Problems with Offscreen Spectatorial Bodies

I had a lot of problems with focusing on the lived body experience of the spectator the way Sobchack advocated in her essay for the following reasons I didn’t include in my essay:

  1. I wanted desperately to avoid solipsism
  2. but I had no access to an objective spectatorial experience short of putting a bunch of people in a room and forcing them to do a survey after watching these films. But then as the recent Judith Mayne essay we just read on Reception studies points out, even this will only yield a pseudo-scientific result as inherent in the primary research methodology will be the tester’s bias which cannot be totally excised.
  3. I considered doing a survey of reviews about the 3 films (Cat People, The Company of Wolves, Ginger Snaps) but found that not only was this a lot of work, it would still only yield an opinion of the films filtered through the lens of the individual reviewer. I began to grow despondent. Is there no way to achieve true objectivity???
  4. I didn’t trust my own reactions to the film as a fair representation of the ‘lived body’ experience because I had watched these films for the first time a long time ago and could no longer remember my initial reactions. And as a second time viewer I would not be able to fairly represent the experience of a first time viewer as these 2 viewing experiences are intrinsically different experiences of the film
  5. Furthermore, I found that as an avid horror fan, my reactions to the films may not be the same as other audience members’ reactions to the film. I can tell you now that as someone whose first film at the tender age of 3 is Poltergeist (1982), I have been greatly desensitized to the more visceral experiences one would associate with a horror film
  6. All of this anxiety about presenting an argument about the ‘lived body’ experience at the movies stems from my being unconvinced by Sobchack’s own explanation about her experience of seeing through one’s fingers as she watched Jane Campion’s The Piano (1993)



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