“Give Me the Seth Rogen Laugh”: This Is the End and Parafictional Persona

Abstract: This paper applies the theory of “parafictional persona” to Judd Apatow’s This Is the End (2012), positioning its ensemble cast as a key example of an increasingly common occurrence: actors and performers playing themselves in fictional media. It surveys the history of personalization in comedy media to chart how the practice of performers appearing in character while using their own real name coincides with the rise of social media technology and the new media ecology. By analyzing This Is the End and its cast of comedian-performers, I demonstrate how the interplay of real and fictional in parafictional media texts cause such texts to appear more recognizably a part of the real world of the audience. I also demonstrate how the same parafictional interplay can be intentionally subverted and exploited by savvy performers for comedic or narrative effect.

Read this article in the Popular Culture Studies Journal (open-access)

MIFF 2017: The Work

Twice a year, New Folsom Prison allows members of the public to enter its walls to participate in a four-day group therapy session with inmates facilitated by former prisoners and counsellors. Prisoners begin the four-day intensive with a pact to leave prison rules and gang politics at the door, and the outsider participants find themselves thrust into the world’s most intense psychotherapy session, where white, black, Asian and Native American gang members down their arms and lay bare their most intimate insecurities and anxieties to one another, hoping to find some kind of remedy for the failures, betrayals and mistakes that landed them in prison.

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MIFF 2017: Person to Person

Dustin Guy Defa’s breezy second feature follows a group of characters each navigating an inflection point in their lives during the course of one autumn day in New York City. An ensemble slice-of-life indie that wades comfortably in the still waters of life’s lesser dramas, its web of vaguely connected storylines finds comedy in the earnest search for one’s true, unaffected self.

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In profile: Wesley Morris

For Wesley Morris, a film is never just a film. Whether high, low or middle-brow, each is a message in the great cultural conversation humankind has been having with itself since the first oral storytellers began swapping tales thousands of years ago. Once completed and released into cinemas a film does not suddenly become a static artefact, settled in its interpretation; for Morris it remains something to be actively probed, understood, recontextualised and used as a prompt for further discussion and artistic exploration.

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Everyone Has to Cooperate: Nationalism and Victimhood in Grave of the Fireflies

Isao Takahata’s tragic and poetic Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru no haka) is a war film detached from the heat of battle, focused on innocent people living in war-torn cities. The film is a warning that bullets and bombs are not the only deadly forces in wartime; even among apparently innocent victims, blind patriotism and selfishness wield an equal capacity for killing.

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