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This is a slightly delayed response, but only because I feel more equipped to revisit SuperStar: The Karen Carpenter Story as a media object rather than a cinematic experiment.

This film was critically received by a range of peripheral subgroups.  Its post-digital aesthetics and its material experimentation gave it a challenging presence.  But the Barbie’s and the content were not why we watched this film in MCM230.  Rather, it was the film’s import into cult values, its animation by “aura”, and its status as a filmic “poor image.”  Together, these forces entrenching the film make Karen’s exploited silver screen tale an exemplary digital media object hosting a social and artistic multiplicity.

But when this animated apparition travels through these social and media subgroups, the critical observer dig deeper into the object’s compression.  When we compress our content, what details are erased?  Resolution?  Yes.  Sound quality?  Yes.  The intricate details of disorder and death?  Definitely.  And each time the film enters a spectator space, the compression due to travel reduces the object’s ability to communicate its complex content on untainted interpretive grounds.  The cult aura ascribed to this object only exemplifies the critical detachment that the film capitalizes on with, on one hand, its inherent defective materiality (the use of indifferent, plastic perfect dolls), and the bootleg aesthetics that keep the object vintage and intriguing (despite its obsolete depiction of eating disorders) on the other hand.  There is a danger when a particular reading of a racy text crystallizes in a subcommunity, but this film represents the dangerous transmutation of that chain of noncritical hand-me-downs into the aesthetic which continues to draw contemporary audiences.  Now, instead of questioning the destructive .  This film is poor image, or poor depiction of its referent, turned to a fetishistic ideology systematically reproduced through aesthetics irrelevant to its content.

The social-semiotic phenomena animating this film raises questions about the relationship between cultural knowledge and its “image” reproduction and how power is disseminated through particular networks of culture.