Saturday, December 19, 2009

piles > piles

Vermont is a demanding mistress.  Furthermore, so is college.  While a full-time job seemed demanding, I'm going to go ahead and say school's just a bit more whiny at the moment.  Thus, further progress on this book has been delayed and reduced to (late) nights, (only some) weekends, and currently, winter break.  While I was still caught in the thick of the research, my files and notes and books and scraps and post-it notes and deranged doodles made sense to me.  Now, I'm working at just picking them back up and translating them to college-kid, dumbed-down English.  My most current list-goal-list isn't comprised of books to read or movies watched... that's a little too scary right now.  Even the horror movies I have stacked up next to me are looking a little too scary right now... fancy that. 

On the top of my list of priorities: making sense of the insanity.  This will translate to browsing through my old files and notes, and compiling a more concrete outline.  Then maybe breaking these big, bad topics into smaller ones.  More piles are what I need now--obviously, this is the only remedy to my initial issue of too many piles.  

My sub-focus, I suppose, of the moment is "Hair Die," how hair color affects a woman's status or role in the horror film.  From there, maybe I can leak back into the bigger issue: women in the horror film.  I'm still a zinester at heart, so much of my time this break will probably be spent breaking down (mentally?) topics into digestible piles for future articles.  I'd like to see some articulated brainwaves solidify by the beginning of next year.  At the very least, I'd like to post some late-night/early-morning b.s. rants.

Oh!  A resolution already. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Summer Update; or, She Speaks!

Let's skip all the "where have you been, young lady?" formalities for now.

Since the last time I stopped by, I've become something of an 'expert' in hair color.  Though blondes definitely dominate the bulk of hair color study, I did find one unusual book about redheads (a color close to my heart, and my scalp); and no offense brunettes, but it seems to be that most blonde-centric writers deal with you only to bring up that you are the OPPOSITE of what the point at hand.  Well, at least you get some space in the pages.  Which is more than I can say for natural redheads, and then all those brilliant, day-glo "outcast" colors.  Purple is very much so a color.  But you wouldn't know it, when the only aberration of natural hair coloration mentioned is in the form of peroxide.  Ick.

Aside from this, I've made a few trips to the Museum of Sex in New York (I know, all work and no play makes Jackie a dull girl), the NYPL, and the Rutgers' libraries.  I actually have another Rutgers trip this Friday; in case the books I picked up tonight don't last me past tonight, I suppose.  Foolishly, I ended up at the Alexander library when I meant to get my lost ass over to the Douglass location.  I didn't walk away empty-handed, though!

  • Stay Out of the Shower: 25 Years of Shocker Films Beginning with 'Psycho' written by William Schoell

  • Horror Film: Creating and Marketing Fear edited by Steffen Hantke

  • Dark Romance: Sexuality in the Horror Film written by David J. Hogan

I need to balance all these books out with a nice little queue I've accrued on Netflix for horror documentaries.  

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Blog, a Love Note.

I hate you, Blog.

No, wait, I don't mean that.

Well, actually, I really do.

I count on you to be my internet representation of my subconscious and inner dialogue, and here I go looking so spacey!  

And I blame you completely.

Monday, May 25, 2009

MisSinEma: Women in Film

So I recently finished reading From Reverence to Rape, written by Molly Haskell.  

Though I did pick up this compact little book pertaining to the history of movies--in general, to some extent, though focusing primarily on women in film--with the narrow-minded inclination of reading up on rape-revenge flicks of the 1970's... I was terribly mistaken: not to say I mind being wrong, on occasion.  I found that very little of 70's exploitation cinema was doted on (perhaps because the first edition of this book was put out in the twilight of the 70s) and in turn, I was directed towards a new concept for my ART v. CENSORSHIP section.  As though I need more distractions, right?

And this brings me to "MisSinEma: Women in Film."  This section is intended to remain a sidebar that only explores the area just behind the entrance of the cave, a sliver of the hidden surface of the iceberg, however you wish to picture this thing.  WIthout much explanation in the past, I've mentioned that I wish to research 
  1. Hair Die: How Color Affects Well-Being and Perceived Personality in Film (namely horror)
  2. Feminine Agency, Villainy, and Power through shades of darkness (film noir, over-exposed Hollywood, and most importantly, horror)
I don't expect "Hair Die" to become too complicated; from Haskell's text, I've picked a few interesting bits on hair color, including: 
  • the cliche of the "fair-haired and tiny" virgin and "dark and sultry" vamp
  • particulars of femme fetale hairstyling
  • readings into various "cartoon blonde" sex goddesses
  • the plainness/averageness of brunettes of sixties film
  • and perhaps most interesting of all, Hitchcockian punishment for ice-queen blondes

I would definitely like to ask the writer more about some of the above, dwelling perhaps on hair color perceptions in early, silent film (does variation in hair color, especially in films in which an actress would take on dual-personality roles, signify a change in "goodness" or "wealth", etc?).  With some serious scrounging, I may be able to turn up more on this.

