Articles, websites, essays that supplement our discussion of the coming Narrative Otherways. 

Recognizing how we create (all together now!)

Everything is a RemixThis is a webvideo seriesby Kirby Ferguson.  The first three of four in the series are posted on the site, the fourth promised this fall.

I’m very encouraged by Mr. Ferguson’s premise, presented in such snappy fashion here, that the single strong man act of creation and invention is not in fact how innovation and change and discovery happens.  Has happened.  Ever, really.  But in fact creativity entails remixing and building on all and everything that has come before in the fantastic and collective endeavor we all share.  He encourages us to build upon and live within as much as possible this creative commons – just now beginning to be understood, and demonstrated by the likes of Mr. Ferguson.  Yes!

Protecting the girl cells within us all

Embrace your inner girlTEDIndia, 2009.  This 19:55 minute rant of inspiration by Eve Ensler, who is perhaps best known for her “Vagina Monologues” (a name that has always caused me, prudish one, discomfort – but now that’s done, perhaps we can move on.)  This TED talk is a stream of consciousness urgent ramble, yes, with its rococo building to crescendo that finally outs itself as a one woman theater piece.  But still she’s doing the hard work of proselytizing for change in a larger world.  She speaks bluntly of the violence against women worldwide, and then the power of girls and transformation, celebrating, naming the girls who survive as well as the girl surviving within us.  A public proclamation about where our future lies, with the girl within, if we can come to value her. Worth the ride, if you can just sit back and go along.

Rumpus Radio interview with the writer/director of Blue Valentine

As part of our Discourse on Women’s Promise in Blue Valentine we’re linking to an audio interview with the movie’s writer/director Derek Cianfrance from Rumpus Radio, a feature of Stephen Elliott’s The, one of our favorite sites for cultural musings of a literary bent.

In it Mr. Cianfrance touches on his script reason and writing (over 50 drafts!) the final result, such an arduous effort of love, being chucked when his unusually-willing-to-experiment actors, Williams and Gosling collaborated on yet more rewriting as a part of their equally arduous effort in the creation of their characters, Cindy and Dean.

And don’t miss the sounds of Cinafrance’s little boy gurgling and breathing away in the audio background.  Lovely.

What the younger set’s up to

Check out Finding Kind, 2010.  A website, a cultural phenomenon of sorts, and a documentary, by Lauren Parsekian and Molly Thompson.  “There’s a universal truth shared by all females.  A truth that’s been swept under the rug for generations…about females and how vicious we can be to each other…”

I know, I know, this is a bit of a stretch, this documentary/confessional/vanity piece/social movement/pep rally/yeah girls! big, rambling everything but the kitchen sink kind of video that documents a couple young gals’ “road trip” round the country connecting with mostly young women to dig away at this phenomenon of female to female bullying.  And I’m clearly not the prime demographic for this.  But it lingered in my thoughts after I watched it in a theater filled with young women and girls, some brought by their mothers.  Lingered so much so that I concluded these two energetic women are doing some worthwhile archeological work here.  Take a looksee and maybe a pass it on, especially to your daughters and your friends with daughters who just might receive a little help in finding their way through that oft and particular minefield of growing up female in this culture.

A  Discourse Referral for Black Swan

We’ve left the task of discoursing on Black Swan, because we simply could not have set it down in words any better, to Jean Lenihan and her recent breathlesspace post, In Defense of Black Swan.  It’s clear Jean knows from the inside out what the dancer knows, that  “like no other art, ballet consumes its young.”  A fine read that explains much.  Brought to our attention by netizen Catherine Hillenbrand.

On the Nature of Love in Bright Star by Jane Campion

…But this is not as in Muse.  For that see Picasso…

For the Picasso-ian take on Muses, which we in our discoursing on love certainly do not mean, we cite Gary Faigin who so lucidly framed it in a KUOW radio discussion with Jeremy Richards on a Picasso show at the Seattle Art Museum. The link to podcast of the program, for whatever reason seems to no longer be active.  At least after my somehwhat cursory attempt to re-establish it. So, we’ll simply quote from Gary.

It’s a very dark story.  Picasso was a user.  And ultimately it was a mixed bag.  It was a real Faustian bargain.  If you agreed to become close to Picasso, particularly if you were of the female persuasion, you would be immortalized, you would be transformed….but on the other hand you came out the other end a completely different person and in many cases almost sucked dry.  There were several suicides.  A lot of shrinkage based on the wreckage that Picasso created.  What do you need to sacrifice to make your art?  And what level of sacrifice….It’s a question for all of us.  How much of our relationships with other people is truly disinterested?   When are we feeding off our intimates and when are we truly nurturing them?  Yeah, I suppose it really is a sort of daily transaction all of us make…”

Dusted off from the collective archives of FemFilmCrit

mulveyVisualPleasureNarrativeCinema  Laura Mulvey, Screen 16.3, Autumn, 1975.

I decided to include this seminal article, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” by Laura Mulvey from 1975  because it had such an impact on how we all looked at movies at a time when much about the image of woman was swirling round right up there on the surface of things.

I know, some heaving academic lifting here, the language thick and those startlingly Freudian references to castration and phallocentrism, but still…Mulvey repositions things so well I thought a re-visit would be a good nod to the paths of theory we’ve tread along the way, and how much all this at end has been incorporated into, and some bits rejected by, the broader, wild and wooly culture here on the ground.

