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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Hell becomes other people : cinematic form and cruel fantasies of affectlessness Harper, Morgan 2018

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HELL BECOMES OTHER PEOPLE: CINEMATIC FORM AND CRUEL FANTASIES OF AFFECTLESSNESS by  Morgan Harper  Hon. B.A., University of British Columbia (Vancouver), 2016  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES (Film Studies)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  August 2018  © Morgan Harper, 2018  ii  The following individuals certify that they have read, and recommend to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for acceptance, a thesis/dissertation entitled:  Hell Becomes Other People: Cinematic Form and Cruel Fantasies of Affectlessness  submitted by Morgan Harper in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Film Studies  Examining Committee: Dr. Lisa Coulthard, Film Studies Supervisor  Dr. Christine Evans, Film Studies Supervisory Committee Member   Supervisory Committee Member  Additional Examiner   Additional Supervisory Committee Members:  Supervisory Committee Member  Supervisory Committee Member iii  Abstract  Towards the end of Jean-Paul Sartre's 1944 play, No Exit, Joseph Garcin begrudgingly recognizes that due to his misdeeds on Earth he has been punished to eternally share a single drawing room with two strangers. "Hell is---other people," he realizes (45). Instead of this recognition surfacing further anxieties amongst the new roommates, it calms them down. The realization that we cannot escape the impact of others, but will always be contingent upon them, opens up the possibility for a less strained form of co-existence. In other words, hell is not necessarily other people. However, if we do not accept and work with our capacity to be affected by others, then hell becomes other people. Despite the inescapability of our contingencies and capacity to be affected, contemporary Hollywood genre cinema is well-stocked with characters that have either seemingly achieved or are actively pursuing the fantasy of an unaffected existence. Although this lack of feeling is usually only explicitly associated with societies’ most beleaguered citizens (e.g., drug users, serial killers, etc.), this thesis argues that these cinematic fantasies of affectlessness have become ordinary and widespread. By diverting my attention away from cinema's explicit announcements, and toward cinematic form, I will explore how specific formal features encourage fantasies of affectlessness for both characters and audience members. Within this thesis, I seek a theoretical explanation of these fantasies as well as to understand the motivations that have encouraged their widespread popularity. In order to understand how cinema facilitates these fantasies for audiences, I will also examine two formal features which filmmakers have used to evoke these fantasies of an unaffected existence: coloured noise (in Solaris (Soderbergh 2002) and Mom and Dad (Taylor 2018)) as well as the iv  erasure of affective markers (in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Wright 2010)). Despite these fantasies’ widespread circulation, I will argue that these fantasies encourage what Lauren Berlant has termed ‘cruel optimism’; indeed, despite the optimism these fantasies of affectlessness provide in promising a tensionless existence, in actuality they cruelly obstruct individuals from reducing their lives’ tensions.    v  Lay Summary  Although Hollywood genre cinema has primarily depicted one’s connections with others (e.g., love) as productively enabling them to live more virtuous and fulfilling lives, recent films have moved away from this prioritization. Instead, fantasies in which one entirely escapes the impacts of other entities, places, and institutions have become a dominant ideal in Hollywood filmmaking. This thesis seeks to understand the structures of and motivations for these unaffected fantasies. To understand how Hollywood genre cinema has subtly facilitated these fantasies for audiences, I will examine a pair of formal features: coloured noise (in Solaris (Soderbergh 2002) and Mom and Dad (Taylor 2018)) as well as the erasure of sweat (in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Wright 2010)). In this thesis, I will argue that these fantasies cruelly prohibit what they promise to actualize: a tensionless existence.  vi  Preface  This thesis is original, unpublished, independent work by the author, Morgan Harper. A preliminary draft of Chapter 4 was presented at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies’ annual conference in March, 2018.  vii  Table of Contents  Abstract ......................................................................................................................................... iii	Lay Summary .................................................................................................................................v	Preface ........................................................................................................................................... vi	Table of Contents ........................................................................................................................ vii	Acknowledgements ...................................................................................................................... ix	Dedication ..................................................................................................................................... xi	Chapter 1: Introduction ................................................................................................................1	Chapter 2: Literature Review .....................................................................................................10	2.1	 Introduction ................................................................................................................... 10	2.2	 Fantasies of Absolute Continuity and Boundaries ........................................................ 12 2.3	 For All and None of Us ................................................................................................. 15 2.4	 An Impossible End to Interrelationality ........................................................................ 20 2.5	 Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 28 Chapter 3: Sound as Affective Border: Coloured Noise and the Fantasy of Terminating Tension ..........................................................................................................................................30	3.1	 Introduction ................................................................................................................... 30	3.2	 Tensionless Fantasies with Effectively Affectless Atmospheres .................................. 32 3.3	 Complete Engulfment in Solaris ................................................................................... 43 3.4	 Stochastic Resonance in Mom and Dad ........................................................................ 50 3.5	 Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 57 viii  Chapter 4: When Fight Scenes Don’t Sweat: Contemporary Action Cinema’s Decentering of Bodily Production ....................................................................................................................59	4.1	 Introduction ................................................................................................................... 59	4.2	 Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff?: Theorizing Sweat as an Affective Marker ................... 62 4.3	 Sweat’s Obfuscation, Erasure, and Absence in Contemporary Action Sequences ....... 69 4.4	 An Impossible End to Interrelationality ........................................................................ 78 4.5	 Scott Pilgrim vs. the World ........................................................................................... 85 Chapter 5: Conclusion .................................................................................................................87	Bibliography .................................................................................................................................93	 ix  Acknowledgements  Throughout my four years at the University of British Columbia, I have been immensely fortunate to receive a remarkable amount of encouragement from the Film Studies faculty. In many ways, these efforts have been spearheaded by my thesis supervisor, Dr. Lisa Coulthard. You have been unflinching in your support of my interests, presented me with countless opportunities, and provided me with a remarkable example of how to navigate institutions without compromising one’s values. I pursued a Master’s degree at UBC to continue working with you, and I am very grateful to have been given that opportunity. I would also like to thank my second reader, Dr. Christine Evans. During my first semester as an undergraduate at UBC, I was enrolled in one of your classes and was almost immediately inspired to want to pursue graduate school. Thank you for your guidance over the past four years. Finally, I would like to thank Dr. Brian McIlroy for his uniquely kind and nurturing disposition. As an immensely stressed and intimidated undergraduate, I was extremely fortunate to get to have you as both a teacher and Honour’s supervisor because you showed me that academia could feel both human and accessible. During my time at UBC, I have also been extremely fortunate to share classrooms with brilliant peers, and I would like to extend my thanks to Zoë Laks, Amanda Greer, Matthew Gartner, Gabrielle Berry, Zoë S. Sherman, and Jared Aronoff. Each of you offered invaluable constructive feedback for my work and helped foster an extremely supportive and nurturing environment. For Zoë Laks, I would like to extend additional appreciation for all that came with sharing a two-person cohort together. I am very thankful that I have gotten to know and collaborate with you during this degree.  x  Special thanks go to all of the friends that have supported me emotionally and intellectually over the past two years. These include (but are not limited to) Mathieu Aubin, Amanda Greer, Samuel Hudson, Raquel Baldwinson, Brent Holmes, Kendall Hammond, Graham Baker, Xine Yao, Hilary Ball, and the entire Green College community. This project arose from a conversation that I had with Mathieu Aubin about sweat that I still have not completely shaken. Over the past two years, our long talks, road trips, and ping pong matches have been an essential site of sustenance and inspiration for me. Much love and thanks. Thank you, as well, to my family for your love and support. In different ways, each of you has had an incredible influence in getting me to this point. I would like to especially thank my younger brother, Eric, for stimulating my interest in cinema; my older brother, Tyler, for exposing me to the value of writing; and my sister-in-law, Renée, for demonstrating to me that success in academia was possible. For my final acknowledgment, I would like to extend my warmest thanks to Amanda Greer. Without your assistance with editing and the time that you have taken to help me talk through my ideas, this would be a considerably inferior project. As a partner, best friend, and colleague, I feel honoured each day to be surrounded by your brilliance and love. Yours is the contingency that I prioritize above all others. xi  Dedication  This thesis is dedicated to my partner, Amanda. 1  Chapter 1: Introduction  Hollywood cinema is replete with the popular trope of “unfeeling” characters, those who claim that they cannot feel anything, whose desire to either embrace or escape this lack of feeling motivates them to either abuse drugs or commit senseless acts of violence. For instance, cinema’s drug users frequently claim that the reason that they have taken drugs -- such as opioids -- is to no longer be able to feel anything. Similarly, a familiar refrain from cinema’s many serial killers is that they murder people to feel something, implying that they have previously been incapable of feeling anything. In general, Hollywood reserves a lack of feeling for characters that are psychotic, sociopathic, unsympathetic, alienating, or otherwise incapacitated. Although contemporary Hollywood cinema tends to only explicitly attribute a lack of feeling to its most marginalized characters, these explicit announcements only tell part of the story. In recent years, Hollywood has been subtly associating fantasies of being entirely unaffected by one’s surroundings with seemingly ordinary characters. To introduce this distinction between the ordinary fantasies of being unaffected, with the actual lack of feeling that marginalized characters claim to experience, I will begin by turning to the recent film Thoroughbreds (Finley 2018) which intertwines the lives of two young women who each embody a different side of this affectless binary. Thoroughbreds suggests that while it may only be cinema’s least valorized characters that are capable of feeling nothing, its normative subjects are also prone to fantasizing about being without feeling and may actually cause much more damage than society’s most beleaguered citizens. As the film begins, a young woman -- Amanda (Olivia Cooke) -- reaches out and places her palms on each of a horse’s cheeks. Without blinking or emotionally contorting her face, she 2  stares intensely into the horse’s eyes before killing it off-screen. Awaiting a cruelty to animals trial, Amanda is entirely socially alienated, speaking to no one except for Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy), who tutors Amanda (though only due to the exorbitant amount Amanda’s mother pays her in an effort to re-socialize her daughter). On the surface, Lily -- the step-daughter of an obscenely rich businessman -- seems entirely unlike Amanda. She looks and acts the part of an eventual high society woman; deflecting Lily’s question about the difficulties of graduating high school early, she says, “No, trying to wrap my head around mutual funds and credit swaps is the hard part.” However, Lily is also secretly drawn in another direction: she did not actually graduate early, but was kicked out of private school for plagiarism, and has been lying about holding a prestigious internship. Lily becomes drawn to Amanda, curious about Amanda’s behaviour, given that she seemed neither ashamed nor embarrassed about killing her horse. Amanda explains to Lily, “I don’t have any feelings ever. [...] I mean, sometimes I feel hungry or tired, but like joy, guilt, I really don’t have any of those.” Motivated solely by rationality and drives, Amanda claims that she has never actually felt emotions but has spent her entire life mimicking others. Despite the horse's killing being ill-informed, Amanda did not murder it out of some form of perverse pleasure -- something that she claims to be incapable of feeling -- but only as a preventative form of euthanasia. For Amanda, preventing the horse’s future suffering was merely the rational thing to do. However, while Lily almost immediately becomes closer to Amanda after this revelation, this forgivable explanation does not seem to be the reason for their friendship reigniting. For Lily, it is Amanda’s emulatable example of affectlessness that Lily seeks to understand and harness.   Following the death of Lily’s father, her mother married a wealthy, emotionally abusive businessman named Mark (Paul Sparks) whose contempt for Lily is transparent. He has 3  convinced Lily’s mother to present a united front regarding shipping Lily off to boarding school and out of their lives. Due to this decision, Lily comes to believe that her ideal state -- in the eyes of her parents -- is one that would prevent them being bound to interrelationality with her. Since the desires that underwrite our fantasies are always born out of what we believe others want from us (Žižek Lacan 49), Amanda serves as a fantasized ideal for Lily. Amanda, unlike Lily, claims to be outside of the impact of interrelationality; incapable of feeling the impact of contingency with others. For this reason, Lily views Amanda as both an ideal worth attempting to emulate and an opportunity that she is capable of exploiting. The benefits of no longer feeling seem to significantly grab ahold of Lily’s attention for the first time during a conversation in which Amanda teaches her ‘The Technique’ behind unemotional crying. While watching D.O.A. (Maté 1949), the friends disagree about whether or not the tears of the film’s leading actress -- Paula Gibson -- are real or not. As Lily romantically hypothesizes that the tears may have come from an actual on-set romance that was bound for a traumatic end, Amanda upstages her vision by beginning to cry on the spot. Lily seems equal parts dumbfounded and impressed, immediately requesting that Amanda teach her. Amanda employs 'The Technique' to trick others into believing that she is capable of feeling and Lily seems to believe that she may be able to escape feeling by making her affective responses into a purely motor phenomenon. In this way, ‘The Technique’ represents opposing but interrelated functions for the young women. Amanda uses ‘The Technique’ to create an illusory relationship with others; Lily wants to learn ‘The Technique’ because it promises a fantasized version of herself. Although Lily is not immediately successful at replicating crying’s bodily processes, which Amanda describes as trying to choke oneself from the inside, she is certainly eager to try to learn. Moments later, Amanda offhandedly questions Lily’s intentions toward Mark, “Do you ever think about just killing 4  him?” Initially, Lily pushes back against the idea, but within days, she is the one pushing to move forward with it. The plan to kill Mark presents a satisfying endgame for Lily in two ways. First, to actualize the plan, she believes that she would have to become as distant and unaffected as Amanda. Becoming more like Amanda would seemingly satisfy the desire of the other (Mark) because Amanda presents herself as outside of interrelationality’s impact. Also, bizarrely, killing Mark satisfies his perceived desire to be outside of interrelationality with Lily, since death is the only real manner to escape interrelationality with one’s surroundings entirely. For these reasons, Lily pushes Amanda to help her pursue Mark’s murder. However, when their original plan falls through, Lily quickly shifts gears and schemes to pin the murder on Amanda because she is a believable mark -- she has already demonstrated a history of violence. It is at this point that Thoroughbreds severely distorts the conventional binary of normative and undesirable characters. After serving Amanda a drink that she laced with Rohypnol, Lily has second thoughts about her plan: to drug Amanda, go upstairs and kill Mark, and cover Amanda in blood -- the evidence of her guilt. After Lily attempts to shift course and admits her plan to Amanda, Amanda willingly guzzles the spiked drink. For Amanda, who is entirely unaffected by her surroundings, the ramifications of being incarcerated are negligible. Getting detained may as well be a lateral move, unlike Lily being shipped away to boarding school, which Amanda recognizes could be emotionally traumatic for her. Amanda perceives it to be logical that she facilitates Lily’s freedom by sacrificing her own independence. This choice illustrates the common belief that if one can do good without assuming any ramifications, then one must do it. As drives and rationality are Amanda's sole motivators, Thoroughbreds seems to suggest that either unaffected humans have a drive toward goodness or they must inherently understand that goodness is 5  rational. In either scenario, it is one’s affects that push them toward treating others poorly. The film -- which seems to gleefully side with the belief that Mark’s murder would be a good thing -- does not undercut Amanda’s goodness as an enabler of Lily’s liberation. With Amanda now unconscious, Lily actualizes the plan: she murders her step-father then frames Amanda for the crime. Although Amanda consents to her own exploitation, it is both undeniable and noteworthy that Thoroughbreds undercuts conventional tropes by having Lily actively choose to go forward with exploiting Amanda. Unlike the murderous serial killer that simply wants to feel something or the drug user that prefers to feel nothing, Thoroughbreds’ exploitation is perpetrated by a millionaire’s daughter whose seeming ordinariness is equally emphasized with her fantasy to be beyond interrelationality.  In this way, Thoroughbreds demonstrates one of the common beliefs that this thesis seeks to contend with as well as the interconnected form of fantasy that it seeks to understand. First, Thoroughbreds illustrates the common belief that one’s ability to be affected is what leads them astray. In contrast to this familiar perspective, I will suggest that seeking to deny one’s affects is a passive engagement with one’s surroundings that actually tends to encourage more tension. Secondly, Thoroughbreds exemplifies the extremely destructive ordinariness of affectless fantasies. While Hollywood’s cultural products may typically project this affectlessness onto its least desired characters, I contend that the fantasy to be entirely unaffected is far more common than cultural products tend to illustrate explicitly. This duality, in which the seemingly ordinary, fantasizing subject seeks an idealized existence outside of contingency with their surroundings, and inevitably leverages this fantasy into hypocritically exploiting the inevitable contingencies of others, is the focal point of this thesis. Instead of concentrating on explicit references in Hollywood filmmaking to unaffected subjects, such as the previously mentioned depictions of 6  drug users or serial killers, I will examine the way that a pair of specific formal features (coloured noise, bodily erasures) subtly facilitate these fantasies for seemingly ordinary characters. I argue that these fantasies of affectlessness result in a tenser and more antagonistic relationship with one’s surroundings. In this way, these fantasies actually undercut our ability to take agency over the tensions that arise from existing amongst others, tensions that individuals seek to escape by entering into these fantasies of an end to interrelationality. In Chapter 2, I will begin by seeking to both contextualize and generate a theoretical understanding of these fantasies of an end to interrelationality. In this chapter, I seek to explain that to be in the world guarantees that one will be affected. Although much Western discourse has associated being unaffected with virtue and has gestured toward or explicitly argued for the possibility of being entirely unaffected, this chapter suggests that it is only in the realm of fantasy that one can exist without being affected. These fantasies of an end to interrelationality tend to take two structures: one in which the fantasizing subject has absolute bodily continuity with their surroundings (Jackson 72-73), and another in which they have impenetrable boundaries separating them from their environment. In accordance with the Lacanian perspective (fantasies arise from what the fantasizing subject believes others want from them (Žižek Lacan 49)), I will explore generalizable explanations for why these affectless fantasies seem -- due to their contemporary relevance to cinema -- to be increasingly popular with audiences. From this standpoint, and following the conclusions of Benedict de Spinoza and Lauren Berlant, this chapter argues that one avenue to attaining meaningful agency in one’s life is through affective labour, wherein one works with their affects, instead of against them. From here, I will transition into the first formal feature that I will be examining: coloured noise. With the expression ‘coloured noise,’ I refer to any form of noise that does not signify a 7  relationship to a particular object (e.g., a nearby fan’s humming) or means of production (e.g., a nearby fan’s humming). Despite not holding a signifying relationship to a grounded object or occurrence, coloured noise is not outside of the realm of signification: it functions as a signifier of the infinite. In my third chapter, I will explore how this signifying relationship with the infinite functions to create seemingly affectless atmospheres. These seemingly affectless atmospheres create an affective boundary between the listening subject and the auditory world that surrounds them. With all other auditory inputs muted by coloured noise and the increased proximity that the listener feels with the infinite, coloured noise is capable of facilitating either of the previously mentioned fantasies of an end to interrelationality: absolute continuity and absolute borders. I will end the chapter by illustrating how coloured noise has been used to illustrate each of these fantasies in a pair of films: for absolute continuity, Solaris (Soderbergh 2002), and for absolute boundaries, Mom and Dad (Taylor 2018).  