Adapting VA to screen


…been reading about adapting Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy books to screen… and I just found some of these points interesting, in terms of considering how  the books work…

Snider notes that “Richelle Mead’s story about the bond between two young women eclipsed expectations and delivered a modern, fresh take on classic vampire mythology. Not one to be done in by overused tropes of the past, Mead drew from previously untouched folklore to craft a story that transcended the genre and propelled the vampire’s long and sordid history in a bold new direction.” (p.11) “Mead’s story is thick with vampiric imagery and folklore, but those elements are just part of a larger, more important tale. The backdrop of St. Vladimir’s Academy allows Mead’s heroines a chance to experience the dramatic ups and downs that come with burgeoning adulthood. Just as any typical teenager deals with gossip, peer pressure, and the pangs of young love, so do Rose and Lissa. Together the two young women take ownership of their lives and the choices they’ve made, and though they can be sensitive and emotional, make no mistake – they’re not to be trifled with. They fight to the death to stand up for what they believe in. Thematically, Mead confronted numerous emotional issues like survivor’s guilt and depression, blending fantasy with reality to [-p.13] create an exciting new world all her own.” (pp.12-13)

Mead has explained that “Rose’s character and personality were, in some ways, inspired by one of my adult characters: Eugenie from the Dark Swan series. Eugenie’s another action heroine who’s [-p.14] not afraid to get in a fight, but she’s a twenty-something woman who has already come to terms with who she is and who she wants to be. I began to wonder what it’d be like to write about a younger character, one who was kick-ass and not afraid to stand up for her beliefs, but who was still growing, finding her identity, and also learning what it means to control her fighter impulses. I was fascinated by the idea of that journey.” (pp.13-14)

According to Michael Preger, “The setting and world are fascinating but most of all, for me, it was the strong female relationship between Rose and Lissa that captured my interest; their independence, self-reliance, and loyalty to one another, above all others. They are the kind of role models that instill a different perception of females in today’s world. Something often lacking in today’s storytelling. But it doesn’t end there. The mythic underpinnings of this vampiric universe are unique. It’s not the same old monster story. It’s a wonderful setting to explore interesting personality dynamics between the characters.” (pp.24-25)

Producer Susan Montford noted: “I wanted to explore the friendship and bond between the two teenage girls, and the responsibility and cost of developing and honoring their talents and gifts. …Rose and Lissa’s dynamic is very relatable and forms the central thread through the story.” (p.27)

Daniel Waters explained that: “I was having a problem that the girls, in many ways, sit around waiting for new information and new dead animals to drop in their laps (a novel can get away with that more than a movie, especially when we are caught up in Richelle’s writing), but making the fate of Ms. Karp and even the true nature of why Rose and Lissa left the Academy in the first place into actual mysteries that the girls must proactively investigate – it suddenly gave the film an engine.
The elements of the movie are still mostly from Rose’s point of view, but she is no longer in control of all the facts, which makes things a lot more cinematic. At its bare bones, the adaptation process was taking the story out of Rose’s head and putting it on-screen.” (p.45)

Zoe Deutch commented: “Initially I was struck by how funny the script was. In my opinion, you don’t read a lot of young-adult adaptations that actually capture the hilarity of being a teenager. Also, as a woman, I deeply appreciated the fact that this is a story that puts friendship before romance.” (p.55) “I connected with Rose’s humor as a means of survival, her hotheadedness and passion, and her fiercely loyal nature toward those she loves. …Rose Hathaway’s sense of humor is as brutal as her fighting skills. …I connected with her being passionate and not holding back her feelings. Rose’s motivation throughout the story is rooted in protecting Lissa, but progressively she gains more desire to be the best protector she can be, and therefore has more confidence in her ability. Of course, there are many other motivations strewn throughout, including her big fat crush on Dimitri, her want for her mother’s approval, and her love of knowing everything that’s going on around her. My favorite thing about how Richelle Mead wrote the characters of Vampire Academy is that they’re all playing against type.” (p.54)

Talking about Zoey Deutsch as Rose, Mark Waters states: “I think that a lot of people like how in control she is. And even in regard to sex, it’s not callous or something she necessarily treats lightly. I think that’s what’s key. It’s not someone who gets used or isn’t thoughtful about her sexuality. She very much is and I think that’s the important part of being strong about it, being decisive and knowing what you will do and what you won’t do. And I think that was the most important piece to care about with that.” (p.56)

Ref: (emphases in bold mine) Brandon T. Snider (2013) Vampire Academy: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion. Razorbill, Penguin: New York


Unemotional characters of genre fiction


When everyone around him is a potential (or real) enemy, the secret agent must be detached, unemotional, dispassionately observant – in a word, cool. This is his legacy from the Raymond Chandler hard-boiled detective. This posture is necessary because his survival depends upon his constant [-p.76], accurate evaluation of all around him, people and events. In that respect the spy is what many of us want to be; in that respect we participate in the action of the story. Puzzle-solving, code-deciphering, and character-analyzing are the modes of his survival.” (pp.75-76)

