Red, White, & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms
between, on the one hand, the assumptie logi& o! )ultural 2tudies and, on the other hand, the theoreti&al aphasia to whi&h )ultural 2tudies is redu&ed when it en&ounters the nonContologi&al status o! the Bla&k. I will do so not by laun&hing a !rontal atta&k against White !ilm theory, in parti&ular, or een )ultural 2tudies broadly speaking, but by interrogating Ja&Gues La&an?be&ause La&anian psy&hoanalysis is one o! the twin pillars that shoulders !ilm theory and )ultural 2tudies.
/y problem with )ultural 2tudies is that when it theori=es the inter!a&e between Bla&ks and >umans it is hobbled in its attempts to aC e3pose power relationships and bC e3amine how relations o! power in!luen&e and shape &ultural pra&ti&e. )ultural 2tudies insists upon a
grammar of suffering
whi&h assumes that we are all positioned essentially by way o! the 2ymboli& *rder, what La&an &alls the wall o! language?and as su&h our potential !or stasis or &hange our &apa&ity !or being oppressed or !reeC is oerdetermined by our ;uniersal< ability or inability to sei=e and wield dis&ursie weapons. +his idea &orrupts the e3planatory power o! most so&ially engaged !ilms and een the most radi&al line o! politi&al a&tion be&ause it produ&es a &inema and a politi&s that &annot a&&ount !or the grammar o! su!!ering o! the Bla&k?the 2lae. +o put it bluntly, the
Jared 2e3ton #440C o! &inema, politi&al a&tion, and )ultural 2tudies are all a!!li&ted with the same theoreti&al aphasia. +hey are spee&hless in the !a&e o! gratuitous iolen&e.+his theoreti&al aphasia is symptomati& o! a debilitated ensemble o! Guestions regarding politi&al ontology. t its heart are two registers o! imaginatie labor. +he !irst register is that o! des&ription, the rhetori&al labor aimed at e3plaining the way relations o! power are named, &ategori=ed, and e3plored. +he se&ond register &an be &hara&teri=ed as