Citing the viewer : ethnography, film theory and experiences of martial arts action cinema
This thesis argues for incorporating a radically increased awareness and understanding of the experiences and opinions of people who actually watch films into any film theory or criticism genuinely concerned to analyse, evaluate or otherwise interpret films and/or those who watch them. In particular, it suggests there is a need to re-think the status of film experiencers as informants who are participant in rather than objects of study, and that an ethnographic approach should be taken to narrow the gap between film studies and film experiencers. Initially, I investigate ways in which film "viewers" and "audiences" have been and continue to be theorized, analyzed and represented, with emphases both on how film theory and criticism have treated film experiencers, and on the impact of the recent "ethnographic turn" in film and cultural studies. I then investigate pertinent ethnographic theories and methods in the context of recent debates about knowledge production and reflexivity, looking particularly at postmodern and anti-patriarchal critiques. I also consider the relationship between ethnography and cultural studies, and how both these areas impact on the study of film experiencers. Ultimately I suggest particular ways in which ethnographic theories and methods might be used in film studies to inform investigations, understandings and therefore representations of film experiencers. I outline and consider how my case study uses such approaches before setting out the case study itself. The case study sets out what sixty-seven participant-informants had to say and write about martial arts action films, and is in large part intended to "give voice" to film experiencers. But while the emphasis is on citing participant-informants' own words, I recognize that there is no description without interpretation and reflect on this in the conclusions I draw from the case study "data" and my theoretical work.