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July 11, 2008

Final project summary

For my final project I delved into the topic of why it is difficult to realize a directed response known as "feminism." Searching around some I found some branches of feminism which attempted to imagine the manifestation of feminist theory. One of the most interesting activists of the early public onset of gender issues in the political realm in America was Emma Goldman. Today seen as one of the founding thinkers in the roots of feminism, at the time she did not consider herself a supporter of the suffrage movement, what today is referred to more generally as an aspect of first-wave feminism. Emma from the beginning, while obviously and ardently a support of women's rights, she noticed immediately the irreconcilability of it with hierarchy in general. As she put:

"Needless to say, I am not opposed to woman suffrage on the conventional ground that she is not equal to it. I see neither physical, psychological, nor mental reasons why woman should not have the equal right to vote with man. But that can not possibly blind me to the absurd notion that woman will accomplish that wherein man has failed. If she would not make things worse, she certainly could not make them better. To assume, therefore, that she would succeed in purifying something which is not susceptible of purification, is to credit her with supernatural powers. Since woman's greatest misfortune has been that she was looked upon as either angel or devil, her true salvation lies in being placed on earth; namely, in being considered human, and therefore subject to all human follies and mistakes. Are we, then, to believe that two errors will make a right? Are we to assume that the poison already inherent in politics will be decreased, if women were to enter the political arena? The most ardent suffragists would hardly maintain such a folly."

Just as true as in 1911, American politics remain a garbled mess that have hardly done anything noticeably different since women gained the right to vote. In Emma's eyes to recognize your place in culture's hierarchy and to fight for a better position within this merely displaces the rights of others. One can only get to the next rung of a ladder on the struggle of the rung below it. Only when one questions this very model, until we fight against or give up the things we benefit from for our discrimination (a whole longer discussion) the system will recreate itself in a new way.

My research helped me realize that feminism is incomplete if it does not recognize the role that hierarchy in general plays into the theorems. If it misses this subtlety then the reckless system it wishes to depose will only manifest itself in another way, which will further serve to discriminate against some classification of people. For these reasons Feminist needs to study and establish a position on hierarchy in general in order to successfully become a powerful subversive and liberating force.

July 10, 2008

Growing up Puerto Rican

For this Final Project I decided to do a short three-minute video summarizing my unique story concerning my ethnicity. I wanted to express my feelings and struggles growing up Half Puerto Rican in a small Minnesota town. I was a first generation American born Puerto Rican on my father’s side, but I lived with my mother who was born in mound, my grandma still lives in mound. I identified with this very close community in my town, however I still felt curious and unaware of my Puerto Rican heritage, growing up and I knew very little about that part of me. I felt like I should know more and started to have questions about the culture as the world was asking me to define my ethnicity, check the box Puerto Rican, Hispanic, Non-white. I would do this but did it mean? I spent a week in Puerto Rico during the end of high school. It was this wonderfully enlightening experience that helped me feel confident in identifying myself as Puerto Rican.

trans

For my final I have created an extended preview of the autobiodocumentary I am already working on for my senior project in GWSS/SCMC. First I aim to make visible my trans body. I will not settle for the "Boys Don't Cry" representation of trans masculinity. I am interested in capturing the many ways that my experience is both wonderful and frightening. As my focus is on change and its relation to linguistics, I have tried to highlight the reality of my construction (of cinema and of identities) and the many authors who have influenced my way of seeing. I have put my camera on myself and also given the camera to my partner to explore my feelings as a subject of documentary. I also seek to expose the ways in which current trans health care pathologizes and excludes. This preview is a brief glimpse of what I will be finishing in Spring 2010.

Also, I ended up finishing this entire project with Final Cut Pro instead of Adobe Premiere Pro. It was a good exercise in editing outside of my comfort zone.