The topic that has sparked a thousand library rentals, however, certainly must be Feminine Agency, Villainy, and Power.  And just last month, this would've been left completely out!  Having read From Reverence to Rape in its completion, I found there was so much to be said about the history of film... and this isn't limited to the horror genre.  Scholars dedicated to the subject have written several volumes and countless re-editions on the History of Film, and that would make for one massive, ramble-y sidebar.  Instead (and best of all: maintaining a thread of connection to the original topic!), I'll focus my attention to, quite self-explanatory, I know: Feminine agency, villainy, and power in film.  Again, I will be taking cues from Haskell's book, where she:  
  • Takes the side of the Difficult Woman who, in her "'unnatural' climb to success... did have to step on toes, jangle nerves, antagonize men, and run the risk of being loved." (p 5)
  • Explores Early Hollywood actresses never turning 'off,' and remaining, all the while, elusive and contradictory (a 'dumb blonde' could laugh her way to the bank on the more 'intelligent' audience members' dollars)
  • Prompts us, as the audience, not to take any actress's role too literally--not only are some of the most apparently transparent actresses true enigmas, but they held a power, up until the forties, at least, over viewers, no matter the character they happened to be playing.
  • Outlines the roadmap of film and characteristics accorded to each era: 20s film was 'progressive,' 30s sexually confident and equal, 40s suspicious of predatory (and oftentimes difficult to like) women, 50s sexually repressed (lack of power counts as power), and 60s and 70s as so-called 'liberated.' 
  • Sheds light on the battle of the liberations from 20s film, between social-minded flappers and mind-minded suffragettes: "... The 'emancipated woman' of the twenties was either a suffragette or a flapper, depending on what she wanted and how she chose to get it." (p 44)
  • Questions how we may identify "strength" in a female character: "The mistake is, first, to assume that only in 'male' roles can women fulfill themselves, and, second, to take labels and conventions at face value." (p 57)
  • Brings up the female force making up screen writers in the teens and twenties, as well as a handful of women directors.
  • Theorizes on the strength of voice and thus, the lack of strength granted to characters in silent film, and how the use of particular material objects attempted to speak louder than words
  • Blames the Production Code and in ways, censorship in general, on setting women's rights [to a good character or role] five steps back.
  • Tries out arguments on all sides to the Sexuality/Sensuality as Strength debate.
  • Chides some directors for enforcing and tainting characters (with seriously detrimental results for women) with their own biases and fears.
  • Pits "superwoman" and "superfemale" character philosophies against one another.
  • Points out how unappealing rebellion came to look on 60's and 70's female characters
  • Even has the energy to get into the concept of actresses as people, and how the D.I.Y. ethic of fame with no Big Studio Contracts shackled to their feet, translated into female power in Hollywood, and how it didn't.
Even with all this said, questions remain for Ms. Haskell.  Given the opportunity, I think I'd like to ask about censorship (comparing the Production Code to modern-day MPAA, whether the presence of censors serves as a catalyst for social change in the form of certain film endeavors, etc), reporting on film trends and history in general, the horror genre, rape revenge cinema, women behind the camera and writing the scenes, the viewing experience, and more I'm far too lazy to write out.

All in all, Molly Haskell's book has proved to be an invaluable find, despite my initial misreading of the title and Haskell's intentions.  At the heart of the matter, I'd have to say a good deal of Haskell's genius comes from her unwillingness to simply accept a classic's untarnished status as such; her analysis differs from the mainstream, where most critics seem to have an understanding that these movies, while sometimes wretched and wrought with flaws, may not be taken down from the mantle for anything more than the occasional tribute or undeserved accolade--much less fresh criticism!  Here, the movie must prove itself worthy of its garnered fame (or more accurately, at that point, dust)--she uses her inner critic for good, not evil.  She breaks down the "classics," and deconstructs the comfortably acknowledged movies so that no director can hide behind an elaborate reputation.  This is fair.  This is refreshing.  This is amazing.

