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Broadcasting Taste: A History of Film Talk, International Criticism, and English-Canadian Media


Broadcasting Taste: A History of Film Talk, International Criticism, and English-Canadian Media

Constantinides, Zoe (2016) Broadcasting Taste: A History of Film Talk, International Criticism, and English-Canadian Media. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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This dissertation examines the history of international and Canadian popular film criticism. Though rarely addressed by media historians, film criticism in print and broadcast has served a variety of functions and mandates related to different periods, places, and institutions: nation building, cultural uplift, public education, popular entertainment, film promotion, and an entry point to the public sphere. In particular, I consider “film talk” in broadcast media as a popularizing force that has invited increasingly broad and diverse audiences to engage with and participate in local and global cinema.
Applying film history, cultural theory, and cultural studies methods to a series of examples, I explore film talk first as a form of cultural uplift on CBC Radio in the late 1940s, then as public education on TVOntario in the mid-1970s, then as a source of satire on SCTV in the late 1970s and 1980s, and finally as an amateur hobby in digital podcasts. These case studies demonstrate that film critics in popular culture have been a site of both cultural authority and anti-intellectual resistance. In Canada, this tension has been further complicated by implications for cultural policy and national cinema more generally. Moreover, the case studies illustrate the fact that film talk in English-Canada has failed to mobilize gender and ethnic diversity in a way that would make it meaningful to contemporary Canadians. Even as film criticism was made accessible in broadcast formats, parodied on television, and “democratized” on the internet, the faces and voices of critical authority remained remarkably consistent.
The precarious profession and status of culture critics has become a prominent topic in the press in the past decade. This thesis shows that popular film critics have indeed always had to respond to threats to their legitimacy, whether from populist backlash or new technological formats. The newest challenge for film critics in Canada is to adapt to—and help forge—a more plural cinema culture in which diverse voices can both speak and truly be heard.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Communication Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Constantinides, Zoe
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Date:December 2016
Thesis Supervisor(s):Acland, Charles R.
ID Code:982089
Deposited By: Zoë Constantinides
Deposited On:31 May 2017 18:05
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:54
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