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February 25, 2008

"What's in a Name?""


At the end of the film Angela Shelton finds herself and realizes the true meaning that lies behind the name that she was given. By connecting herself and investigating the lives of many other Angela Sheltons in the country she is finally provided with an open door toward understanding herself and finding herself for the first time in her life. The film works to represent women whom have experienced a situation of abuse and through their humor, hard work, faith, and strength found the will to fight back and reclaim their life. Through this emotionally trying journey Angela Shelton undergoes she is able to reach an area of reconciliation with what happened in her childhood and able to reconnect with members of her family, her brother for example that contributed to the breakdown of her character, allowing herself to be lost and once again found.

An interesting area of the film that I found to be quite an original approach on the issue that was being presented was the capture of emotion. I as an audience was able to feel directly connected with Angela Shelton and was not for one moment incapable of going through the transition of emotions that were felt throughout the course of the documentary. It was amazing to see how open these other Angela’s were in terms of sharing the stories and presenting proof to a greater audience of the pain that they have been holding on to as a result of such criminal acts that were forced upon them.

“Do you have any idea where you are going?? –God This quote resounded throughout the entire documentary implying that Angela Shelton made this film in order to find herself, to feel connected to other women that may be holding on to the same hurt that she has been carrying with her all her life. She wanted to engage others and make them talk about the pain that they may have been suppressing by allowing them along with herself a means in which they can be released of such aching emotions. At the end of the film this question was answered for Angela Shelton by seeing proof of those other women who were able to revisit their faith and strength of character in order to be reunited with the person that has always been present but simply hidden.

Searching for A.S.

"Men have committed the greatest crime against women. Insidiously, violently, they have led them to hate women, to be their own enemies, to mobilize their immense strength against themselves, to be the executants of their virile needs....They have constructed the infamous logic of antilove." (878, Medusa essay)

I have been very lucky and have never been in a situation when a man has even tried to force himself on me. I have maybe a friend or two who has had that happen, but other than that I've never been exposed to such a situation. I put that quote up there because I think it is important to realize how dramatic and childish some of us are acting about this movie because men aren't bad people. I'll get to that later. Anyways, I thought this movie was absolutely remarkable. I cannot believe that one woman had the guts to go out there and pursue this project. I think she started off on this project expecting something totally different than what she got but it was definitely for the better. She needed this to help her in the healing process and it was probably a good excuse for her to confront her father and talk to him about her past. I'm very glad she had her physciatrist with her though because I don't know if anyone could handle that alone. Angela needed to do this for herself and for the sake of other women because what this did was open up a whole new world that has been hidden from people like me for such a long time.
If I could be in her place, I would do everything the same except I would not have as much of a man-hater aura around me. Although she is extrememly pleasant in the movie, every time she has to say that she too was molested or she too had a father that abused her, she would become a more sarcastic and bitter sounding person. This is completely understandable, I know, and I'm not blaming her for acting the way she does, it's just that the past is the past and the only use it has is to either hold you down or shape who you are. Men are not evil. Women are not evil. Evil is a spirit that goes in and out of different people at random times all the time. To call men the "anti-love" is just a silly thing to say because we are all people and none are smarter, better, or more important than the others. Not all men think they are either. I think that rape is a very peculiar situation because it can either come up from out of the blue or it can easily become an idea in a man's mind because of the signals us women give off. Oh I could go on forever talking about this but I just want to end saying that people are people and no one is going to change their sexual tendencies unless they have a hell of a good reason to so the only thing we can do is watch out.

Salvation from Affliction

This opposition to woman cuts endlessly across all the oppositions that order culture. It’s the classic opposition, dualist and hierarchical. Man/Woman automatically means great/small, superior/inferior… means high or low, means Nature/History, means transformation/inertia. In fact, every theory of culture, every theory of society, the whole conglomeration of symbolic systems-everything, that is, that’s spoken, everything that’s organized as discourse, art, religion, the family, language, everything that seizes us, everything that acts on us-it is all ordered around hierarchical oppositions that come back to the man/woman opposition, an opposition that can only be sustained by means of difference posed by cultural discourse as “natural,? the difference between activity and passivity. (Cixous, 44)

I want to begin by saying that there are a lot of things I would like to say about this film, but with respect to the assignment, I will try and contain this within the realm of the question at hand. I chose the quote from Cixous as an entry point into the understanding of the dynamics that were played out in Searching for Angela Shelton. I think the idea of a woman searching for other women who have had experiences like her own is a natural human instinct as a way of healing. However, in context to what the film was about, Angela Shelton searching for other Angela Shelton’s and discussing rape and sexual abuse, I was hard pressed to find her motives and follow through successful or helpful. I think that Angela Shelton used the cultural discourse and the use of dualisms towards Man/Woman as a way to fuel her journey.

I believe that Angela Shelton, with the use of “natural? cultural discourse towards Man/Woman, that she supported the idea that men and women are not equal and therefore men are the only beings capable of inflicting such vile acts upon another (women). That her father was responsible but that her step-mother was only a product of her father’s lust. That the real culprits were her father and step-brother, these were the true perpetrators. She blindly side stepped the idea that blame shall lie where blame is deserved and that is on everybody who perpetrated the assaults. The way in which I viewed the film I felt that she gave the power back to her assailants.

Continue reading "Salvation from Affliction" »

Searching for Angela Shelton

"Write, let no one hold you back, let nothing stop you: not man; not the imbecilic capitalist machinery..." (Cixous 877)

I believe the convections from the 1970's of an early feminist recovery model is that women were suppose to keep their problems to themselves. They were suppose to keep everything hush hush, and they would not want other people to judge them by how their life is. Back then when situations involving women being victimized by rape, murder, or beaten, they would have an uneasiness of sharing their predicament, so they were afraid that they were the one to accuse of what had happened to them.

