Reel Cultures vs. Real Cultures: Continuing the Conversation on Under-representation in Film

While we’re celebrating Women in Horror Month, The Whorer would also like to address the subject of under-representation in the film industry more generally.

With the racial controversy around Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained (you can find a tasting of it here, here, and here) and February also being African-American / Black History Month, I want to highlight a book written by my favorite author, bell hooks, titled Reel to Real: Race Class and Sex at the Movies. One of the issues hooks explores is the social impact of white filmmakers creating content about black culture, discussing films like Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction as well as others like Jennie Livingston’s documentary Paris is Burning. She also writes about black filmmakers like Spike Lee (who has also contributed to the Django conversation), Charles Burnett, and Julie Dash, and meditates on the future of black cinema. (And for all you locals, there’s a piece on Larry Clark’s and Nashville native Harmony Korine’s Kids.) The book is a mix of essays and transcribed conversations. It’s not horror focused, but it’s an important topic nonetheless. And if you’re worried about it being too academic or dense, don’t be! Her writing style is very accessible and straightforward. Continue reading

GMX Follow Up: Nerdy Sexists vs. Sexy Nerdists

For the most part, Fem and I’s experience at Geek Media Expo (GMX) was positive. We were impressed with the vibe of inclusiveness and did not witness any overt sexual harassment. Our attending GMX was in many ways an experiment. We were testing the waters, attempting to see for ourselves if the environment at pop culture and technology conventions was as hostile as it is sometimes portrayed. This problem got a lot of press recently when some trolls pinged the wrong woman at NY Comic Con, but this is an old issue. Mags the Axe, gaming podcaster extraordinaire, does an annual panel about sexual harrasment at cons. Not to mention the sad need for CREEPER penalty cards at DefCon , and public push back over emergence of “brogrammer” culture.

Though we had a relatively pleasant time, there was an explosion of sexist incidents within geek culture on or around Halloween weekend when we were pre- and post-gaming our episode about GMX. I wanted to give a quick run down and relate some of the incidents back to thoughts that came up during our GMX episode. Fem tweeted this story about an online BDSM community’s reactionary hostility to one member’s account of public harassment.  ‘Geek’ and ‘kink’ are kissing cousins. The same weekend at GMX there was a vampire themed fetish ball here in Nashville. We met the promoter at GMX. Linked in the above story, is SkepChick’s parallel experience within the (thoroughly geeky) skeptics community; i.e., dare say anything about male misbehavior and start receiving death threats. As we mentioned in our episode, also taking place in Nashville during GMX was the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry Conference from which this tweet emerged: Continue reading

Roseanne: Halloween Edition

I LOVE Roseanne. One of the best television sitcoms ever and here’s why:

The Conners are a working class family and in addition to confronting classism the writers weren’t afraid to address issues around the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and mental illness. And beyond that, they weren’t afraid to expose flaws in their characters. Even though they have good intentions, the Conners are often shown as naïve and ignorant and the strength of the show really is its character development and ability to document the consciousness-raising of said characters in ways that the audience can relate to. Although the show is a comedy, it’s also real life. All of the characters are dynamic – there aren’t some that are good and some that are bad. They all have strengths and they all have weaknesses and their ability to maintain who they are and still manage to grow as individuals through way of the show’s “teachable moments” is truly genius.

Another (and somewhat superficial) reason I love Roseanne is the value it places on Halloween. Halloween is my absolute most favorite holiday and much like it is with the Conners, I have very fond childhood memories of celebrations past. In the commentary, Roseanne Barr talks about how the Halloween episodes always had the biggest budgets and were the main holiday special as opposed to other shows that chose to highlight holidays like Christmas. Thus, in 2006, Anchor Bay decided to release a best-of Roseanne Halloweens DVD. For this reason, coupled with the one above, there is not a more appropriate time than October for The Whorer to share with you its love of Roseanne! Continue reading

Express Yourself this Halloween!

Happy September! Now that autumn is upon us and it’s socially acceptable to start decorating / planning for Halloween, I’m going to share some PAR-TAYYY ideas!

