Overhearing the Unheimlich Home: Power and Proximity in “Shut Up Little Man!”

Spaulding, Hannah (2021) Overhearing the Unheimlich Home: Power and Proximity in “Shut Up Little Man!”. Journal of Sonic Studies, 22 . ISSN 2212–6252

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Overhearing the Unheimlich Home: Power and Proximity in “Shut Up Little Man!”
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Abstract

This article explores the relationship between home and the auditory through an examination of the “Shut Up Little Man!” recordings—secret tapes made by two men of their next-door neighbors’ fights. These recordings documented the vocal performances of an unheimlich domesticity, marked by poverty, violence, and what would become iconic phrases. Embraced as comedy, the tapes were traded and shared, gaining subcultural fan followings and broader popular cultural impacts. The “Shut Up Little Man!” recordings thus offer crucial case study of the permeability of the domestic soundscape, the struggle of ownership over sounds at home, the politics of eavesdropping, and the intervention of media technologies in these dynamics. Ultimately, this article argues that the tapes’ creation, power, and popularity stem from a desire to listen to the unheimlich home of the urban poor—a desire that underscores social distance, invites identification, and reminds us that proximity does not mean intimacy.

Keywords:sound studies, media history, cassette culture, The Uncanny, Sonic subcultures
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P300 Media studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Film)
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ID Code:46647
Deposited On:05 Oct 2021 15:37

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