Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Path to Spy-Fi and Superspies

Every Tuesday night without fail, my dad and I went to the one local cinema house in town when I was a child. It was the seventies and the theatre seats were lumpy and the floor sticky from years of spilt soda, but it didn’t hamper the experience of being carried away when the lights dimmed. While we watched the new releases on the big screen, weekend television time was punctuated with much older films on our black and white tv. Since this was prior to VCRs, to miss seeing a movie meant it was years before having a chance to see it again, so watching – or missing – movies was not to be taken lightly.
I was enthralled by the wildness of the grandiose westerns and the patriotic war films when I was a young child. I fondly remember watching B-horror films late Saturday night on television (in the eighties, hosted by Eliva and Joe Bob Briggs) and then being in awe of the emerging science fiction films with mind-blowing special effects starting with Star Wars (1977), the likes of which had not been seen before. Later, my tastes expanded while living in Sacramento where I discovered the independent cinema scene, and for a brief time while living in England, every Sunday afternoon I watched the old black and white British war films.
About six years ago, my cinematic interests opened further with warm appreciation for early silent films, particularly those made in the 1920s. I was so taken with these particular films that I explored the city symphony films of the twenties for their cinematic approach to capturing the changing urban environment and impact of modernity on that landscape in my master’s thesis. It was also during this time that I became associated with the Southwest Texas Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association’s annual conference as a presenter for one of the Silent Film panels, where I had the good fortune of meeting and developing a friendship with Associate Humanities Librarian at Texas Tech University and renown author, Robert G. Weiner. Rob was the Area Chair for Silent Film as well as Transgressive and Exploitative Cinema, and James Bond and Popular Culture. Over the intervening years, in addition to presenting, I began serving as panel host for some of Rob’s panels. This past spring, Rob asked if I would like to take on the duties of area chair for James Bond, to which I accepted with both excitement and with a sense of being a newborn babe in the world.
While I have enjoyed the James Bond franchise over the years, I found that there is so much more to the franchise than the ongoing debate: Connery vs. Moore. I’m anxious to develop a dialogue with others interested in studying this franchise and its influence on pop culture that spans 50 years and across just about every medium imaginable. While the conference and my role as area chair is the catalyst for this blog, it is my hope to utilize this space to supplement the conference experience as well as create an ongoing discussion of all things spy-fi and superspies - welcome! 

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