The story Searching for Angela Shelton works against the common culture representations on television of women being abused in any way by letting society know that these types of situations do happen. That life is not perfect and that not everything has to be hushed. That it is okay to talk about it. If more people know that this happens it will result in many women expressing their opinions, so women know they can protect their rights. If this information gets out, it will more likely prevent various abuses from happening in society in the future so that investigators can get involved and control this situation from occurring again. If I were Angela the only thing I would have done differently is to survey people of different race, and possibly changing the title as the class mentioned.

Angela Shelton

As a victim of rape this was a very hard video for me to watch. I understand what it's like to go through what she did but it seemed to me that she used these victims story to liberate herself. Which, when you go through something like that it is liberating to talk to other people about it and share your story- that's obviously the most important part of it. But the way that she handled the documentary upset me.

In tv victims (or should i say survivors) are more apt to go out and fight what happened to them. But in reality that is not the case, we tend to hide behind our stories afraid to share them. As all the women in the video admitted they had not fought their rapists, only struggled to get past what happened to them. Her story goes against the way tv presents this by crudely telling her story, and FORCING other women's stories out of them. It was really hard for me to watch, and i find it really frustrating!

Angela Shelton

By going in search of her father and trying to work through her emotional tangles as a victim of sexual abuse, Angela goes against the stereotypical female abuse victim. Most victims are silent, helpless. While Angela has her fair share of problems, she has begun to speak out and use her story to help other women speak up about abuse. This turns the tables on the abusers, because most rely on the belief that their victim won't report the crime. This movie brings awareness to the problem and a voice as well. Angela uses the movie to figure out what she needs to do to put the abuse behind her and move on. This can act as a model for women who have been victimized. While it may not be a pretty model, it makes the suffering real and human.
If I were to have made this movie, I would have put a voice to the male abusers. I think light needs to be shed on their persona and what kind of life they lead. However, I liked the way she put the movie together and I think that it was emotionally real.

Against the Norm

"We're stormy, and that which is ours breaks loose from us without our fearing any debilitation. Our glances, our smiles, are spent; laughs exude from all our mouths: our blood flows and we extend ourselves without ever reaching an end; we never hold back our thoughts, our signs our writing; and we're not afraid of lacking" (Cixous).

This quote explains the transformation of Angela and all other Angela Sheltons from the beginning of the movie to the end. She learns the power of speech and talking about any hurtful experiences which happened to her in childhood. Angela tried to maintain composure while searching for closure for her experiences. Since she was molested by her father and brother, it differs from the TV portayal of rape in Criminal Investigation stories because these are typically with random encounters of rapists whom are searching for power and is not necessarily someone that they are closely related to. On TV rapes and murders are in a dark alley behind closed doors when no one knows and the victim is too ashamed to tell. The difference with Angela is that her entire family knew that situation and in some twisted way was promoting it (with her step mom opening the door and her brother also molesting her as a learned behavior). If i were Angela Shelton, I would not have made this film any differently from how I saw it. This was a great film that helped me learn a lot about the situations what many women face every day and how it can be in such close contact.

Against the Norm

"We're stormy, and that which is ours breaks loose from us without our fearing any debilitation. Our glances, our smiles, are spent; laughs exude from all our mouths: our blood flows and we extend ourselves without ever reaching an end; we never hold back our thoughts, our signs our writing; and we're not afraid of lacking" (Cixous).

This quote explains the transformation of Angela and all other Angela Sheltons from the beginning of the movie to the end. She learns the power of speech and talking about any hurtful experiences which happened to her in childhood. Angela tried to maintain composure while searching for closure for her experiences. Since she was molested by her father and brother, it differs from the TV portayal of rape in Criminal Investigation stories because these are typically with random encounters of rapists whom are searching for power and is not necessarily someone that they are closely related to. On TV rapes and murders are in a dark alley behind closed doors when no one knows and the victim is too ashamed to tell. The difference with Angela is that her entire family knew that situation and in some twisted way was promoting it (with her step mom opening the door and her brother also molesting her as a learned behavior). If i were Angela Shelton, I would not have made this film any differently from how I saw it. This was a great film that helped me learn a lot about the situations what many women face every day and how it can be in such close contact.

Angela Shelton

In this film, the road functioned as a means for Angela to connect women around the country and allow them to tell their stories. By driving from place to place, she is creating a web which brings these women together in an effort to make them not feel alone. In the end, it is a story of unity. It attempts to help women understand that it is ok to tell their stories even if it is something that society would rather ignore. But more than anything, this is a personal journey for Angela. By meeting all of these women who had similar experiences to herself, she is able to confront her past which has been holding her back and, ultimatley, make peace with it. The strength of the women that she meets gives her the courage and hope to move on with her life. However, during her journey, I felt that she slightly abused her camera power. She was so focused on finding answers that she ended up being reckless with some people that she interviewed, such as the Anonymous Angela. This was a situation that could have very easily gotten out of her control, and for her to interfere with someone who was very unstable at the time seemed like an irresponsible thing. There were times in the film where I felt that she was more focused on herself than hearing the stories of the women she was interviewing, and I thought that was her other downfall in her use of camera power. Instead of letting these women's stories be heard, she tended to bring it back to herself and her story (such as the woman with the foster homes) and this was an abuse of her power. Overall, it was a well made film which addressed an important issue, and whatever faults that narrator had made me think about the movie more than I would have otherwise. So I would not change very much of the end result of this film.
-Answer to Section A's question

I am an Angela.

Women must write through their bodies, they must invent the impregnable language that will wreak partitions, classes, and rhetorics, regulations and codes, they must submerge, cut through, get beyond the ultimate reserve-discourse, including the one that laughs at the very idea of pronouncing the word “silence?, the one that, aiming for the impossible, stops short before the word “impossible? and writes it as “the end.? (Cixous 886)

The road is the means of physically connecting all the Angela Sheltons. Though the stories and the presence of the other women and their stories served as the ulimate source of profound connection, the road is what allowed them to get to each other. The road breaks the barriers that are put up by society, keeping all the stories distant from each other. The road allowed Angela Shelton to break her silence.

