Sean Cubitt – Anecdotal Evidence: Ecocritique from Hollywood to the Mass Image


Oxford University Press, ISBN-13: 978-0190065713, English, 294 pages, 2020, UK

In the essential process of reversing perspective from the traditional human-centred view to ecology as a whole, new strategies for analysing media systems can provide a fruitful methodology for understanding our position in decoding what we call reality. This book follows on from Cubitt’s early visionary EcoMedia, which uses a similar methodology, and the later Finite Media, which advocates an “eco-political media aesthetics”. In Anecdotal Evidence, ecocritical concepts are “extracted” from eight in-depth analyses of commercial films using an “anecdotal method”. This method involves a strategic distancing from the supposed objectification of data and a focus on the non-universal ‘particular’ that counterbalances the totalisation of the machine. Cubitt’s ability to dissect these films both theoretically and technically is undoubtedly remarkable. The conceptual, temporal and visually artificial paradoxes shed a healthy, unorthodox light on their meaning and redefine our subjective position towards the machine and the ecology surrounding them. Aside from being extremely inspiring for ecocritical as well as media and film studies, this text is a unique, highly enjoyable journey into understanding mass imagery, its digital nature and meaning, whils also laying the groundwork for what the author calls “aesthetic politics”.