CFP-Mystery Science Theater and the Culture of Riffing

full name / name of organization: 
Southwest Popular Culture Assocation 2014
contact email: 
rob.weiner@ttu.edu

Call for Presentations-Papers-Mystery Science Theater and the Culture of Riffing and the mash-up in popular culture.

Southwest/American Popular Culture and American Culture Association
http://southwestpca.org/

Make plans to join the Southwest PCA/ACA for our 35th annual conference, February 19-22, 2014, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Conference Center in beautiful Albuquerque, New Mexico
Hyatt Regency Albuquerque
330 Tijeras NW
Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA 87102
Tel: +1 505 842 1234 or 888-421-1442

The conference theme this year is: Popular and American Culture Studies: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow
The Area chair seeks papers/presentations on Mystery Science Theater and the culture of riffing and Mash-up. Due on November 1st 2013

In the fall of 1988 on a small public access channel, KTMA, in the St. Paul/Minneapolis area of Minnesota, a bizarre show appeared. It featured two hand-made, robot-appearing puppets and a man watching a movie and making comments to the screen. Little did its creator, Joel Hodgson, know that he had created a worldwide popular culture phenomenon known as Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST). The show lasted 10 seasons and spawned a theatrical feature film.
Now riffing movies, television, cartoons, and the rise of the mash-up have become very popular modes of expression. Twenty-three years after its cancellation, Mystery Science Theater is more popular than ever. The former cast members, through Rifftrax and Cinematic Titanic, continue to make audiences laugh and garner new fans.
Any aspect of the culture of riffing and Mystery Science Theater will be given consideration. However, in keeping with the theme of the conference SPECIAL ATTENTION will be paid to those proposals which discuss the distinctive American aspects of the show. How did Mystery Science Theater influence American Culture in a way that still resonates today in our transmedia world?

Some topics that could be discussed and some questions that might be answered include:
Pre-MST3K “riffing” like Mad Movies and the LA Connection.
Zombies and riffing (a good topic in light of the popularity of zombie studies)
iRiffs and the rise of personalized riffing by “amateurs”
Other fan riffing groups and individuals like Master Pancake Theater, Incognito Cinema Warriors, Josh Way, Laughterpiece Theater, etc.
Pre-MST3K riffing
Speaking of Animals
Fractured Flickers
Freaks and Geeks MST3K connection
Fan Culture and MST: The Misties (who are they and why)?
The original Sci Fi MST Game
Gender roles, women and MST
Frank Zappa and MST
Superhero movies (why are they so ripe for riffing)
Monty Python and MST
Comics and MST3K
Shakespeare and riffing
The remix of the movie trailer
The rise of “forgotten movies” that were used on MST
The rise of B-movie popularity as a result of being on MST
Christmas movies and MST
The pre-MST comedy careers of the cast members
The KTMA years compared to the Comedy Central Years compared to the Sc Fi Channel years.
Movies that deserve the MST treatment but never received it
Mental Hygiene films and MST
The legal battle between Best Brains and Mr. Sinus Theatre (the roots and causes of this)
What were/are the cultural implications of the original invention exchanges in those early episodes of show?
What are the differences in the styles of Mike Nelson and Joel Hodgson as hosts for the show?
The theatrical feature film attempt, MST 3000 The Movie (trials and tribulations of getting director Jim Mallon’s big budget version of MST to the screen)
Jim Mallon’s genius as producer/director/character
Modern companies such as Laugh Tracks and MST’s influence on them
The differences of Tom Servo and Crow (difference in style and tone)
Actor Joe Don Baker and MST — a perfect marriage
Spy movies and MST
Monsters and MST
Attempts at creating continuity within the “host segments” — what worked and what didn’t (the difference in continuity between Comedy Central episodes and Sc Fi channel shows)
Cast characters (e.g., Mad Scientists, Evil Mothers, and weird aliens)
The hardcore statistical analysis found on websites by dedicated fans (e.g., riffs per show and other weird statistical data — reasons for these weird statistical things)
MST and the Web — how did the Internet help create such a rabid following?
Popular music and MST
Mary Jo Pehl, Bridgett Nelson, and the influence of women writers on MST
MST fan culture and university culture
The MST influence on the show Freaks and Geeks
TV’s Frank and MST and Frank Coniff’s role in America’s Funniest Home Videos
A look at the influence of music on MST (one could hear a reference to an obscure British band like Hawkwind on the same show as one that might mention a household artist like Brittney Spears or Johnny Cash, for example)
Bill Corbett as a playwright and performer
MST and Tape Trading Culture (Keep circulating the tapes some of the MST episodes admonished the fans) The lost episodes of MST: The Green Slime, Thunderbirds etc., Where are they? What were they like? Will we ever see them??
Crow, Tom Servo and the bots in Popular Culture: Non-MST appearances (which continue to this day)
MST and the First Amendment to the Constitution: Why did the show always thank the authors of the First Amendment? How did the show use it? Did it push boundaries constitutionally?
KTMA and MST: Just how could a show like this get on cable access television in the first place? How did it become a movement? Were there glimpses of the greater things to come in those earlier episodes or not?
Torgo and Ortega: Cult Figures and MST — why so popular with fans?
The worse a movie is, the funnier and better an episode of MST: Why is that?
Paul Chaplin, unsung writer on MST
The MST writers were, and continue to be, masters of Popular Culture in all its forms (film, music, politics, etc.)
Movie references and MST — cultural and historical implications
MST terms and the vernacular (e.g., “Movie Sign”, “Poopie”, “Huzzah”) and their adaptation into everyday language)
What was Josh Weinstein’s role in those early MST episodes and his post MST career as producer?

Please send a title and 100- to 250-word abstract by November 1st 2013.

Please submit your title, and 100- to 250-word abstract through our website database, which can be accessed at:

http://conference2014.southwestpca.org/

A video tutorial for submissions is available at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSITP_57txc.

Please note there are monetary awards for the best graduate student papers in a variety of categories.
See http://southwestpca.org/conference/graduate-student-awards

The organization also has a new open access peer reviewed journal that encourages you to submit your work to.
See: Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy http://journaldialogue.org/

35th Annual Conference Southwest Popular/American Culture Association February 19-22 2014 annual conference
at the Hyatt Regency Hotel & Conference Center in Albuquerque,
New Mexico.
Submission Deadline: 11/1/13
Priority Registration Deadline 12/31/13
Conference Hotel:
Hyatt Regency Albuquerque
330 Tijeras NW,
Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA 87102
Tel: +1 505 842 1234 or 888-421-1442
Rob Weiner
Humanities Librarian, Texas Tech University Library
rweiner5@sbcglobal.net
http://southwestpca.org/

cfp categories: 
cultural_studies_and_historical_approaches
film_and_television
gender_studies_and_sexuality
graduate_conferences
interdisciplinary
international_conferences
popular_culture
twentieth_century_and_beyond