This thesis will conclude with an examination of the extremely common practice of effacing sweat from the action sequences in contemporary Hollywood action cinema. Although theorists such as Eugenie Brinkema, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Sigmund Freud have argued that affective markers (such as sweat) lack epistemological worth, I will emphasize that amongst the violence of action sequences, one’s sweat importantly affirms their capacity to be affected. In this way, sweat has been a parallel affective marker for action cinema as ejaculation has been for pornography, blood for horror films, or tears for melodramas (Williams 9). By lacking its primary affective marker, contemporary Hollywood action cinema has reoriented identification toward unaffected bodies that are generally in a state of stasis. While Lisa Purse has summarized action cinema’s history as encompassing “narratives of becoming” (7-8), I will argue that this is no longer the case. Without its sweat to connote becoming, action cinema is no longer a site of 8  becoming. Instead, its action sequences primarily illustrate fantasies of an end to interrelationality. In this fourth chapter, I will detail the specific methods which Hollywood action cinema uses with respect to its editing, costuming, cinematography, settings, production design, lighting, and digital effects to erase its sweat. To conclude, I will analyze how Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Wright 2010) stretches this tendency to erase sweat to its satirical endpoint. While the films that I discuss during the third and fourth chapters each leverage different formal devices into fantasies of affectlessness, the various ways that they contextualize them differ in meaningful ways. The films that I discuss in Chapter 3 (Solaris and Mom and Dad) narrativize and draw attention to their tensionless fantasies of an end to interrelatedness. Thus, they create a critical entry point for audiences to navigate their condemning contexts. In Chapter 4, I will discuss the manner that contemporary Hollywood action cinema is increasingly erasing markers of bodily production which, when present, foreground one’s interrelatedness with their surroundings. Although I will argue that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a unique alternative, these films generally leverage their fantasies of affectlessness in a manner that depends primarily upon absence and does not draw attention to itself. In other words, they naturalize and make invisible the fantasmatic scenario. This distinction between the films in Chapters 3 and 4 is essential because, as Todd McGowan explains, cinematic fantasy can either be useful or harmful depending on how it either shifts the viewer’s perception (in this case, by drawing attention to itself) or placates the viewer (by naturalizing their fantasies) (38). By foregrounding and contextualizing the rise of these tensionless fantasies for viewers, Solaris and Mom and Dad each draws attention to them and allow viewers a self-reflexive space to understand the unfulfilling manner in which they fail to realistically remediate the affective relations that their 9  fantasies promise to fix. In many contemporary Hollywood action films, the unaffected nature of characters is naturalized as its bodies are digitally manipulated to make their ability to be affected seem impossible. Thus, a viewer's potential for critically assessing these fantasies is severely deflated. In both chapters, formal features (coloured noise, bodily erasures) will be analyzed to understand how they create unproductive attachments to fantasies of an end to interrelatedness, but as is often the case, their cinematic contexts drastically alter their reception by audiences.   Considering the rise of these contemporary fantasies of affectlessness, this thesis seeks to understand the subtle formal means within which the ordinariness of such fantasies has been both critically examined and naturalized within a significant amount of twenty-first century Hollywood filmmaking. Throughout the following chapters, I will seek to expose fantasies of affectlessness as fraying, impossible, and yet, crucial to contemporary cinematic form.   10  Chapter 2: Literature Review  2.1 Introduction In Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit, hell tortures three individuals by merely having them co-exist. No Exit trades pitchforks for the uncomfortable reality of three individuals being trapped together in a drawing room. Each of Joseph Garcin, Inez Serrano, and Estelle Rigault are being punished for their sins on Earth, but due to the innocuousness of their punishment, they do not seem to have fully grasped the terms of their sentences. For most of No Exit, they try to resist their contingencies with each other, and this unproductively results in further struggle. Arthur Danto contextualizes the torture that each feels by being stuck with one another, writing that “each is forced to see himself through the eyes of the others, and none can escape an identity imposed from without” (105). Permanently bound to the impact of each other, they resist growing alongside the contingencies of interrelationality. This resistance climaxes when Joseph recognizes the terms of their punishment and concludes, “Hell is---other people” (Sartre 45). For Estelle, this revelation inspires her to try to minimize her and Joseph’s suffering, and murder Inez. After Estelle stabs Inez repeatedly but fails to harm her, Inez amusingly blurts out between fits of laughter, “But, you crazy creature, what do you think you’re doing? You know quite well I’m dead. [...] So here we are, forever” (Sartre 46). Suddenly, each of the three characters is on the same page: this is their hell, and they will forever be impacted by each other. Unexpectedly, once they all realize that they are bound to each others’ impact, they all gregariously laugh before silence overtakes the room. Cutting through the silence, Garcin issues the play’s final piece of dialogue: “Well, well, let’s go on with it…” (Sartre 46). Garcin’s final words provide an ambiguous ending to the play. Will these three roommates go on eternally resisting the 11  knowledge that they are permanently bound to one another, or will this knowledge stimulate the group to go on toward co-existing in an entirely different form? Without the recognition that they are eternally bound to each other, they were guaranteed to persist antagonistically. Recognizing one’s dependencies on others may not fully ensure an entirely different path, but it opens up new possibilities for co-existing with others. In this chapter, I will argue that existing outside of contingency or interrelationality is impossible, and individuals can only access this unaffected state through specific fantasies of affectlessness. Though these fantasies are compelled by the fantasizing subject's perception that others yearn to disconnect from them, an optimistic attachment to this form of fantasy does not enable fewer negative affects; in fact, it only strips the fantasizing subject of their agency to reduce them. To further understand the contours of these affectless fantasies, I will turn to psychoanalysis. Building on Freud's theories of the death drive, I will argue that these fantasies of an unaffected existence take two primary shapes: one in which the subject embodies absolute bodily continuity with their surroundings and another in which their body is entirely impenetrable by their environment. In both cases, the fantasizing subject imagines a tensionless existence outside of the grasp of negative affects. Throughout this chapter, the spread of contemporary discourse on environmentalism and identity politics will be analyzed for their role in the growing popularity of fantasies of disconnection -- fantasies which have gained popularity for both general and personal reasons. As a counterpoint to these fantasies of an unaffected existence, I will draw from the writings of Benedict de Spinoza and Lauren Berlant. Within each of their work, they argue that one must work with their capacity to be affected to be better for both themselves and others. However, as Berlant argues, the same objects that we get the most positive affects from are often responsible for disseminating the most negative affects (Cruel 12  Optimisim 24); positive and negative affects are always mixed in together. Consequently, it is impossible to have positive affects without negative affects, and one must be entirely unaffected to escape negative affects. By fantasizing about an absolute end to affect, it becomes impossible to follow Berlant and Spinoza's conclusion that one can only improve for themselves and others by working with their affects. In this way, one's attachment to this fantasy -- based on its ability to improve one's relationship with others -- becomes the precise reason that one's interrelationality with others can only become more tenuous, stressful, and tense.  2.2 Fantasies of Absolute Continuity and Boundaries  Fantasies of an end to interrelationality are ubiquitous to our contemporary being-in-the-world and are rooted in (and can be explicated by) a turn to Freudian psychoanalysis, concerned as it is with structures of (and structuring) fantasies. In Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Sigmund Freud argues that all human instincts aim “towards the restoration of an earlier state of things” (31-32). This drive depends upon humanity's conservative nature, which consistently prioritizes a previously attained state over a solely imagined one. Supposing that inanimate things existed before animate ones, Freud concludes that conservativism orients death as life’s central aim (32). Popular discourse has thoroughly adopted the death drive as a way to explain away the outlets discharging humanity’s varying and ubiquitous self-destructive impulses, such as extreme sports or drug use. For instance, provides “11 Extreme Sports For Those With A Death Wish,” demonstrating the pervasiveness of the concept’s presence in popular discourse and culture -- so pervasive as to be included in the frequently deprecated form of the online listicle. However, the drive that Freud discusses does not refer to seeking out risk and basking in its 13  tensions. Instead, it relates to trying to escape from tension all together. Accordingly, Rosemary Jackson contextualizes Freud’s death drive through the fantasies that humans entertain: Fantasy, with its tendency to dissolve structures, moves towards an ideal of undifferentiation, and this is one of its defining characteristics. It refuses difference, distinction, homogeneity, reduction, discrete forms. This desire for undifferentiation is close to the instinct which Freud identified in Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920), and in his late works, as the most fundamental drive in man: a drive towards a state of inorganicism. This has been crudely termed ‘a death wish’, but it is not a simple desire to cease to be. Freud sees it as the most radical form of the pleasure principle, a longing for Nirvana, where all tensions are reduced. This condition he termed a state of entropy, and the desire for undifferentiation he termed an entropic pull, opposing entropy to energy, to the erotic, aggressive drives of any organism. (72-73) Through the structuring ideal of ‘undifferentiation,’ fantasy tends to embrace a boundaryless ontology of disorder wherein objects and concepts blend into and shape each other, a chaos without tension or friction. Tension and the power relations which underwrite it are a result of the perceived lack of continuity between organisms. Believing in partial boundaries between each entity only produces tension from these boundaries’ insistent differentiations and separations. However, if absolute bodily continuity were possible, then tension would be reduced. Freud’s death drive gestures toward a shared intuition amongst humans that an ideal existence would entail a collapsing of boundaries, a free flow of bodies. However, the death drive may not merely open itself up to the fantasy of undifferentiation, but also to a fantasized solidifying of the boundaries that separate entities. There are two possible fantasies in which an escape from tension can arise. Jackson details one of the two options: individuals are no longer ontologically distinct from one another, as the boundaries that separate them dissolve to create absolute continuity. Without boundaries to delineate the distinction between “I” and any “other,” there is no longer any motivation for an individual to impose power on another or feel regret regarding their actions -- there is no need to 14  generate or lean into or work through tension. Every cause and effect is theoretically imposed upon the same continuous entity; there is no way to get ahead or fall behind as every benefit or consequence is balanced out. By abolishing either the drive toward power or the regrets that come from reflecting upon one’s unjust excess or use of it, tension is obliterated. The second fantasy -- one that Rosemary Jackson does not discuss -- is an existence in which the boundaries that separate entities are entirely firm. If the boundaries that separate individuals are entirely firm and one’s interrelatedness with their environment is effaced, then the same tensionless benefits arise. Interrelatedness encourages tension through the prospect of either being negatively acted upon by another or recognizing that one's actions negatively impact another. However, if an entity completely transcends this tension-inducing interrelatedness through an absolute boundary, then the same ends are achieved. Whether it is through a fantasy of absolute continuity or a fantasy of absolute separation, each satisfies the desire of a tensionless relationship with one’s surroundings. The underlying desire that motivates each of these fantasies -- absolute continuity or boundaries -- does not merely arise for the fantasizing subject, as if from within a vacuum, but emerges through their perception of what others want from them. In other words, these fantasies arise both from within the individual, and through interrelationality, through interactions with others. Slavoj Žižek explains that fantasy is an intersubjective phenomenon that makes discernable what others want from us and how our desire is initiated. “The original question of desire is not directly ‘What do I want?’, but ‘What do others want from me?” he writes. “What do they see in me? What am I for these others? [...] at its most fundamental, fantasy tells me what I am for my others” (Living 49). To be desirable for others, one fantasizes about overcoming the differences that separate our current selves with the other’s ideal object of desire. 15  Thus, Lorenzo Chiesa argues that this desire to be desired makes lack a fundamental characteristic of all fantasy. "Insofar as lack is structured in fantasy, the subject’s desire [...] remains a desire for (phantasized) recognition – a desire to be desired or, better, loved by the Other," he writes (163). Of course, an individual that is no longer bound to interrelationality concerns everyone or everything that they come into contact with by no longer being able to impact them. Motivating any fantasy of an end to interrelationality is the fantasizing subject’s belief that their ideal state (in the eyes of the other) is to become incapable of impacting an ‘other.’ In this way, these fantasies illustrate the extreme, and even contradictory, lengths to which individuals will go (within their fantasies) in the hope of overcoming their perceived lack and attaining love from an other; thus, paradoxically, the individual wishes to negate their own interrelationality, and as an irrational result, their ability to be loved. In films that are oriented around these fantasies, the spectators’ identification with and investment in the textual object are dependent upon their shared belief that the ‘others’ in their own lives share this desire to be outside of contingency with them. Therefore, to understand the contemporary popularity of these fantasies, it is necessary to speculate about the following question: who or what would find it appealing to no longer be contingent with either all humans or particular groups of them?  2.3 For All and None of Us  In accordance with this perspective of fantasy as the attempt to fulfill the other’s desire, the contemporary popularity of these tensionless fantasies appears to hold nearly universal desirability for humans due to the current discourse surrounding the ‘Anthropocene.’ Robert Macfarlane summarizes this term as "the new epoch of geological time in which human activity is considered such a powerful influence on the environment, climate and ecology of the planet 16  that it will leave a long-term signature in the strata record" (para. 3). Carbon and methane tracing have linked the start of the Anthropocene to the eighteenth century as the earliest time in which human behaviour began to impact the icecaps significantly (Crutzen 23). However, the spread of this knowledge and its resulting distress came much later than the eighteenth century. Over the past five decades, distress over humanity's relation to Earth has increasingly spread to the point that the environmental philosopher, Glenn Albrecht, has created the term solastalgia to refer to a specific form of distress that is initiated by the knowledge that human behaviour is negatively impacting the planet (S96). Solastalgia creates preemptive homesickness; an anticipation that colours one’s enjoyment of home in the now. While Albrecht et al. focus on local effects, this distress may also result from the additional knowledge that the consequences which arise from even the most seemingly inconsequential human choices permeate through unfamiliar, unrepresentable, and unimaginable distances. Consequently, choice and tension have, perhaps, never been more deeply intertwined. With each individual's choices holding immense existential relevance for this species (and many others), it may seem easier to imagine a future without humans than with humans that are capable of peacefully co-existing with their surrounding ecologies. In the case of the ‘Anthropocene,’ the other that seemingly desires to exist outside of contingency with humanity is the world’s ecosystems (Žižek Living 80). This discourse has spread widely through books such as The World Without Us (Weisman 2007). The perceived desire of the world’s ecosystems is for humans to be incapable of contingency, incapable of dragging them down with us. Although the films that I will discuss in upcoming chapters do not foreground environmental repercussions, imminent environmental catastrophe has become an implicit backdrop against which all contemporary filmmaking must take place; it exists as a spectral presence throughout the films explicated and analyzed in this work.  17  While discourse surrounding humanity’s harmful relationship with the environment has nearly universal applicability for all people (though some societies are far more implicated than others), the degree to which the films that I will discuss in upcoming chapters concern the specific group of white, cisgender male characters is also worth investigating. White guilt -- an emotional recognition of the unfairness that one (intentionally or unintentionally) capitalizes off of the systematic exploitation of people of colour -- has been a part of popular discourse since at least as early as Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed in a public speech, “So in freeing the Negro we will also free the White man of his misconceptions and his subconscious feeling of guilt toward those he wrongs” (King 122). Further, psychology departments have been tracing white guilt as a psychological characteristic since at least the early 1990s, when American psychologist Beverly Daniel Tatum wrote, “White students, in particular, often struggle with strong feelings of guilt when they become aware of the pervasiveness of racism in our society” (463). The anxieties that arise when one recognizes that their identificatory positioning is involved with the marginalization of others have been broadly acknowledged to the point that -- within left-leaning American cultural texts -- they have now become grounds for satire. In an episode of Comedy Central’s hit show, Broad City, Ilana (Ilana Glazer) wrongfully assumes that the person administering her pedicure is an exploited employee, based solely on the technician's ethnicity (“Just the Tips”). After this pedicure technician angrily assures her that she is actually the business' owner, Ilana leans back and self-reflexively sings the words “white guilt” to herself repeatedly. Similarly, during the premiere episode of Who is America?, one of Sasha Baron Cohen’s characters, Dr. Nira Cain-N’Degeocello, first introduces himself as “a cisgender white heterosexual male, for which I apologize” (“101”). Again, during the films that I discuss in my upcoming chapters, whiteness is rarely acknowledged explicitly. However, as if a history of 18  colonialism, racism, and sexism has caught up with the cisgendered, white males of these films, their fantasies illustrate that on some level they have become aware that others desire to no longer be contingent upon their generally exploitative interrelationality. While the terms of these fantasies may sound promising due to their recognition of a horrific past, most of these films’ characters actually leverage their newfound belief that they are outside of contingency into the further exploitation of the people that surround them. They leverage their perception of the other's desires into both their fulfillment and further exploitation. Through both environmental anxiety and identity politics, the perceived desire of the other has created both general and specific terms for either most people or specific groups of people to find commonality and identification with cinematic fantasies of an end to interrelationality. In contemporary times, one can either bring anxieties that are specific to their own life or generalizable anxieties to do with their positionality, and find relief within cinematic fantasies of an end to interrelatedness. However, despite the perceived desire for (either all or a particular group of) humans to no longer exist, imagining a future without humans proves to be rife with difficulties, even impossible. Claire Colebrook explains this challenge of de-centering and effacing the human by writing that, "Nothing seems to justify our existence more – nothing seems to generate more of a feeling of the right to life – than the contemplation of human non-being, especially when that non-being is figured as the absence of rationality" (152). Colebrook contends that attempts to imagine extinction only cement the perception of humanity's necessity; the fact that we cannot imagine a human-less world only seems to justify humans’ centrality in the world. Despite our best intentions, we are trapped in our own humanist subjectivities; we are blind to a sight beyond the human. Therefore, the desire to imagine a future without humans is a dead-end; from this dead-end comes the heightened need for fantasies that imagine tensionless existences, fantasies 19  that alleviate tension. Slavoj Žižek explains that these impossible fantasies are actually fantasy at its purest, since “As Lacan pointed out, this is the fundamental subjective position of fantasy: to be reduced to a gaze observing the world in the condition of the subject’s non-existence [...] “The world without us” is thus fantasy at its purest: witnessing the Earth itself regaining its pre-castrated state of innocence, before we humans spoiled it in our hubris” (Living 80). In cinema, films that attempt to achieve such a pure fantasy of humanity's non-existence are faced with this double bind: the desire to imagine that which is impossible to imagine. Thus, the scope of many contemporary cinematic fantasies navigates through this double bind via a double negation.  