"It cannot be an end, because it ends."

We can find escapism in media that acknowledges inequity and injustice.

"Desiring escape is not the same as desiring oblivion or obliviousness..."

Dr. Kimberly Hirsh at #FSNNA22:

Seriously this work is super rich and I can't possibly capture it all in a Twitter thread.

Caetlin Benson-Allott:

Escape as ex-cendance: getting out so you can go back

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Kimberly Hirsh, PhD @KimberlyHirsh
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We must acknowledge that much of what we know of this country today, including its culture, economic growth, and development throughout history and across time, has been made possible by the labor of enslaved Africans and their ascendants who suffered the horror of the transatlantic trafficking of their people, chattel slavery, and Jim Crow. We are indebted to their labor and their sacrifice, and we must acknowledge the tremors of that violence throughout the generations and the resulting impact that can still be felt and witnessed today. I thank Dr. Terah ‘TJ’ Stewart for the text of this labor acknowledgement.