Recent Comments

Handmaid's bonnet
Deborah James

Thank you for highlighting the issue of activist backlash in relation to our public lived experience, in contemporary terms (And, thank you, for the new to me reference, 45). I am finding it fascinating how backlash is subtlety woven throughout our popular culture. I would add that simply living as we choose, wanting more, questioning authority are presented as sources of social dissonance.

Turning my attention to matters of the gaze (Laura Mulvey), in which we the television audience are ‘invited’ into private space with the promise of pleasurable voyeurism - in particular, sexual intimacy and personal freedom. Here, pleasure is replaced with dread as Offred slowly and methodically undresses for the bath, or escapes her bedroom for a moment outside on a warm summer night.

Taking a moment to absorb episode 1 and to further ponder the idea of internal dialogue as forbidden currency of memory.

Handmaid's bonnet
Sharon Lauricella

Dr. James, you’ve beautifully addressed a key part of the construction of this program: The producers of this show wanted us to feel that it could actually happen here and now. In many ways, as you articulate, it already has. Issues with healthcare, equal pay, the concept of “women’s work,” and even dressing “like a woman” are part of our everyday experience, particularly as evidenced in the first 100 days of 45’s administration. The violence that we experience as a response/backlash to activism is both obvious and subtle: it is evident in our culture’s perpetuation of rape culture (victim blaming, “proving” rape and/or sexual assault), and other misogynistic yet culturally accepted norms (infantilization of women in popular culture, gender conformity, and even paying tax on “feminine hygiene” products). We can take action in bold ways such as in marches, yet also in more intimate ways such as in personal relationships and our use of inclusive language. Thanks for a provocative post on this important topic.

Shorna Pal

It is particularly wonderful to me that Abbas Kiarostami’s legacy to learn from sharing is being upheld by these contributions on In Media Res,specially in the current social climate of twitter, facebook and instagram. The word ‘share’ means something today, that filmmakers like Kiarostami were articulating through their work for many decades.

Arzu Karaduman

Thank you for your response and question, Pamella. I was thinking among similar lines when the film made me think about queerness and blackness. I felt there was something about blue: the power to appeal, mesmerize, and also queer. Blue appearing in moonlight or its power of appeal in directing our vision (“when blue light is scattered into your eye no matter which direction you look”, as cited in another research/publication by NASA) or other interesting points raised (as also outlined in Daren Fowler’s thesis) such as how it is usually the last color to appear in languages, how it is rarely found in nature, and how most people in the world say it’s their favorite color, all these qualities of blue make me think of the politics of its magical powers. If it is a favorite color for most people, can it also be effective in making them more open, hospitable, and accepting towards queerness? Blue plays a key role in Moonlight conjuring blaqueer magic, showing that we all understand and love Little, Chiron, Black.

Pamella Colvin

Moonlight symbolizes the systematic journey in examining what we consider normal. The correlation between blue as a color and queer cinema strikes a sudden crescendo as I contemplated more examples of your comparison. Moonlight envelops anyone who wants acceptance through introspection.

The variation of Moonlight in blue is Chiron’s interaction with his disconnected love that he has for his biological mom. As a result, Chiron evaluates the safety he has when he is in Teresa’s home. The haven that she presents offers dialogue for blue to be examined more fluidly. When Chiron has inquiries about if he is a “faggot” or not, Teresa and Juan provide comforting answers that help Chiron become more reassured that the feelings he has are valid. The jealousy Chiron’s mother has for his relationship with Juan and Teresa, illuminate in blue because she is unable to avoid her drug addiction and parent effectively.

As Chiron matures, he comes to the realization that the color blue in the moonlight can be explored to its full potential. Through his encounter on the beach, Chiron’s feelings were approved by his friend, Kevin. Chiron finally is enveloped with love from within. The conversation between Juan and Chiron at the beach assist in your examination of queer cinema satisfying our need for acceptance. How can we examine the process of internalizing queer cinema as individuals avoiding labels?

Eric Hahn
Eric Hahn

Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Steen! I hadn’t made that connection between the PA films and It Follows but since you’ve brought it up I am now planning a PA binge (full disclosure, I’ve only seen the first one). I especially like the way you’re opening up this idea of reading a closed-off future potentiality across a series of films which is, admittedly, something I had not considered!

Eric Hahn

Great post, this is really fascinating! I’m always a bit hesitant to fully embrace the marketing of “slowness” as a counter to “speed-up” culture particularly because I would argue that both terms create a false sense of an embedded and ubiquitous social time that, to me, seems a bit problematic. I think what really interests me here is the possibility of reading this mediated “slow time” as a sort of biopolitical mechanism, essentially a virtual slow vacation that still allows one to stay firmly positioned within his or her particular economically and politically determined temporal space. I can imagine someone working a 12-hour shift, coming home and watching this as a nice refresher to boost his or her spirits for the next grueling shift! Not to mention the massive labor infrastructure that must be undergirding this whole production. How many production technicians and vehicle operators were pulling all-nighters (I might be getting a bit carried away here) to allow for a select audience, who have “expendable” time, to engage in this slow power tourism? Sorry if this comes off as rambling, it’s been a long day ;) Really wonderful post!

Eric Hahn

Really cool argument, I appreciate it a lot. The “dragging formal time” that you argue for is, I think, also present in the Paranormal Activity movies, where there is a similar dread of durée. Because so little happens, we project fear into the empty frame.

Interestingly, in connection to your argument about being cut off from future potentiality, the many sequels to Paranormal Activity are mostly prequels, thus going further into the past, rather than develop “more future.”

Also, although not presented through derelict buildings and urban blight, the PA movies also confront economic decay and collapse. So, despite these movies being very different from each other (It Follows and Paranormal Activity), it seems to me that there is both a formal and thematic overlap.

Andrew Kemp

Very interesting piece. Sports seem to both embrace and argue against the primacy of statistics and numbers, with the opposite position being “you have to play the game.” Numbers are being used to turn athletes into tradeable and salable commodities, and perhaps not coincidentally, this rose to prominence in front offices (at least in baseball) around the time that player free agency, and particularly salary arbitration, became more common. Numbers give people a way to point to the math, as if it can’t lie. But who builds the metrics?

This also reminds me of a conversation I heard the other day. I’ve been looking at wrestling video games, and I found an interview where Bret Hart, a long-retired pro wrestler, was complaining that Triple H had a much higher set of logistical numbers in a recent wrestling game release. Hart couldn’t believe he had been judged lower than Triple H—“he can’t lace my boots.” Nobody brought up, of course, that he was complaining about a fake set of numbers for a staged performance sport.