In the following chapters, I will discuss how a pair of formal features (coloured noise and bodily erasures) each fulfill this condition of one’s non-existence via a double negation. According to Spinoza, to lose one’s interrelatedness (or contingencies) is to lose the essential characteristic of one’s existence (Ethics 39). As I will go on to argue in Chapters 3 and 4, each of these formal features fulfills this fantasy of effacing interrelatedness. However, the films that I will primarily discuss -- Solaris (Soderbergh 2002), Mom and Dad (Taylor 2018), and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Wright 2010) -- go further by negating this negation. By perpetuating their presence within a state of non-interrelated negation, one can have it both ways: outside of the tensions or responsibilities of interrelatedness but also still around to absorb the benefits of their own negation. Since it is impossible to imagine the world without humans, these fantasies fulfill the others’ perceived desire by imagining its humans as radically non-human, outside of the realm of contingency. This incomplete gesture is consistent with the psychoanalytic terms of fantasy, since, as Mihnea Panu explains, “the fantasy provides the subject with attainable objects that act as substitutes for the impossible objet a” (14). The aforementioned formal features overcome the impossibility to imagine a human-less world by affording their entirely human-20  looking characters a non-human outside of non-interrelationality. As almost ghostly figures, they continue to exist within their cinematic worlds without any responsibility to them or negative affects from them. However, to fully grasp these fantasies, it is essential to understand how they are distinct from and come into collision with the reality of our interrelatedness with others, and I will turn to affect theory to clarify how being in the world necessitates being contingent with it.  2.4 An Impossible End to Interrelationality  Often, one walks into a room and immediately feels a wave of sensation overcome their body. A conference room’s hostility, an emergency room’s fragility, or a movie theatre’s bubbling excitement, each impacts the body immediately upon entering a new space. These waves of sensation are affects (Anderson 735). As Gregory J. Seigworth and Melissa Gregg explain, these intensities circulate between entities -- both transcending them and impacting them -- as one’s surroundings impose themselves and compel bodies into action:  That is, affect is found in those intensities that pass body to body (human, nonhuman, part-body, and otherwise), in those resonances that circulate about, between, and sometimes stick to bodies and worlds, and in the very passages or variations between these intensities and resonances themselves. Affect, at its most anthropomorphic, is the name we give to those forces—visceral forces beneath, alongside, or generally other than conscious knowing, vital forces insisting beyond emotion—that can serve to drive us toward movement, toward thought and extension [...] Affect is in many ways synonymous with force or forces of encounter. (1-2) While the word 'force' may conjure the image of an impactful violence, affects can range from the subtlest of forces to the largest (Seigworth and Gregg 2). Humans are acted upon by (both large and minuscule) forces which ground us as subjects in the world. Sarah Ahmed summarizes this point by succinctly writing that “Bodies take the shape of the very contact they have with objects and others” (1). These “objects and others” encompass both embodied and more 21  amorphous variants as we find ourselves being affected by the entirety of our surroundings: people, objects, atmospheres, institutions, thoughts, etc. To live is to be affected by a seemingly infinite amount of both ephemeral and sustaining forces which each impart varying degrees of force upon the body. For Deleuze and Guattari, these forces exist beyond the bodies that come into contact with them: “Affects are no longer feelings or affections; they go beyond the strength of those who undergo them” (164). While affects come into contact with bodies and compel them into both feeling and emotion, they are no longer affects once bodies have processed them. Steven Shaviro summarizes Deleuze and Guattari’s distinctions between (unprocessed) affect and (processed) emotion, by stating that “affect is primary, non-conscious, asubjective or presubjective, asignifying, unqualified, and intensive; while emotion is derivative, conscious, qualified, and meaningful, a "content" that can be attributed to an already-constituted subject. Emotion is affect captured by a subject, or tamed and reduced to the extent that it becomes commensurate with that subject” (3). While affect overwhelms the body as input, its processing turns it into something entirely different: emotion. Emotion presumes an already constituted subject, but affect forms this subject. Without any form of filtering, affect is the force that gives way to sensation and without it, sensation would not be able to give way to subjecthood. In this way, as subjects, we are all affected, taking in an unimaginable amount of forces at any given moment. Despite the inescapability of affect, its unseeable but perpetual existence and impact, the history of philosophy is saturated with arguments for the value of escaping it. Being affected is difficult, tiring, tense; escaping from such tension proves seductive and alluring. For instance, Jonathan Flatley contends that Socrates’s ideal subject is the one least affected: "Indeed, Socrates argues that the best things (whether body, plant, or god) are the ones that are least moved and 22  least altered by something else” (141). Since Socrates, this impulse has hardly waned in Western philosophy and even achieved the epoch of being the central organizing principle for the Roman Stoics. One of the most noteworthy Roman Stoics, Marcus Aurelius, summarizes this value through a personal reminder to himself, “Make sure that the ruling and sovereign part of your soul remains unaffected by every movement, smooth or violent, in your flesh, and that it does not combine with them, but circumscribes itself, and restricts these experiences to the bodily parts” (42). Instead of seeking to work with their affects, for Aurelius, the virtuous person contains and represses them. Although the intertwining of virtue and being unaffected has steadily persisted within Western philosophy, it was only with the introduction of postmodernism that the theoretical vocabulary for affect’s waning, or even endpoint, was theorized. In his most famous work, Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Frederic Jameson argues that one of the primary features of postmodern culture is the image’s “waning of affect” (10). During the latter half of the twentieth century, Jameson contends, the human bodies within this period's images began to seem unaffected. For instance, Jameson argues that in comparison to the subject of Edward Munch’s The Scream, who foregrounds their ability to be affected through their perceivable “alienation, anomie, solitude, social fragmentation, and isolation,” the likeness of Marilyn Monroe in Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Diptych seems to be no more affected than an object (11). While in recent times Jameson has backtracked his claim that postmodern art is unaffected, claiming that he did not have the present moment’s theoretical vocabulary and that he really meant that it was emotion which was waning in postmodern culture (Baumbach et al. 151-152), the impact of his statement has not disappeared. Recently, Sulgi Lie argued that affect is no longer simply waning but is completely absent in certain films. He writes that in a pair of recent films -- Drive (Winding Refn 2011) and Shame (McQueen 2011) -- affect can no longer be 23  considered as waning, but as finally fully waned. “[T]he structure of feeling mapped by both films under discussion can hardly be described as feeling anymore, or as emotion or affect,” Lie concludes (46). While Lie does not necessarily interpret the seemingly unaffected subjects of these films as virtuous, as Socrates or Aurelius might have, his criticism can be situated within this same lineage -- as arguing for the possibility of unaffected bodies.  Such claims to the possibility of being affectless have been directly challenged by contemporary theorists, most notably, Lauren Berlant. In “Structures of Unfeeling,” Lauren Berlant argues that when theorists perceive a cinematic body's lack of feeling, this is often a misevaluation. Instead of simply interpreting these bodies as unaffected, she traces underperformativity as an acting style that has been around since long before postmodernity and does not reflect a waning of affect (“Unfeeling” 197). The performances of Buster Keaton, Takeshi Kitano, and Tilda Swinton, as well as the directorial styles of Robert Bresson and Jim Jarmusch, are all equally implicated in underperformativity's cinematic history. Instead of interpreting underperforming actors as unaffected, Berlant argues that surfaces can be deceiving. She sidesteps the assumption that a body's surface transparently reflects their inner state by arguing that these underperforming bodies are not apolitically closing themselves off from being impacted by their surroundings but are underperformative due to past traumas ("Unfeeling" 194). Unlike Berlant, Lie’s argument relies upon the assumption that the inner states of real or cinematic bodies are entirely perceivable. However, this is not true of real people, and the cinematic characters that his analysis relies upon are not shown to be ontologically distinct from actual human beings. A muted acting style, which Lie assumes is reflective of affect’s termination, seems more likely to reflect a feeling individual whose vulnerabilities have not been previously rewarded and are fearful of the ramifications that may arise from transparently 24  broadcasting their capacity to be affected to their surroundings. In the cinematic worlds that Lie builds his argument around (Drive and Shame), the films do not indicate that their bodies are ontologically distinct from actual human bodies. Lie overlooks that in neither of these films’ narratives nor their forms is any ontological distinction reflected. Instead, the affective recession of the characters in Drive and Shame seems to arise from previous traumas that they have incurred. In the case of Drive’s unnamed protagonist, existing within an atmosphere of extreme violence explains this lack of transparency. Similarly, in Shame, Brandon’s unsatisfiable sexuality and the unwelcome extremes to which he must go to achieve some semblance of satiety have fostered a strained relationship with his surroundings. Unless films explicitly indicate to viewers that their characters are ontologically distinct from the actual human beings that their cinematic bodies seek to represent, then surface-level absences should not be treated as necessarily reflective of a deeper, permeating absence. Instead, the underperformativity of these characters reflects a survival tactic in which individuals hide their true feelings to avoid communicating vulnerability to their surroundings. In many contexts, showing one’s feelings leads to exploitation, and for many, communicating affective absence is a necessary means of survival, or even just living more comfortably. Although being outside of interrelatedness may only be a fantasy, this fantasy does not lack significance, since one’s fantasies are a primary facilitator of interactions with the surrounding world. Fantasy imprints itself and impinges on reality, and vice versa.  According to Benedict de Spinoza (commonly considered the earliest affect theorist), one must accept their vulnerability to be able to navigate their affects, and one's capacity for navigation is essential to the quality of one’s life. For Spinoza, one’s body is the result of contingency: when enough elements agree with one another, a body is formed. He explains that, 25  “A body is constituted by the relation among its parts” (Ethics 39). A body's ability to live relies upon enough of its parts agreeably coexisting for a prolonged amount of time. How one is affected by their surroundings plays a significant role in impacting the sustainability of these parts’ coexistence. Beyond even just living though, thriving is also tied to contingency. Michael Hardt summarizes Spinoza’s argument as contending that the most affected body is the strongest (215). Unlike most articulations of strength, vulnerability is reconfigured as the means for a self-strengthening, a stronger body, rather than as a symptom of weakness. However, it would be a mistake to interpret this conclusion as an individual’s choice to either be affected or avoid affect altogether. Instead, this conclusion pertains to whether or not one acknowledges and works with their contingencies or leverages specific fantasies into disavowing their contingencies. Writing in the 17th century, Spinoza does not use the word ‘fantasy,’ as it lacked the theoretical import -- fostered primarily by psychoanalysis -- that it does today. However, while he does not use the word ‘fantasy’ to communicate the means by which one negotiates with their affective surroundings, it seems latent in his understanding of how individuals relate to them. Spinoza damningly criticizes other philosophers -- that have come to similar conclusions as Lie -- for overlooking how one’s interrelationality and capacity to be affected impacts them, writing: “Indeed they seem to conceive man in Nature as a dominion within a dominion. For they believe that man disturbs rather than follows, the order of Nature, that he has absolute power over his actions, and that he is determined only by himself” (Ethics 68). In another work, Spinoza further emphasizes this gap regarding the reality of all individuals’ interrelationality with their surroundings and the comforting, invulnerable fantasies that philosophers seek to disseminate by arguing for each individual’s sovereignty: “The fact is that they conceive men not as they are, but as they would like them to be” (“Treatise” 680). Since there is no outside for any entity to 26  avoid being acted upon, one must either accept and come to terms with their vulnerability or leverage specific fantasies into disavowing it.  If one is to work with the reality of their inevitable affectedness, then they can prioritize relationships that bring them positive affects. For Spinoza, positively affected individuals can act upon the world themselves, while being negatively affected halts them from acting. “The human body can be affected in many ways in which its power of acting is increased or diminished,” Spinoza writes, “and also in others which render its power of acting neither greater nor less” (Ethics 70). Tension, here, is paramount to Spinoza’s understanding of motivation. Tension paralyzes bodies due to the manner in which it stretches an entity tighter and tighter -- straining an individual mentally and physically -- making it less elastic and bringing it closer to a breaking point. A tense body is one in which the connections between its parts are too tenuous, thus making it more difficult for action. This is the impact of negative affects: a body is paralyzed as its parts feel too strained to act. On the other hand, a positively affected body is an elastic one that lacks strain and is capable of action. Thus, one is rewarded by learning to return to interactions which bring them positive affects and avoid those that bring negative affects. As Lauren Berlant observes, however, the same entities, situations, or institutions that we believe bring us the most positive affects may actually -- and cruelly -- bring us the most negative affects (Cruel Optimism 24). For instance, one may garner positive affects from their unimpeachable hope for success within an institution, but this same institution may provide a relentless amount of negative affects from its discouraging feedback. One’s capacity to be affected by another is not simplistically fixed in a manner that makes escaping from negative affects as easy as Spinoza seems to conclude; rather, the only way to try to avoid negative affects is through the very fantasies towards which those philosophers Spinoza so vehemently criticizes gesture. If only 27  negative affects are tension-inducing, but a single object can impart both positive and negative affects (since specific affects are never fixed to specific objects, but occur in the space of interaction between self and object), then the only way to conceive of an end to the tension of negative affects is to fantasize about being outside of affect entirely. In other words, the only way out of negative affect, or the frustration of coming up against an impasse of forced inaction, is to construct fantasies of affectlessness (despite their imperfections), of a tensionless existence wherein neither positive nor negative affects seemingly have any hold over our idealized bodies.  Although they may offer the hope of escape, these fantasies also serve as a camouflaged barrier to actualizing one’s desires. In Cruel Optimism, Lauren Berlant describes the eponymous affective relation as "when something you desire is actually an obstacle to your flourishing" (1). While our desires may prompt fantasies in which we become an ideal object for others, cruel optimism occurs due to this perceived solution being exactly what stunts our ability to assume this role. In the case of fantasies that promise an end to interrelationality, this is precisely the case. To be genuinely attached to this fantasy, one must perceive themselves as simultaneously disconnected from anyone or anything else. While the optimism that arises from this form of fantasy promises -- as all other fantasies do -- that the fantasizing subject will become an ideal object for their others, it also compels them to overlook their ability to either affect or be affected by another. Individuals cannot help but grow alongside one another -- as Spinoza argues -- but by ignorantly denouncing one’s relations with others, it becomes impossible to strategically guide oneself toward the types of changes that would allow them to either be more favorable towards others or themselves. It is impossible to avoid adverse affects entirely and succumbing to the fantasy of their absolute erasure makes it likely that they will intensify, not lessen. By delving into fantasies which block out all affect, one cannot take agency and almost certainly 28  guarantees that they will take on more negative affects for their troubles.  While I do not wish to imply that individuals can exist solely outside of the realm of fantasy and are ignorant for failing to confront reality directly, I am arguing that these specific affectless fantasies have particularly cruel outcomes. In this way, I follow Berlant’s hierarchization of fantasmatic scenarios: “One might point out that all objects/scenes of desire are problematic in that investments in them and projections onto them are less about them than about what cluster of desires and affects we can manage to keep magnetized to them. I have indeed wondered whether all optimism is cruel [...] But some scenes of optimism are clearly crueler than others" (Cruel Optimism 24). To improve upon one's life, one must not fantasize about receding from affects, but implement strategies to work alongside them. Just as Michael Hardt concludes in his reading of Spinoza and Berlant, this thesis argues that “the only path toward achieving the good life must be constructed with and through the affects” (215). By failing to work with our affects in order to improve upon their negativity, we run the risk of damaging our surroundings through neglect and rejection. In the case of the films discussed in the upcoming chapters, this is precisely the case. In these films, affect's muting does not encourage fairer treatment of either oneself or one’s surroundings. These fantasies of an end to interrelatedness encourage a cruel optimism that backfires by making the fantasizing subject even less desirable for those that surround them.  2.5 Conclusion Although it may not be possible to exist outside of interrelationality’s tensions, fantasies which assert this possibility -- fantasies of absolute continuity and absolute boundaries -- are widely applicable our contemporary moment. However, despite their applicability, these 29  fantasies are inherently cruel. They impose cruel optimism by promising to actualize for the fantasizing subject precisely what they are making impossible. As the fantasizing subject becomes less actively engaged with their affects, they stop prioritizing orienting themselves to others, which bring them more positive than negative affects. In other words, by seeking to escape one’s affects, hell becomes other people, objects, institutions, and concepts. In this chapter, I explored a theoretical understanding of these fantasies, but in the upcoming chapters, my focus will shift toward formal features which cinema uses to leverage these fantasies of affectlessness. By choosing to highlight a pair of specific formal features and unpack their role in subtly leveraging these fantasies, I seek to demonstrate the pervasive inescapability of these fantasies. If understanding these fantasies of affectlessness may allow us to escape into less destructive fantasies of productive co-existence, then looking a bit closer at cinematic form may help to flesh out how these fantasies work for us, and how deeply integrated they are within contemporary Hollywood cinema.             30  Chapter 3: Sound as Affective Border: Coloured Noise and the Fantasy of Terminating Tension  3.1 Introduction One of the most significant ways in which digitized sound has drastically impacted ordinary soundscapes is also perhaps the most banal. Following the digitization of sound as well as the market introductions of the internet and smartphones, ordinary soundscapes have been drastically altered by applications and YouTube videos that offer endless loops of noise. Technology has slowly shifted the accessibility and transportability of noise, suddenly emboldened it to follow a listener anywhere, offering them seemingly unlimited opportunities to drown out unwelcome sounds. While scholars have paid much attention to the impact of music’s digital proliferation, the contemporary popularity of looped noise has primarily remained unexplored within sound scholarship. Despite this academic oversight, mainstream media has not overlooked this impact. For instance, on TMSOFT’s website (the company behind the vastly popular and creatively titled iPhone application “White Noise”), they boastfully advertise that their product has been favourably discussed on mainstream outlets as diverse as TODAY on NBC, The Washington Post, CNET, and the Dr. Oz Show, among others. This mainstream media attention has been far from critical. Due to its capacity as a sleep aid, CNET's Rick Broida lists TMSOFT’s free-alternative app, “White Noise Lite,” as one of “Five free iPhone apps that can improve your life” (par. 6) gesturing to a popular belief in white noise as a tool for controlling, curating, and ameliorating one’s affective and social experiences. The mainstream media’s widespread enthusiasm is perhaps only surpassed within the anonymous user reviews for “White 31  Noise Lite.” Based on nearly 2800 reviews in the Canadian iPhone “App Store,” the application has an average rating of 4.7 out of 5. One anonymous user named “working family” enthusiastically confides that the app cuts out any sense of their surroundings as they try to rest at home: “I’m a shift worker and it drowns out everything ! My kids use the blender when I sleep and I don’t even hear it.” Regarding how public spaces have become more appealing due to “White Noise Lite,” the user “hotshotdroid” writes, “Great way to block out the babbling and inane noise on public transportation.” Further, it is not merely within app stores that looped noise has gained popularity. The ten most popular looped noise videos on YouTube have cumulatively been played over 220 million times. Based on the massive popularity of the many available apps and videos, it is clear that listeners are willfully using them to exert control over the soundscapes that they inhabit; they are playing looped noise to intentionally isolate themselves from the sounds that they fear may startle their tensionless ideal.  In this chapter, I seek to understand how looped noise facilitates fantasies of affectlessness. Instead of paying broad attention to all forms of looped noise, I will strictly focus on the functionality of looped coloured noise. Regarding coloured noise, Dan Ellis writes that, “Any kind of filtered noise signal can be called ‘colored noise’” (par. 8). Unlike Ellis, who defines this filtering in relation to the randomness of the source (par. 3), I will be considering coloured noise through the prism of frequency restriction and its inability to gesture towards anything but sound’s infinite plane. For instance, while looped noise applications typically offer other options (such as a hair dryer blowing, a dishwasher rinsing, or a vacuum cleaner running), the sound of a dishwasher rinsing carries with it a multitude of grounded signifying relations as it connects the sound to a dishwasher, electricity, labour, and many other personal and impersonal signifieds. By failing to signify beyond itself as well as serving as an affective border that 32  isolates listeners from their environment’s actual and potential sounds, coloured noise creates an immanent sonic atmosphere.  