Summary: This video spoof of the classic American psychological horror film The Shining (1980) can be used to teach the concept of a cultural trope or, a highly recognizable cultural formula, narrative, or pattern. Specifically, the clip takes scenes from the original movie and arranges them according to the formula of a typical romantic comedy movie trailer, which includes a predictable set of characters, plot line, (male) voiceover, and background music. This spoof is particularly effective in that the cultural trope of the romantic comedy becomes even more apparent when we see it applied to such a familiar story about horror. The clip can also be used to illustrate Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer's concept of the culture industry, whereby contemporary cultural productions have become gimmicky imitations, routinized and commodified through mass media. Instructors can further highlight the concepts of the cultural trope and the culture industry by screening the trailer for the romantic comedy In Good Company (2004) alongside this spoof of The Shining, and viewers can be encouraged to identify the parallels between the two clips. To view the original trailer for The Shining, click here. For related clips on The Sociological Cinema, click here for a post on the cultural trope of the "Straw Feminist" in film and TV, and here for a post on how the culture industry recycles cultural content in Disney films.
Submitted By: Valerie Chepp