"The directors of The Best of Enemies, a documentary about the 1968 debates between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley, could have produced a riveting movie simply by splicing together old debate footage. This movie is about many weighty matters--politics, ideology, history, society and the media--but the delicious spectacle of watching two sexy men in their prime, with rapier wit, speaking in the accents of a gone American elite, slicing each other into fine ribbons, makes the film a guilty indulgence.
These two ghosts from a bygone era still make great television. It worked so well, in fact, that the series of debates, created by ABC to attach to the two 1968 conventions–Republicans in Miami and Democrats in Chicago–became the prototype for every television talking head show for the next half-century.
Sadly, no one has ever done it better. ...
The Buckley-Vidal debates could be the high moment in the history of the televised American political debate. But the spectacle contained within itself the seed of the end too. Extreme civility was about to explode and cool William Buckley, whose fate it was to manifest that explosion, would regret it for the rest of his life."
(Nina Burleigh, 1 February 2015, Newsweek)
"Mid- to late-20th century theories of the spectacle take little or no account of the creation of the spectacle, because they are so preoccupied with the effects of its consumption. As Dean (2010) has observed, this made sense at a time when most images were produced in a context of 'broadcast media', but offers no way to think about what she calls the 'reflexive circuit' of social media and user-generated content (pp.108-9). As Bayne (2008) points out, 'the incursions of the digital add a mutable new dimension to decades of theorising of the visible and visual in culture' (p.395). The digital positions the spectacle within circulations of power and authorship, and needs alternative perspectives through which to theorise the spectacle for spaces where people create, appropriate and consume."
(Jen Ross, p.261)
Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Networked Learning 2012 , Edited by: Hodgson V, Jones C, de Laat M, McConnell D,. Ryberg T & Sloep P.
"From ancient times to the present 'spectacle' (the visual aspects of human performance–architecture, scenery, costumes, makeup, lighting, special effects, and staging) has been used to expressively embody and evoke meaning in rituals, ceremonies, and artistic performances. This course [Eye Appeal: Spectacle on Stage and in Life at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro] will examine the use of spectacle as an expressive mode of communication in human performance from antiquity to the present."
(Bob Hansen, 2004)
"Our collective sympathy for the victims is obviously a given. And yet the quest to unearth celebrity sex offenders has become a form of crude cultural entertainment–but it is less witch–hunt, more carnival, in the sense proposed by critic Mikhail Bakhtin. Here social hierarchies are profaned and subverted by normally suppressed voices. Thus, the marginalised become the focus, princes become paupers, and opposites combine (high and low, fact and fantasy, heaven and hell).
This circus is conducted with a grotesque, 'world–upside–down' energy and black humour, in which charivari–ritual chastising and humiliation, not least of sexual transgressions–is accompanied by raucous collective mirth. Ultimately, order is restored, but not before authority figures have taken a beating.
And so we witness the toppling of the powerful by a righteous mob, as men of a certain age and cultural authority–backed by a degree of establishment collusion–are brought low with a barely contained collective thrill. Sometimes it feels as if all the icons of our childhood have been outed as sexual deviants–revenge for every night of bad television endured during the 1970s."
(Hannah Betts, 7 December 2012, The Guardian)
"He took over from the specialists and operated the camera from the window of Leacock–Pennebaker's office on West Forty–fifth street, shooting the band on the roof of the Schuyler Hotel across the street. (Pennebaker recalled him to be an amateurish cameraman who could not avoid the beginner's pitfall of frequent zooming in and out.) The performance took place without a permit, at standard rock volume: as singer Grace Slick later wrote, 'We did it, deciding that the cost of getting out of jail would be less than hiring a publicist"
(via Open Culture, 24 February 2012)
Fig.1 Jean–Luc Godard filmed the band on a rooftop in Midtown Manhattan (December 7, 1968).