Every fantasy contains an ideal setting that is specially curated to allow the fantasizing subject an impossible relation to their object of desire. These settings are not just composed of objects or other subjects, but also an ideal, engulfing atmosphere that enables the precise affective relations necessary to actualize the satisfaction of desire. In the case of coloured noise, the ideal affective atmosphere that it curates is an inverted one which blocks out the capacity to be affected by one's surroundings. Although it blocks out any possible interference for the listener, coloured noise does not entirely negate all relations. For both Greg Hainge and Laura U. Marks, noise contains a link to the infinite, and I will suggest that this signifying relationship between coloured noise and the infinite is central to its listeners' satisfaction. Due to its sole capacity as a signifier for the infinite, coloured noise particularly curates an auditory atmosphere, attempting to exclude all auditory input but itself. By blocking out one's ability to be impacted auditorily, coloured noise leverages its relation to the infinite into the facilitation of the listeners' satisfaction of their object of desire: an end to affect and, thus, a tensionless existence. Through textual analyses of both Solaris (Soderbergh 2002) and Mom and Dad (Taylor 2018), I will demonstrate and explicate the two separate manners in which narratives can leverage coloured noise into an affective border that facilitates an impossible relation with a tensionless existence.  3.2 Tensionless Fantasies with Effectively Affectless Atmospheres  Coloured noise is a sonic category composed of asignifying noise’s different variations. Unlike the noise from waves crashing against the beach or a hair dryer blowing, coloured noise is not an incidental symptom that can be known through its signifying relationship to its means 33  of production. Instead of treating it as a symptom, Meghan Neal explains that the categorical differences between variations of coloured noise are based on their materialist traits, defining these different noises as such: “The noise types are named for a loose analogy to the colors of light: White noise, for example, contains all the audible frequencies, just like white light contains all the frequencies in the visible range” (par. 3). Later, Neal expands on white noise’s second primary characteristic: in addition to containing every perceivable frequency, each frequency must be heard at the same amplitude (par. 6). According to Neal, for noise to be considered white noise, the entire audible spectrum must be represented and articulated at the same amplitude (regardless of the volume). With all perceivable frequencies articulated at the same amplitude, white noise is differentiated from other, similar forms of asignifying noise. For instance, pink noise’s lower frequencies have a higher amplitude than its higher frequencies; unlike white noise, it does not represent each of its frequencies equally (Neal par. 8). The most common categories of coloured noise are white, pink, brown, blue, violet, and grey, and each has a fundamentally different frequency range and amplitude at different frequencies. However, while the materialist categories that Neal summarizes are useful for differentiating distinct forms of coloured noise, this focus overlooks the functionality that compels listeners to seek out coloured noise. Unlike this common categorical approach to different types of coloured noise, Greg Hainge situates white noise beyond the limitations of human hearing, “[It] is a plane (that does not exist in actuality) composed of the sum total of all possible sonic frequencies emitted simultaneously” (18). By not accepting a limited form -- the coloured noise that humans listen to is bound to technological limitations, incapable of simulating an entire sonic plane -- as equivalent to an infinite plane, Hainge’s definition separates itself from the popular, materialist 34  approach that Neal summarizes. In other words, Haige does not situate white noise as a parallel to white light - reflective of human restrictions -- but sees it as a generalizable field reflective of sound’s infinite plane (every possible frequency of sound). Hainge’s definition of white noise is useful because by overly emphasizing the materialist differences that exist between each type of asignifying noise, discourse about coloured noise is bound to fixate on limitations, missing and even eliding coloured noise’s most important philosophical point: that each colour, each variation, aims at the same ideal, and inevitably fails to attain this ideal. Coloured noise, as humans produce and consume it, never exists in its ideal form as the simultaneous expression of all sound. By theorizing white noise as the simultaneous expression of the entire -- not just perceivable -- sonic plane, Hainge offers a nonanthropocentric definition that is only accessible to humans through the fantasy of an impossible relation. Hainge’s definitional shift nuances the approach that Neal summarizes by pointing to an auditory totality existing beyond the coloured noise that humans hear. However, Hainge’s approach becomes slippery when one tries to differentiate his version of ‘white noise’ from the broader category of ‘noise.’ Regarding the relationship between noise and the infinite, Laura U. Marks -- in a manner that is similar to Hainge -- argues that, "We cannot conceive of the infinite except as the ground from which we distinguish certain figures---or, the noise from which we receive certain signals. [...] Noise sounds a lot like the infinite: it cannot be detected in itself, but everything we perceive arises from it" (104). If, for Marks, the infinite is everything and all meaning arises from it (106), then noise is the infinite’s sonic plane and individuals derive auditory meaning by selecting parts and ignoring its whole. Noise is not equivalent to the infinite but is one of its few forms; noise is the infinite’s auditory plane. Therefore, if the infinite’s auditory plane is the generalizable form which all auditory meaning arises from, then using the word ‘noise’ is far clearer than the term 35  ‘white noise.’ The auditory infinite is not just another variation of a reduced plane, but the plane’s entirety. Consequently, attaching a modifier (‘white’) to a generalizable field (‘noise’) seems oddly consistent with the broader, troublingly ideological project of naturalizing whiteness. Although Marks and Hainge come to similar conclusions, Marks’s terminological choices seem more accurate and less ideologically damaging. Despite humans being unable to grasp noise’s entirety, coloured noise’s asignifying variations still maintain a signifying relation to noise’s auditory infinite. Unlike the sound of raindrops or the whirring of a machine, coloured noise does not refer to a particular, grounded aspect of one’s surrounding environment. Of course, it must emerge through a device of some sort but -- unlike other forms of noise -- it does not signify the instrument or object’s interrelations with a particular context (e.g., waves crashing louder due to high tide) or its current state (e.g., a raindrop colliding against cement). Notably, in the context of digitally produced coloured noise (heard through YouTube, apps, etc.), the coloured noise’s means of production are negated through its digital delivery. When accessed digitally, we cannot see what produces coloured noise; by listening to it through apps or YouTube videos, we are denied access to coloured noise’s causal motivation. If, according to Marks’ equation, noise corresponds to the ground and the signal to the intended meaning, then due to its asignifying characteristics, coloured noise resembles a small piece of noise’s wider ground. Although humans are only capable of attuning themselves to a reduced form of asignifying noise (coloured noise), this form never gestures towards anything but its own idealized version: noise. Within digitally produced coloured noise, the signal is noise’s infinite plane and this signal lacks any additional information to distract the listener. Marks nearly articulates this relation in her argument that "Noise is an index of the infinite" (109). Marks understands noise as accessible to listeners, but 36  this overlooks Hainge’s intervention, which suggests that listeners do not ever access the entire plane but only a reduced version of it. Instead, her relation necessitates a slight reconfiguration: white noise is a subcategory of coloured noise, coloured noise is an index of noise, and noise is an index of the infinite. If hearing coloured noise as an experience with the auditory infinite, is an impossible relation -- as Hainge argues – but is accessible through fantasy, categorically differentiating between the different forms of asignifying noise -- on the basis of their materialist characteristics -- seems to unproductively prioritize difference over similarity and overlook the functionality that listeners seek when they actively choose to listen to coloured noise.  The functionality of coloured noise in the digital age has become both a ubiquitous element of everyday public and private life, while simultaneously being overlooked by many sound theorists. For instance, the two sound theorists discussed above both neglect to acknowledge how coloured noise “works” for us, how it affects and shapes our everyday interactions with it. Unlike the previously discussed theorists, Khalida Tavir Syed offers three separate but interconnected definitions of white noise, and the last two relate to its utility. For Syed, white noise is “a noise containing many frequencies with equal intensity / background sounds, meant to detract from distracting and undesirable noises / a meaningless or distracting commotion or chatter that masks or obliterates underlying information” (1). While the first definition suffers from merely reflecting white noise’s constitution (and not other types of coloured noise), the next two sketch out a function-first approach that emphasizes the similarities shared by coloured noise’s different variations. For each of the latter two definitions, coloured noise is a discriminatory barrier which individuals summon to reject or hold at bay annoying sounds that the listener does not want in their sonic atmospheres. This holds true for each variation of coloured noise. In contemporary times, individuals regularly choose to play coloured 37  noise to exert control over the actual or potential noises in their environment. It is entirely reflective of an individual’s taste. Whether it is while trying to sleep or riding the bus, coloured noise applications and videos are generally used to block out sounds and stop them from impacting the listener. In fear of the potential or actual sounds that surround them, individuals can choose to turn on coloured noise to block out undesirable auditory presences. Regardless of the listener's location, the coloured noise listener reconfigures public spaces into an intimately curated private space. The post-Internet increase of digitized coloured noise’s popularity with individuals attempting to relax or focus is an understandable development, given coloured noise’s early history. Timothy Aubry details coloured noise’s earliest dispersal as an attempt to counter-balance industrialization’s noisiness saying that, “In its original conception in 1943, white noise was considered an unfortunate, inevitable side-effect of new technology, but, within ten years, companies had appropriated and transformed this side effect. In so doing they resignified the term "white noise"; it has come to refer, in certain contexts, to soothing, useful sounds rather than to irritating ones" (par. 2). While industrialization’s noise was at first a shock to unsuspecting workers, coloured noise was a necessary counter-balance to the egregious sounds that the machinery offered. As soon as industrialization naturalized the constant affront by and anticipation of unwanted noises, coloured noise shifted from being a part of the problem to a part of the antidote. Unable to look beyond the problem while searching for the solution, coloured noise was renegotiated as soothing in a sonic battle to negate noise by creating more. Seemingly, the only solution to combating noise was more noise. While Aubry’s brief history of coloured noise ends with its reintroduction as a solution by factories to block out the loudness of their machines, in contemporary times, individuals conjure it in a much wider variety of spaces. From 38  one’s bedroom to their office cubicle to their means of transportation, it is now individuals that choose for themselves to introduce coloured noise as a solution to the busyness and unpredictability of both private as well as public spaces. Furthermore, it is no longer merely used to combat the presence of abrasively loud noises, but for those that listen to coloured noise -- while sleeping in their bedroom or studying in an otherwise silent library -- it is used to combat the potential of sound. Coloured noise erases the line between desirable and undesirable sounds as it attempts to efface the potential for all sounds (except for the coloured noise itself).  Due to its inclination toward muting one’s surrounding, coloured noise seems to be a particularly appropriate metaphor for the contemporary quieting of identity politics. In her writing regarding how white queer Americans normalize the suffering of queer people of colour, Jasmine Rault uses white noise as a metaphor for the homogenization of experience: “white noise is the homogenizing filter through which any information, cultural context, or interview subject is passed in an effort to (re)produce feel-good affects of nice white Western sexual exceptionalism” (586). While Rault aptly illustrates the manner in which the media (televised news broadcasts, political discourse, etc.) placates white Westerners by undercutting the experiences of particular groups, her white noise metaphor does not explain the manner in which individuals generally use coloured noise. Coloured noise is not a filter in which particular affects are intentionally let through as others are excluded. Instead, individuals generally utilize coloured noise as an absolute auditory barrier in which the user seeks to deny all affect. Although Rault’s conclusion about affective filtering is valid for many media contexts, coloured noise’s actual application demonstrates the limitations of this metaphor because coloured noise is non-discriminatory. When individuals listen to coloured noise, the coloured noise does not differentiate. It seeks to create an auditory barrier which universally denies others’ access. Even 39  though it is incapable of closing one off from the inputs of other senses and it may not always be successful in cutting out other sounds (e.g., its volume is too low or the headphones that are playing it are not noise cancelling), coloured noise gestures toward the fantasized possibility of one’s body being entirely unimpacted. As such, coloured noise is used to try to create an affective atmosphere which is entirely enclosed; one in which the listener and their coloured noise are entirely separated from the sounds of others. Although it is used to facilitate enclosure from one’s surroundings, the use of coloured noise to create affective atmospheres of insularity and individualism does have implications for affect, politics, and contemporary life. In The Transmission of Affect, Teresa Brennan wonders how one is made to feel from and for another. While affect's transmission relates to social and psychological factors, it is also reflective of one's surrounding atmosphere. Brennan writes, “In other words, the transmission of affect, if only for an instant, alters the biochemistry and neurology of the subject. The “atmosphere” or the environment literally gets into the individual” (1). For Brennan, affect is shaped by interrelatedness as it travels between entities, and atmospheres are the spaces which allow for the transmission of affect. However, atmospheres are not neutral mediums; they can be intentionally curated to allow only for intensities with specific qualities and quantities to pass through. They can intensify, lessen, or even entirely deny an affect, but never allow their direct and unaffected transmission. In the case of coloured noise, the intention is indiscriminate as it attempts to deny affective transmission from any auditory source. Brennan uses the term 'theatre' to describe an atmosphere which is purposefully curated (16). The deliberations behind ‘theatres’ are often far from ideologically neutral. In other words, theatres are often designed to create ideologically normative subjects. With each passing year, the precision with which individuals curate their atmospheres -- from spaces as wide-ranging as 40  homes to coffee shops -- seems only to intensify. Soundscapes play an integral role in the curation of 'theatres.' For instance, Paul Allen Anderson considers the role of Muzak in office buildings, writing that, “Self-guided mood music can work as a mildly-distracting sedative or mood stabilizer to help affective laborers preserve their psychological capital and stave off subclinical mania, hyperactivity, anxious rumination, fear of being fired or demoted, and dissatisfaction with the conditions of one’s labor” (832). In other words, Muzak functions to stabilize the moods of office labourers in order to make them into more efficient workers. Unlike Muzak, which is composed of signifying melodies and lacks the consistent amplitude amongst frequencies to shut out almost any sound, coloured noise does not function to dull subjects but to curate an enclosed ‘theatre’ which distances the listener from affective transmission. By indiscriminately attempting to deny all affect, coloured noise curates atmospheres that facilitate the fantasy of a tensionless existence. As Brennan argues, atmospheres function to mediate affect’s transference between entities. In an atmosphere with a soundscape that is filled out with coloured noise, the auditory transmission of affect becomes muted through a structure that rejects interrelationality. Since both positive and negative affects arrive as a force that is generated by the experience of interrelationality, coloured noise actively deters affect. While providing an affectless atmosphere, it also serves to silence and creates sonic blind spots. For instance, listening to coloured noise on headphones while riding the bus through a dangerous part of town silences voices that may require attention. This ideological silencing is as important to coloured noise’s popularity as the atmosphere that it preserves. However, even though coloured noise functions to block out the auditory transmission of affect, this does not mean that coloured noise’s listeners are completely unaffected. To hear coloured noise involves being bound to interrelationality with it, and thus, to be affected by it. Although, since coloured noise is 41  incapable of signifying anything beyond an impossible relation to the infinite, the positive feelings that one feels toward coloured noise is not towards the coloured noise itself -- it is toward the fantasy of interacting with the infinite. This indexicality with the infinite lends itself to the fantasy of submersion, wherein one clings to the possibility that they can be washed away into the infinite. Instead of standing apart from the infinite and anxiously recognizing its overwhelming qualities, if only we were able to perceive noise’s entirety, we could become of the infinite, confidently submerged within it. With no larger world of auditory interrelations to ground the listener, one’s exposure to coloured noise leaves them with this feeling of direct exposure with the infinite; an opportunity to either experience the soothing feeling of being washed away within it or the power that comes from rising above it. Through both its structure -- which lacks internal antagonism due to its consistency -- and its attempts to create perfect boundaries in which external influences cannot penetrate its enclosed atmosphere, coloured noise is the ideal conduit for individuals to curate their fantasies of a tensionless existence.  Due to its capacity as a curatorial device for structuring atmospheres with extremely rigid affective boundaries, coloured noise can facilitate fantasies of affectlessness in two manners. As previously discussed in Chapter 2, Rosemary Jackson’s reading of the death drive outlines the first fantasy of an end to interrelationality: the collapsing of boundaries that separate entities from one another (72-73). Therefore, the power dynamics that affectively orient separate entities towards one another ultimately equate to a zero-sum game as coloured noise demolishes the boundaries necessary to provoke affect through the connotation of an inner and an outer region. Without boundaries, interrelation is impossible; there is only innerrelation. In Chapter 2, I also argued that there is a second manner in which the tensions of interrelations can be ended: an existence in which the boundaries that separate entities are entirely firm. With entirely firm 42  boundaries, entities are likewise incapable of being affected by one another. Ultimately, despite appearing to be opposites, fantasies of absolute continuity or absolute boundaries open up to similar conclusions: a tensionless relation to one's surroundings. In this way, attention to coloured noise provides an entry point to understanding tensionless fantasies because one cannot understand fantasy as merely the point of satisfaction in which a subject fulfills their desire. Instead, McGowan writes that fantasy can best be understood as an ideal context which facilitates one’s relation to their object of desire, “Fantasy does not give the subject the object of desire. Instead, it furnishes a scene in which the subject can take up a relation to its impossible object” (37). Therefore, according to McGowan, understanding a fantasy demands reflection upon the subject’s idealized setting; a setting that arranges the ideal terms for acting on desire. Included amongst the constitutive parts of a setting is its atmosphere, and sound is a primary component of curating atmospheres. In other words, the sounds that populate fantasized settings create an entry point for understanding how the fantasized subject actualizes a relation to their impossible object. Through coloured noise’s relation to the infinite, one’s feeling of complete engulfment within it or absolute separation from it creates the potential for actualizing the fantasy of an unaffected existence. The rest of this chapter will be composed of two sections that illustrate through cinematic representations how coloured noise -- while creating affective boundaries -- can facilitate either of these fantasies. The fantasy of absolute continuity emerging from the illusion of complete sonic engulfment in coloured noise; the fantasy of absolute boundaries provoked by an effect that coloured noise can cause named stochastic resonance. The first section will explore the illusion of complete sonic engulfment and its resulting fantasy of absolute continuity in Steven Soderbergh's adaptation of Solaris. The second section will outline a phenomenon called 43  stochastic resonance and consider how its illusion of unimpeded empowerment facilitates fantasies of absolute boundaries in Mom and Dad. While neither of these texts directly depicts users listening to digitized coloured noise, their depictions of coloured noise directly reflect the utility that listeners seek from it. In the case of Solaris, the soothing pursuit of absolute continuity that Dr. Chris Kelvin (George Clooney) seeks throughout the film reflects the subduing fantasy of submersion that individuals engage with when using coloured noise as a sleep aid. As a parallel to the manner in which one peacefully eases into the darkness, as they fall asleep, Chris seeks to drift into the noise tranquilly. In Mom and Dad, coloured noise's capacity to render an illusion of absolute empowerment reflects how office workers or students engage with it as a tool to sharpen focus. Similar to how students’ thoughts are emboldened by having their voice emerge overtop of coloured noise, the parents in Mom and Dad feel their violent thoughts become more potent as they assert them overtop the noise.  