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28008 : Sound and Scandal: How Media Make Believe

Description: Why has lip syncing caused so many scandals and successes across media, from Milli Vanilli to drag? Primarily focusing on American film, TV, music videos, and animation, this course investigates how sound synchronization creates alternate identities and realities. We may think we know lip sync and voice synthesis when we see and hear them, but close reading unveils deeper issues of technological construction and gendered performances. For example, Singin' in the Rain dramatizes film's transition to sound as technicians struggled to match the "right" voice to the "right" body: a beautiful woman with an ugly voice lip syncs to the lovely voice of a woman who Hollywood deems unsuitable to appear onscreen. From The Jazz Singer to today's alarmingly authentic deepfakes and vocaloids, we will diagnose how vocal appropriation and synthesis conjure states of credibility and belief. We will ask how lip sync authenticates talking animals and faux rockers. Questions of star power and authorship confronting performances of gender and sexuality. No matter the motive, vocal manipulation can never be taken at face value, especially in an age when contortions between sounds and their sources can be passed off as truth.

Instructor(s): Amy Skjerseth

Offered: Spring 2021

Category: Elective

Cluster(s): Digital Moving Image, Electronic Music