169 Seconds: 2008 – A Crisis Glossary

This video essay is an outtake from work on films on the 2008 financial crisis, published as Men Shouting: A History in 7 Episodes. Material distributed (on black screen) across Men Shouting is collected here with the accompanying images from the HBO film Too Big To Fail (2011) and the feature The Big Short (2015). My theme is the pleasure the films provide by granting access to a masculine heterotopia of jargon and capital. My principle of composition is ambivalence: I try to register the seductiveness of the access granted but render it exasperating. (As such, this is deliberately frustrating, irritating scholarship.) My method was to combine fragments of sectoral vocabulary — extracted from the films by programmer Lucie Vršovská — using fast dissolves and, sometimes, hard cuts, and to arrange alphabetically these clusters of vocabulary. I have refused the two films’ original aspect ratios and framing, again to complicate the pleasure they proffer. The video essay ends with a question to which the video essay itself is one possible answer.

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Thanks to Vika Paranyuk, Sidse Prehn Thomsen and Barbara Zecchi, and especially to Ariel Avissar and Marie Hallager Andersen, for feedback and guidance during the making of this work.

  • Editing, text, ambivalence: Alan O’Leary
  • Python: Lucie Vršovská www.lucie.dev

All images and sounds (cited according to fair use policies):

  • Too Big To Fail (2011), dir. Curtis Hanson
  • The Big Short (2015), dir. Adam McKay