3.3 Complete Engulfment in Solaris  In Solaris, an alien world (the film’s namesake) grants a man an opportunity to remediate his shared past with his now deceased former lover by providing him a derivative copy of her. On a spaceship circling Solaris, Dr. Chris Kelvin is forced to (and eventually desires to) interact with a copy of his ex-lover, who had committed suicide on Earth. As the film progresses, this copy becomes more self-aware, aware of herself as a copy. Although fantasy plays a prominent role in Solaris, it has not been seriously taken up in the academic criticism that has dealt with Soderbergh’s adaptation. For instance, Christopher Grau simplistically refers to Chris’s desire to reunite with his deceased love, Rheya (Natascha McElhone), as an indulgence (13). Grau later contextualizes Chris's desires as deplorable and indicative of mental health concerns, arguing 44  that, “Kelvin’s descent into denial and fantasy involves not just mental illness but a morally troubling attitude of disregard toward the memory of the woman he so urgently claims to love” (Grau 13-14). Instead, a significant amount of the preexisting academic literature about Solaris has discussed it in relation to Baudrillardian simulacra; often focusing on the “copies” of loved ones that the film’s space-travellers (including Chris) encounter on their spaceship but overlooking the fantasies that compel their manifestation (Haladyn and Jordan 2010; Moses 2011). However, before Chris even boards the space station orbiting Solaris and meets Rheya’s first copy, the film’s form begins utilizing coloured noise to signify to audience members the degree to which Chris’s fantasy of absolute continuity through a complete engulfment within noise (and thus emboldening feeling of the infinite) structures his life. As this chapter has foreshadowed, Rosemary Jackson outlines one instance in which fantasy can satisfy the desire to live a tensionless existence: a diminished orientation between the boundaries that separate all entities, including oneself. The feeling of complete engulfment in noise can have the effect of diminished spatial orientation. Not only does sound lack a visual trace to signify its externalized limits to the listener, but as Jean-Luc Nancy argues, it also penetrates the body and engulfs the listener’s insides: “Moreover, the sound that penetrates through the ear propagates throughout the entire body something of its effects” (14). In this way, sound disrupts the borders that separate an inner and outer region, and disturbs borders. However, the effect of coloured noise is a bit more nuanced. While it does carry forward this effect of continuity, it also imposes its own boundaries by denying external sounds. Thus, the listener experiences this continuity within an enclosed auditory space; one that is perfectly curated to reject external reminders of one’s limitations. In Solaris, coloured noise seeks to curate an idealized atmosphere in which Chris can escape his life’s tensions. 45  Almost immediately, Solaris establishes the context that has provoked Chris’s fantasy of affectlessness. Solaris begins with its protagonist, Dr. Chris Kelvin, sitting alone on the edge of his bed as he stares moodily at the ground. A voice-over, which the audience later learns is the voice of Chris’s deceased former partner, asks him, “Chris, what is it? I love you so much. Don’t you love me anymore?” The audience listens alongside Chris's point-of-audition as he regretfully replays one of his final conversations with Rheya (Natascha McElhone) prior to her suicide. After this internal revisitation, the film cuts to Chris, a clinical psychologist, running a group therapy session. The therapy session is only depicted during a single shot as the camera slowly tilts downwards from a view of the ceiling to not far from behind Chris’s back as the camera joins him in looking out towards the group. The camera slowly inches nearer to Chris, and as it gets closer and closer, Chris’s surroundings subtly lose focus. Coloured noise accompanies the patient’s voices. Simultaneous with the camera losing focus, the coloured noise gets louder and louder within the soundscape. The coloured noise slowly makes hearing the groups’ voices slightly more difficult as it creates an atmosphere in which their relative amplitude is slowly being edged out by coloured noise. Solaris slowly emphasizes Chris's desire to soothe his regrets by engulfing him in noise, pointing to an outside of the responsibilities that arise from being interrelated with others. This shot's formal paralleling of the coloured noise's increasing amplitude with the blurring of nearby, visualizable planes establishes the slowly escalating manner in which Chris’s fantasy of complete engulfment is dominating his desire. Since his partner’s suicide, following his negligence as a support system, his fantasy of fading into the tensionless existence of absolute continuity with his surroundings has increasingly structured his life. While this single-shot therapy session cuts before the coloured noise completely engulfs Chris, it serves as foreshadowing for Chris’s narrative arc. 46  After receiving an ambiguous message from a friend working on a troubled space station orbiting the planet Solaris, Chris accepts a crisis-management role and travels to the Solaris station to convince the hostile crew to return home. Amidst a strange and vaguely explained phenomenon, in which others dispatched to persuade the team to return have oddly disappeared, Chris travels toward Solaris. As soon as he enters the space station, coloured noise reemerges in the soundscape for the first time since the group therapy session. The distinction between internal desire and external reality is blurred visually throughout Chris’s time in the space station, and the coloured noise’s reemergence provides an auditory parallel. Once on board, desires can take corporeal form. The planet that the space station orbits physically manifests a loved one for each crewmember, and transplants them onto the ship. For Chris, Rheya seemingly reemerges from death but is only as Chris remembers her, not as she objectively was. The simulated Rheya eventually confronts Chris about her non-autonomous existence as his projection: “I’m suicidal because you remember me as suicidal,” she bemoans. Since Chris left Rheya almost directly before she committed suicide -- absent when she needed him there to help her -- he longs for a second chance to remediate the situation and heal the central source of tension in his life: his regret. However, the only way that he can remediate his regret is not by merely reuniting with Rheya. Instead, he must recreate the previous scenario and convince a suicidal duplicate of Rheya that her life is worth continuing to live; the past must be undone. For this reason, the physically manifested Rheya must appear to Chris as suicidal. Living happily with Rheya is a secondary priority in comparison to reliving and remediating his failings as a partner. Further, alongside Chris’s attempts at remediation, coloured noise always occupies the soundscape but never overwhelmingly encompasses it. In the film’s flashbacks, often, noise also loudly occupies the soundscape, but the noises are more reflective of the noises of everyday life 47  (background chatter, raindrops, etc.). While these everyday noises foreground the characters' interrelationality with their surroundings, a reality that Chris was still comfortable with before Rheya’s suicide, the space station's coloured noise highlights the affective wall that Chris seeks but cannot fully obtain without overcoming his regrets. In Solaris, regret is the binding force that grounds Chris to reality, and it is his desire for a tensionless existence that compels him to try to overcome his regrets. During each of the scenes that occur on the space station, this conflict between regret and fantasy is manifested through coloured noise's omnipresence and its shifts in volume. The coloured noise is always present in the space station's soundscapes, but it gets quieter or louder as Chris's regrets heighten or ease; on the space station, coloured noise is always advancing toward Chris's complete engulfment but is barely held at bay by Chris’s regrets. By manifesting Rheya, the alien planet presents Chris with an opportunity to remediate his regrets and finally sink into a fantasy of absolute continuity, but the task proves to be impossible. Despite the ease with which Solaris’ non-simulated characters project their inner-desires into their surrounding space, the integration between reality and fantasy is far from seamless. In Solaris, reality and fantasy tensely share space. Without complete continuity between reality and fantasy, tension is amplified instead of relieved. The film emphasizes this point by indicating that similar stakes exist for both the simulated and non-simulated beings. They recognize that they are not the same as the non-simulated beings and feel alienated. By not embodying complete continuity with their surroundings, the simulated beings also cannot feel at ease with themselves. During the film's flashbacks from the duplicate Rheya’s perspective, Solaris highlights this point. To align audiences alongside Rheya's perspective, the editing cross-cuts between Rheya staring off and memories in which Chris uncomfortably dictates to her that she should not 48  believe in God. During a conversation in which Chris leads an otherwise united dinner party against her belief in God, he dismissively tells her with a smug look: “Rheya, given all the elements of the known universe and enough time, our existence is inevitable. It is no more mysterious than trees or sharks. We are mathematical probability, and that’s all.” As the back and forth continues to turn against her, the discomfort within Rheya’s eyes insists that she wants nothing more than to escape from this abundantly tense environment. Suddenly, the camera’s point-of-view and the soundscape’s point-of-audition simultaneously align with Rheya in the form of coloured noise, which buzzes through both Rheya and the spectators’ consciousnesses. However, it becomes ambiguous as to whether the audience is hearing the coloured noise from the original or duplicate Rheya’s perspective. All we hear is coloured noise and the quiet sounds of one of their bodies breathing. This sound editing simultaneously gestures to the escapism into coloured noise that the original Rheya was presumably seeking (in an attempt to escape the conversation) as well as the tension that the simulated Rheya encounters from the recognition of her positionality as discontinuous with her experience (reliving a memory that is not actually her own). Similar to Chris, the duplicate Rheya is partially aligned with both fantasy and reality, and this lack of continuity creates its own source of tension. In Solaris, it is only complete engulfment which soothes tension, and the partial integration of affectless fantasies have a cruel impact on both Chris and his surroundings. According to Solaris, to reap fantasy's benefits, one must be so far in as to no longer be able to see an outside. Towards the end of the film, Chris and one of the crewmembers decide to abort the mission and return to Earth. However, after returning to Earth, Chris is in his apartment and accidentally cuts his finger. Similar to the instantaneous regeneration capabilities of Solaris’s duplicates, Chris’s finger instantly heals itself. Suddenly remembering that he never actually left 49  Solaris, Chris flashes back to a memory in which he shut the gate to the escape pod and chose to stay, rather than leave with Solaris’s one remaining survivor. Knowing that his regrets would always ground him outside of pure fantasy and that his attempts to integrate his fantasy of affectlessness into reality was only making a tenser life for everyone, Chris chooses to die. After closing the gate, the coloured noise swells to a drastically louder amplitude to signify that Chris is going deeper and deeper into fantasy. This swelling anticipates Chris’s final moments as Solaris begins destroying the space station. To be fully immersed in fantasy and living a tensionless existence, Chris’s actual form must die, as he must not be able to perceive anything outside of fantasy. In life, fantasizing about affectlessness creates cruel optimism, and Solaris concludes that it is only a reasonable solution in death. As long as one is straddling the border between reality and fantasies of affectlessness, tension will always arise between the two; Chris must become fully engulfed within fantasy to reap its benefits fully. Back in the apartment, the duplicate Chris sees Rheya from across the room. After asking her whether he is alive or dead, Rheya answers, “We don’t have to think like that anymore. We’re together now. Everything we have done is forgiven, everything.” These are the film’s final words as the couple embraces and the film ends. Rheya's speech actualizes the tensionless fantasy that Chris desires, a fantasy formally demonstrated by the pervasiveness of coloured noise throughout the film. However, in these final tensionless moments, the coloured noise can no longer be heard in the soundscape. Instead, similar to the manner in which individuals sleep while listening to coloured noise, Solaris concludes that to be wholly engulfed within fantasy's setting -- or entirely of it -- and reaping its soothing benefits, means no longer being able to hear the noise that surrounds you.  50  3.4 Stochastic Resonance in Mom and Dad The second manner in which coloured noise can facilitate an individual’s fantasy of a tensionless existence is by helping efface its subject's perception of their dependency on or interrelatedness with the environment and people that surround them. One’s understanding of their own interrelatedness can arise from either feeling impacted by another, or from the sense of affecting another. However, losing any connection with the former may destroy the chance of feeling either. In a 2014 study, Jeremy Hogeveen et al. argue that power (i.e., the loss of dependency on others) weakens the person in power’s capacity for mirroring, a behaviour which opens one up to empathy (755). This study demonstrates that one’s inability to feel impacted by another may decrease their ability to feel empathy in relation to their own (actualized or potential) impact on others. Through the effect of stochastic resonance, listeners can leverage coloured noise into feelings of absolute power that may undercut a subject’s ability to perceive themselves as at all affected by or dependent upon their surroundings; due to this phenomenon, subjects might become unable to feel empathy towards their surroundings and the people in them. In a study that details coloured noise’s positive influence on new word retention, Angwin et al. define stochastic resonance as “a phenomenon whereby signal processing is enhanced by the addition of random noise” (1). While noise is often understood as distracting from or deluding a signal, stochastic resonance provides a rare example in which it actually makes the signal easier to comprehend; unrelated noise can embellish an intended message’s power. In this way, stochastic resonance explains the inflated popularity of YouTube videos and phone applications that promise improved focus due to listening to their unending stream of coloured noise. Often, these YouTube videos - many of which have millions of views - are labelled with titles that emphasize coloured noise’s capacity to help students achieve academic success. For 51  instance, one such video is named, “STUDY POWER | Focus, Increase Concentration, Calm Your Mind | White Noise For Homework & School” (YouTube). Instead of drowning out the desired message, coloured noise’s stochastic resonance amplifies the message’s power and provides the student with their desired clarity. With coloured noise preventing external sounds from competing with or distracting from the listener’s internal voice, their voice is given absolute authority. Further, white noise’s particular structure amplifies this effect. Since white noise is generally constituted with every perceivable frequency experienced at the same amplitude, its structure appears on the surface as constitutionally reflective of absolute equality - no one voice louder than another. As previously argued, this false equivalency serves primarily to obscure other sounds, guaranteeing a structural inequivalence. However, due to its absences being imperceivable and the absolute equality in its perceivable power relations, a voice can only emerge by having a higher amplitude than the white noise. Despite white noise functioning to keep out other sounds from its atmosphere, the emergence of sound over top of a white noise backdrop gives the sound an illusion of absolute power. If the sound is loud enough to penetrate the white noise’s boundaries, then it is more powerful than all of its frequencies. It lacks any potential challenger; it has absolute power in relation to its sonic atmosphere. In cinema, this effect is used either to enforce fear of another’s absolute power, or entitlement due to one’s own; it manifests in the dissolution of perceived tension that emerges from gaining such absolute power or the terror of watching another grasping it. These varying positions (as the fearful or entitled subject) can create opposing reactions. The fearful subject is forced into recognizing their own interrelatedness, while the entitled subject is coerced through their associative relationship with their own voice into overlooking it. The horror of Mom and Dad arises through the latter response. Through coloured 52  noise’s stochastic resonance, parents’ inner thoughts gain the illusion of absolute power over their surroundings; because of this, the film’s parents feel emboldened to act on the universal resentment, discomfort, and hatred that the film insists all parents feel towards their children. As Mom and Dad begins, coloured noise plays through car speakers as a mother blankly stares toward her car's stereo receiver. She calmly turns off the coloured noise, turns around to look at her young child momentarily, then exits the vehicle without her child. Next, the suffocatingly intimate cinematography pulls out to reveal that the mother has parked her car on train tracks and is cavalierly walking away. As she bails from this imminent disaster, viewers watch as the train track's boom barriers lower and hear the train quickly approaching. With its viewers left to imagine the ramifications, the film next cuts to title credits, then re-situates its focus toward the Ryan household's relatively ordinary suburban milieu and conflicts. The arguments of siblings lead to used underwear and toy trucks soaring through the air as artillery; a racist Caucasian father rejects his teenage daughter's request to go on a date with her African American boyfriend; money is stolen from the mother's wallet to buy drugs. Each of these incidents serves to underscore and naturalize the stifling that the family’s parents -- Brent (Nicolas Cage) and Kendall Ryan (Selma Blair) -- associate with their responsibilities as parents. A later flashback contextualizes these resentments: after an angry fit in which Brent takes a sledgehammer to his pool table (while bizarrely singing the Hokey Pokey), he laments to his wife, "Goddamnit! I remember that kid I used to be like it was four fucking minutes ago. My feet barely touched the ground back then. My kill ratio was 9 out of 10! It was 100% sex. But that guy, in a million years, could never have pictured this tired motherfucker he turned out to be." This sentiment’s underlying blame and resentment are directed toward his children and are not 53  only shared by his wife but -- according to the film’s logic -- the rest of the world's parents as well. Both Brent and Kendall lament that their children have held them back from actualizing their potential and forced them to fulfill socially-constructed, repressive parental roles. Brent’s ideal is sexual access to young female bodies, while Kendall’s is reclaiming the career that she left behind to raise her children as a stay-at-home mother. Mom and Dad establishes each character's ideal life through Brent and Kendall's various rants and flashbacks. A flashback to a topless young woman in his lap repeatedly halts Brent in his footsteps. Similarly, Kendall, desperate to get back into the working world, is told by a former employer that she has spent too much time away from the design industry for him to uphold his lapsed promise to hire her back. For each, the appeal to return to a pre-parenting life is primarily established through desires that they now feel too old to fulfill. At school, Carly (Anne Winters), the Ryans’s daughter, is taught about planned obsolescence. Planned obsolescence refers to products (such as cellphones) which companies intentionally design to only function for a limited amount of time. Due to these products quickly losing their functionality, users are forced to replace their older products with newer products -- similar to the manner in which younger generations replace older generations. Feeling as if he has aged out of market viability, Brent mourns his youth, lamenting that his life is "Not exactly what I had in mind as a young dude, you know. Bright future, everything in the world to look forward to." When finally given the opportunity to respond to Brent's rant, Kendall agrees, and voices her own disappointment regarding parenting: "All your life, you know it's coming, and there's this mix of anxiety and secret excitement and terror because you know that one day, inevitably, you'll create this life. [...] Everything is building to that moment and then, it happens. And no matter what you thought it would be, it's not like that. [...] I mean anyways, it is 54  what it is.” Brent concludes this flashback by bitterly commenting, “I mean, I used to be Brent, and you used to be Kendall, and now we're just Mom and Dad.” Brent and Kendall feel this lack of choice due to being entirely interconnected with their children and lack the power to imagine an outside to these interrelations. They are so stuck within their relational identifiers that they can no longer identify as Brent or Kendall and perceive Mom and Dad as marginal identifiers. Further, their children impress upon them that they wish to be outside of interrelationality with their parents. “You see, it’s just… For me, you and Josh are everything,” Kendall shares with her daughter, “So you don’t get to just shut me out. It’s not fair.” In an angsty response, Carly retorts, “God! It’s not my fault that you have no life.” In this way, Carly articulates to her mother that she wishes the two of them were not contingent upon one another. The perceived desire of the other stimulates Kendall’s and Brian’s fantasy of an end to interrelationality. Mom and Dad contends that every parent shares Brent and Kendall’s resentment toward their children for trapping them within a prison of relationality and inevitably replacing them, and when stochastic resonance emphasizes this resentment, it can lead to a worldwide epidemic of infanticide. As it turns out, the mother from the train tracks was only patient zero for a worldwide epidemic in which all of the world's parents suddenly feel overwhelmingly compelled to murder their children. While a cameo from television's Dr. Oz vaguely contextualizes this epidemic as savaging (a variation of infanticide in which female pigs kill their newborns), neither he nor anyone else in the film can provide a definitive motivation for this phenomenon. However, a single element reoccurs with every murder. Whether it is through car speakers or a nearby television, each murderous parent first hears coloured noise. Since Mom and Dad’s soundscape emphasizes a kitchen sink approach that results in auditory chaos (included amongst its many disparate elements are blue-eyed soul singer Dusty Springfield, menacing Buffalo rapper Bill 55  $aber, lyrical composer Erik Satie, and New York anarchist punk band Reagan Youth), one would anticipate the film’s frequent implementation of coloured noise to be a relatively soothing addition. However, amongst all of the soundscape's elements, coloured noise actually provides the most mayhem. Considering that the film takes great pains to outline the Ryans' resentment towards their children, coloured noise’s stochastic resonance provides an exaggerated (but likely) explanation for how this phenomenon spreads. Within other films, such as White Noise (Sax 2005), stochastic resonance provides terror for the protagonist through the contrast of a supernatural entity's power individually asserting itself above and beyond every other relatively subordinate frequency. Through its association with the supernatural, stochastic resonance provides a fantasy of absolute power utilized by a monstrous other. However, in Mom and Dad, stochastic resonance's terror is created through its elevation of ordinary thoughts and exposes how everyday desires of