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Patricia MacCormack

Parent categories: cinema - perversion

Related: erotic movies - feminist film theory - kinky - fetish - paraphilia - sadomasochism in cinema - SM in mainstream films


Patricia MacCormack is lecturer in Communication at Anglia Polytechnic University, Cambridge. She recently received her PhD from Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, which won the Mollie Holman doctoral medal for best thesis. She has published mainly on Italian Horror, sexuality, feminism, and the work of Deleuze and Guattari. --http://www.thirdspace.ca/articles/3_2_authors.htm [Dec 2005]

Patricia MacCormack is lecturer in Communication and Film at Anglia Polytechnic University, Cambridge. Her PhD was awarded the Mollie Holman doctorate medal for best thesis. She has published on perversion, Continental philosophy, French feminism and Italian horror film. Her most recent work is on Cinesexuality, masochism and Becoming-Monster in “Alternative Europe”, “Thirdspace” and “Suture” She is currently writing on Blanchot, Bataille and Cinecstasy. --http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/directors/04/margheriti.html [Dec 2005$


Cinesexuality is a concept developed by the feminist film theorist Patricia MacCormack. It emerges from the poststructuralist philosophy of desire found in the work of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari.

MacCormack claims that cinema has an immense power to produce pleasure which is "in excess of the meaning of images and their deferral to established sexualities" (MacCormack, 2005/6, p. 341). This means that cinema can undermine stable units of narrative meaning such as the nuclear family and heterosexual romance which have frequently been criticized by feminists. Mainstream cinema, according to MacCormack, works with narrative building-blocks of meaning which reinforce the semiotic pathways of desire already established by, for instance, education. An example of this would be the relationship between how sex education is delivered in school (which creates a pathway of desire in the children being taught) and how these established patterns later connect with film genres such as romantic comedies.

In contrast to mainstream cinema and its narrative, semiotic templates, MacCormack celebrates low-brow genres such as the horror film. Of particular interest to MacCormack are the zombie films of Italian director Lucio Fulci, which encourage the spectator to give themselves over to the affects of pain and pleasure at the expense of narrative logic. These affects help create new pathways of desire, overturning the dominant family-orientated, heterosexual codes which are of such concern for many feminists. Hence, MacCormack refers to this sort of audience experience as being "cinesexual". The submission to this sort of experience, which may require some initial discomfort on the spectator's part as they are moved out of their comfort zone, MacCormack calls "cinemasochism". --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinesexuality [Jun 2006]

Perversion in cinema (2004) - Patricia MacCormack

An introduction to the concept of the "perverse" and to this special spotlight on perversion within cinema, representation, and theory. -- Patricia MacCormack (editor) http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/04/30/contents.html#perversion

Xavier Mendik on Joe D’Amato

A Kind of (Perverse) Loving: The Gothic Horror Films of Joe D’Amato by Xavier Mendik
Mendik digs deep into the world of European trash cinema to bring to the surface the extreme films of Joe D'Amato and their unique psychosexual concerns.

Over the last decade, critics and theorists have made a number of advances in reclaiming those popular European texts and auteurs previously dismissed as examples of “trash” or “bad” cinema. A large part of this reassessment has focused on the key directors, stars and styles that dominated Italian horror cinema between the years of 1962 and 1985. While fanzines and the popular press had previously pioneered a love of continental cinema's most cultish and off-beat traditions, it took an emerging emphasis on critically distanced, methodologically orientated analysis to fully drag Europe's most perverse film treasures into the academy. As a result, psychoanalysis and feminist theory have been employed to revaluate the performances of Barbara Steele in Italian Gothic horror of the 1960s (1) while key directors such as Dario Argento have been the subject of positive auteur-influenced accounts (2). --http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/04/30/joe_d_amato.html [Dec 2005]

Jack Sargeant on Je t’aime moi non plus

Hot, Hard Cocks and Tight, Tight Unlubricated Assholes: Transgression, Sexual Ambiguity and “Perverse” Pleasures in Serge Gainsbourg’s Je t’aime moi non plus by Jack Sargeant
If certain body parts and functions are coded as normal and acceptable, Sargeant examines a film that turns these presuppositions on their head.

Martin Ham on Videodrome

Excess and Resistance in Feminised Bodies: David Cronenberg’s Videodrome and Jean Baudrillard’s Seduction by Martin Ham
An exploration of the politics of representation, in particular, notions of excess and resistance, as they are worked through in both Baudrillard's Seduction and Cronenberg's Videodrome.

Michale Goddard on Raúl Ruiz

Towards a Perverse Neo-Baroque Cinematic Aesthetic: Raúl Ruiz’s Poetics of Cinema by Michael Goddard
Both Ruiz's writings and his cinema are underpinned by a truly unique, radical and perverse aesthetic.

Lindsay Hallam on Sadean cinema

Whips and Bodies: The Sadean Cinematic Text by Lindsay Hallam
Lindsay Hallam examines the paradigms of sadism and masochism and traces their dramatisation in cinema.

There is a clear investment in cultural hegemonic processes of normalisation and stabilisation of both self and society. In reference to cinema and all forms of art, censorship reflects the anxiety society exhibits at that which threatens the perversion of axes of social norms. Norms are given power not through their value so much as through their repetition, which therefore repeats the power by which repetition is enforced. At best censorship denies extreme versions of everyday paradigms of power which rightly disgust through their hyper-representation of issues such as misogyny, racism and other minoritarian oppressions. At worst it prevents any alteration in these paradigms by devaluing certain issues. Sexuality which does not conform to established heterosexual or vindicated “nice” homosexual relations, the exhibition of the interiors of the flesh, and violence that indulges in that same flesh, are usually the victims of censorship.

Clean violence such as gun death can punctuate films but not so easily visceral worlds, even those not necessarily related to death or violence but baroque configurations of flesh for their own sake (seen most emphatically in films such as City of the Living Dead [Lucio Fulci, Italy, 1980] or Hellbound [Tony Randel, UK, 1988] as two examples). Splanchnic explorations frequently exist beyond or independent of narratives of aggressive forms of violence, showing that “violence” is not necessarily concomitant with “gore”. Here we have flesh as devil. The occult interiors of our thoraxes provoke the risk of becoming-otherwise, materially expressing our capacity to unfold and refold. The body is a clandestine geology. In flesh and desire we exist as plateaus over which we have no control, knowledge or, as seen in gore cinema, image. Folding flesh and desire outward through provoking images refolds and thus transforms the self. Those who resist transformation most frequently resist the encounter which brings its ecstasy (ex-stasis, outside of self) into being – the encounter with perverse worlds often only available in film. Film encourages pathological voyeurism, without object or aim. This alone fulfils traditional clinical definitions of perversion. Perverse films eviscerate the viewer as they eviscerate the represented flesh, and our skin is pinned back, our selves autopsied, destroyed to be reborn in alternate configurations of cinematic pleasure and self. --Patricia MacCormack, http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/04/30/perversion_intro.html

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