From the Editors, June 2019
Welcome to Issue 12 of Peephole Journal, as we celebrate cracking the "dozen" mark! Twelve is a ubiquitous number. It is the root to how we commonly experience time – 12 months in the year, 12 hours on a clock face. It is the basis of the Chinese zodiac's 12-year cycle, as well as Western astrology's horoscopes. There are roughly 12 lunar cycles to the year.
The number 12's cultural prominence is largely due to Western and Judeo-Christian influences: ancient Greece's 12 Olympians, the 12 tribes of Israel and Jesus' 12 disciples. We have 12 days of Christmas and 12 members of a jury. Not to mention that 12 is the basis of one of Sesame Street's greatest counting segments: the pinball machine!
In Western music, 12-tone equal temperament is the standard tuning system and the 12-bar blues is the most well-known popular chord progression. By contrast, Austrian composer Arthur Schoenberg famously popularised the "12-tone technique" as a means of de-emphasising individual notes and traditional key signatures, equalising the use of each of the 12 tones in a composition.
Twelve is also half of the "24 frames" of traditional cinema. So if each issue of Peephole was counted as one frame, we've made it up to half a second! All joking aside, we certainly don't mean to downplay ourselves, because Issue 12 is Peephole's largest ever. Although we fell just short of presenting a dozen essays, the eleven articles that we have for you are more than enough to keep you occupied and fascinated for many hours and days.
The topics covered and approaches taken by Issue 12's authors are varied, far-reaching and original. Melissa Beattie presents Peephole's first ever article on a work of machinima, considering a key moment in season 15 of the web series Red vs Blue. Finley Freibert reflects on the use of a crane shot to depict working-class gay life in the hardcore gay film The Experiment (Gorton Hall, 1973). Erin Gordon explores the role that the fine art museum plays in Black Panther (Ryan Coogler, 2018) and its broader implications for the politics of museum collection, display and current calls for artefact and artwork repatriation.
Brendan Harwood uses the moment of transformation of the Beast in Disney's Beauty and the Beast (Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, 1991) to consider the odd silence in the creative partnership behind the magic of the film. Christian B Long goes into bat for a much maligned piece of 1990s cinema, Kevin Costner's The Postman (1997); a film out-of-sync with its own moment but which, reconsidered today, helps us appreciate that post-apocalyptic narratives are also infrastructure narratives. Russell Manning riffs off a perplexing final moment in Panos Cosmatos' revenge horror Mandy (2018) in which Nicholas Cage might very well be performing "more Cage than Cage."
Nicholas E Miller uses analysis of colour, music and style in a moment in the Starz's series Vida to demonstrate how proximity to whiteness relates to class and the labour prejudices tied to being a Latinx woman. Chris Richardson identifies how the muted charisma that radiates from Leonardo DiCaprio's star persona in Sam Mendes' Revolutionary Road (2007) highlights the central paradox of Hollywood cinema: that we are special and unique but, at the same time, one of many identical viewers. Joshua Schulze carefully and cleverly relates the key features of structural filmmaking to a perhaps unlikely example, Paranormal Activity 3 (Joost and Schulman, 2011).
Bridget Shaffrey reads a key moment of violence in Neil Jordan's The Butcher Boy (1997) through theories of mourning and melancholia. And last but by no means least, Julie Siedses considers the role that television plays in New Romanian cinema, and in particular Corneliu Porumboiu's dryly hilarious film 12:08 East of Bucharest (2006). With our thanks to all the authors, we hope you enjoy these essays.
Whitney, Belinda, and Kate