Performing to Avoid Failure

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Group Two: Look up the lyrics to Rich James "Super Freak", the music played for Olives Miss Sunshine dance performance. How do these lyrics, Olive's dance, and Olive's affection for her grandfather configure a family romance subject to possibly unsettling interpretations?

Throughout Little Miss Sunshine Olive's family is working to protect her from failure. They have all experienced failure to the greatest degree, and now hope to keep this bright, sweet little girl from sharing their pain and sadness over the way their lives have gone. This is why I do not believe there is an incestual relationship between Olive and her Grandpa. The lyrics to "Super Freak" are extremely sexual, not just sexual but promiscuous. However, in the line, "The kind of girl you read about/ In a new wave magazine," you begin to realize that this wild girl in this song is performing female sexuality. She wants to be noticed, and she is noticed for her extreme sexual behavior. Olive's dance and the song her grandpa chooses for her is his way of trying to save her from failure. He is teaching her to perform her gender. As Butler writes, "culture so readily punishes or marginalizes those who fail to perform the illusion of gender essentialism" (2). Olive's Grandpa is trying to help her to avoid this marginalization. He is a dirty old man, yes, and does drugs, but he also works very hard to keep this from Olive. He makes sure she can't hear him when he talks about "fucking women" in the car, and he always takes drugs in secret. In the scenes with just the two of them, he is very sweet to her and never oversteps his bounds. He wants to make her feel special and loved, but is not IN love with her in any inappropriate way. It makes sense that a survivor of incest would read this film differently, but I do not think that everyone is meant to read it that way. He is a messed up man, but all in all a very loving Grandpa, trying to help his granddaughter avoid failure in a cruel world.

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This page contains a single entry by turtle21 published on November 4, 2011 2:02 PM.

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