As of late, two reality TV shows have been rocking my world – RuPaul’s Drag Race and Project Runway. With Halloween around the corner, I can’t think of two more appropriately themed shows to inspire some monstrous creations. The Whorer emphasizes feminist and queer issues in the horror genre and so naturally, fashion and gender expression are a regular part of our discussions, but most people don’t really give a shit about socially deconstructing gender. However, with a holiday like Halloween, when people often choose to put on costumes and transform into people or things they’re not, it’s the perfect opportunity to create dialogue AND have lots of fun. Continue reading

Episode 13 continued…more on Donnie Darko

As Meredith and I discussed in Episode 13 of The Whorer podcast, Donnie Darko (2001)* is very similar to Jacob’s Ladder and arguably better. It’s fair to say that Donnie Darko is more articulate than its predecessor, but does it really succeed in challenging Reaganite values (particularly, if we think about Jacob’s Ladder as reinforcing them)? And because I believe there’s a connection, what’s it ultimately saying about the scientific method and atheism?

Challenging Patriarchy

True, as Meredith asserts in our discussion of Jacob’s Ladder, the ideology is not hidden in Donnie Darko. ’80s values are challenged straight on and Donnie believes that life is not as black and white as some people in his community make it out to be. This is why he becomes frustrated with the lifeline card exercise and why he speaks out at the assembly, but doesn’t he ultimately choose between the very two foundations he criticizes – fear and love? He argues that there’s an entire range of human emotions that need to be taken into consideration when making decisions and that they can’t be boiled down into two categories, but in the end it’s the love for his dead girlfriend and his family that drive him to go back in time and overcome his own fear – death (a fear of death explains why he sleepwalks – to avoid it and the impending airplane engine crash). Jacob, too must choose between fear and love. He is afraid to die and this is what’s preventing him from crossing over. Similarly, it is his acceptance of his pending death and his love for his dead son, Gabe, which help him complete his journey. Continue reading

Killer Whales: On the Big Screen and in Reality

Considering my heavy academic interest in humanities, most people are surprised when I tell them about my childhood dream to become a marine biologist. From about ages 9 to 14, my primary interest was in whales, and specifically orcinus orcas, or killer whales, and so while reading David Kirby’s hot off the press Death at SeaWorld (2012) I just knew I had to write about it. In fact, a couple months ago I strongly considered writing about the 1977 film Orca and I’m glad I held off as it’s the perfect horror movie to pair with Kirby’s book. Death at SeaWorld tackles the controversial issue of killer whales in captivity in light of the February 2010 killing of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau, while although fictional, Orca explores many of the same issues, particularly the debate about killer whale intelligence.

Much like the debate in The Snow Creature (1954), both of these pieces challenge the way we think about killer whales; particularly in relation to other animals, but also in relation to ourselves. Both discuss what scientists know about brain size, communication, and social customs for example, and both also suggest that as humans it’s difficult to completely comprehend these creatures’ intelligence. Orca even goes one step further and asserts that perhaps their intelligence rivals that of the human species. But what are some of the incidents which cause us to question the consciousness of killer whales? It seems captivity, for better or worse, has greatly fueled the debate. Continue reading

“You’re right, Mulder.” X-Files, Part 2

Back in May I posted some thoughts about Agents Scully and Mulder’s relationship throughout the first two seasons of X-Files and now I’m back to talk about it some more! And even though I’m well into season 6, I want to discuss some key things that happened in season 4.

1. Scully starts calling Mulder on his shit.

In the opening scene of episode 13, Scully does the unthinkable! While staring at Mulder’s name plate she inquires into why she doesn’t have a desk in their office. This is a question I’ve been asking ever since Scully refused to spy on Agent Mulder for the FBI, so it’s about damn time! Of course, in typical self-absorbed Mulder babble, Mulder responds, “I always assumed that was your area,” pointing to a corner. Scully replies, “Back there…” And smart-ass Mulder, a bit irritated and defensive, responds, “Okay, so we’ll have them send down another desk and there won’t be any room to move around here, but we can put them really close together. Face to face. Maybe we can play some Battleship.” Continue reading