Global Slum Iconographies: The Production and Circulation of Poverty Porn in Southeast Asian Cinema
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AbstractRepresentations of urban poverty in the discourses of international news agencies and aid organizations emphasize with striking visibility the plight of the poor in the Global South. While highlighting the conditions of squalor, illegality, violence, and despair in the informal settlements of congested megacities, these iconographies render invisible the potential for autonomy and transformation of their residents. This paper is interested in how such visual representations, which have been labeled poverty porn, are produced and circulated in Southeast Asian cinema. Because films set in developing nations are perceived as being exhibited and awarded at international festivals due to the particularity of their portrayal of ‘Third World’ reality as a slum, emergent filmmakers tend to perform an according autoethnographic fashioning of their works. Poverty porn could be defined as an excessive visualization of destitution, whose allure derives from its ability to shock the spectator into both revulsion and sympathy without submitting them to the anguish and danger of the actual experience. As a case study, the paper analyzes three acclaimed works of Filipino filmmaker Brillante Mendoza, Best Director winner at Cannes, namely 'Tirador' (2005), 'Serbis' and 'Kinatay' (2007), which are controversial for being supposed examples of poverty porn. Striving to immerse the spectator in a realistic experience of the ‘Third World’ megacity, these films draw on global tropes of urban poverty while using a raw style that is misrecognized by international audiences as being artistically deficient. Their effort to evoke authentic realism through their cinematic artifice inevitably generates an excess of meaning, in the form of figures in the background gazing back at the camera, which subverts prevailing urban discourses.
All Author(s) ListElmo Gonzaga
Name of ConferenceAsia, Theory, Visuality Conference: The Invisible
Start Date of Conference13/11/2015
End Date of Conference14/11/2015
Place of ConferencePrinceton University
Country/Region of ConferenceUnited States of America
Year2015
LanguagesEnglish-United States

Last updated on 2018-23-01 at 03:22