Work is hell: life in the mannequin factory

Lockwood, Dean (2013) Work is hell: life in the mannequin factory. In: To see the Saw movies: essays on torture porn and post-9/11 horror. McFarland & Company, pp. 139-156. ISBN 9780786470891

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Item Type:Book Section
Item Status:Live Archive


My argument situates the horror film, 'Saw', in the context of mutations of capital and ensuing transformations of labour, specifically, the affective dimension of labour. As industrial production has declined and the service sector grown, the nature of labour has been transformed. Labour, in the production of services, is more intellectual and informational but an important aspect of its transformation is that it has also come increasingly to involve the affective, vital powers underpinning interaction between people, whether contact is virtual or actual. Affective labour foregrounds corporeality and bodily states which, of course, also impinge upon thinking and mood, the creation of joy or sadness. As Hardt and Negri spell out, we are here dealing with ‘biopower’, or the visceral ‘productive capacities of life’ . The argument here turns on the significance of an increasingly prevalent form of power which parasitizes the vitality of the affective life of living labour, instituting new modes of enclosure in a bid to extract value from affect. What if we take Saw's villain, Jigsaw, seriously and consider the film’s violence and threat less as torture – a twisting to breaking point, exhausting the person’s usefulness at the point of confession or bodily collapse – and more as innervation, as a kind of galvanism and harvesting of the affective potentials of the human body? Jigsaw’s aim is to provoke affect, not simply to tear apart. The games foregrounded in the film revolve precisely around the stimulation and channelling of intense surges of affect, of life force.

Keywords:societies of control, affective labour, torture porn
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P303 Film studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Media)
ID Code:11833
Deposited On:09 Sep 2013 15:11

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