YouTube phenomenon video

Interesting reflections on the latest YouTube phenomenon video of the Philippine prisoners practicing their “Thriller” performance (now viewed over 2.7 million times!).

Two minutes into the video, I got over my amazement and realized that in fact it all made sense, as far as Foucault goes. Thinking back over his theories of disciplinary society, it fit almost too well. Indeed, perhaps I was astonished at first, more because, as Freud says, what is uncanny is what is most familiar and therefore strangely hard to recognize.

And so the more I thought about the dance and about the appearance of the video on YouTube, the more I saw that it conformed quite exactly to Foucault’s theories about the social function of the prison.

4 Responses

  1. Hey, thanks for the post about my comments on Foucault and the video of the Filipino prisoners “Thriller” dance on YouTube.

    Somewhat tangentially related, I thought you might be interested in some of the videos of Foucault himself on YouTube, in case you haven’t already seen these. Including two excerpts from a debate with Noam Chomsky in Holland in 1971.

    Foucault & Chomsky (with English subtitles).

    Foucault lecturing on Disciplinarity, in English.

    Foucault on desire, in English:

    Foucault on French television:


  2. Thanks!

    There’s a DVD of the Chomsky debate, but it’s useful to see it available on YouTube.

    Note that some of the others are the 1983 Berkeley audio tapes set with images and pictures.

    But it would be useful to have a complete listing of the audio and video available (I’ve linked some before but not assiduously). As far as I know, such a listing has never been done for this material.

  3. Yeah, the Foucault archives in Berkeley (where I did my graduate work) and Paris (where I researched much of my dissertation) are not exactly highly organized. It’s strange not to have more readily available information at least about exactly everything that’s available. That ought to be easy enough to post on a web site.

    Actually, I guess the material I saw several years ago in Paris has probably been moved to the IMEC site near Caen. That just dumbfounds me, to have such important material in such a non-central location. It can only have the effect of limiting access to the material.

    Great link to the Berkeley audio tapes though. They certainly weren’t online when I was there.

  4. How doe the idea that individuals generate their individuality interact with the notion that humans are part of a system? Both seem to be mutually exclusive.

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