9/11 as Schmaltz-Attractor: A Coda on the Significance of Kitsch

In Monica Kjellman-Chapin (ed.), Kitsch: History, Theory, Practice. Cambridge Scholars Press. pp. 184-224 (2013)
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Abstract

"The concluding chapter, penned by C. E. Emmer, both revisits and greatly expands upon disputations within the contested territory of kitsch as term and tool in cultural turf-war arsenals. Focusing on debates surrounding two visual responses to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Dennis Madalone's 2003 music video for the patriotic anthem 'America We Stand As One' and Jenny Ryan's 'plushie' sculpture, 'Soft 9/11,' Emmer utilizes these debates to reveal the coexisting and competing attitudes towards ostensibly kitschy objects and the contentiousness of deploying kitsch as a term in these debates. The buzzing activity of the internet provides much of the raw material for his arguments. Through his close reading of both the works themselves and the public response to them, Emmer once more focuses attention on the competing and overlapping attitudes towards kitsch and the way in which it and its semantic cousins remain a viable and valuable resource with which to police the borders that surround the artworld. Ultimately, his contribution further grounds a wider premise operative in this collection--namely, that a simple and rigid dichotomy of kitsch and (high) art does not and indeed cannot capture the elusive and mercurial nature of kitsch." --from the editor's introduction.

Author's Profile

C. E. Emmer
Emporia State University

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