Welcome to this year’s Neutral, which emerges as a result of our students’ hard work, dedication and creative minds. This year has seen significant changes in the Media and Film Studies programmes and the ways in which Neutral has been produced. Not least, this involves us moving onto a digital platform and exploring the possibilities that are opened up by online environments.

This has been approached by our editors and contributors not just as a shift in technological mode and as an opportunity to work with the fantastic team at Plump Digital, but as a springboard for creativity, dialogue and debate and we are hugely proud of the result. This year has also seen an increased input from our alumni, and we’re delighted that some of our ex-students have volunteered many, many hours to the development and completion of this edition.

When the editorial team first met in October 12 to discuss directions and thematics for this year’s Neutral, inevitably many of the bleaker aspects of today emerged as areas of interest: political strife and disillusionment, sinister and disturbing press activities, the on-going economic crisis and the effects that this is having and will have on our students and graduates. One overwhelming issue arose which we began to refer to as authenticity anxiety: revelations about entertainers and sports stars who have previously been placed on pedestals. Horsemeat sold to us as convenience food, conspiracy theories abound and the insistence that an augmented reality will dazzle and not disturb.

I came away from these meetings a little crest-fallen as to the state of our ever mediated world and the pressures that our students will no doubt face. This soon changed as our collaborations and content developed. I’ve seen genuine hope for community action in our articles, authentic belief in people and their capacity for positive change and very real creative, critical and inspiring engagement from our contributors.

There is always an element of nostalgia and melancholy as we bid farewell to our fantastic final year students, who have throughout their degree taught us about our relationship to media and the arts. On our recent field trip to Madrid, one soon to graduate student was reading on the plane an inspiring tome on the philosophy of one Philip Dunphy and it is from here that I take this year’s inspirational quotation:

“If you love something, set it free, unless it’s a tiger.”

Keith McDonald

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