Continue reading "I am an Angela." »

All roads lead to Shelton

To answer Group A's blog question, the road in Searching for Angela Shelton serves as the path leading Shelton to her confrontation with her father, and the way she uses the film to talk about her own story in conjunction with the other Angela Sheltons makes it seem to the audience that all roads lead to Charleston and to Shelton's father. At the beginning of the film, Shelton says that she wants to represent the women of America by meeting other women with her name and telling their stories. However, from her first meeting with another Angela Shelton, it seems that her primary interest is not in hearing about others' lives and/or misfortunes, but in telling her own story to whoever will listen, which made it hard to see the film as more than a story about Shelton's personal journey, rather than the larger problem of violence against women--not that Shelton's personal journey is less important, but if she had billed the film that way from the beginning, it would have been easier to accept the marginalizing of the other women's stories.

Continue reading "All roads lead to Shelton" »

Angela Shelton

I answered group A's question just because I felt more comfortable tackling the content of this question and because I have no background in Women's Studies.

I think that this film definitely breaks a few silences of violence against women. However, I think that the biggest silence that was broken was the film maker Angela's silence. I think that the movie centered around her story of abuse rather than the other Angela's stories. I also think that maybe she tried to play therapist a little too much with some of the women. She could have really had a negative and destructive effect on the some of those women and their families. I appreciated the fact that this film gets the word out that there are many women, at least ten, in the US that have been abused. Maybe some of the women who see this will be inspired to make a positive change in their lives. However, I wish that Angela had interviewed some credible sources, and provided the women with professional therapeutic help. I don't think that any of her little subtitled information was very credible. She had no sources to validate her information. She also never mentioned the percentage of all women raped in America, only the Angela's she interviewed. However, on a personal level, I did not have any idea that incest and child molestation was so prevalent in America. I think that because it is such a sensitive and personal subject, it is often overlooked and not talked about. I think that Angela did a good job of bringing this touchy subject into the light a bit more. But I would have appreciated more solid facts and resources.

The road in this film functioned as the connection between the Angelas all over the country. The director Angela used the road as a way to travel to her destinations and fulfill her journey. She could have used a plane to get from place to place, but she chose the road. I think she did this because of both budget and because on the road, one can see many different things and stop along the way. Trains, buses, and airplanes have specific destinations. The road and her RV provided Angela with the freedom to make her own destinations.

If I were Angela, I would have included some specialists on the subjects I was trying to focus on. I would broaden the scope of information that I was giving and provided some information on where to get help. I would especially focus on how I got through my trauma rather than just the trauma itself.

Angela Speaks

--I am not a GWSS Major--

The documentary film, Searching for Angela Shelton, displays women who were victims of sexual and physical abuse as perhaps reluctant, but not refusing to admit they were abused. They seem to identify with Angela Shelton (the director), and her ability to share her story without inhibition or discretion. Although this is potentially damaging for many of the participants in this movie, Shelton challenges them in order to haggle with her own demons. Traveling to her abusive father for an 'on film' confrontation acts as the pinnacle of her restoration. Her confrontation, though it accomplishes little if anything of substantial evidence, it provides the focal Angela Shelton with some closure. Though I believe she should have been much more tactful in the discovery process with the other Angela's, I think the film displays the director's need for attention, sympathy, and closure; All of which I believe she accomplishes.

Angela Shelton

Searching for Angela Shelton is a documentary about Angela Shelton who goes on a voyage across the United States to find all the other Angela Sheltons. Angela had been sexually abused as a young child and finds that many of the other Angela Sheltons have been abused in some way throughout their lives as well. I think that in this film the road functions as a means for Angela to find some answer to her troubled past. In the beginning of the film it seems as if she is just interested in the other lives of the Angelas, but as she travels across the United States it seems as if she is looking for some answer as to why she was abused. As she meets with these other women across the United States she finds that most of them have been abused in some way. She uses the camera to as the means to tell their stories. We do get insight from these ladies but the way the film is made, all the stories somehow come back to her own life. Instead of focusing on the Angela Sheltons and what has happened to them, she makes it so she can use their stories to tell about herself and her past. In a few cases, i think she handles the situations really irresponsibly. There is the first lady that she speaks to and this lady clearly has not had any issues with abuse but it seems that Angela is almost prying to try to find some information. Then there is the lady that is opening up room for foster care services and Angela brings up the totally irrelevant fact that she was in a foster home and it was horrible. In this instance the lady is clearly doing something good but Angela turns it into something bad by bringing up her own troubles. We see this throughout the entire film as she journeys to meet her dad. She finally makes it to South Carolina to confront her dad about what he did. I feel that it is almost stupid to think that after 20 some years that if she confronts him he will own up to the fact that he sexually abused her as a child. Seriously if some guy had gotten away with this for all this time, showing up with a camera and asking him why he did it is probably not the best idea in the world. I think that the film was a good idea and was interesting to hear these women's stories but I think it should have focused more on their lives and trials. I think it was good how she shared her personal story but that she was almost selfish in the way that she did it. Also I don't feel that she accomplished anything by going to her dad. I guess maybe it helped her in some way to confront him but it didn't seem like it in the film.

What's eating Angela Shelton?

Searching for Angela Shelton has obvious successes and misfires. A woman journeys independently across the country, using the vehicle of "American womanhood" to resolve (or attempt to resolve) her own issues. She encounters women from many backgrounds, all of whom have something-- encouraging, significant, or neither-- to say.

Obviously, she makes a mistake in presuming that the Angela Sheltons of the country represent all of the women of America. She also focuses more on her story (her pain, her past) than on an accurate representation of theirs.