Friday, May 22, 2009

"slasHERS" reading list

I would like to take this opportunity to assure all of you that I know what I'm doing, no matter how erratic it may currently seem.  That said, I'd like to briefly map out my latest train of thought.

It's no secret that everything will be filed away under the umbrella thesis of addressing ART v. PORN v. CENSORSHIP in a feminist critique of mainstream culture.  The "easiest" way to go about the subject matter(s) at hand was to begin by breaking everything down into three main categories: ART v. PORN; ART v. CENSORSHIP; and PORN v. CENSORSHIP.  Granted, it's become increasingly clear that several topics breach my self-designated pigeon-holes, I'd still like to pretend this is an efficient way of filing everything.

Currently, I'm working on ART v. CENSORSHIP: more specifically, a portion titled "SlasHERS," which remains dedicated to addressing Sexuality and Censorship in Horror films.  For months, I've been slowly softening my brain and traumatizing myself with Sunday morning rape scene montages and daily intakes of wretched remakes.  I'm still enjoying myself far too much, given the circumstances.  I also continue to accept interviewees for my "SlasHERS" questionnaire, and I advocate for the promotion of this particular project above all others (for now).  

Before delving too deeply into the history of women in film, or any of my more particular, newfound interests, I thought it proper to read up on the social context of the horror film.  Nothing is ever this simply, however.  My horror-centric research has remained true to its purpose, in examining:

_A Brief history on horror films, leading into why the genre is simultaneously so popular and so taboo (how films have mirrored cultural shifts, what the genre says about us as viewers/does it say anything?, what the current and future state of horrors look like...)
_Girls & Boys v. Death: *Gender in Horror *The History/context of a Final Girl *how boys v. girls are preyed upon as victims *how boys v. girls kill
_Technicalities (camerawork, conventions, "the norms of the abnormal"...)
_The Inescapable Sensuality of Death in Horror
_Exploring Artistic License: *namely, in rape revenge cinema (how much "should" be shown) *censorship in horror *overview of censorship in film
_How Controversial Ads Effect the Horror Experience
_Comedy in Horror


I have also begun developing a side-story on quirkier particulars through: 

(MisSinEma- a brief on the history of women in Hollywood)

_Hair Die: How Color Effects Well-being and Perceived Personality in Film
_Feminine Agency, Villainy, and Power: through shades of darkness (film noir, over-exposed Hollywood, and most importantly, horror)

More on this to come.

My summer reading list is about five miles long at this point, but my top priorities are:
  • Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood written by Mick LaSalle

  • Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema written by Thomas Doherty

  • The Book of Film Noir edited by Ian Cameron

  • Dark Romance: Sexuality in the Horror Film written by David J. Hogan

  • Horror Film: Creating and Marketing Terror written by Steffen Hantke

  • The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror written by David J. Skal

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

2 Weeks Notice isn't Sappy, it's Empowering!

I am totally aware I'm a wretched blogger.  As far as news flashes go: I just put in my two weeks notice last night, effective May 25.  My boyfriend's 22nd birthday, oddly enough.  

So I've been a little stressed over whether or not to take up another job to fill the "void" until college in August.  To be honest, however, I hated what that particular job was doing to me... and a bit of free time, so be spent fully on research may be quite nice.

Well, we'll see.

Currently, I'm reading From Reverence to Rape: the Treatment of Women in the Movies, and outlining a few key points:
*the general history of 'the treatment of women in the movies'
*Hair Dye: how hair color affects perceived personality in film
*and Feminine Agency, Villainy, and Power: through shades of darkness (film noir, over-exposed Hollywood, etc)

I've just concluded the 20s (who knew so much could be said about silence...) and with the advent of the 30s, so also arrives the Production Code-- a predecessor to the MPAA, as far as I can tell.  Hopefully, I can draw some comparisons to the various levels of censorship in the 30's and current day film.

On the topic of censorship and early cinema, I'm also working my way through Complicate Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood, and Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930-1934.  Once I get to the 40s and film noir, I'll skip on over to the aptly titled The Book of Film Noir.  Though the densely-packed text intimidates me, I'd like to read through Valerie Steele's Fashion and Eroticism: the Ideals of Feminine Beauty from the Victorian Era to the Jazz Age... before the 20s completely escape my memory.

From all these, I would like to add to my newer topics of interest, that is to say "Hair Dye" and "Feminine Agency, Villainy, and Power: through shades of darkness...".  When I'm able to focus more completely on the topic of horror, I'll get my notes together, hopefully devise a system for sorting through various collected brainwaves (from "SlasHERS" interviews, all of which have been going terrific, so far!), and get my grimy, little hands on Shocking Representation: Historical Trauma, National Cinema, and the Modern Horror Film.  

