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Through the Black Mirror: Innocence, Abuse, and Justice in ‘Shut Up and Dance

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Title:Through the Black Mirror: Innocence, Abuse, and Justice in ‘Shut Up and Dance
Authors:Nolte-Odhiambo, Carmen
Date Issued:2019
Publisher:Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.
Citation:Nolte-Odhiambo, Carmen. “Through the Black Mirror: Innocence, Abuse, and Justice in ‘Shut Up and Dance.’” Childhood, Science Fiction, and Pedagogy, edited by David W. Kupferman and Andrew Gibbons, Springer Singapore, 2019, pp. 79–92. (Crossref), doi:10.1007/978-981-13-6210-1_5.
Abstract:Constructed as needing protection and lacking agency, the figure of the child is always a potential victim in whose name political battles based in moral panics are often waged. But where does this abstract child figure leave real children, who are not as void of desire, agency, and sexuality as contemporary understandings of childhood imply? The Black Mirror episode “Shut Up and Dance” approaches this question through the story of its teenage protagonist, Kenny, who is blackmailed into committing increasingly violent and dangerous tasks so as to prevent the release of a video that shows him masturbating to pornography. Although in being sexual Kenny has fallen from the pedestal of childhood innocence, his awkwardness, vulnerability, and intense shame about the video nonetheless mark him as non-adult, and the punishments he endures seem disproportionate and abusive—until, that is, we learn that it was child pornography Kenny was masturbating to. Faced with the idea of child-as-victim that the mention of child pornography evokes, can we still also conceive of Kenny as a victimized child, or does he, in that revelatory moment, irreversibly grow up into a predatory adult? Drawing on scholarship situated at the productive intersections of childhood studies and queer theory, this chapter interrogates conceptions of the child-as-victim and analyzes how “Shut Up and Dance” complicates the dominant discourse on child abuse.
Description:Modified from original published version to conform to ADA standards.
Pages/Duration:26 pages
Rights:This article is made available in accordance with the publisher's policy and may be subject to US copyright law. Please refer to the publisher's site for terms of use.
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States
Appears in Collections: Nolte-Odhiambo, Carmen

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