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The Media Contingencies of Generation Mashup: A Žižekian Critique

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When the binary mashup was mainstreamed by way of DJ Danger Mouse's The Grey Album, media scholars celebrated the emerging genre as an exemplary case of digital emancipation because it eluded copyright law and the ownership system through the collusion of unlikely historical texts freely distributed online. I hesitate to celebrate the mashup in the same tone, if, for one reason, the mashup perpetuates the very philosophy of professional dissemination that the popular music and recording industries were founded upon, along with another reason: that the dynamic problematic of stereotypes and symbolic violence that has plagued the music industry from its inception continues to prosper under the new genre—the ideological edifice of racially hierarchical differentiation underlies the logic of the binary mashup. I ultimately suggest that the binary mashup, in its ironic distanciation from the weight of history, unconsciously reinforces the terrifying weight of history. This is less a response to the mashup and more to its academic reception, generated from a highly selective sampling of professional production. As an alternative, by being highly selective and choosing alternative and obscene examples of the mashup, I suggest that a critical re-reading of their symbolic violence is necessary in order to elucidate the structural antagonisms that continue to haunt our mediascapes and reinforce the hegemony of binary oppositions. This is done through a reading of Žižek, the obscene superego, and the underlying structures of racism in the binary mashup.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2013

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