absolute power are indicative of fantasies of affectlessness. A voice emerging over coloured noise grants it the fantasy of absolute power over one's surroundings. When one uses coloured noise to help them study, the voice emerges over top of an entirely neutral background with no grounding to undercut its strength, and thus, the individual can hear their internalized voice more clearly and powerfully. Stochastic resonance grants both the internal or external voice a strength that it would not hold had the coloured noise not accompanied it. Consequently, a voice that may -- in other contexts -- carry with it defeated feelings can suddenly be reoriented with a profound sense of power. In Mom and Dad, each time the coloured noise plays, internalized thoughts which may have previously been accompanied by feelings of submission -- as ideology naturalizes parental responsibilities and the repression of non-parental desires -- become incredibly self-assured. For instance, before the coloured noise causes Brent and Kendall to attempt to murder their children, Brent is playing with his nine-year-56  old son, Josh (Zackary Arthur), and it gets a bit out of hand. After Josh accidentally blindsides Brent with a ball to the side of his head, a tinnitus tone single-handedly occupies the soundscape as Brent aggressively stares at his son for several moments. Suddenly, the look of pure rage that possessed his eyes gives way as the tinnitus tone wanes, a cartoonishly large smile emerges, and Brent semi-jokingly tells Josh, “10 - it’s not a guarantee for you.” This threat contains within it his resentful feelings but is undercut by Brent’s ideological submission to his parental duties. However, stochastic resonance later empowers this aggrieved position. While the parents’ inner-dialogues are never made audible for the audience, subtle cues demonstrate that combining these same resentful and violent thoughts with coloured noise have caused stochastic resonance and a fantasy of absolute boundaries in which one is incapable of being impacted by others. For example, when the coloured noise later fills Brent with an insatiable urge to kill his children, the film’s framing and Brent’s facial expression are formally paralleled with the earlier playful threat. As it has for parents across the globe, stochastic resonance has empowered Brent toward enacting his interconnected desires for both violence and breaking from his responsibilities as a parent. Despite Mom and Dad exaggerating the threat that stochastic resonance poses, it still illustrates the process in which isolating a single voice against an asignifying backdrop can implicate this voice within a fantasy of absolute power. After each parent murders their children, they return to a state of civility. Although Mom and Dad leverages zombie iconography, these parents do not have an insatiable desire for death. Instead, once the stochastic resonance actualizes a setting in which they no longer have to feel as if their identities are bound up in either their kids’ dependence upon them or vice versa, they can murder their children and escape into a tension-free existence. An exchange between a local reporter and a parent that just killed 57  their child summarizes this transition. After being asked by an off-screen reporter whether or not he thinks it is a good thing that is happening, the murderous parent solemnly responds, “Absolutely not. I think it’s horrible what’s happening.” When the reporter follows up by questioning whether it was right for him, his disposition suddenly shifts entirely, saying with immense ease, “It was exactly right.” Due to having done away with his child, he has actualized the tensionless fantasy that an atmosphere of coloured noise facilitated. In their banal suburban homes, Mom and Dad’s murderous parents have illustrated coloured noise’s power to create a setting in which they can actualize their desire to no longer be bound to the tension of interrelatedness.  3.5 Conclusion In both Solaris and Mom and Dad, coloured noise curates an affective atmosphere in which the listening party can access their object of desire: a tensionless existence. With fantasies that are oriented toward a tensionless existence, coloured noise grants the atmosphere an affective border which excludes all but the infinite. Solaris and Mom and Dad each illustrate different manners (soothing engulfment and absolute power, respectively) in which their subjects leverage this fantasized relation with the infinite into the satisfaction of their desire. Each of these films narratively contextualizes the manner in which coloured noise facilitates their characters' fantasies. In other words, these fantasies are not naturalized but are heavily coordinated. The characters have to go to untenable extremes (death, infanticide) to actualize their fantasies. While these fantasies may have been enacted by seemingly ordinary characters, their fantasies eat away at them -- making things worse and worse -- until they have to go to unsustainable extremes to actualize them. Thus, viewers are enabled to critically engage with 58  why these fantasies appeal to the characters and how coloured noise is used to create an affective atmosphere which enables these fantasies. However, this will not be the case in the sweatless films that I discuss in the upcoming chapter. Unlike the implementation of coloured noise, which explicitly announces a shift in the film’s affective atmosphere, the affective atmospheres in the upcoming chapter are entirely naturalized. Since these films establish their affective atmospheres through erasure (of bodily markers), instead of addition (of coloured noise), viewers are not given an entry point to critically contend with these fantasies. While both coloured noise and bodily erasures facilitate the same ends, coloured noise’s dissemination creates an entirely different result for viewers. In Solaris and Mom and Dad, sound, affect, atmosphere, and fantasy all connect, forming a complex nexus of thought and feeling. Noise, though easily and often dismissed, encompasses this nexus: by listening to and through the noise, fantasies and their effects on ordinary behaviour can be unearthed.  59  Chapter 4: When Fight Scenes Don’t Sweat: Contemporary Action Cinema’s Decentering of Bodily Production  4.1 Introduction Since cinema’s earliest days, sweat has served as a primary affective marker for cinematic sites of violence: this is -- perhaps unsurprisingly -- most resonant in the action genre, and the fight scene, in particular. Even in the early 1900s, sweat in fight scenes unsettled spectators, particularly as its signifying of becoming intersected with race relations, as most infamously demonstrated by The Johnson-Jeffries Fight. Filmed on July 4th, 1910, the documentary depicts a widely anticipated championship fight between the first African American world heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Johnson, and his competition, an explicitly racist Caucasian American named James J. Jeffries. After Johnson triumphed over Jeffries, race riots erupted, leaving eighteen African-Americans dead (Greiveson 126). As a result of this turmoil, notable public figures, such as Theodore Roosevelt, called for an immediate ban on boxing films (Costantino 66). Significantly, these swift condemnations were issued by individuals that had not yet seen the film, its imagined form provoking a rejection of its actualization. Multiple state-level prohibitions of boxing films immediately emerged, and the federal government’s eventual banning of their interstate distribution lasted from 1912-1940 (Costantino 66). Ultimately, this ban permanently displaced documentary fight films from anything more than a marginalized role in cinemas (they eventually landed on television). However, these early non-fiction fight scenes serve as one of the earliest influences on Hollywood action sequences. It was in these earliest fight films that filmgoing audiences were 60  first confronted with their own visceral responses to the cinematic depiction of bodies being pushed to their limits. According to Jesús Costantino, the reaction to The Johnson-Jeffries Fight is such a significant inflection point that it transformed American cinema “from a working-class medium to a bourgeois one” (66). Within contemporary Hollywood action sequence aesthetics, the impact of this malicious reception is still recognizable. Although Jack Johnson’s skin colour was certainly a significant influence regarding the disgust, fear, and anger that racist white audiences felt toward this fight and its potential representation on film, it is also worth considering what Jack Johnson’s skin was doing.  Sweat is a slippery object worthy of more analytical attention as audiences’ reactions to it provide an entry point to the historical development of contemporary action sequence aesthetics. In boxing matches, sweat serves as a fighter’s primary affective marker. It does not only represent their labour, but also their capacity to be affected by their shifting contingencies. When considered alongside his skin colour and victorious context, Jack Johnson’s sweat served as a marker of bodily production that reflected both a transcendence of his repressive context and an affront to the simplified ontological rigidity which white people derisively project onto African Americans. The vitriolic responses that emerged alongside this fight were in large part a reaction to the sight of Jack Johnson’s becoming. For much of the action genre’s history, sweat served a similar role as it does within prize fights: it has been the genre’s primary affective marker. However, over the past two decades, sweat has increasingly been effaced from Hollywood action sequences. The bourgeois expectations of bodily repression which led to the outright banning of fight films’ interstate distribution, have recently reemerged within action sequence aesthetics. Instead of censoring the action genre’s existence, the same fear of sweat’s transgressive potential -- which first emerged from cinematic audiences with the reception to The Johnson-Jeffries Fight 61  -- has now been internalized within the aesthetics of contemporary action sequences.   Approaching the action sequence’s foundation as a tension between bourgeois expectations of physical immanence, and the mass distribution of a contradictory aesthetics of becoming, this chapter will explore the formal erasures evident in contemporary action sequences of various combatants’ sweat; this erasure reflects the continued antagonism of bourgeois values against these aesthetics. After theorizing sweat’s status as an affective marker, and considering how -- despite its ambiguity -- it maintains a significant epistemological role in action sequences, this chapter will turn its focus to sweat’s more recent role as a structuring absence. While discourse surrounding the aesthetics of contemporary action sequences has generally prioritized spatial ambiguity as these sequences’ structuring principle (David Bordwell’s intensified continuity, Steven Shaviro’s post-continuity style), this chapter will reorient this tendency by analyzing the stylistic methods that obscure cinematic bodies. In many contemporary films, filmmakers have erased sweat through both digital and non-digital techniques. This assortment of techniques has remodeled many of the action genre’s otherwise familiar looking human bodies into ontologically distinct entities that appear to be incapable of being affected. These absences not only demonstrate examples of complete physical mastery, but also allow spectators to revel in an identificatory fantasy of a tensionless relation with one's surroundings. This chapter will end with an analysis of the fight scenes in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Wright 2010) to consider the stakes of sweat’s erasure from cinematic action sequences, which prevents bodies from entering or remaining in affective states of becoming. While this aesthetic of formal erasure and bodily immanence has been most prominently developed within the action sequence, I argue that it is currently permeating contemporary American cinema at a rapid rate. 62   4.2 Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff?: Theorizing Sweat as an Affective Marker Unlike other affective markers, such as the blush or tear, academics have considered sweat's role as an affective marker only sparingly. Despite this lack of recent attention, sweat played a prominent role in Charles Darwin and Silvan Tomkins's foundational writings on emotion. Throughout The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, Darwin's work on emotions’ motivating role in his theory of evolution, sweat is repeatedly considered as an indicator of particular subjective states for both humans and animals. At times, Darwin is vague with this connection, as he observes that "the trembling of the muscles, the sweating of the skin, the modified secretions of the alimentary canal and glands" can be connected to "various emotions and sensations" (81). Eugenie Brinkema has argued that Darwin’s flirtation with ambiguity is ahead of its time as his understanding of affective markers links their origin to muscular necessity and not emotional impetus (13). While Brinkema’s reading is accurate, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals often contradicts this ambiguity through his evocations of sweat. Instead, he frequently considers sweat as either an indication of terror or anguish -- it is not, for Darwin, affectively ambiguous. According to Darwin, sweat's role as an affective marker does not merely concern humans, but also, perhaps, all other animals. Detailing sweat's connection with terror, he writes that, "With all or almost all animals, even with birds, Terror causes the body to tremble. The skin becomes pale, sweat breaks out, and the hair bristles" (Darwin 77). For Darwin, sweat is one of a series of markers that illustrates an internalized feeling of terror. For itself, sweat does not embody terror. Instead, it serves as a pointer that reflects a subjective state which is buried deeper within a subject. Similarly, he writes of anguish that, "When a man suffers from an agony of pain, the perspiration often trickles 63  down his face; and I have been assured by a veterinary surgeon that he has frequently seen drops falling from the belly and running down the inside of the thighs of horses, and from the bodies of cattle, when thus suffering" (Darwin 73). Whether it is reflecting terror or anguish, for Darwin, sweat's presence within particular contexts can reliably indicate the sweating individual's affective state. Although Darwin's biological, evolutionary research unquestionably influenced Tomkins's affect theory, Tomkins openly criticizes Darwin, arguing that, "The conception of motivation being somewhere else is thousands of years old and still alive in Darwin. Look at the title The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals. Darwin thought there was something being expressed. What he saw wasn't it" (285). While Darwin uses the body's surface to point toward a motivation that is buried within the individual (one’s outer appearance as an honest reflection of one’s inner constitution), Tomkins believes that experience, as well as all sources of an individual's motivation, primarily occur at skin-level, "whether we're talking about drives or pains or affects or whatever" (284). In this way, understanding another person’s affective state does not require understanding anything that is beyond the surface; all depth is flattened and contained within a body’s skin. Instead, particular states are self-contained, and a subject’s skin (as well as its accompanying affective markers) serve as a signifier for their own self-contained states. However, despite these theoretical differences, Tomkins did carry forward elements of Darwin's perspective on sweat. Tomkins agrees with Darwin's perceived connection between terror and sweat. While he would later expand beyond this limited number of categories, Tomkins structured much of this research around an affect theory that includes eight categorical spectrums. However, throughout Tomkins’s research, he only ever connected sweat to the spectrum, "FEAR-TERROR." Listing the physiological responses that a fearful or terrified 64  person can look forward to enduring, he writes: "FEAR-TERROR: eyes frozen open, pale, cold, sweaty, facial trembling, with hair erect" (Tomkins and McCarter 218). If an individual either perceives another individual embodying these traits, or recognizes themselves embodying them, one can reliably know that the person is caught within an affective state somewhere between fear and terror. For Tomkins, there is perhaps even less ambiguity than Darwin as to what information the affective marker can relay regarding the sweating subject's affective state. The similarities and differences between Darwin’s and Tomkins’s approaches illustrate the major conceptual issues at stake with sweat (and other affective markers): its role as a signifier, the extent of its ambiguity, and how it relates to the body’s surface/depth binary. Both Darwin and Tomkins hold the (mostly consistent) belief that affective markers transparently reflect a body's affective state; each echoing the dominant scholarly approaches concerning what one can extrapolate from affective markers (sweat, tears, blushing, etc.) regarding the bodies that produce them. However, questioning affective markers’ epistemological value is far from unanticipated. In The Forms of the Affects, Eugenie Brinkema articulates a reorientation against these dominant approaches to affective markers, arguing, in essence, that appearances can be deceiving. Summarizing the predominant perspective that she both criticizes and moves away from, Brinkema writes that theorists saw the tear as, “the supreme metonym for the expressivity of interior states at least as far back as Aristotle's Poetics” (2). Brinkema’s challenge is not without its precedents; theorists have challenged this clear line between tears and interiority in significant ways throughout modernity. She situates her scholarship alongside a pair of early 20th-century thinkers: Sigmund Freud and Jean-Paul Sartre. Brinkema summarizes that, for Freud, the tear has a semiotic function that demands interpretation (14). It does not guarantee information regarding interiority on its own, but 65  necessitates a subjective reception to decipher its meaning. Furthermore, Brinkema argues that Freud understands the tear as a performative gesture that is “a sign of nonaction and a displacement or repression of energies” (14). In these ways, the tear seeks to disguise the subject's internal state. While Freud affixes the tear with suspicion, Jean-Paul Sartre goes further by absolutely denouncing its potential for knowledge. Sartre sees emotional responses as an invasive method for transforming one’s surroundings by diverting others from the crier’s true feelings (58). They are a reaction to the difficulties of acclimating to one's surrounding environment: "In short, in emotion it is the body which, directed by consciousness, changes its relations with the world in order that the world may change its qualities" (Sartre 61). Instead of thinkers such as Aristotle, Darwin, or Tomkins reading the presence of a tear as a subjectivity’s opening up to the world, Sartre sees sobbing as both acting on the world and pushing the world further away. Brinkema summarizes Sartre's position as "a refusal" (17). Her understanding of the tear follows Freud and Sartre by denouncing the tear's ability to indicate the producing subject’s specific affective state. “When the tear no longer functions as a pointer – to the secrets of the heart, to cathartic release, to interior states – it is no longer possible to regard it as an entry into knowledge of a subject,” she argues (Brinkema 22). Additionally, Brinkema extends the relevancy of this epistemological denouncement beyond just the spectator that perceives the tear but also to the subject that experiences it. Situating The Forms of the Affects as an intervention into affect theory’s reliance on personal experiences and their translation into theory (language), Brinkema refers to her book as “an attempt to dethrone the subject and the spectator [...] for affect theory” (36). Brinkema’s argument is not a hostile attack on the importance of a subject’s affective experience, just towards its capacity for building generalizable knowledge. She derisively observes that, “if affect 66  does not need to be interpreted, just recorded, then the most affected theorist wins” (Brinkema 32). Brinkema continues: “today’s theorist of affect errs in reporting the emotional jolts of the film and errs in doing so via the assumption that emotional jolts are definitionally, necessarily, and essentially intentional in aim, direction, and effect. They always land, without fail, let us say in the lap of the awaiting critic” (34). Noticing an overarching trend among contemporary affect theorists, Brinkema wants to undo any interchangeably causal notion regarding the manner in which affective intensities influence the bodies of different individuals. This theoretical maneuver provides two important functions. The first is that it preserves an essence to affects that cannot merely be understood through the symptoms that they create within subjects. For Brinkema, affects have an essence beyond their impact on human bodies that also cannot be fully explained by bodies. Secondly, Brinkema seeks to maintain an unknowable lack in individuals’ relations to each other, their manner of reading and comprehending one another. Within her framework, self-knowledge should not be considered fully projectable onto others, and thus is not generalizable. Summoning Foucault, she asks: “should we not be very wary of exactly such confessional models as standards for philosophical truth-bearing?” (32). Due to this skepticism, she argues that affects need to be comprehended for themselves, outside of the perceived symptoms that they create. Brinkema’s skepticism regarding both the intentionality of affects and the ambiguity of affective markers is, perhaps, all the more relevant for sweat than other affective markers, but the current scholarship on sweat has not reflected these nuances.  Though contemporary academics have written little about sweat as an affective marker, human geographer Gordon Waitt's research proves a rare exception; both within his own work as well as within a collaboration with Elyse Stanes, Waitt explores the connection between sweat and gender privilege. Writing broadly of sweat, Waitt says: “Framed within the concept of 67  homeostasis, two of the most important roles of sweat are (1) as an evaporative liquid to cool the body and (2) to reduce blood pressure invoked by stress, anxiety or drug addiction” (667). Conceived in this way, reading sweat for affect would involve one further degree of indecipherability than other affective markers, such as tears. While tears are nearly always provoked by one being emotionally affected, according to Waitt, a body's temperature can single-handedly cause sweat. In his binary, Waitt fleshes out the manner in which sweat can either be provoked biologically but not affectively, or affectively but not biologically. For instance, running on a treadmill may cause a person to sweat simply to cool their body. Similarly, a stationary body in a climate-controlled space may become so incensed from a bad grade that their rage causes them to sweat. According to Waitt’s binary, one’s sweat does not necessarily reflect their affects. However, this binary effaces the way in which its two sides overlap, ignoring the centre of this Venn Diagram structure, as heat and a particular affect can seem to amplify a subject’s experience of each. In cinema, this is the most common means of representing sweat. For instance, 12 Angry Men (Lumet 1957) and Do the Right Thing (Lee 1989) are each set during New York City heat waves. In both films, the extreme heat and the characters’ emotions appear to amplify one another. The hot weather seems to make the characters more emotional, and their intensified emotions appear to make the heat feel even hotter. These processes are simultaneous, interconnected, and nearly indistinguishable. Due to the inseparable ambiguity of these processes, interpreting sweat for specific affects is perhaps even more difficult than other affective markers. Despite Brinkema’s conclusion regarding the ambiguity of affective markers and its particular relevance to sweat, her denouncement of affective markers as lacking any epistemological significance overextends itself. By completely denying the epistemological 68  significance of affective markers to the bodies that produce them, Brinkema erases the value of recognizing the affective markers’ production process. Even as a finished product, sweat always refers back to a body that has sweated; gland, sweat, body, and environment commingle in laborious structures of relationality. Brinkema’s denouncement overlooks the modes of bodily production that arise from the shifting manners that an environment can act upon a body and force its glands to produce sweat. Engaging with a Deleuzian framework, Waitt and Stanes reflect upon the manner in which bodies are continually reconstructed through their interrelations: “Bodies are conceived as in a state of constant becoming through their practices and encounters, in assemblages with other bodies” (31). Further, sweat, in particular, provides an access point to this becoming, since “Experiences of sweaty bodies therefore offer possibilities to highlight the negotiations, tensions, unities and contradictions of becoming ‘a’ subject” (Waitt 667). When we watch others sweat, cry, or blush, these states teach and remind us that others are capable of being affected. Thus, they are in a constant state of production, flux, or becoming. This is, perhaps, what Deleuze and Guattari meant when they wrote that, “Flesh is only the thermometer of a becoming” (179). As a thermometer, flesh announces the forces that an entity enfolds by being of the world and sweat is the announcement that these forces have passed a particular threshold. However, becoming does not only coincide with this threshold’s precipice. Sweat forcefully indicates a process in which bodies partake by virtue of the simple fact of their existence.   