Maybe, however, this inexperienced filmmaker has gotten closer to the heart of womanhood through her failings. Maybe some women really do get that caught up in their own pain, and maybe it is impossible to look past oneself into another person until they, you know, get over themselves, to put it painfully.

Further, perhaps it is impossible to give a truthful representation of womanhood through film, not only because truth cannot be represented by a camera, but because the borders of "womanhood" are so wide and indistinct that nothing can show more than a tiny, immediate picture.

Finding the New Woman

To write. [...] it will give her back her womanly being, giving her access to her native strength; it will giver her back her goods, her pleasures, her organs, her immense bodily territories which have been kept under seal...

I hope that Angela's story gave her some healing. I hope that it gave her her body back. By her making this film, she was trying to regain control and find insight. I think film-maker Angela's brother said it best when he said "I think you're searching for something... I hope you find it". I think that Finding Angela Sheldon is a story about finding yourself through common experiences with others. Trauma brings people together, and several Angelas in the documentary said that women need to stand together and be there and help each other out, because that's all we have. Angela's road trip was a journey to find her self, and ends in the, in my opinion, frustrating/maddening encounter with her father. Her father, who was supposed to always be her protector and lead male figure in her life; who only denied her accusations and dismissed her as well as them. Her reaction afterward was raw and emotional, and true to the film and herself. Angela's story, as well as all of the other Angela Sheldons', works against that which is now-entertainment of criminal dramas on TV or other pop culture. This is real life, where almost all of the Angela Sheldons that were found had been raped or otherwise victimized, yet had never seen their attackers be punished. In TV, you get used to seeing the criminal justice process go ao quickly, that the offenders are caught and punished within a 60 minute block. In Angela's story, these women had to rely mainly on themselves to heal and build themselves up. Frankly, I enjoyed the documentary just how it was. It was real, and emotional, and I felt for all these Angela Sheldons, and any other women like them.

In Search

“At worst, many women wonder whether they even exist. They feel they don’t exist and wonder if there has ever been a place for them. I am speaking of woman’s place, from woman’s place, if she takes (a) place (Helene Cixous, 43).?
What an awful thought to go through ones head “whether I even exist?, finding yourself in this world is difficult as it is, but when one has to go through the traumatic life experience of being raped, abused, or victimized, the mind really starts to question just why am I here, what did I do to deserve this, and how much can I really handle. This brings me back to the one section of the movie, where Angela is speaking to the “anonymous Angela? and she keeps repeating that she is “lower than a dog?. It disturbs me how any one person can have that much control over one’s life in order to make them feel so low, and so horrible about themselves.
The movie Searching for Angela Shelton is vastly different from the common cultural representation of women who are raped, murdered, beaten, and or victimized as seen on television. The women portrayed in this particular film, were not shown so much as victims, but as survivors. Whereas on the television screen women are shown merely as victims, their lives after the abuse, rape, or victimization is never shown. It is good to see that these victims of such horrible experiences are able to move on and succeed in their lives.
Despite some flaws within the film, overall I felt this documentary had the overall right intentions behind it. Not only was Angela traveling this road for her own personal growth and closure to her awful childhood, but she was allowing others the chance to open up about their experiences and share them with the world. I liked that this story was not just about her; although her story overpowered most of the film, but it still allowed for other voices of survivors and strong women in general to be heard.

angela shelton

I feel like the women in this film were portrayed as strong and defiant. Despite being abused in awful ways, most of them have managed to take that and confront it. They perservered through hard times and became inspiring figures. On television, or other CSI type stories, the victims are never given a chance to show anything but hurt and vunerability. Part of this is probably due to the time in which these shows span; most of the time, they are only taking place over a few days. I feel like these shows never show us what has happened, and they definitely never show victims afterward. This movie proved to be inspiring. That women could put the past behind them and help unify others, that was an amazing aspect and portrayal of victims. That being said, I would've done things a little differently than Angela Shelton. She had so many wonderful resources and chose to focus most of the movie on herself. I probably would focus more on the other women. I definitely would be less dramatic, but perhaps that is in my nature.

February 24, 2008

Searching for Healing

The movie presents a new view of victims af sexual assault, as compared to mainstream television and movies. I watch a lot of Law and Order, especially Law and Order SVU, and comparing that television show with "Searching for Angela Shelton" brings certain characteristics of the differing ways in which sexual assault is portrayed. In the mainstream showing, the victim of the assault suffers horrible trauma. Then the police officers come into the story and try to catch the bad guy. The police manage to spend some time trying to console the victim, but the main plot of the story and the main focus of the camera is the process of searching for the perpetrator, who is most of the time brought to justice in the end. The documentary shows rape, incest and assault dealt with in a completely different manner. The show ends with the catching or prosecution of the criminal, placing the focus on the perpetrator; and we are left hanging on the status of the victim, who should seemingly be the center of the story.

Continue reading "Searching for Healing" »

What does Angela Shelton Find?

Helene Cixous states on page 878 of The Laugh of the Medusa that "It is time to liberate the New Woman from the Old by coming to know her--by loving her for getting by, for getting beyond the Old without delay, by going out ahead of what the New Woman will be, [...] in order to be more than her self." The film-making Angela Shelton set off on her journey to meet other women with a similar name professing not to know who she would find. But within each woman she encounters she identifies with a certain portion of that woman, a particular situation of experience, and this is what she portrays on screen. She is essentially using encounters with other women to tell a story about herself. However this story transcends the small boundaries of her own life because it begins to capture what Helene Cixous is alluding to: the unflagging spirit of women who have been and are still being hurt, molested, raped and repressed all over the country. And yet there are voices that speak out from this movie about sisterhood, survival, and hope. This is the true impact of Angela Shelton's movie -- little inspirational tidbits. If she does this task with a bit too much melodrama we as viewers forgive her on behalf of the women she has introduced us to. Angela Shelton goes on a journey and finds herself but also finds an echo of the voice of American women that helps her to be more than just herself. The thing I would have done differently in making a film like this is that I would have admitted from the outset exactly what I expected to find in the commonality among these women and use it to start the conversation with each woman rather than letting the film maker's personal story slip out in conversation as a probe to elicit a similar story. This seemed to me to be a shoddy brand of documentary film making. I wonder if more or less of the Angela Sheltons would have agreed to be on film if she had presented her project more straightforwardly.

