Touching Disney: Loneliness and Sources of Comfort in the Digital Age

New Formations - ISSN 0950-2378
Volume 2023 Number 109

Touching Disney: Loneliness and Sources of Comfort in the Digital Age
Zlatina Nikolova pages 62-77
DOI: 10.3898/NEWF:109.05.2023


Reflecting on moving image affect and human-computer interaction, the following paper considers the connections between elective states of loneliness and different spectatorship habits, including excessive media consumption and escapism into nostalgic media texts. Comparing the experience of communal spectatorship fostered by the space of the cinema in the early twentieth century to the accessibility and endless choice of moving image content facilitated by streaming platforms, it also considers the cultural value and the status of moving image as a manifestation in the world. 

Drawing on examples from streaming platforms’ content, and especially the model provided by Disney Plus, the following exploration illustrates the transformation of familiar media texts into emotionally charged objects of nostalgia, agents of deeply rooted childhood memories, and often, sources of comfort. Their presence on handheld devices facilitates new forms of engagement, including repetitive viewing, tactility and increased levels of intimacy and interactivity through the nature of touchscreens, including holding, scrolling, pinching, swiping and other performative gestures. Drawing on existing definitions of loneliness and emerging theories of audience engagement with touch-screen technologies, this paper considers practices of repetitive watching and binge-watching, new forms of viewing familiar content, as well as the spectators’ historic relationship to Disney content, as responses to loneliness triggered by emotional or social isolation.

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To cite this article
Zlatina Nikolova (2023) Touching Disney: Loneliness and Sources of Comfort in the Digital Age, New Formations, 2023(109), 62-77.

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