This information may not seem to provide useful insights toward understanding particular subjects until one considers who is allowed to be seen sweating. For instance, ordinary discourse spreads sweat's exclusionary parameters through various means, including either the generalized expression, “Men perspire, women glow,” or by targeting specific demographics with the advice, 69  "Don't sweat the small stuff" (see Carlson 1997). Further, it is telling that during what is arguably American cinema's sweatiest generic period - the action films of the 1980s - white, straight, able-bodied, cisgender men dropped excessive amounts of sweat as other groups were hardly seen sweating. Within various historical contexts, cinema has used sweaty bodies to communicate a character’s goodness or badness, morality or immorality, and sexual desirability or sexual undesirability. Likewise, the same could be said about sweatless bodies. Characters’ sweaty or sweatless bodies either serve to indicate their propulsive momentum into newly embodied states, or their rigid lack of flexibility as beings. Historically, certain bodies have been permitted to sweat, and, more importantly, to be seen sweating on-screen, producing becoming - others, just as importantly, have not been permitted access to these cinematic sites of becoming. Throughout cinema's history, these permissions have fluctuated as the reception of bodily instability has likewise shifted. Due to its capacity to signify becoming and the manner that either its presence or absence can reflect contemporary ideology, sweat’s reminders that all bodies are essentially affected and always in a state of becoming are extremely valuable and can be quite subversive. While affective markers may not provide us knowledge of a subject’s particular affective states, they can provide access to the contours of subjecthood’s production and the ideological underpinnings which circumstantially designate certain sites of becoming as either desirable or abject. In cinema, no other context has more significantly and extensively relied upon sweat’s role as a signifier of becoming than the action sequence.  4.3 Sweat’s Obfuscation, Erasure, and Absence in Contemporary Action Sequences Bodies are, of course, central to cinematic action sequences, the locus of erratic, often violent altercations and exchanges. As Lisa Purse writes, “Action cinema measures progress, 70  failure, and success through the hero’s body. Hence the plots of such films often function as “narratives of becoming” that dramatize a journey towards mastery of the physical” (“Digital” 7-8). Within action cinema, films situate heroes alongside a progressive movement towards mastery that permanently changes them. Their encounters with the world are bidirectional (impacting the world and being impacted by the world) and the genre depicts these changes as resonating within the hero in a manner that irrevocably impacts them as beings. Each action sequence serves as a critical juncture in which a character overcomes an inflection point -- which is represented both narratively and formally -- in their pursuit of mastery. Due to this fundamental preoccupation with bodies, Purse argues that action cinema is an additional entry amongst Linda Williams’ body genres, arguing for an extension of this “body genre” category “to include action cinema, which depicts the body ‘in the grip of intense sensation’ because it is operating at physical extremes, and which has the potential to prompt involuntary physical responses in the spectator” (Action 43). To briefly summarize Williams’s theory, a body genre displays different bodily fluids to emphasize the body’s excess: melodrama elicits tears, horror renders blood, and pornography depicts ejaculation (Williams 9). These three body genres provoke a mimetic reaction in their spectators: one cries while watching melodramas, screams while watching horror, becomes sexually aroused while watching pornography. For action cinema, this bodily excess (or production) is represented via the production of sweat. While Purse does not extensively analyze sweat’s role in action cinema, she does anticipate this connection regarding sweat’s significance to the genre. In exploring why “[t]he fantasies of empowerment that action cinema offers are affecting,” she credits the body’s physical toil, locating this propensity to be affected in “the naturalistic depiction of the physiological effects of exertion, such as sweat or straining muscles” (Purse Action 3). However, unlike sweat, flexing 71  muscles fail to connote becoming. When an individual sweats, their skin illustrates the dynamic production that pushes outward a primarily internal, physiological process. While sweating connotes a movement in which internal processes produce surface-level effects, watching an individual flex does not connote this movement, and is merely a surface-level effect. It lacks the necessary characteristic of emergence that serves to reflect its own production. Within action cinema, it is sweat’s emergence that transforms the action sequence into a site of becoming.  This transformation has drastic effects on a spectator’s bodily and narrative identification. Purse explains how action sequences rely upon spectatorial identification, writing that, “The spectator must identify with the character on a narrative level [...] and on a bodily level, with the hero’s material body as it exerts and endures. Underpinning this dual identification is the spectator’s own knowledge of the real-world body’s capacities and limits, which the on-screen body is expected to reference” (“Digital” 9-10). For example, it is clear that most white audiences of Jack Johnson and James J. Jeffries’ championship fight did not narratively identify with Jack Johnson, but his sweat’s presence attempts to force their identification at a bodily level. Similar to pornography’s ejaculation, horror’s blood, or melodrama’s tears, the sight of sweat in action cinema prompts a mimetic response from its viewers: “the body of the spectator is caught up in an almost involuntary mimicry of the emotion or sensation of the body on the screen” (Williams 4). The film’s elicitation of outrageous political reactions appears as a result of this tension between bodily and narrative identification, the fear that bodily identification would convince audiences of the parallels between Jack Johnson's affected and affecting subjecthood and their own, thus reconfiguring narrative identification. In this victorious context, sweat is not contextualized as abject. Further, due to his sweat, Jack Johnson could not be conveniently viewed as unaffected by this drastically affirming victory. Instead, he was shown to 72  be a fluid, affected person, whose victory was irreversibly changing him. Especially when shot in close framing, highlighting its emergence, sweat’s presence on the bodies of action stars has served throughout most of the genre’s history to render the action sequence into a site of becoming.  While Purse’s argument that bodily becoming permeates throughout action cinema is historically accurate, its application finds its limit when discussing many recent action sequences. In traditional action sequences, sweat was almost always present and asserting an individual’s becoming. For instance, in Raging Bull (Scorsese 1980), sweat’s emergence is continuous, as it chaotically projects off of its fighters’ bodies. With the force of each punch, clusters of sweat-droplets erupt off Jake LaMotta (Robert De Niro) and Sugar Ray Robinson’s (Johnny Barnes) skin. In this way, sweat’s emergent propulsion amidst a low-hanging, sticky haze of thickened air, symbolizes the manner in which bodily production develops amongst engulfing atmospheres. Despite sweat’s historical significance for crafting the action sequence into a site of becoming, over the past two decades, sweat has increasingly disappeared from Hollywood cinema’s action sequences, erased through editing, costuming, cinematography, settings, production design, lighting techniques, and digital effects. This disappearance can be attributed to both practical and digital techniques as well as some significant shifts in Hollywood narratives. While the action sequence may have once emphasized becoming and mastery, both as progressive and continually ongoing momentums, this relies upon sweat’s presence. With sweat’s increasing obfuscation or outright erasure in contemporary Hollywood action sequences, the action sequence’s fixation upon the body has not changed, but instead, its formal features are increasingly operating to no longer render it as affected, becoming, or pursuing mastery. Instead, the bodies populating contemporary action sequences are increasingly unaffected, unchanging, 73  and mastered.  In contemporary Hollywood action sequences, there is an excess of non-digital options for hiding an actor’s sweat. For one, to avoid revealing the presence of stuntmen, the editing within Hollywood action sequences has become dramatically faster. As early as 2002, David Bordwell bemoaned the hurried and harried editing pace that accompanied contemporary action scenes, writing that “some action sequences are cut so fast (and staged so gracelessly) as to be incomprehensible” (16). Since this faster editing is often sped up to disguise the fact that a stunt double has been substituted in for an actor, bodily ambiguity is the editing’s central motivation. This shift in pace functions to efface bodily specificity; spectators lose the potential to access sites of bodily production. Even in action sequences that feature sweat, such as those from Jason Bourne (Greengrass 2016), the cutting is so fast that a viewer almost needs to be pausing the film after each frame to either recognize or be affected by the sweat. Another principal reason for sweat’s disappearance is the drastic increase in the genre’s fully-costumed characters. More and more frequently, studios have populated the action genre with superhero films in which characters' costumes cover them from head to foot (and even when the superhero’s skin is eventually revealed, it hardly ever has sweat on it). It is generally only at the end of superhero action sequences that the hero or villain dramatically lifts their mask, as in Captain America: Civil War (Russo and Russo 2016) and Black Panther (Coogler 2018), both of which punctuate their climactic fight scenes by revealing their characters’ entirely sweatless and unaffected faces -- sweatless despite being pressed against a mask for lengthy periods of time. Camerawork can also serve to obscure spectatorial access to a character’s body. Throughout Hardcore Henry’s (Naishuller 2015) entirety, the camera remains tied to Henry’s perspective. Conceived as the cinematic version of a first-person shooter, viewers never see much more of Henry’s body than 74  his arms and feet. Without being able to see the protagonist’s full body (especially his face), Hardcore Henry’s camerawork functions in a similar fashion to these other non-digital options: to conceal bodily production within its action sequences.  Another common trope amongst recent action sequences is to set them amongst downpouring rain. The rain erases the role of bodily production and makes it impossible to distinguish a body’s sweating from the water. Unlike sweating bodies’ often abject reception, wet bodies are frequently sexualized; the effacement of sweat’s production reconfigures wet bodies’ reception as enticing. In the past two decades, The Matrix Revolutions (Wachowski and Wachowski 2003), The Spirit (Miller 2008), The Dark Knight Rises (Nolan 2012), Jack Reacher (McQuarrie 2012), and Suicide Squad (Ayer 2016), amongst others, have created this ambiguity between water and sweat by situating their action in either rainstorms or bodies of water. An offshoot of this trope is situating the fight scene in an environment that makes sweat either impossible to produce or impossible to perceive. The Fate of the Furious (Gray 2017), for instance, sets its climactic action sequence in the middle of a Russian winter. Whether Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and the other characters are engaging in hand-to-hand combat or surrounded by explosions, the film’s form depicts the freezing Russian winter as providing enough resistance to offset any sweating. Similarly, in Assassin’s Creed (Kurzel 2016), a pair of smoke bombs erupt that not only blind prison guards as they attempt to prevent a prison riot, but also the audience from perceiving much more than the vaguest details concerning the combatants’ bodies. The role of lighting can have a similar effect, as if creating an environmental haze within the space, veiling access to bodies. In John Wick (Leitch and Stahelski 2014), the eponymous protagonist and his various combatants are often painted over with high-contrast, coloured lighting. The blues, pinks, and purples collaborate with the shadowing and mostly distanced 75  camera proxemics to heavily aestheticize the characters’ skin and reduce transparent access to their bodies. Despite contemporary Hollywood action cinema commonly using its editing, costuming, cinematography, settings, production design, and lighting to deny spectatorial access to bodily production, it is digital effects that have had the most significant impact.  Indeed, the most impactful (and elusive) reason for sweat’s disappearance is the intervention of digital post-production processes. Considering that many of the bodies within contemporary fight scenes are entirely digital creations, erasing undesirable beads of sweat on actual actors is a relatively minor ask for digital artists. While most understand computer-generated imagery as merely proliferating amongst what audiences are allowed to see (e.g., massive explosions, a 30-foot gorilla demolishing a city, etc.), it also encompasses the alterations and erasures that are designed to remain unnoticed. These alterations and erasures are known as ‘invisible effects,’ which have become more and more popular throughout the 2000s to the point of near-ubiquity. When invisible effects focus specifically on bodily features, “It’s called “beauty work.” This is a digital procedure of sorts, in which a handful of skilled artists use highly specialized software in the final stages of post-production to slim, de-age and enhance actors’ faces and bodies” (Dickey par. 2). The biggest firm in ‘beauty work’ is a company named Lola Visual Effects. They rose to prominence after the release of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Fincher 2008), which garnered the company extensive attention for its digital de-aging of Brad Pitt’s eponymously named protagonist (Hill par. 6). This is often the case with beauty work; it is only publicly discussed when audiences are intended to see it, as in Benjamin Button, in which the titular “curious case” is the unique reverse aging process of its main character (Collin par. 21). Otherwise, beauty work artists are not legally allowed to discuss their work. After being asked to discuss the likenesses of particular actors that he has modified, a Luma 76  Pictures’ effects supervisor named Vince Cirelli explained his silence: “I am so heavily NDA-ed, I would have somebody fly through my window with AK-47s [if I spoke about invisible effects]” (Hill par. 3). While it remains difficult to pinpoint exact instances in which beauty work has altered an actor’s likeness, it is clear that the work is being done, since “Beauty work is budgeted into most shows and films — and is considered such a priority that several industry sources say that they often cut other expenses to afford it” (Hill par. 11). Despite the details surrounding beauty work being frustratingly sparse, Lola’s co-founder and visual effects supervisor, Edson Williams, has explained the intent behind his work, by commenting wryly that, “If you leave the theatre thinking your favorite actor has perfect skin and no body fat, then I did my job” (Failes 174).  Initially developed by artists such as Claus Hansen within 1990s music-video aesthetics (Dickey par. 31), ‘beauty work’ has now spread widely throughout Hollywood. For instance, Lola Visual Effects, just one of the several currently thriving beauty effects studios, has worked on nearly two hundred Hollywood feature films since 2004 (IMDB). Included in this wide slate are many of the film industry’s biggest action films. Throughout just the past two years, Lola has provided effects for many of action cinema’s most lucrative blockbusters: Logan (Mangold 2017), The Fate of the Furious, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Gunn 2017), Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War (Russo and Russo 2018), Solo: A Star Wars Story (Howard 2018), Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018), and Ant-Man and the Wasp (Reed 2018). While Lola does offer visual effects work other than beauty work, beauty work is their well-known specialty in the film industry, and one can surmise that this accounts for at least part of their contributions to these films. Accounting for beauty work’s current popularity and impact on bodily production, Deborah Snyder, a lucrative action cinema producer behind 300 (Snyder 2007) and Wonder 77  Woman (Jenkins 2017), explains that, “Maybe that unsightly zit on their chin becomes a distraction and the audience is looking at it instead of focusing on the intention of the scene” (Hill par. 10). The zit, treated as a distasteful narrative and aesthetic hindrance, must be erased. Due to the abundance of non-disclosure agreements, beauty work artists have said little about erasing sweat from cinematic bodies. The sole exception is Thomas Nittman, a managing partner and co-founder at Lola Visual Effects, who boasted that Lola erased “sweat from an actor in over 60 minutes of footage” (Hill par. 23). While it may be difficult to pinpoint exact instances in which beauty work has removed sweat within action cinema, it is clear that erasure (through both practical and digital means) and the resulting bodily absences have become fundamental components of contemporary action cinema aesthetics.   The increasingly frequent formal choices within action cinema to efface sweat’s production from the bodies that populate its action sequences do not reorient the genre away from a preoccupation with bodies, but it does shift and alter the function of these bodies on display. Instead of action cinema offering audiences cinematic bodies that are in a perpetual state of becoming as they strive toward physical mastery, these altered and physically immanent bodies are unaffected and ontologically rigid. These scenes are simply locating and actualizing the endpoint that the genre’s fantasies of mastery or empowerment have always pointed towards: a tensionless existence with one’s surroundings. The bodies are pushed to the very brink, as they always have been in action cinema, but they display no affective markers. Situated within these extreme scenarios, these films seemingly seek to prove that their bodies are incapable of being affected and lack any interrelational malleability with their environments. In this way, these sweatless action sequences reflect and encourage the fantasies of absolute boundaries that I have previously discussed throughout this thesis. Further, these sequences do not provoke sensory 78  mimicry in their audience members. Instead, sensory mimicry, one of cinema’s most direct means of forcing audiences to recognize their own interrelationality with their environments, is ceased alongside any potential for subversive bodily identification. While action cinema may be straying away from the excesses that inclusion amongst body genres necessitate, its focus is still chiefly directed towards the bodies that populate its narratives as it seeks to create an identificatory fantasy for viewers with its unaffected characters.  In Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, many of the techniques that were previously outlined are used in combination to present a cinematic world in which none of its characters seem physiologically capable of producing sweat. Throughout the film, its characters appear environmentally unaffected, despite their various exertions: they never drop a single bead of sweat, though they participate in extremely vigorous and extended fight sequences. In this way, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World extends this trend of affective erasure in contemporary action cinema to its satirical limit. Additionally, since the film overextends itself to convince viewers that its characters’ bodies are entirely incapable of producing sweat, this impossibility necessitates further investigation into an understanding of their embodiment. Instead of considering these cinematic bodies -- whose likenesses otherwise entirely represent our own -- as mere reflections of non-cinematic bodies, they demand to be understood as ontologically distinct.  4.4 Scott Pilgrim vs. the World In Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, a full year has passed since his devastating breakup with his suddenly famous ex-girlfriend, Natalie "Envy" Adams (Brie Larson), but the twenty-two-year-old Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is still reeling. Heartbroken and afraid of establishing another commitment, he is now dating a high school girl named Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). 79  Scott does not seem romantically interested in her -- satisfyingly claiming that he is not sure whether or not they have held hands -- but is merely happy to be in a relationship that feels easy. For Scott, the tension-laden risks of falling in love are now too much, and Knives fulfills his fantasy of a tension-free relationship. Since he is not in love with Knives, the stakes are low, and he desperately wants to keep them that way. After Scott accidentally falls in love with the elusive Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), an Amazon delivery courier that he first sees in his dreams, he learns that their relationship depends upon him defeating her seven deadly exes in a series of extended fight scenes. Gideon Graves (Jason Schwartzman), a successful music producer from New York, is Ramona's most recent former romantic partner and has now rallied together all of her exes to remove Scott from the picture by murdering him. In Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Scott's survival is depicted as much more reliant upon him mastering his insecurities than his fighting skills. A story of arrested development, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World narratively embeds its fight scenes as stepping stones that facilitate Scott’s progression into becoming a more caring person for others. As it tends to go, on top of defeating Ramona’s seven deadly exes, Scott must also transcend his limitations of self-deprecation and selfishness. Heavily self-reflexive, the film remarks upon the role of the fight scene as a site of becoming. After a pre-fight announcement in which he declares that he loves Ramona, a voiceover reads aloud the on-screen text, declaring, “Scott Earned the Power of Love.” Similarly, when he later announces that he does not want to fight Gideon for Ramona, but for himself, the voiceover exclaims, “Scott Earned the Power of Self Respect.” In each of these moments, Scott’s becoming is illustrated as a bodily phenomenon. With each milestone, a sword suddenly emerges in his chest. Similar to the Arthurian legend of the sword in the stone, only Scott is capable of pulling it and harnessing 80  its/his powers. Comparable to many video games, his accomplishments also earn him an extra life (or ‘1-UP’), and on-screen text continually tracks his improvement across several key characteristics (“GUTS +5 HEART +6 SMARTS +7 BALLS +8”). Even after defeating Gideon, Scott must face his uncanny doppelganger: Nega Scott (Michael Cera). Unlike his defeats of each of the seven deadly exes, which only conclude once their bodies have erupted, Scott is finally comfortable enough with himself to face himself. Instead of ending with Nega Scott’s body exploding, the film casually announces Scott’s mastery of himself through Scott and Nega Scott making future brunch plans and merrily going their separate ways. The film ends with Scott finally achieving mastery; he is now free to live a tensionless existence. