Recent Reading, 10/27/17

Hallowe'en witch.jpg

Happy Halloween, it was 106 degrees here the other day. Here's what I've been reading lately to avoid going outside. Don't worry, there's nothing especially spooky — except maybe the ghouls of sexual assault, but they've been here all along:


"When [Woody] Allen and other men warn of “a witch hunt atmosphere, a Salem atmosphere” what they mean is an atmosphere in which they’re expected to comport themselves with the care, consideration and fear of consequences that the rest of us call basic professionalism and respect for shared humanity. On some level, to some men — and you can call me a hysteric but I am done mincing words on this — there is no injustice quite so unnaturally, viscerally grotesque as a white man being fired." —Lindy West, "Yes, This is a Witch Hunt. I'm a Witch and I'm Hunting You."


"When people organize themselves around those objects, they create “affective communities”—or, in this case, fandoms. Fandoms, at a base level, are connected by fans commonly recognizing a piece of media as good or enjoyable. Not only does it makes us happy, it can form a major part of our identities. I mean, just look at how House sorting has seeped so far into mainstream culture. (I’m a Hufflepuff for life, by the way.)

So when someone comes along and points out its flaws—an “affect alien,” per Ahmed—we can feel threatened. Ahmed uses the stereotype of the “feminist killjoy” as an example of this. It’s not just someone yucking on your yum. Someone else being unable to find happiness in your happy object, especially for unassailable reasons like, say, “this story says terrible things about women,” can feel like a commentary on your own enjoyment of it. That your happy object is completely unworthy or that you’re wrong or a bad person to enjoy it all. To go back to Donnelly’s metaphor, you feel like you’re not allowed to eat ice cream and that you’re a bad person for even wanting it at all." —Clare McBride, "What Is a Problematic Fave?"


“For all these women, women like me and many others, that protection of our womenhood isn't enough, because we're not only women. We're black. We're brown. We are native. We are Asian. We are Muslim. We are queer. We are many things that deserve safe spaces and protection. We can take this moment and enter in with focus. Harvey [Weinstein], sexual harassment, all of that's deserving of our focus and attention. But, we come in here with focus and ferocity and fever, with an intention that says, until all women are safe, until we take an intersectional approach to safeguard within this industry, that we are not truly living up to the movement.” —Ava DuVernay at Elle’s Women in Hollywood event



"And my fixation suggested another tantalizing possibility: I wanted to be the sort of girl people longed to corrupt, to transform from Cruel Intentions’ wide-eyed Annette Hargrove – an apple-cheeked American virgin with pigtail braids – into the cool, cruel Kathryn Merteuil (Sarah Michelle Gellar), “the Marcia fucking Brady of the Upper East Side” who orchestrates tragedy to exact her own vengeance and amusement. Kathryn invokes religious rhetoric for purposes of manipulation, betraying a keen comprehension of the institution she bends to her will. Meanwhile, she heeds her own libertine gospel of coke, and sex, and devious schemes. Those around her, men especially, are toys for supplying whatever pleasure she fancies: erotic, tormenting, murderous. Kathryn’s sordid pastimes might not have aligned with my own personal objectives – my fantasies generally stop short of bloodthirst. Still, the sexy Catholic schoolgirl enacted a certain psychic tensions that gripped me as I came of age: I yearned to possess stereotypical good girl appeal, but also not giving a fuck about authority, my reputation, or my virginity." —Rachel Vorona Cote, "Not That Innocent: On the Catholic Schoolgirl"


"Shelley Duvall won Best Actress at Cannes in 1977 for her part in Robert Altman’s 3 Women, but her performance as Wendy Torrance in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, three years later, was criticized so harshly that it would ultimately overshadow everything else she accomplished in her career — even as the film has been used to bolster the claim that Kubrick is one of cinema’s greatest artists. Duvall, playing opposite Jack Nicholson as a woman tormented by her husband’s mounting, murderous rage, was nominated for worst performance at that year’s Razzies; Stephen King, who wrote the original novel, once said, 'Shelley Duvall as Wendy is really one of the most misogynistic characters ever put on film. She’s basically just there to scream and be stupid and that’s not the woman that I wrote about.'

But as she explained in her own words, Duvall’s acting wasn’t a mistake, but rather a performance precisely engineered by Kubrick, who intentionally created a horrific environment for her: 'Going through day after day of excruciating work was almost unbearable. ... I had to cry 12 hours a day, all day long, the last nine months straight, five or six days a week. ... After all that work, hardly anyone even criticized my performance in it, even to mention it, it seemed like. The reviews were all about Kubrick, like I wasn't there.'" —Imran Siddiquee, "Why Do We Let 'Genius' Directors Get Away with Abusive Behavior?"


"Our business is complicated because intimacy is part and parcel of our profession; as actors we are paid to do very intimate things in public. That’s why someone can have the audacity to invite you to their home or hotel and you show up. Precisely because of this we must stay vigilant and ensure that the professional intimacy is not abused. I hope we are in a pivotal moment where a sisterhood — and brotherhood of allies — is being formed in our industry. I hope we can form a community where a woman can speak up about abuse and not suffer another abuse by not being believed and instead being ridiculed. That’s why we don’t speak up — for fear of suffering twice, and for fear of being labeled and characterized by our moment of powerlessness ... I speak up to make certain that this is not the kind of misconduct that deserves a second chance. I speak up to contribute to the end of the conspiracy of silence." —Lupita Nyong'o, "Speaking Out About Harvey Weinstein"


"Most people living with chronic illness — many of whom are women — have at various junctures been blamed for their health. Are you too stressed? Too sad? Too much? We hear this from the medical establishment, from “well-meaning” friends and family, from strangers who see us in wheelchairs when we don’t “look” sick. And after hearing these accusations leveled at me time and time again, I found myself privately echoing their words.

If only I hadn’t gone there or done that, if only I had handled trauma better. If only I was different in a multitude of ways, then everything would be different; then I would never have fallen sick. This vicious cycle of blame is a very heavy burden to carry, and over time, it completely paralyzed me.

I bought the caftans seeking an aesthetic of grace — soft, flowing, dignified — but what I was actually after was Grace itself. I wanted a way to grant my body and mind what I no longer believed they deserved: a pardon." —Richa Kaul Padte, "My Failed Attempt at Illness Chic"


"I had many thoughts about how to mark this moment and all of them were self-indulgent and exhausting. What I do is completely relevant and alive, thank you, and what was lost was lost. People keep expecting me to be wistful and nostalgic. But there was no innocence or purity. Not ideologically, politically, textually, technologically, sexually, or personally. Everything powered by ambition comes with compromise and taint, and is made under ridiculous circumstances. Everything good is transmuted from grudge-fueled self-doubt into something that other people love and criticize, knowing they could do better if given the time and resources." —Paul Ford, "@20"

Devon MaloneyComment