In Search of a Painful Past

I found the film "Searching for Angela Shelton" interesting when compared to the other road films that we have viewed. I did not like the film much on its own, for I, too, felt that it was cheesy and over acted. I do appreciate what Angela Shelton (film maker) did and empathize with the women of the film, though my personal feelings are pushed aside to examine the differences between the past films and this one. In "Easy Rider" and "The Girl on a Motorcycle" the main characters took to the road to escape a life of displeasure. "Easy Rider" portrayed men who left their homes and belongings in order to escape society. "The Girl on a Motorcycle" told the story of a woman leaving an unhappy marriage behind. Both films show characters that left painful memories and unpleasant lifes behind in search of something better. Angela Shelton leaves her home, a place of comfort, to address and discuss painful memories of her past and the past of other women who suffered from abuse. She searches out the negative and faces the horrible feelings that come along with it. She chooses to go in search of those who have been hurt and those who have hurt her. In the end she does come to terms with her past and formed a community with the other Angela Sheltons.

Overcoming Abuse

I found the film Searching for Angela Shelton to be very interesting. The film, like numerous other films and televisions, made the women out to be the victims. It was the women who were abused, raped, and hurt. In the entire film we only heard from one man, Angela's brother, who also went through this type of abuse,when in reality many men are affect by it. As far as television and other films go, yes women were the victims however Angela's also showed the women as powerful figures who could overcome this abuse. It did not take a man or millions of dollars in therapy to help these women face what had happened to them, and each one of them came out stronger on the other end. If I were to remake this film I would do it fairly similar to the way Angela had made it. However, I would also include my visits with other Angela's who were not abused just to give the auidience an idea about the other types of women who are out there in America. I wish we could have met the women who did have a healthy and happy childhood because the way that she only focused on abuse made me really sad and feel like most of American women face these troubles.

Use and Abuse of Camera Power (taking Section A's question)

The camera more so than the road becomes the most powerful tool in this film. Instead of the road functioning as a way of escape and symbol of freedom, it serves as a connector, a direct line to the Angela Shelton's of the United States. The road is part of "breaking the silence" because support and unity in the form of the original Angela Shelton travels along it, helping other women to voice their stories and share their experiences. The road produces someone to relate to, the comfort of knowing they're not alone. Although bits and pieces of the documentary seemed a little cheesy and too "acted", overall i felt that Angela used her camera power in a very responsible way. I walked away with a strong sense of empowerment as a woman and a feeling of unity, which i believe was one of her goals. She set out on the journey to help other women and to help herself, which she did. For some of the Angela Shelton's simply "breaking the silence" and speaking aloud their tragedies was a great sense of relief. Some could criticize that she focused a lot on herself and her own story, but i saw it as an example, a sense of encouragement for other Angela Shelton's and women in general, of a woman facing her fears and confronting her pain to gain some closure and be able to move on in her own life. It is hard to criticize a documentary of such personal content because it is not a fictional film or intended to entertain, it is up to the individual to dictate the narrative and i think Angela does a remarkable job. Yes maybe there are a few nit picky things that could be changed and her background as an actress is questionable, but overall, If i were Angela Shelton, I would not have made this film differently.

Exporation of the Road and of the Self

In this film the road functions as a source of variation. The road brings us to new places and new people, it is a path for exploration of not only the United States but also of Angela Shelton and the experiences of American Women. On this journey they explore the experiences of different women with a common thread- not just the name Angela Shelton, but also personal strength and perseverance. The story emerges and many women tell their tale, many have been abused in some form and Angela has them tell her about it. Sometimes her tactics involve coercion and other times she uses a “this is what my father did to me? kind of a strategy in which she tells their stories using her own. Angela neglects some of her responsibility to these women; she is not a therapist and should not act as one. We also hope that she brought with her some kind of professional help but this is not mentioned in the film.

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Searching for Angela Shelton

The portrayal of rape, abuse, and molestation committed against women in Searching for Angela Shelton differs greatly from the current portrayal of such acts in modern culture. Typically, it is seen that most rapists have absolutely no connections to their victims, although this portrayal is starting to change with the knowledge that most rapists actually are family or friends of their victims. This is the case with most, if not all, of the women that are interviewed or featured in the film. The majority of the time on shows like CSI the rapist is a random man off the street, while the abusers are usually closely connected to the victim. In this respect, the representations on TV fit well with the testimonies of the film's Angela Sheltons.

Another aspect of difference is the fact that the filmmaker Angela Shelton was also abused by a woman, her step-mother. This is very rarely seen on TV crime shows; usually the woman is the victim and never the culprit. I feel that by never depicting the woman as the assailant, screenwriters and TV producers are in a way feeding into the stereotype that women are always weak and susceptible to men. Men being victimized by women is not unheard of at all, but it is never seen on television. In this regard, I think that it is admirable that a woman was also portrayed as a "bad guy" in the filmmaker's narrative, even though Angela never actually confronted her as she did with her father and brother.