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’s narrative lives up to its generic expectations by foregrounding becoming as a pursuit of mastery which the protagonist only achieves in the film’s final few moments. However, by analyzing how the film obfuscates and alters its bodies, it becomes apparent that the film’s form treats its characters’ bodies in a contradictory manner which stretches the broader trend of erasing affective markers to its parodic extreme.  Influenced by action sequences within action cinema, video games, and comic books, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’s fight scenes use many familiar formal features to overwhelm its spectators into overlooking bodily specificity: the editing from shot to shot is generally quick; influenced by Hong Kong action films, the frame rate is frequently sped up to 22 frames per second (Director’s Commentary); overheard shots are used to conveniently implement stunt doubles; similar to a video game, on-screen graphics count Scott’s landed punches or announce a knockout; influenced by comic books, the frame occasionally breaks into multiple frames as it guides viewers’ attention away from one to another. While each of these function to misdirect viewers' attention away from bodily specificity, the film’s form also uses special effects to 81  replace the manner in which affective markers are traditionally used within fight scenes to highlight bodily production. Unlike the fight scenes in Raging Bull, in which sweat propels off of the fighters’ bodies, with each blow landed in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, a single bead of sweat never emerges from the characters’ skin. Even when the bodies are occasionally slowed down via slow motion -- in a manner that emphasizes their physical labour -- there is still no sweat. Instead, little flashes of light or three to five letter onomatopoeias (such as POW, WHAP, and SNAK) appear next to the characters’ bodies, symbolically pointing toward bodily feeling but negating bodily production. These flashes of light, or onomatopoeias, do not emerge from the body, but begin entirely apart from it. By only simulating sweat’s outward thrust into an environment, these formal embellishments displace the role of bodily production in the fight scene. It is not only within Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’s fight scenes that the role of bodily production in creating feeling is negated and skin is rendered unaffected by diegetic elements. Symbols referencing feeling but negating its production exist all throughout the film: stars, hearts, and skulls glide around the instruments of a rival band as they play “I Am So Sad, I Am So Very Very Sad;” hearts soar past Scott and Ramona as they kiss for the first time. The characters’ skin is also tested throughout Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, but diegetic elements are entirely incapable of impacting it. For instance, when Scott and Ramona embark on a nighttime stroll through the Toronto winter, they are surrounded by falling snow; somehow, the snow manages to avoid ever landing on or touching their skin. Regardless of their contexts, their skin remains unblemished by any diegetic elements. While it is impossible to say whether this is due to beauty work, the film foregrounds the skin’s capacity for digital manipulation. Each time that Julie Powers (Aubrey Plaza) or “Envy” Adams curse, their words are covered up with a 82  censorship bleep as their mouths are temporarily concealed behind a digitally imposed black square. Similarly, after Knives finds out that Scott dated her idol (“Envy”), her shocked affective response is disguised by two squares and a circle that cover her eyes and mouth, and resemble an emoticon (:O). The film effectively literalizes the extent to which filmmakers and beauty work artists go to reconfigure the affective relations of cinematic bodies. During Scott’s fight with fictional movie star, Lucas Lee (Chris Evans), confusion arises as Scott struggles to differentiate between Lucas and his posse of similar looking stunt doubles. Additionally, after Ramona leaves Scott to reunite with Gideon, it is later revealed that Gideon has been using a device that is connected to the back of Ramona’s neck and allows him to control her capacity to be affected -- dimming her affective responses and muting her ability to love anyone else. While the narrative foregrounds mastery as a reward for Scott’s partaking in several antagonistic scenes of becoming, attention to the film’s bodies insists that they were never capable of being affected. If Scott earning his mastery in the film’s final moments is merely an illusion, then these bodies cannot achieve mastery but have already been mastered by the filmmakers and visual effects artists that deny their interrelations. With Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’s bodies depicted as entirely unaffected, the terms of their interrelationality must be understood distinctly from non-cinematic bodies.  For many contemporary affect theorists, affect compels a bodily production that serves to enfold pre-personal, pre-conscious intensities, while emotion is affect’s socialized derivative, what humans use to describe the feeling of affect itself, affect refracted through expression. As Eric Shouse writes, affect is defined as the intensity bodies create through the enfoldment of thousands of external stimuli that each body encounters in each moment (par. 9). He argues that bodies produce affect, a production that creates the capacity to personally feel and then socially 83  emote: “Without affect feelings do not “feel” because they have no intensity” (par. 11). However, unlike feeling, Shouse also observes that, “An emotion is the projection/display of a feeling. Unlike feelings, the display of emotion can be either genuine or feigned” (par. 4) While Shouse’s equation may summarize non-cinematic bodies’ interrelations, it does not explain the manipulated and partially erased bodies within recent filmic worlds. Although Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’s characters lack the capacity to be affected or feel, they are not devoid of emotion. Struggling with the insecurities that he inherited through his breakup with “Envy,” as he now feels too inadequate to be with Ramona, Scott tries but often fails to repress his emotions. This contradiction regarding a character that is incapable of being affected but frequently demonstrates emotions, demands the following question: if these characters are incapable of being affected, how do they relate to their environments? Firstly, following Shouse’s conception of emotions as not necessarily genuine, the film’s emotional displays seem to be entirely disingenuous, never referring back to actualized feeling. However, since the film presents a world in which affect appears to be physiologically impossible and, thus, never actually experienced, they feign a derivative relationship to an original referent that never existed. In this way, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World leverages the familiarity of generic tropes as it orients spectators’ identification with characters that are incapable of embodying the genre’s excesses. Instead of imagining a tensionless utopia in which characters never face a challenge, the film insists upon affect’s impossibility by proving it within extremely violent fight scenes. The pleasure of fight scenes featuring bodies without affective markers, such as those in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, come from bodily fantasies that demonstrate an inability to be affected by their surrounding environments. Definitely neither feeling, nor affected, but certainly emotional, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, such as many 84  contemporary action films, imagines bodies that are entirely compelled by sourceless derivatives and completely out of tension with their environments -- displaying seamless continuity. Rooted in the pleasurable fantasy of a tension-free encounter with one’s environment, even as its characters participate in high-stakes fights, the emotions within Scott Pilgrim vs. the World are not genuinely felt as they do not refer back to past feelings.  To conclude each fight, the existential parameters that structure feelings, such as startle or anger, are also cynically rearranged. While Brian Massumi refers to affects as unformed potentials (104-105), or in other words, only encompassing use-value, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World shifts this schema dramatically: within the film, the culmination of pain is not communicated affectively or existentially, but through economic exchange-value. As Scott lands his final blow against each of Ramona’s seven deadly exes, they erupt into a cascade of coins, a rainfall of currency. In Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’s fight scenes, the culmination of movement and interrelations with tense surroundings is not bodily becoming. The winner of these fights do not become, they profit. In these ways, the film makes apparent the cynical truth permeating cinema’s larger body of sweatless action sequences: the widespread dissemination of cinematic fantasies of affectlessness are encouraged due to their immense profitability. However, suddenly, during Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’s final fight scene, the film’s form shifts and suddenly attempts to communicate affect. Its characters do not sweat or produce any other traditional affective markers, but their bodies blur as they assume a red hue, glitching as if a systematic mistake is occurring. As if the tension of erasing affect from the film's previous six fights has folded its form on itself, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World equates bodies producing affective markers with bodily glitching. In this way, the film's form satirically comments on the desperation within other contemporary action sequences to negate the bodily production of affective markers. 85   4.5 Conclusion Although cinematic methods to erase sweat are most prominent within the action genre, sweat’s absence is quickly permeating throughout Hollywood cinema’s various corners. For instance, in the teen genre -- a genre that shares about as few similarities with the action genre as any -- it is incredibly common to find this same phenomenon of cinematic worlds in which bodily production is presented as impossible. Two examples of recent teen films that present sweat as an impossibility are The Fault in Our Stars (Boone 2014) and The Kings of Summer (Vogt-Roberts 2013). In The Fault in Our Stars, Hazel (Shailene Woodley) is living with thyroid cancer and increasingly struggles with mobility. When she and her boyfriend visit the Anne Frank House and have to climb multiple sets of stairs, she barely reaches the top. The ascent takes many minutes as she carries her oxygen tank with her, and despite breaks in which the film illustrates her exhaustion through her heavy breathing, she never sweats. Similarly, in The Kings of Summer, labour is central to the plot as three teenage boys attempt to build a house in the forest. The cinematography routinely emphasizes the sunlight’s warmth to the point that lens flares are a repeated stylistic flourish, but the film never shows their labouring bodies sweating. With filmmakers and visual effects artists having increasing degrees of agency to alter cinematic bodies, further attention is necessary to comprehend the manner in which these erasures are circumstantially altering the identificatory fantasies with affectless bodies that Hollywood filmmaking elicits. Except for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the sweatless films that I have discussed throughout this chapter all naturalize affect’s impossibility to the extent that their explicit contradiction of action cinema’s history as a site of becoming has gone previously 86  unnoticed. Absence has, perhaps, never been a more central structuring principle of cinematic aesthetics. Increasingly, analyses of the manner in which Hollywood films display, orient, and convey meaning through particular bodies demand an understanding of how these bodies reflect subtle erasures and absences - not as a consequence of their own mastery but of the artist’s. Unlike Spinoza’s famously invigorating edict that “no one has yet determined what the body can do” (Ethics 71), in cinema, this lack has been inverted: further critical attention needs to be paid to what the body can no longer do.    87  Chapter 5: Conclusion  Here are the rules of a recent high-concept film titled Every Day (Sucsy 2018): “A” -- one of the film’s main characters -- has lived their entire life switching from one body to another, and has control over how to govern that person’s life for twenty-four hours. Since A experiences each body as if they are the sole occupant, this process is entirely seamless. The bodies that A inhabits age linearly (for instance, they spend an entire year only as 17-year-olds then a year just as 18-year-olds), and they cannot occupy the same body more than once. Also, the body that A wakes up in each day is within close proximity to where A’s most recent host fell asleep at night. To briefly summarize, A transcends time, space, and embodiment to displace another person each day and live their life for them. While this may sound like the overwrought concept of a horror film or a science fiction thriller -- where A wreaks havoc by exacting their basest desires each day and always escapes before the ramifications arise -- it is actually a romantic teen fantasy film about a fulfilling but ultimately doomed relationship. In Every Day, love is just simply not worth the logistical headaches it might bring. Further, it actually makes one a less virtuous person. Unlike the films that I have discussed in the previous chapters, which engage with fantasies of affectlessness through either an overt but dismissive manner or a shamefully disguised manner, Every Day is explicitly committed to the virtuousness of its tensionless fantasy. In this way, Every Day may gesture toward a future for these fantasies in American genre cinema. Historically, it may have primarily been drug users or serial killers that have explicitly acknowledged their lack of feeling but, in the future, a lack of feeling may serve as a normative ideal. 88  Instead of wreaking havoc, A fulfills the idealized teen film romantic interest for the film's protagonist, Rhiannon (Angourie Rice). Although they have always existed within a body, A is an amorphous entity (perhaps a soul) that perceives themselves as a coherent person with a consistent personality and set of values. Almost regardless of the circumstance, A filters their values through the belief that they must avoid significantly impacting the person’s life in whose body they spend the day. Even though A tries to make choices that are consistent with whatever they believe that person would do, the film insists upon appropriate boundaries which stop A's personality from being impacted by the person that they are embodying. Despite embodying bodies of diverse races, ethnicities, sexualities, genders, and ability-levels, none of them shift A's personality or values. A is somehow capable of brushing off all of the specific contingencies that one assumes by merely living in the world with a specific identificatory positioning. At one point, A satisfyingly explains the comforts of their diverse experiences, by romantically stating that they’ve “seen the same colour blue 50 different ways with 50 different pairs of eyes.” Each of these different perspectives has not fractured or traumatized A's perspective; the film depicts A's personality and values as entirely unaffected. Regardless of their positionality and contingencies with the world, A is always basically the same. However, according to Every Day, love is the most powerful form of contingency that one can experience with their surroundings and the one contingency that seriously challenges A’s values. After waking up as Justin (Justice Smith), A’s values are shaken when they meet Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. Rhiannon, thinking that she is just talking to her boyfriend, suggests that they blow off school and spend the day together. While A would usually say no, due to his principles about not doing anything to get their host into trouble, Rhiannon sweeps A off of Justin’s feet, and they run out of the school hand-in-hand. For Rhiannon, A is everything that 89  Justin is not. Justin is a withholding and often cantankerous boyfriend; A is thoughtful and fun-loving. Although she thinks that she is falling back in love with Justin (their relationship was struggling greatly), she spends the day falling for A, and this infatuation goes both ways. While A does not immediately explain that they are not actually Justin -- they are halted when Rhiannon explains that “Today was the happiest day that I’ve had in a long time” -- they eventually inform her, and she quickly comes around to the idea of breaking up with Justin and dating A. For Rhiannon, dating a different person each day is at first quite thrilling and the two almost immediately fall in love with one another. However, all of the sneaking around that goes into maintaining a relationship with a different person each day eventually becomes a logistical nightmare.  When A figures out how to take over a body for as long as they desire, Rhiannon pressures A to do it. They both want a regular relationship, and A flirts with permanently taking over a host. Unlike the experience of embodying a vast variety of identities (which from day-to-day almost never sway A’s beliefs regarding how to virtuously live as others), their encounter with love is more impactful. In Every Day, loving a single person is a far more impactful contingency than the cumulative impact of the contingencies that come, for instance, from living as a member of a minority group. As such, A strongly considers overlooking the moral ramifications of permanently displacing one of their hosts, Alexander (Owen Teague). However, after a few days of embodying Alexander, A has second thoughts about this decision and this all climaxes during a conversation in which A tries to explain to Rhiannon that their future together is impossible. While A begins by briefly acknowledging that displacing another permanently is immoral, their explanation to Rhiannon about why their relationship cannot last focuses primarily on logistics. When the film flashes forward to a future in which Rhiannon ages alone 90  as various people come and go from A and Rhiannon's apartment, A explains how logistics will eventually trump their love: "Think about what happens if you and I stay together. I mean really, truly imagine it. What does that look like in a year? In 10 years? [...] And what happens when I start waking up as someone in a marriage? As someone with kids? What if we want a kid? How will it feel for you to raise that kid almost entirely alone and not be able to explain to anyone why that's what you chose?" After anxiously unravelling the logistical challenges that await their love, they both quickly decide that it is best for both of them to move on. The next morning, A wakes up in a new body and drives off toward New York, and a life in which they hold no long-term responsibilities to any other person. The logistically impossible love of teen narratives are usually treated in one of two manners: the couple tragically fails to overcome their logistics (Romeo + Juliet (1996)) or the couple overcomes them and lives happily ever after (pretty much every other teen film). Unlike its precedents, Every Day reaches an entirely unique conclusion. Every Day’s couple neither concludes that they would rather not live than live without the other nor do they insist that their love can conquer all. Instead, they basically settle upon an aromantic shrug of the shoulders. In Every Day, the logistics of interrelationality simply do not make being permanently bound to another worth it. The fantasy of living outside of interrelationality is a far more appealing fantasy than falling in love. The film’s final shot shows one of A’s Instagram posts. It depicts a firework going off in Central Park and it comes equipped with the caption: “#make _marks #leave_traces.” These hashtags represent virtuous lessons that A learned from Rhiannon, and gesture toward A actualizing an ideal version of themselves by choosing to live alone. As A explains during their last evening with Rhiannon, she will be both their first and last love. The rewards of living alone are far more worthwhile than the complications of living with others. 91  Every Day reorients the teen genre to usurp love from its idealized status in which one will give up anything to attain it. This is particularly significant to this genre because it has underwritten the majority of teen films for as long as the genre has existed. Generally, these films argue that love enables virtue. However, in Every Day, one’s contingencies do not enable but actually make a person less ethical to others. The contingencies that arise from one’s positionality are unimpactful and love only makes one worse for others. Instead, being unaffected takes love’s place as one’s idealized version. In the past, teens would stop at nothing for love, but in Every Day, it is just simply not worth the logistics that come with being contingent with another. Throughout this thesis, I have sought to demonstrate how pervasive this fantasy of affectlessness has been within recent Hollywood filmmaking. In the second chapter, I argued that these fantasies took two primary forms (absolute continuity and absolute boundaries), and elicited cruel optimism by guaranteeing the perpetuation of the tension that they promised to absolve. From here, I considered how coloured noise facilitates an illusory relationship with the infinite that can be leveraged into fantasies of affectlessness through feelings of submersion within it or empowerment from it. In this chapter, I analyzed how bodily erasures have re-oriented action sequence aesthetics away from being a site of becoming, and into a site of stasis. What was once mostly constrained to the clichéd depictions of drug abusers and serial killers went on to become a fantasy that has been subtly entertained through filmic form. When films (such as Solaris or Mom and Dad) draw explicit attention to how these formal features leverage such fantasies, they show that these fantasies could lead to the unjust treatment of one’s self and surroundings. Otherwise, when films do not draw attention to how specific formal features leverage these fantasies, they seek to normalize them with such subtly that it seems to reflect the filmmakers’ collective shame. Every Day gestures toward a next step in the spread of these fantasies of 92  affectlessness in Hollywood filmmaking -- one in which it is both explicitly entertained and treated as the most righteous path. While this may be a fresh development for recent Hollywood genre fare, it signals back toward the fantasies of an unaffected, virtuous life that philosophers have argued for since the beginnings of Western philosophy. Although Hollywood genre filmmaking has almost always treated love as the most impactful form of contingency with others and an entry point to a virtuous life, contingency is merely an obstacle for fantasies of affectlessness. Love is great and all, these fantasies seem to say, but far less so than the benefits of a tensionless existence, wherein one floats past interrelationality; love and one’s other contingencies -- recent developments in Hollywood genre filmmaking suggest -- can be (or should be) sacrificed in the name of an affectless, tensionless existence. 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