Gerald Sim is associate professor of film and media studies at Florida Atlantic University. He is the author of two books, The Subject of Film and Race: Retheorizing Politics, Ideology, and Cinema (Bloomsbury 2014) and Postcolonial Hangups in Southeast Asian Cinema: Poetics of Space, Sound, and Stability (Amsterdam UP 2020).
Sim’s first book was a Neo-Marxian consideration of film theory’s engagement with race, based on a doctoral dissertation at the University of Iowa supervised by Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto. His second, Postcolonial Hangups in Southeast Asian Cinema, is an interdisciplinary journey through a refreshing set of unique aesthetics in the cartographic cinema of Singapore, Yasmin Ahmad’s aural stagings of Malaysian soundscapes, and the recursive comfort of generic stability in Indonesian films after Reformasi. These expressions in form, overdetermined by national encounters with colonial history, reflect Southeast Asia’s distinctive relationship to colonialism and transcend popular postcolonial tropes such as hybridity and mimicry. The book, which pauses self-critically to reflect on how critical theory engages with the non-West, expands on Sim’s essays in positions, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, and Film Quarterly. The research and writing for Postcolonial Hangups in Southeast Asian Cinema took place over the course of two Senior Visiting Research Fellowships at the Asia Research Institute, and the Lee Kong Chian NUS-Stanford Distinguished Fellowship on Contemporary Southeast Asia.
Sim has published in a range of other academic venues, namely Convergence, Discourse, Rethinking Marxism, Projections, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, and Asian Cinema. His writing includes essays about data-Platonism in the film Moneyball, Netflix’s data operations and its place in media history, CNBC personality Jim Cramer’s Marxist investment strategy, Edward Said’s influence on film studies, film music theory, and Hollywood’s transition to digital cinematography.
Sim’s current work is situated at the intersection of film studies and science and technology studies. The book examines the ways in which a techno-media industrial complex rehearses data epistemologies that govern agency in digital politics, focusing specifically on cinema’s influence on our sociotechnical imaginings of data, algorithms, and “AI.” This study highlights films that are prominent in the data-cultural imaginary such as Moneyball, Minority Report, and The Social Dilemma more recently, and weighs the limits that these iconic texts impose on technological literacy and digital politics. These films structure how we understand Big Data, what we expect of this technology, how we feel about the people who control it, and most important, how we react both personally and politically to their encroachments on our privacy, economy, and society. The project develops out of earlier writing.
“How can you not be romantic about baseball? Or how we are Platonic about data” was published in Convergence in 2019. The article examines how the film Moneyball narrativizes the idea of Platonic knowledge to nurture public complaisance to the authority of experts and tech CEOs. “Individual Disruptors and Economic Gamechangers” is a chapter in the collection The Netflix Effect, edited by Kevin McDonald and Daniel Smith-Rowsey. The piece questions the discourse of disruption as well as the titular promise of freedom that are proffered by the tech industry. Sim plans to expand these discussions in several directions, including author Michael Lewis’s contribution to public discourse, the rise of behavioral economics, Ad Tech, and algorithmic content creation.