Angela Shelton Exposed

“If man operates under the threat of castration, if masculinity is culturally ordered by the castration complex, it might be said that the backlash, the return, on women of this castration anxiety is its displacement as decapitation, execution, of woman, as loss of her head. We are led to pose the woman question to history in quite elementary forms like, ‘Where is she? Is there any such thing as woman?’ At worst, many women wonder whether they even exist. They feel they don’t exist and wonder if there has ever been a place for them. I am speaking of woman’s place, from woman’s place, if she takes (a) place? (Helene Cixous 43).?
Men have, for a long time, questioned the ability and existence of women; but it is truly sad that women question their own existence. While watching Searching for Angela Shelton I noticed that from beginning to end the women kept saying that they were nothing, they were no one, or that they are invisible. The most shocking one was a woman that actually believed she was lower than a dog. These women have been mentally and physically abused by people that were supposed to be the ones protecting them. They have been abused so much that they are actually mentally torturing themselves years afterwards. I found that the road was there to intertwine women everywhere together. As Angela was traveling she was building a path that was never taken, and can now be taken by other “Angela Sheltons.? Angela used her camera power to her advantage because she was trying to find her, trying to patch her life together with the help of others who have had the same trauma. The one thing I would change would be to help the other women confront their past, so they have an opportunity to move on. I feel that since they helped her by telling their story, she should help them. I found this documentary very troubling, a big reality hit.

Upending the stereotype

"Women have no choice other than to be decapitated, and in any case the moral is that if they don't actually lose their heads by the sword, they only keep them on the condition that they don't lose them -- lose them, that is, to complete silence, turned into automations," (Cixous, p. 42-43, 1981).

While I don't know anything about the feminist recovery model, I think I can to the rest of the question justice.

Angela Shelton fought back against the deafening silence in order to have her story heard. She is what is in opposition to the cultural representation on TV of women being victimized -- she is a survivor. Instead of having something terrible happen to her and then her accepting her fate while walking quietly into the night, Angela chose to loudly stand her ground. Instead of being ashamed, she told her story to hundreds of people in life and millions through her film, and she found the bond of sisterhood that comes with having been perpetrated against. She developed strength, inspired others to be strong, and took their combined strength to confront her abusers. Unfortunately, as is often the case, the most serious abuser denied the truth. For a moment, she freaked out, but then she once again found her strength, in both herself and in all the other women, and stood proud. This is the hallmark of the survivor -- to be able to stand physically alone, while knowing that one is never spiritually alone. Angela refused to be silenced and refused to be yet another statistic, which is what sets her apart from most of the portrayals on TV of women who were abused.

Now, as far as what I would have done differently in this film would be to ensure that adequate psychological help was available to those who I would interview. While it is true that talking about one's abuse can be quite cathartic and very healing, it can also open up old wounds. These wounds generally need assistance in order to heal -- and several of the women (specifically the Anonymous Angela) seemed to be having a difficult time dealing with things by themselves concerning the wound that had been reopened by talking about her abuse on the phone with filmmaker Angela. It would have set my mind at ease to know that professional help was available to these women, as I spent much of the film worrying about whether the Anonymous Angela was going to commit suicide because she did not have the resources to help her deal with her abuse.

Searching for Angela Shelton

This documentary was not what I hoped it would be. While I enjoyed it more than the other road movies we have watched in the class, I didn't think that it covers the issues that it set out to. The premise of the story is actually something I find very interensting. What's in a name? How much does our name affect who we are as a person? I think that the documentary could have actually been an interesting piece if the filmmaker Angela Shelton had let the other Angela Sheltons tell their stories, and explored what these women had in common other than 24 out of 40 of them having been beaten, molested, or raped, or the group being half black and half white. Instead the story revolved around the filmmaker telling primarily her story and finding herself, while interviewing a select amount of people along the way, the only thing that they have in common being their names. However the movie turned from this topic towards the issues of child abuse and rape, which while they are important issues that need to be brought to light in our society, I feel that the whole issue was presented under the false pretenises of searching for women with the same name and what they have in common.


As a side note, could the blog topics be posted on a more central location, on the home page under the movie title for example? I didn't feel confident anwsering the Group B question as I am not a GWSS major, and could not find Group A's question anywhere, hence why my blog does not directly address any of the blog guidelines given.

Angela Shelton's Story

This film differs immensely from what we have seen in class thus far. From a stylistic point of view, it is dissimilar because of the documentary style. This style helps convey the message that the creators want to send. Everything in this film is real - there is no acting - the people and their stories are all as real as it gets. In the other films we have seen, the characters don't know what they're in store for, and they have no real structure to their journey. In Searching For Angela Shelton, the "main" Angela Shelton has her journey planned out, start to finish. Through this journey we see something very different than what someone will see on television or in movies today.

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Searching for Angela Shelton

In Searching for Angela Shelton, Angela Shelton (the filmmaker) irresponsibly frames victims of sexual abuse within a self-righteous journey toward an aggressive, misguided attempt at "reconciliation" with her (presumably) abusive father. In what could have been a poignant examination of sexual trauma (which the film masquerades as), Angela Shelton essentially implicates otherwise innocent women in a stagy, vapid tantrum of anti-male grudge matches. In some cases, her technique is outright offensive. Near the end of the film, for example, she includes subtitles to "clarify" a man's speech despite the fact that he's perfectly understandable--it is as if every male figure must be reduced to a controlling molester or an unintelligible idiot. Indeed, one of the only other males to be presented is a deaf man, who, through no fault of his own, is nevertheless labeled as someone of inferior communicative abilities. For a film that prides itself in displaying a valid representation of women in America (albeit through the arrogant , exclusive promotion of only "Angela Sheltons"), the selective portrayal of males is unforgivable, in my opinion. Poor selectivity plagues the film in another area as well: Personally, I did not believe for a moment that so many people would just happen to quote "Everything happens for a reason" verbatim, nor that Angela Shelton would have a box of fury-inducing crayons to readily tear apart. Everything seems so contrived, forced, and poorly planned, it's ridiculous. The multiple appeals to religion that the film offers serve absolutely no performative function whatsoever. Instead of providing a solution (or admitting that one doesn't exist), the film resorts to a cop-out on the most massive scale imaginable. Sorry for the rant, but I thought this film was an absolute mess. I would have kept the focus on the women's stories without thrusting myself into the narrative. There is nothing wrong with making a documentary about self-discovery, but to deliberately deceive and manipulate one's way to enlightenment is irresponsible. This is the first film in the class that I think presents "the road" as an utterly regressive path.

