UC Berkeley Department of Film and Media

Department of Film & Media UC Berkeley

Courses / Undergraduate

Spring 2017

R1B - 002 | CCN: 15148

The Craft of Writing - Classic Trash: Media Refuse from Celluloid to VCDs

Jennifer Blaylock and Julia Keblinska

4 Units

Introduction to cinema courses often draw from a well-established canon to cover a handful of art-house classics. Conversely, this course offers an introduction to global media culture through an exploration of the classic popular and “trashy” material that occupies many of our screens. Trash appears to be valueless, abandoned, forgotten, unwanted. Its meaning seems obliterated once it is thrown away. Yet artists often turn to the garbage heap to create new works. From college filmmaking to “trashy” television genres and their afterlives as low-quality digital images, memes, and gifs, this course will consider how films, television programs, and digital image culture engages with the recurring themes of trash across many genres of global film and media products.

What does it mean to find meaning in detritus, to produce an aesthetics of trash? What happens when one person’s trash becomes another’s “art”? Can analytical readings of “trashy” content offer social or political critiques of global inequality or is cinematic “trash” solely pudding for the masses? We will examine how trash becomes a reoccurring theme in various global historical contexts, ranging from the postwar to the postcolonial and postsocialist moments. We will watch movies and shows that document the presence and use of trash, that recycle abandoned films into “art” objects, and that indulge in the “trashy,” cluttered, hysterical, and scandalous qualities of soap operas and reality television. We will investigate how refuse, technological and historical, can produce not only a politics of trash, but also an aesthetics of the trashy image that continues to refuse its own refusal.