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Beyond Bias

Conservative Media, Documentary Form, and the Politics of Hysteria

Scott Krzych

Publication Date - 03 February 2021

ISBN: 9780197551226

272 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock

The first scholarly study of contemporary right-wing documentary film and video


Beyond Bias offers the first scholarly study of contemporary right-wing documentary film and video. Drawing from contemporary work in political theory and psychoanalytic theory, the book identifies what author Scott Krzych describes as the hysterical discourse prolific in conservative documentary in particular, and right-wing media more generally. In its hysterical mode, conservative media emphasizes form over content, relies on the spectacle of debate to avoid substantive dialogue, mimics the aesthetic devices of its opponents, reduces complex political issues to moral dichotomies, and relies on excessive displays of opinion to produce so much mediated "noise" as to drown out alternative perspectives or viewpoints.

Though often derided for its reliance on nonsense or hyperbole, conservative media marshals incoherence as its prized aesthetic and rhetorical weapon, a means to bolster the political status quo precisely by confusing those audiences who come into its orbit. As a work of documentary studies, Beyond Bias also places conservative non-fiction films in conversation with their more conventional counterparts, drawing insight from the manner by which conservative media hystericizes such issues as the archive, observational methods, directorial participation, and the often moral imperatives by which documentary filmmakers attempt to offer insight into their subjects.


  • Analyzes conservative documentaries, most of which have not received scholarly attention to date.
  • Offers a new theory of hysterical discourse as it relates to contemporary politics.
  • Navigates political theory, psychoanalytic theory, and documentary studies in order to present an original interpretation of conservative media/rhetoric in the US

About the Author(s)

Scott Krzych teaches Film and Media Studies at Colorado College. His teaching and research focuses on political media, documentary, psychoanalytic theory, and film-philosophy.


"Beyond Bias represents an epochal study of the revelatory power of conservative media. Rather than lambast conservative media sources for their ideological function, Scott Krzych embarks on an attempt to learn from them. In the process, he shows that overtly conservative works, made with the worst of intentions, have a great deal to teach us about the antagonisms that confront contemporary democracy. Krzych has shown that if one wants to understand our time, one must pay attention to what conservatives are saying — and to what Krzych is saying about them." -- Todd McGowan, author of Universality and Identity Politics

"This book does not think about conservative documentaries — let alone regard the films or their ideologies as curious objects under a critical microscope — rather, it thinks from them, and it takes them very seriously as sites of speculative political thought. This enables Scott Krzych to make fascinating and counter-intuitive claims about the ambivalent role political difference and its vicissitudes play in democracy." -- Eugenie Brinkema, Associate Professor of Contemporary Literature and Media, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Table of Contents

    Democracy, Media, Psychoanalysis

    Political Hysteria and the Traumatic Insights of Conservative Media

    Chapter 1
    Documentary Form, Hysterical Biases, and Democratic Representation

    Politics, Documentary Form, and Hysterical Discourse

    Chapter 2
    Biased Beliefs: Common Sense, Political Disagreement, and Fundamentalism in Religious Documentaries

    Chapter 3
    The Price of Participation: Representative Examples, Reactionary Rebuttals, and Other Documentary Pedagogies

    Chapter 4
    Observing the Presidency: Privacy, Publicity, and Interesting Economies of Attention

    Chapter 5
    Stockpiled Arguments: Archives of Difference and Paradigmatic Politics,”


    Post-Truth and Other Biases