Investigating Angela Shelton's Struggle

When I say "women," I'm speaking of women in her inevitable struggle against conventional man; and of a universal women subject who must bring women to their senses and to their meaning in history.
(Cixous, 1976)

I think the film Searching for Angela Shelton in a general sense does not investigate a specific crime scene, but instead investigates womens' struggle with men. Angel Shelton's journey to discover other Angela Sheltons quickly changes into a journey of how men have victimized women. Instead of a tough male detective leading the investigation as on many T.V. shows, it is Angela Shelton herself. Angela does not portray herself as a helpless victim, but rather cast herself in the role of a strong independent women seeking answers and closure. Law enforcement is not utilized to seek justice, Angela chooses self-discovery as a means of justice served.

Although I like the idea of women being portrayed in the media as taking control of their lives and uniting, I think the way Angela Shelton tries to achieve this makes women look inferior to men. It seemed to me that Angela focused on the negative experiences women had and not on events in which they have succeeded in overcoming men to achieve their goals. The way in which Angela goes about seeking out other Angela Sheltons in which she drives around the country only obtaining information that coincides with her story and once she has that information the Angela Sheltons just become another number.

I believe that Angela Shelton had good intentions of creating a story that goes against against common cultural representations of women in the media, but with the poor execution of the film we are still left with the image that women are victims. If I were Angela Shelton, I would have focused the film around how women over come sexual abuse even thought there victims are often not prosecuted. I would try to display and image of women overcoming men and would use Angela Shelton's own personal experience with her father as an example in action of how she has personally risen above her struggle with men.

Learning to Talk

I did not take issue with the way the documentary was filmed, like some people in lecture did. I think the documentary was successful in making connections and inspiring women. By following Angela's journey to self-healing and acceptance, viewers are able to see how a victim can move on and learn to live in peace with themselves. Angela inspired the women she met. The women stated that Angela made them feel less alone and abnormal. By getting women to open up and talk about their abuse, others can see that they are not alone. I disagree with the comment in class that Angela handled the Anonymous Angela irresponsibly. It was stated that Angela pushed her over the edge and went too far. I think the opposite is true. I think the Anonymous Angela was already at the edge and Angela helped her make a connection and hold on to life. The anonymous Angela said, "I'm invisible," and "I'm nobody," and "this is a God thing that you started calling." I think even the Anonymous Angela recognizes that Angela kept her from going too far. The biggest accomplishment of this documentary was that Angela is teaching others how to talk about their abuse.

Searching for Angela Shelton.

Entertainment in America is a powerful way of communication. But too often what we see on TV shows are very different from what really happens in the real world! For instance, in the majority of criminal investigations we happen to watch on TV, the bad guys are always caught at the end. But is it how it really is?

" Searching for Angela Shelton" portraits a different scenario than what we`re used to believe through the media. More than half of the women she talked to (24 out of 40) were either raped, molested or abused in their past. And the most shocking part is that none of their abusers were ever caught. The vewer learns the fact that victims of crimes do not always get consolation. Another thing we have to consider is, did the law enforcement consider rape as a real crime compared to murder? We`ve seen the lack of judgement in Angela`s father`s trial; and how people often want to ignore the fact that it happened.Also in some of those cases, the lack of evidence or witnesses turn things around.
Bottom line is, any rapist or child molestor should be considered as a criminal; but it seems that it is easier to get away with such a crime than killing... for instance Angela``s father still lives a normal life after ruining three.

The only thing I would`ve changed if I was in the position to, would probably be that I will have a better diversity of Angelas Sheltons representing differnt minorities in America. Other than that, I really liked the movie and I think it raised an awareness to women all around America to speak up fo themselves.

Searching for Angela Shelton.

Entertainment in America is a powerful way of communication. But too often what we see on TV shows are very different from what really happens in the real world! For instance, in the majority of criminal investigations we happen to watch on TV, the bad guys are always caught at the end. But is it how it really is?

" Searching for Angela Shelton" portraits a different scenario than what we`re used to believe through the media. More than half of the women she talked to (24 out of 40) were either raped, molested or abused in their past. And the most shocking part is that none of their abusers were ever caught. The vewer learns the fact that victims of crimes do not always get consolation. Another thing we have to consider is, did the law enforcement consider rape as a real crime compared to murder? We`ve seen the lack of judgement in Angela`s father`s trial; and how people often want to ignore the fact that it happened.Also in some of those cases, the lack of evidence or witnesses turn things around.
Bottom line is, any rapist or child molestor should be considered as a criminal; but it seems that it is easier to get away with such a crime than killing... for instance Angela``s father still lives a normal life after ruining three.

The only thing I would`ve changed if I was in the position to, would probably be that I will have a better diversity of Angelas Sheltons representing differnt minorities in America. Other than that, I really liked the movie and I think it raised an awareness to women all around America to speak up fo themselves.

Searching for Angela Shelton

"She must write herself, because this is the invetion of a new insurgent writing which, when the moment of her liberation has come, will allow her to carry out the indispensible ruptures and transformations in her history," (Cixous 880). Many people in class had a major problem with Angela Shelton and her decisions she made while making her documentary, Searching for Angela Shelton. I did not have the problems that most people pointed out. It was Angela's choice to make her film however she wanted to make it. It was her documentary and she can do and say whatever she wants. She can skew the story that she is showing to portray a message that she wants. In the documentary she portrayed women as victims, which is common among the cultural representations of women in the United States. She also showed women as survivors and able to overcome extreme obstacles, which is not necessarily found in cultural representations of women. If I were Angela Shelton, I probably would not have made this film differently. I think that Angela was on a journey to find herself and to heal herself. She did what she needed to do to heal herself and perhaps she helped heal others along the way.

