The Cosmopolitan Amateur : Understanding the World through TV Series and Movies

Monday, 16 July 2018: 18:15
Oral Presentation
Sylvie OCTOBRE, Ministère de la culture et de la communication, France, GEMASS Paris Sorbonne CNRS, France
Vincenzo CICCHELLI, Gemass (Paris 4/CNRS), France, Gemass Paris Sorbonne/CNRS, France
This presentation describes the logic of the reception and appropriation of cultural products by proposing a new figure of the consumer in the era of globalization: the cosmopolitan amateur. We shall focus on how individuals develop an aesthetic relationship to the world based on the myriad interactions with the fictional Otherness through consumption and imaginaries, stemmed from the consumption of foreign TV series and movies in France. This new figure of consumption is deeply linked to the rise of the capitalistic dimension of emotion (Illouz, 2006), the addictive capitalism (Amselle, 2013) and of “creative capitalism” (Lipovestky and Jean Serroy, 2013). Focusing on reception allows to go beyond what producers and programmers of global cultural industries had intended (Lessig 2008).

We present the narratives of French young cosmopolitan amateurs (N=80, 18-29 y.o.), who use foreign TV series and movies to hone their relationship to the world, acquiring cognitive and emotional skills, albeit not always coherently, in an iterative and reversible fashion. We shall focus our attention on how these various forms of reception help young people to decipher the world, to orient themselves in a global world seen as a cultural mosaic, to reconsider their local/national belongings. We highlight three mechanisms: feeling, reasoning and negociating the world, which derives from the process of mise en genre that entails the categorization of cultural products according to their national origins and their attributed aesthetic characteristics, a process that sometimes operates based on clichés and stereotypes. Cosmopolitan amateurs do not boil down to a coherent structure, but rather compose, with bits of knowledge, a kind of textual ‘poaching’ (De Certeau, 1990, Jenkins, 2002) that challenges linear, cumulative and organized patterns of learning and understanding.