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Reluctant Romantics in Flannel and Bows: Problematizing Film Representations of White Hipster Girlhood 316M Lecture, 7/2/10: Kristen Lambert and Alyx Vesey
Race and Girlhood Exnomination of whiteness Heterosexual Middle-class Conventionally feminine and passive
Historical Context Blackboard Jungle (1955), Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Beach Blanket Bingo (1965)
Historical Context Teen Pics: Ann-Margret and Bye Bye Birdie (1963)
Historical Context Teen Idols and Girl Groups The Beatles The Shangri-Las
Historical Context Teen Idols and Girl Groups: The Supremes
Brat Pack Films Sixteen Candles (1984), The Breakfast Club (1985), Pretty In Pink (1986)
Brat Pack’s Cultural Significance • Emphasis on soundtrack, pop music, makeshift fashion • Suburban Midwestern setting • Rites of passage foregrounded • Regular teens
Ann De Vaney: Brat Pack’s Daddy’s Girls • Authenticity • Importance of Visual Codes • - Vernacular • Fashionrat Pack’s Daddy’s Girls • Safe Geographies • Daddy’s Girl • -Representing Teen Girlhood but without “confronting the sexual tension of adolescence” (210) • “Hughes’s girls perform white, neoconservative teen sex roles and offer a powerful invitation to girl viewers to do likewise” (202) • “Neither people of color nor physically challenged persons are ever depicted sympathetically. By stripping them of filmic power and representing them always as objects of derision, Hughes locates himself within a discourse that is intolerant of any kind of difference” (214)
HeathersChallenges Brat Pack • Released in 1989, distributed through New World Pictures • Winona Ryder’s breakout performance • Darkly satirical tone • Poked fun at teen pics, particularly through slang • Critical of cliques, sensationalism of suicide, and mean girl behavior
Discourses of Girlhood in the 90s Can-Do Vs. At-Risk Girls Girls in Crisis Vs. Girl Power
Anita Harris: Can-Do and At-Risk Girls Emphasis on how girls are constructed as worker, consumers, and citizens Analyzes the “idea that good choices, effort, and ambition alone are responsible for success” and that these factors “separate the can-dos from the at-risks” (16) The Girl as Success: Power via Consumption and Display Identity Invention and Re-Invention Education and Delayed Motherhood are the Keys to Success “The primary focus of this concern about girls’ self-esteem is white, middle-class young women who are supposed to succeed, or who are perceived to have everything and yet cannot overcome psychological obstacles to their own guaranteed success” (33)
Anita Harris: Can-Do and At-Risk Girls The Girl as Failure: Poor Consumption Choices Limited Opportunities due to Socioeconomic Conditions Girl Power Out of Control Early or Teen Motherhood “These other young women are not imagined as suffering a temporary loss of self-esteem but are instead depicted as inherently bad, or as being in such dire circumstances that their cause is more or less lost” (35)
Gayle Wald: Girl Appropriation and Whiteness in Alternative Rock Rock as space to perform and trouble gender Subculture traditionally off limits to women and girls (McRobbie) Appropriate various cultural markers that signify ambiguously, allow for the performance of whiteness, and indicate white privilege: -mode of culturally voiced resistance to patriarchal femininity -token of a sort of complicit 'gestural feminism' -expression of postmodern 'gender trouble' "girlhood is not a universal component of female experience" but is specific to sexuality, cultural-political agency, and social location (196) Music industry is capitalist-driven Aims of subcultures can be misinterpreted and co-opted
Gayle Wald: Girl Appropriation and Whiteness in Riot Grrrl Early 90s, Pacific Northwest Young, predominantly middle class white women Countered punk and hardcore's misogyny and homophobia Privileged independent/DIY media Contributions: Forged representational space off limits to patriarchal authority Preempt sexually objectifying gaze Recognition that rock ideology prevented girl involvement Rearrange venues as safe spaces
