Part 3 of 3...
... film analysis from position zero is not to imagine a space where there is no intervention on the part of the cultural theorist, the idea that one might remain entirely objective, the supposed/ illusory non-intervention of the ethnographer.
To start from position zero is to not-have-experienced-previously, while bringing one's past experience to to the film --
-- like a zero in a multiplication, an example taken from Zizek's Less Than Nothing, it is present and it changes the entire equation -- everything multiplied by zero becomes zero, creating something new in one's hands.
The new creation is the combination of the film observed and all of the valid associations that emerge at point zero -- at the rough draft stage, associations could include connections/ connotations /denotations that one does not intentionally desire to make, they just happen. Associations that come to mind could have links to personal experience or themes in the film one is watching -- the issue is that, as long as one can write about the way in which the associations are linked in a convincing way to other readers, the associations are valid and in a sense, beyond critique. Like the memorable reminder at the end of Ratatouille (Bird, 2007) --
"In many ways, the work of a critic is easy.
We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment.
We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read.
But the bitter truth we critics must face is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so."
With transnational analysis in mind, where there is still a lot of room for theoretical creativity and spontaneity, connections that might link films from across the globe -- without appealing to universals; in contrast once could locate precise networks of capital or particular representations of time -- could appear suddenly logical even though in other circumstances one would think such connections should not/could not
be positioned together within a single analysis.
A model for this type of inquiry, as I see it, can be found in an article by Emily Davis entitled “The Intimacies of Globalization: Bodies and Borders On-Screen.” In this essay, Davis analyzes a diverse set of visual filmic narratives in order to explain the relationship between representations of migration, sexual identity, and commodification in narrative film. For example, she asserts that Dirty Pretty Things (Frears, 2002), Maria Full of Grace (Marston, 2004), and the “Badlaa” episode from the X-Files TV show depict how globalization has commodified the body. Davis proves her point when she examines the inhumanity of the organ trade in Dirty Pretty Things and the power of xenophobia to propel a narrative of alien infiltration in “Badlaa.”
Such an analysis might include the particular and the universal at the same time.
To say "no!" to such creative connections in film analysis would be equivalent to denying Sergei Eisenstein his dialectical montage.
The end result is useful, a load-bearing wall, a well-engineered bridge.