Impure Imagination: American Horror Story: Asylum – 2.11, “Spilt Milk”
Left unchecked, Ryan Murphy can wreak havoc on a show, and not necessarily in a good way. American Horror Story as a property in and of itself is a test of balance for Murphy, and Brad Falchuk seems to be there to tip the scale so that their shows run more cogently, so they think. Murphy’s extremism in sentimentality and camp is supposed to be checked by Falchuk’s seemingly egalitarian approach, which has felt more exertion in Asylum than it did in Murder House. That seems to come off in certain aesthetic and formal choices: “Spilt Milk” presents its shocker of a beginning with a transaction with a prostitute that specializes in a fetish involving breast milk. That button pushing concept sounds like a Murphyism, but the camera angles, ostensibly chosen by AHS veteran Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, but the focus and concentration on Johnny (returning cast mate Dylan McDermott) feels more like Falchuk wanting to reign in the weirdness with mapped out nuance. Read the rest of this entry »
Tear You Apart: On American Horror Story and Rape
Sarah Paulson leans over the bed and whispers, “The more you scream, the more he likes it.” She’s speaking to a young junkie being violently, viciously raped by a demon. You can’t look away because all angles are covered, all sections revealed, and all vulnerabilities taken advantage of.
The premier of American Horror Story: Hotel brought with it the usual suspects: cinematic allusions, actresses spitting venomous lines of dialogue, hot men that are just there, and, well, rape. It’s the third time in Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s anthology series that the pilot episode has used rape as both a plot point and a provocation. Game of Thrones, another show widely criticized for its depiction of rape and sexual violence, could be argued to portray those scenes with more “taste” in comparison. But at the core of AHS’s sexual violence, which has been employed at least twice every season, is not only lazy provocation, but a deep cynicism for human relationships as a whole.