When You Are Engulfed in Flames: What’s Left of “Paris is Burning”’s Legacy

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Paris is BurningOnce every season, RuPaul gathers her remaining gurls, brings them to the front of the “Werk Room”, gives them fake frames to hold over their faces like a monocle, and announces elegantly, “In the grand tradition of Paris is Burning, the library is now open.” The queens, on RuPaul’s Drag Race, proceed to read – make snarky insults at one another, kind of like a roast – the rest of the queens, and whomever makes the cleverest and wittiest jabs wins the mini-challenge. This is what is left of Paris is Burning. The embers that still glow are, shall we say, a bit appropriative. “Werk”, “Realness”, “Shade”, and the rest of them have all entered into a cultural lexicon that is no longer exclusive to the community from whom it was basically taken (some of the vernacular stems from AAEV), and though Jennie Livingston’s documentary still exists as a cultural touchstone, it’s only in the most “basic” of ways. Read the rest of this entry »

Looking: On the Objectification of Male Bodies

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chris-prattIt is becoming slightly more popular, of late, to talk about the idea of the objectification of men. In Out Magazine, Kit Harrington, of Games of Thrones fame, spoke on this, saying, “I found it unfair, really, some of the stuff I read [in response to being labeled a sex symbol],” he says. “I was making a point, which was that I think young men do get objectified, do get sexualized unnecessarily. As a person who is definitely in that category, as a young leading man in this world, I feel I have a unique voice to talk about that. I was making a point to sort of say, ‘It just needs to be highlighted.’ With every photo shoot I ever go to, I’m told to take off my shirt, and I don’t.” Conversely, Chris Pratt, whose transformation from the oafish dude on Parks and Recreation to the charismatic leading man of Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World, argued that, in the name of equality, “it’s important to even things out. Not objectify women less, but objectify men just as often as we objectify women.” But, here’s the thing; I don’t think men can be objectified. By heterosexual audiences at least. Read the rest of this entry »

Toil and Trouble: The Repression of Women in the American Dream and Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby

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(Author’s Note: This was my final paper for my Film and Dream class.)

Looking over Manhattan almost with a glare, the lavish apartment complex that Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and her husband Guy (John Cassavetes) tour is the stuff that dreams are made of. He’s a somewhat struggling actor, she’s… what is she? Rosemary is Guy’s wife. And as he begins to ascend into fame, and she is left with little more to do than take care of their as yet unborn child and fend off the nosey neighbors, an anxiety oozes into her mind that seems not to concern her husband. They may have finally made it, they may have finally achieved the American Dream, but that dream, as represented in Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, is regressive, serves only to benefit men, to repress women, and uphold a restrictive familial ideal. It’s really just another nightmare.  Read the rest of this entry »

Looking for Home: Mad Men and Buddy Holly’s “Everyday”

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don.driving

Do you ever long for true love from me?

I don’t know why, but Buddy Holly’s “Everyday”, contrary to its lyrical content, has always struck me as a rather haunting tune. It’s deceptively simple, employing almost nothing more than what sounds like a music box, Holly’s ostensibly feverishly jolly vocals, and some percussion to keep the rhythm. And despite the fact that the track seems to merely present something sweet and lovely, the testament of a young man yearning for the love of another woman, it is, frankly, kind of creepy. It’s hard to call it much else, especially given the fact that every time I’ve ever heard it, personally, it was used deliberately, to subvert or pervert tone, to be used ironically to dismantle something situationally.Even in Mad Men.

[SPOILERS BEWARE!]
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Sex Work and Play: Bruce LaBruce and Rick Castro’s “Hustler White”

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zoom_1425596335_hustlerwhiteOne can’t accuse of queer filmmaking icon Bruce LaBruce of not being daring, with films like No Skin Off My Ass, Otto, Super 8 ½, and, most recently Geontophilia (which is considerably tamer than this film), each unapologetically tackling not only issues of queerness, but of different facets of sexuality, identity, and their intersections. And Hustler White, a ‘90s films that has ‘80s sex appeal written all over it, is LaBruce perfectly balancing those discourses, but with an injection of cleverness, and a dose of emotionality. Read the rest of this entry »

A Dream is a Wish Your Sinful Heart Makes: On “Eyes Wide Shut”, Wish Fulfillment, and Monogamy

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eyes-wide-shut(Author’s Note: This paper was written for my Film and Dream class. My professor liked my cover page.)

In this gigantic mansion, practically a wet dream for those turned on by wealth porn, cloaked and masked figures stand by the perimeter, watching as Dr. Bill Harford (Tom Cruise) is asked to doff his own disguise, after having explored rooms that seemingly fulfilled his erotic fantasies. These dreams, crafted by Stanley Kubrick, at first exemplify the Freudian assertion of wish fulfillment and then transform into nightmares that exist plainly as perilous reality, bouncing around ideas of gender politics, desire, and monogamy. Through heightened fantasy and looming danger, Eyes Wide Shut asserts that wish fulfillment isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Read the rest of this entry »

Let My Lady Drive: Leos Carax’s “Holy Motors” as Feminist Critique of the American Film Industry

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large_holy_motors_blu-ray_01(Author’s Note: I wrote this for my spring semester class Film Analysis freshman year. I’m sure you’ll be able to tell.)

Oscar (the chameleonic Denis Lavant) is the consummate thespian, inhabiting his roles so thoroughly that he seems to disappear entirely into them. It seems notable and perhaps problematic that a film like Holy Motors which is so defined by the search for identity, both with regard to the Actor as well as cinema as an art form, that it be so focused on a man and on what that man does, and that it be directed by a man. A larger issue within the film world in general is the lack of female representation behind the scenes, and such a problem would resonate with this film… unless one chooses to read the film as Edith Scob’s driver as the director. Leos Carax may have cleverly and subversively addressed a very serious issue within the film industry with the inclusion of a seemingly innocuous and unnoticeable character. The argument will be made that the entire film exists as a self-aware critique of those industry problems. Read the rest of this entry »