Alyx Arumpac’s Aswang as Counterspectacle

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Alyx Arumpac’s Aswang as Counterspectacle

The documentary film genre, through an analysis of Aswang (2019), evokes a reflexivity despite its self-determined spectacularity — a possible critique of the film medium as spectacle.

The Film as Spectacle

A spectacle is a “tool of pacification and depoliticization” (Debord, in Durham and Keller, 2006). Examples are very much evident in our society, particularly in popular culture, such as films, tv programs and advertisements. A society mediated by the spectacle becomes dependent on a system of images meant to capture the attention of the spectator, in effect promulgating inattentiveness to more pressing issues in our society. Human relations become strained as it becomes mediated by the image. One relates to another through the spectacle. In this discussion, we seek to evaluate first how an image becomes a spectacle through Bruce Isaac’s concept of spectacle affect. His framework is used in the analysis of Alyx Ayn Arumpac’s Aswang (2019). The filmic form here is treated as a medium that lends to its self-determined spectacularity a kind of reflexivity in terms of the affect that it portrays and the affect that it seeks to evoke from the spectator. The result then is a reevaluation of the film medium and an opening up of its possible critique of the spectacle through the documentary film genre.

Isaac formulates his concept of the spectacle that works up the image towards an excess through Kristin Thompson’s concept of “cinematic excess”. Thompson (1986) puts forward the idea that there