July 9, 2008

A Boy's Dream

For our final project, we collaborated on a piece of avant-garde cinema. We used Laura Mulvey's "Visual Pleasure in Narrative Cinema" as a jumping off point in determining our methods. The film involves ruptures of the male gaze, exposure of the means of production and alternative forms of visual pleasure and narrative structure in order to displace the conventional framework presented by mainstream film.
The film is structured around a dream narrative to allow for an unconventional presentation of time and space. It also relies heavily on humor. It is our belief that entertainment is a worthwhile and valuable tool in building a relationship with one’s audience and we believe entertaining films can be made which break free of some of the dominating and dominant forms presented by Hollywood. That is not to say our film is without reference. It relies on several techniques which come out of the slapstick and cartoon traditions in order to express its humor.
We would still like to avoid plot details for the time being. The more pertinent issues will be addressed in a Q&A following the film.
Enjoy!
Carl and Anna

La Gente del Fuego

Hollywood often tries to use realism to convey and represent what is perceived as natural (Kaplan, “Feminist Theoretical Models"). Throughout history, Hollywood films (with a few exceptions) have had a tendency to oppress and marginalize Mexico and Mexicans through representation. With my creation of a digital story I hope to offer my own personal narrative of my study abroad experience in Mexico to offer a perspective that challenges the stereotypes of Mexico and Mexicans typically seen in Hollywood cinema.

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exposing my gender troubles

In my short film I hope to highlight that my gender is a construction. By showing the transformations, which I have gone through in my life so far, and the female gender identity construction placed on me, I hope to do this. Although Judith Butler’s views on performativity and gender construction are complex I have taken what she says in Gender Trouble as a partial explanation of what I am doing in my film. In the introduction to Gender Trouble she argues that, “gender is performative: no identity exists behind the acts that supposedly "express" gender, and these acts constitute—rather than express—the illusion of the stable gender identity. Furthermore, if the appearance of “being? a gender is thus an effect of culturally influenced acts, then there exists no solid, universal gender: constituted through the practice of performance, the gender "woman" (like the gender "man") remains contingent and open to interpretation and "resignification."

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Female Representation in Slasher Films

I am doing my final project on female representation in slasher films. I specifically want to address why women are the first to be killed in slasher movies/and or the last to survive in slasher films. To support my argument/thesis, I watched two Hollywood slasher films: Psycho (1960), directed by auteur Alfred Hitchcock, and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), directed by Wes Craven. I also did scholarly research and found sources by Carol Clover (“Her Body, Himself: Gender in the Slasher Film? and Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film); and Laura Mulvey (“Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema?).

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Fat is a Feminist Issue

I am doing my final project on fat positive feminism. I explore this through a personal documentary I made about my life as a fat girl growing up in a weight obsessed society. I use news clips, personal stories, pictures and music to show the many different ways prejudice can take shape when aimed at fat people. Sometimes unwittingly, sometimes with incredible purpose. By exploring these issues, I hope to open up your eyes to the constant attack that goes on at fat people all day everyday. It is the last truly acceptable discrimination in this country and by examining why, I hope to inspire action in others to change their attitudes towards the dreaded fat people.

Nothing crome yellow can stay

Many Science Fiction films have a clear predecessor in the realm of Science Fiction literature. Because of this, Science Fiction offers an uncommonly visible lineage from paper to screen. The same extent is not apparent in, for example, slasher films. As a literary genre, Science Fiction is known for its forward thinking. Authors like Mary Shelley, George Orwell, and Arthur C. Clarke pushed boundaries of contemporary feminist issues like social justice, gender, and sexuality. Hollywood movies, as a rule, are more susceptible to the vision damaging consequences of mass consumption. Science Fiction movies generally are not pushing our conceptions of these feminist issues outside of hetero-male norms; However, there are instances worthy of further analysis. I feel Ridley Scott's Alien is representative of main stream science fiction cinema. While pushing some boundaries, Science Fiction film largely fails the rigors of my feminist critique.

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July 8, 2008

An unhealthy image

In my paper I discuss the representation of black females bodies in hip-hop music videos, specifically Nelly's "Tip Drill." I start my paper talking about how black females bodies have been objectified. I discuss Hottentot Venus and Josephine Baker in this section. While both of these women's were treated differently, both exhibit bodily exploitation as well as the male gaze.

From there, I begin to talk about music videos today. I analyze "Tip Drill" which was not a treat, let me tell you. I argue how these images/representations are harmful toward women with support from the three videos we watched in class ("Dreamworlds 3," "Beyond Beats & Rhymes," and "No!").

Even though I did the "long" paper, I included still images of "Tip Drill" to show my reader exactly what I am talking about in my analysis of the video.

So close...and yet so far

In my PowerPoint (and also in my paper) I will be discussing Steven Shainberg’s two films Secretary and Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus. Although I am critiquing his films, I hope to critique Steven Shainberg as a director, and to question his thought process and the reasons behind his decisions.

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