Gayle Wald: Girl Appropriation and Whiteness in Riot Grrrl Image "relentless cuteness of these representations, which might be merely sentimentalizing or idealizing under other circumstances, signifies ironically within the context of punk youth music subcultures, where 'youth' is more likely to be associated with aggression, violence, and crisis, and where youth and youthfulness are frequently conflated with boyhood" (200) Unowned innocence, as contrasted with lyrical themes of incest, beauty culture, partiarchalinfantalization invoke “yearned-for innocence and lightheartedness that retroactively rewrite the script of childhood" (201) Only emphasizes music industry's infantilizing representation of adult female sexuality and rock's imagining of women's contributions in sexual terms Media focus on aggression and "fallenness" instead of cuteness
Representations of At-Risk Girls Freeway (1996) Foxfire (1996) Girls Town (1996) Fun (1994)
Adaptations William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (1996) Cruel Intentions (1999) Clueless (1995) 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
From Girl Solidarity to Mean Girls Mean Girls (2004) Saved (2004) Jawbreaker (1999) Wild Things (1998) Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)
Sofia Coppola The Virgin Suicides (1999), Lost In Translation (2003), Marie Antoinette (2006)
Contemporary Examples Fox Searchlight Emphasis on quirk Predominantly indie rock soundtrack More emphasis on all-male bands than female artists Foreground heterosexual romance for male protagonists Adventureland (2009) Garden State (2004) Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008)
The Fempire: Prominent Screenwriters From left: Dana Fox, Diablo Cody, Liz Meriwether, and Lorene Scafaria
Ellen Page: Juno (2007) Ellen Page channels Patti Smith Paulie and Juno jamming , post-pregnancy
How Juno represents teen pregnancy Willis: “Juno’s realization that she is pregnant is the lens through which the film depicts her sexual desire; in this context, Juno exists between childhood and adulthood, neither sexless nor parental, neither completely innocent nor entirely beyond ‘redemption’” (242)
Racial Tension in Juno Su-Chin Qah Ultrasound Technician
“Fo’ shiz up the spout”: Precursor to “the Juno Effect” Stacy (Jennifer Jason Leigh) Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
“Fo’ shiz up the spout”: Context for “the Juno Effect” Waitress (2007) Knocked Up (2007) 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (2007)
Racial Tension in (500) Days of Summer Predominantly African American attendees at wedding Unnamed “Chinese” family in IKEA
ZooeyDeschanel’s Music Geek Credibility With M. Ward as the singer of She & Him
Zooey/Summer’s imitable look Considerable overlap in style Excessively, conventionally girly Emphasis on retro fashion and vintage design Look can be replicated by fans via InStyle, Cotton, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie Lewis: Fans’ style imitation “can cohere with female viewers’ experience of gender to create a powerful correspondence between text and audience. It also demonstrates how textual exchange carries over into everyday social practices” (170-171).
Works Cited De Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex, trans. H.M. Parshley. New York: Vintage. 1989. De Vaney, Ann. "Pretty in Pink?: John Hughes Reinscribes Daddy’s Girl in Homes and School.“ Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice: Cinemas of Girlhood. Eds. Frances Gateward and Murray Pomerance. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2002. 201-215. Harris, Anita. Future Girl: Young Women in the Twenty-First Century. New York: Routledge, 2004. Lewis, Lisa A. Gender Politics and MTV: Voicing the Difference. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992. McRobbie, Angela. “Settling Accounts with Subcultures: A Feminist Critique.” Screen Education. 34. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980. p. 37-49. Stein, Arlene. “Rock Against Romance: Gender, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Resistance.” Stars Don’t Stand Still in the Sky: Music and Myth. Eds. Karen Kelly and Evelyn McDonnell. New York: New York University Press, 1999. p. 215-227. Twersky, Lori. “Devils or Angels? The Female Teenage Audience Examined.” Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Pop, and Rap. Eds. Evelyn McDonnell and Ann Powers. New York: Delta, 1995. p. 177-183. Wald, Gayle. “Just a Girl? Rock Music, Feminism, and the Cultural Construction of Female Youth.” Rock Over the Edge: Transformations in Popular Music Culture. Eds. Roger Beebe, Denise Fulbrook, and Ben Saunders. Durham: Duke University Press, 2002. p. 191-215. Willis, Jessica L. “Sexual Subjectivity: A Semiotic Analysis of Girlhood, Sex, and Sexuality in the Film Juno.” Sexuality & Culture 12 (2008): 240-256.