And just to balance things out

I can’t resist pointing in the direction of this little tongue in cheek breeze about men’s television vs. women’s television because it made me laugh.

Damsels in Distress, Bozos in Heat by Neil Genzlinger, New York Times, Jan 20, 2010.

Acts of Aggression

Again, to quote from a KUOW Presents program interview by Jamala Henderson with Episcopal priest John Fergueson called “On Accepting his Dark Side and Post Traumatic Stress.”  Broadcast 8/28/10.

To talk about good and evil, the way we tend to talk about it in religion makes it supernatural.  And that’s not going to go over with these folks (military veterans)…So I had to come up with a definition for evil that would work for them and still be true to what it was I wanted to say spiritually…I did a word study. I looked up all the references to evil in the old and new Testament…And what I found was that evil is about hurting someone to control them. That’s basically what the scriptures call evil.  Which is the same thing as aggression in mental health terms.  It’s either emotional or physical or sexual or economic or whatever. But there’s this creating pain to control somebody and getting them to do what you want them to do.  And that’s in that shadowy part of all of us…”

Father John Fergueson is an Episcopal priest at the Church of the Redeemer in Kenmore, Washington. In 1967 he was a Marine fighting in the Vietnam War. He talks about becoming a priest and accepting who he was as a soldier in order to manage his post–traumatic stress disorder.

Digital Ethnography

Many of you are perhaps already familiar with Michael Wesch’s anthropological work on the digital unfolding we are living through.   Specifically his work in and on the YouTube community.  He first brought us his wonderful illustration of it through a YouTube posting, which itself went viral, of  The Machine is Us/ing Us, January 31, 2007  – a 4 1/2 minute primer on this medium and a run down of its flash fire of perhaps consequent meanings.

If this revolution interests you and you’ve got a little more time here’s a longer but can’t say at all staid, in fact joyful mapping by one of our first guides through this wild wild west.  Allow Wesch to track through it for you in a presentation at the Library of Congress An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube, 2008.

Now all this might seem a bit far afield in a Movie Salon, but I think it’s precisely this speed of light shake up of our notions of author-ity and collective community, this loosening of terra firma that is the opportunity for all of us who’ve been knocking at the door for so long.

Brought to our grateful attention by weblog netizen Meg McHutchison.

Alice’s Wonderlands: On Alice Guy Blache

This article from The Nation, Feb. 8, 2010, is on women who worked as directors and writers in the infancy of moving pictures, pre-Hollywood.   In particular Alice Guy Blache.   How often it seems that it happens this way.  That before things settle, before the powers that be become powers, a kind of wilderness holds sway where explorers who can’t practice later on slip in and, well, make stories.  Thanks to  Catherine Hillenbrand, a netizen of our Discourse community, for bringing it to our attention. The link is broken, but a search of The Nation archives should get you there.

Women in the Seats But Not Behind the Camera

The is the first of this kind of “where-are-we-now article” to come across my desk since I began developing our weblog.  It is an overview by Manohla Dargis of the present state of women directors, Hollywood style.  “Women in the Seats But Not Behind the Camera”, The New York Times, 12/10/2009.

    • Kathy
    • October 6th, 2010

    Thanks for all the digging in the nethercorners of the culture to come up with so many relevant, interesting and (mostly) readable linked stuff. Those lateral forays are worth some side-stepping. We should all make more time for such adventures. Please keep it coming ’cause I like following you around!

    • Chris Gramm
    • May 16th, 2011

    In Black Swan, shots of Portman’s dancing are almost all from the neck up; she’s obviously not doing much of the footwork; and this would be fine (since she’s playing a part), except that is draws attention to the real fraud of the film. Pitched as a tragic tale of sacrifice for art, it’s actually a thinly veiled revenge fantasy of a guy rejected by a pretty girl (when a pretty girl rejects you, she’s frigid, so he urges her. . . “Nina, you must let go, lose yourself”).

    No women are involved in the production of the film– the long list of producers, writers, directors, etc. are men. This is not a film about women. I used to not get this criticism of films about women that lack a female point of view. Now I get the bizarreness of a film about a tortured woman that doesn’t have the woman’s p.o.v. The movie I saw just before Black Swan was White Material, so I had a clear sense of what it means for a film to have a woman’s p.o.v. Also, comparison with Huppert highlights the limits of Portman’s range. For the first half of the film she has a mild wincing grimace to convey general anxiety—because her subtle and specific feelings (pov) are not the point of this movie. We are meant to be voyeurs.

    Given her lack of range, I guess Portman won the Oscar because of the masturbation and lesbian fantasy scenes (like Halle Berry won for her “edgy” sex scenes) because this masquerades as being courageous—it’s a perverted view of courage–the courage to be a masochist.

    The relationship between Nina and her mother is a replay of Carrie–and therefore completely predictable (and just invites unfavorable comparisons with De Palma and Sissy Spacek).

    Franco’s blasé hosting was not the reason the Oscars were a bust this year, but it was the nail in the coffin. Portman’s performance: best actress? Maybe so, but that says a lot about the state of American movies.

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