I wish I could invent a few extra hours in the day, because I'm also gearing up for the documentary series "Indie Sex," which will discuss sex in cinema.  

My next paycheck should be quite hefty (my video store, including myself, has only three registered employees at this point... oh God, don't get me started), but all of it will go to dorm crap or tuition or medical expenses or car expenses or, or, or...  So the fact that my library doesn't carry this final book bothers me immensely.  Maybe I'll start taking donations...

Regardless, though this post reads more as a therapeutic monologue than informative blurb, it did feel absolutely great to get all this out.

I may now exhale! 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

UK Takes United Front Against Free Speech?

So this is interesting: the United Kingdom has drafted a black list of sorts, and will deny access to the country for those who have allegedly fostered "extremism or hatred."  Granted, I personally second the notion of giving certain members of this list a social slap on the hand (because a physical manifestation of my sentiments may, in their own right, foster "extremism or hatred").  But any action that denies free speech is scary, too.

I would love to hear more from you kiddies, though.

For a complete article, click it, baby! 

Home Office name hate promoters excluded from the UK

5 May 2009

Individuals banned from the UK for stirring-up hatred have been named and shamed for the first time, the Home Secretary announced today.

The list covers people excluded from the United Kingdom for fostering extremism or hatred between October 2008 and March 2009.

It follows the Home Secretary’s introduction of new measures against such individuals last year, including creating a presumption in favour of exclusion in respect of all those who have engaged in spreading hate. 
The Home Secretary Jacqui Smith also announced today that the government is now able to ban European nationals and their family members if they constitute a threat to public policy or public security.
In the period from 28 October 2008 to 31 March 2009 the Home Secretary excluded a total of 22 individuals from coming to the United Kingdom. It is not considered to be in the public interest to disclose the names of six of these individuals. The remaining 16 individuals are: 

Abdullah Qadri Al Ahdal

Preacher. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs and fostering hatred which might lead to inter-community violence.

Yunis Al Astal

Preacher. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs and to provoke others to terrorist acts.

Stephen Donald Black

Set up Stormfront, a racist website.  Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by promoting serious criminal activity and fostering hatred, which might lead to inter-community violence in the United Kingdom.

Wadgy Abd El Hamied Mohamed Ghoneim

A prolific speaker and writer.  Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to foment, justify or glory terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs and to provoke others to commit terrorist acts.

Eric Gliebe

Has made web-radio broadcasts in which he vilifies certain ethnic groups and encourages the download and distribution of provocative racist leaflets and posters. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by justifying terrorist violence, provoking others to commit serious crime and fostering racial hatred.

Mike Guzovsky

Leader of a violent group and actively involved with military training camps.  Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs and to provoke others to terrorist acts.

Safwat Hijazi

Television preacher. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by glorifying terrorist violence.

Nasr Javed

Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs.

Abdul Ali Musa

Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by fomenting and glorifying terrorist violence in furtherance of his particular beliefs and seeking to provoke others to terrorist acts.

Fred Waldron Phelps Snr and Shirley Phelps-Roper

Pastor and leading spokesperson of Westboro Baptist Church.  Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by fostering hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the United Kingdom.

Samir Al Quntar

Spent three decades in prison for killing four soldiers and a four-year-old girl. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs and to provoke others to terrorist acts.

Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky

Leaders of a violent gang that beat migrants and posted films of their attacks on the internet. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by fomenting serious criminal activity and seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts.

Amir Siddique

Preacher.  Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by fomenting terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs.

Michael Alan Weiner (also known as Michael Savage)

Controversial daily radio host. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts and fostering hatred which might lead to inter-community violence.
The tougher exclusions policy follows the Prime Minister’s commitment in the National Security Strategy to take 'stronger action against those we suspect of stirring up tensions' and the Home Secretary’s decision to introduce a presumption in favour of exclusion for extremists promoting hatred or violence.
Under the new policy we are preventing more promoters of hate from coming to the UK than ever before, with more than five being excluded a month as opposed to two a month under the previous policy.

Statement from the Home Secretary

Jacqui Smith said, 'Coming to the UK is a privilege and I refuse to extend that privilege to individuals who abuse our standards and values to undermine our way of life. Therefore, I will not hesitate to name and shame those who foster extremist views as I want them to know that they are not welcome here.
'The government opposes extremism in all its forms and I am determined to stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country. This is the driving force behind tighter rules on exclusions for unacceptable behaviour.'