Angela Shelton hits the road.

In the movies we have watched so far I think that the road functions in some ways as the answer to the problem or the vessel the characters use to find a solution to their problem. Because this film was a documentary, the road served a different function for Angela. In the beginning of the film she tells us that she will go on the road for 60 days talking to all the Angelas and then at the end of the journey she will confront her step-brother and father. The road has almost become what is taking her to the final step of her mission to find Angela Shelton (once she decided to start the journey, of course). Unlike many of the others, Angela knows her final destination. Also functionally, of course, the road takes Angela to all her interviewees to allow them to tell their stories, which of course is the point in “breaking the silence?.

I wouldn’t say that Angela uses her camera irresponsibly. She at least is using it in a way that allows women to simply tell their stories without judgment or gaze being placed upon their words or bodies. Though I think sometimes it is frivolous to look for a female gaze because it hasn’t really been established like the “male gaze? has, she is definitely moving towards it. If I was Angela I would have included more human details from these women’s stories. She sort of cut up their experiences to include only the traumatic events in their past, which I feel erases a lot of the important things that need to be said about these women if we are going to encourage other women to “break the silence? as Angela hopes to do with her film.

February 22, 2008

Some Women In The Film Pretended To Be Abused

This film, "Searching for Angela Shelton," is quite different from the general conventions of how a sexual abuse victim usually behaves in films and in person. Many people believe that a sexual abuse victim would be fearful and behave rather like a hermit. They stayed away from men, did not discuss what happened to them, and kept quiet about their own feelings which was especially true in the earlier years where women were prevented from expressing themselves or were afraid to let their feelings be known in an effort to be polite. Women were taught to accept what men do to them and blame themselves for it. This film while not particularly entertaining or ethical to the women, does empower women by enlightening women to the fact that they are not the ones to blame for the horrible things people do to them.

This film, "Searching for Angela Shelton," did show that women can take their power back however, it also exploited their problems. This film could have been much more effective in supporting the recovery of women by not making a mockery of them by making their situation seem humorous at various moments. It was really despicable how the film made it seem so normal, so nonchalant, so casual, so cavalier, so common, so frequent that a large number of women are abused. The film interviewed too many people for the viewers to be able to connect and sympathize with any particular woman. The film should have took the viewers through the beginning, the middle, and the end of how the abuse takes place so people could realize whether they are in an abusive relationship or not. I also believe that it would have been good if the film would have interviewed an expert on this subject as it would have added an experts advice on the situation.

The blame does not completely rely on the producers of the film as many of the women interviewed have a role in making this film good or bad. In general, many women told compelling stories of their sexual abuse and how they dealt with it. However, it seemed that too many women were telling the same story as though they wanted the attention of the camera and desired the sympathy of the viewers. It seemed quite blatantly obvious that some women were pretending to have gone through an abusive experience as some were so boastful, almost proud of their experience to the point where it was simply disgusting to listen to them. For example, the chubby fast-food woman described her experience in such a generic manner that sounded so derivative from a cheap soap-opera drama. Overall, the producers of the film could have chosen a more wholesome cast of characters.

張惠妹

Angela Shelton

I would have made this movie differently if I were Angela Shelton. The movie was supposed to be an uplifting, self-help kind of movie for people that were dealing with abuse, rape and molestation. Instead, the movie exploited the women interviewed and only emphasized the filmmaker’s personal gain throughout the movie: her own self-therapy. The filmmaker, Angela Shelton was on a mission to help women (all Angela Sheltons) and let their voice be heard. Instead of doing this, the filmmaker used other peoples' pain to help her get through her demons by acquiring empathy from the other wounded women. This was her therapy. Overall, the movie was an amateur’s execution of a disturbing topic. The film should have been done more professionally by including therapists to help the wounded and scared women. Therapists could help the women who are suffering rather than leave them hanging like the filmmaker did.
As a non GWSS major, I can't comment on the other questions with any knowledge. I don't have any bakground in this field.

February 21, 2008

SVU Hits the Road

Fictional crime stories often have confusing roles as far as who is really the victim and who should be held responsible. Searching for Angela Shelton tells parallel stories of women who feel invisible because many Americans feel a comprehensive discussion about rape and abuse is lacking in our culture and sheltered generations feel that they have no alternatives to an unhealthy home-environment. As a documentary, the road is not the dominant narrative but acts as a site of reclaimation for an external purpose (even though the documentary was centered on herself). The road taught Angela Shelton that ignoring a widespread problem will not make it go away. Sheltering future generations only creates an explosive discontent and perpetuates cycles of violence, alcoholism, and anxiety. "Breaking the silence" and resisting in unity alone will not make families perfect but they open the door for conversations about these issues.

Abuse of the Camera in Searching for Angela Shelton

“A woman-text gets across a detatchment, a kind of disengagement, not the detatchment that is immediately taken back, but a real capacity to lose hold and let go. This takes the metaphorical form of wandering, excess, risk of the uinreckonable: no reckoning, a feminine text can’t be predicted, isn’t predictable, isn’t knowable and is therefore very disturbing. It can’t be anticipated, and I believe femininity if written outside anticipation: it really is the text of the unforeseeable (Cixous, “Castration or Decapitation??, 53).

Due to my minimal knowledge of feminist theory, I am choosing to respond to Group A’s blog question.

In the “road documentary? Searching for Angela Shelton, the road seems to function as Angela’s path to self-discovery and purgation of her tulmoltuous past. As Angela interviews women across America, the powerful idea of female unity and blacklash against domestic violence becomes secondary to her personal story, which climaxes in South Carolina when she confronts her father. Dispite the fact that she recieves very little closure from her abusive father, Angela seems to have a weight lifted off of her shoulders, reinforced by her symbolic “baptisim? in the closing scenes. The stories of the other women are almost used to compliment Angela’s story, taking an obvious back-seat and not being expanded adaquetely.

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