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Documenting The Paedophile: Virtual White Men In The Era Of Recovered Memory

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This essay argues that Andrew Jarecki's 2003 documentary Capturing the Friedmans is part of a larger recent film trend in which remembered scenes of adult/child sex are used to reconfigure the meaning of white masculinity. In several recent films, memories of child sexual predators emerge on screen in scenes best described as 'virtual'. In particular, the white paedophile appears in liminal filmic spaces that replace historically specific reference points with the virtual codes of an explicitly technologically mediated reality. Building on theories of virtuality developed by Katherine Hayles and Brian Massumi, this essay argues that the white paedophile technologically re-mediates residual forms of white masculinity and refunctions them for the era of neo-liberalism. Jarecki's Oscar-nominated documentary best reveals the technological relations through which the white paedophile appears as the virtual image of a neoliberal 'real', part of a visual code of memory produced for what Stuart Hall calls new times.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 13, 2011

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  • new formations is an inter-disciplinary journal of culture, politics and theory. It covers a wide range of issues, from the seduction of perversity to questions of nationalism and postcolonialism.

    'essential reading for those who want to understand politics in the light of the most important trends in contemporary theory' Chantal Mouffe.

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