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Unit 4: Good Woman/Bad Woman

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Unit 4: Good Woman/Bad Woman. Linda Williams: ‘sensational film body genres’: ‘ the bodies of women figured on the screen have functioned traditionally as the primary embodiments of pleasure, fear and pain.’.

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Linda Williams: ‘sensational film body genres’:

‘ the bodies of women figured on the screen have functioned traditionally as the primary embodiments of pleasure, fear and pain.’

‘their function [is] cultural problem solving. Genres thrive … on the persistence of the problems they address; but genres thrive also in their ability to recast the nature of these problems.’
1 the problem historically culturally specific
1.The problem: historically/culturally specific
  • The 1980s ‘backlash’
  • The Harvard-Yale study:

‘forty-year-olds are more likely to be killed by a terrorist than find a husband.’

  • The genesis of the film:

1979, James Deardon

  • Sherry Lansing:

‘When I watched that short film, I was on the single woman’s side. And that’s what I wanted to convey in our film. I wanted the audience to feel great empathy for the woman.’

Adrian Lyne:

‘You hear feminists talk, and the last ten, twenty years you hear women talking about fucking men rather than being fucked …. It’s kind of unattractive, however liberated and emancipated it is. It kinda fights the whole wife role, the childbearing role. Sure you got your career and your success, but you are not fulfilled as a woman.’

‘My wife has never worked. She’s the least ambitious person I’ve ever met. She’s a terrific wife. She hasn’t the slightest interest in doing a career. She kinda lives this with me, and it’s a terrific feeling. I come home and she’s there.’

2 the problem persistent
2. The problem: persistent

2.1 Linda Williams, ‘When the Woman Looks’

Classic horror film:

  • Man/woman/monster. Monster = non-male other
  • Woman’s look paralyses her
  • Look is punished
  • Monster as ‘double’ for the woman
Post 1960
  • Monster ‘ both looks like and, in some sense, is a woman’
  • Woman responsible for horror
  • Woman as the monster is punished
2 2 barbara creed
2.2 Barbara Creed
  • Kristeva and the ‘abject’: ‘that which does not respect borders, positions, rules’
  • The abject as the subject matter of the horror film:
  • ‘the horror film abounds in images of abjection, foremost of which is the corpse, whole and mutilated, followed by an array of bodily wastes such as blood, vomit, saliva, sweat, tears and putrifying flesh.’
‘prototype’ of the abject body as the maternal body
  • Horror, above all, ‘an encounter with the feminine’:
  • Vampire
  • Witch
  • Medusa
  • Function of ‘the monstrous’:
  • ‘to bring about an encounter between the symbolic order and that which threatens its stability.’