“The secret agent may be acting out our fantasies in his sexual adventures as well. This aspect has been thoroughly discussed and needs no supplement here: most spies have a compelling way with beautiful women, at least since the 1950s. Their occupations make our fantasies complete: the agency will not allow attachments or emotional involvements of any kind, and so the spy is not only free to love and leave, he is under national security orders to do so. Le Carré has reminded us, in his fiction, that even spies can have families, though for the most part his operatives are bound to their London offices. Greene’s confidential agent was once married, but that was long ago and in another country; now, her haunting memory hinders his action. Bond tries marriage once and pays for it when the opposition murders his bride. It is much better, espionage fiction tells us, to remain detached. If you love a woman, you will get hurt.
If the fictional spy expresses (predominantly male) sexual impulses, he also is a medium for expressing our noblest aspirations. In his loneliness, his isolation, there is also the opportunity for heroism, manifested as self-possession, inner [-p.77] strength, the courage to do what he feels is right and to make such decisions while removed from societal pressures. There are no Joneses to emulate in his milieu. Thoreau would approve.” (pp.76-77)

“The spy novel also enables us, as spectators, to purge and then obliterate the worst that is in us. Movie ads often describe the spy’ls life as one of ‘cheating, lying, and stealing’: in what sphere of the psyche is that quite attractive? In what sphere of our psyches do we want to be free to break any of the rules we wish, as it is convenient, and never be held accountable? The spy can do just that because he is invisible, because he is an alien body in his host society. He moves horizontally to intrude into the lives of others, but his own life is structured vertically. We want to be a part of that life, perhaps even to live that life, but in one sense only: we realize that we cannot really lie, steal, and kill, that we are not really like that.” (p.78)

“We have always had spies, but only recently have we made them our heroes. Their time has come round at last because it is our times that see in their work a part of our own desires and our fears. The spy novel, ostensibly so restricted in its possibilities, allows us to pierce deeply into ourselves, where the possibilities are infinite.” (p.78)

Ref: (emphases in blue bold, mine) John G. Cawelti and Bruce A. Rosenberg (1987) The Spy Story. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago and London

Vampires lend themselves to unstable desire


Vampires lend themselves to unstable desire: part of the exciting potential of any vampire text is the way in which it overturns notions of what sexual act is being represented in the bite.” (p.203)

Ref: Sara Wasson (2012) “Coven of the Articulate”: Orality and Community in Anne Rice’s Vampire Fiction The Journal of Popular Culture, 45(1) February, pp.197-213

fears and ‘a calling’ to labour in Dracula


Eric Kwan-Wai Yu points out that

The “’anxieties of empire’” expressed in Dracula, Bram Stoker’s classic vampire novel, have attracted a great deal of critical attention lately.” (p.145) However, he continues: “I shall not dwell on the various sources of the late-Victorian cultural anxieties concerned. Reading the major periodicals of this period, Samir Elbarbary finds a discourse of “’primitivism and degeneracy,’” which undermines dominant evolutionism and scientific progressivism (113). In addition to the fears of atavism, miscegenation, and reverse colonization, some critics find obvious anti-Semitic connotations in the descriptions of Count Dracula’’s hoarding of money and sanguinary parasitism (Halberstam, 337–41; Gelder, 14–15). To this list one might add [-p.146] the fears of the ‘“lumpenproletariat,’” of the Irish rebellion, of the “’New Woman,’” of sexual transgressions, especially homosexuality perceived as gross indecency” in the wake of Oscar Wilde’s trial, or, of ‘“sexual anarchy,’ ” to borrow Elaine Showalter’s catchy book title. Reacting to Dracula scholarship in the past two decades, which has dealt with various kinds of anxieties, Nicholas Daly reminds us of the phenomenal growth of the British Empire between 1870 and 1900. This period also witnessed much tighter government control, including the encroachment on the private sphere and the free market (182–83). The discourse of crisis, paradoxically, did not lead to actual collapse: “’Fears there may well have been of the decline of Englishness within England, as well as assaults from without, but these fears had the effect of buttressing —not enfeebling —the power of the state”’ (Daly, 183). Furthermore, these fears ‘“established a mission for a new group of professionals in human management’” (183). Seeing the vampire fighters in the novel as a team of male experts, Daly relates them to the rise of professionalism in the late nineteenth century. He further claims that Dracula ‘“uses anxiety to produce as both necessary and natural a particular form of professional, male, homosocial combination’” (181).

This paper is an attempt to substantially revise and further develop Daly’’s intriguing ‘“productive fear”’ thesis to arrive at an entirely different end. Drawing on Max Weber’’s study of the Protestant work ethic, I turn to the often neglected problematics of labor in the novel, highlighting the quasi-religious sense of high duty and ascetic hard work in the vampire fighters, the so-called “’Crew of Light.’” The main thrust of my argument is that fear aroused by the paranoiac perception of sexual perversity begets a curious kind of work ethic in the imperial subject, reaffirming Enlightenment reason and scientific progressivism while, at the same time, betraying the very unreason in reason and the profound anxieties underneath the confidence in progress and empire. Contrary to Daly’s reading, which overemphasizes the power of the team of male professionals to “manage” fear successfully, I side with Troy Boone and other “’anxiety theorists’” in stressing that the ambivalent text ‘“retains an ironic stance relative to . . . scientific [progressivism]’” (Boone, 80) and offers ample room for deconstruction.” (pp.145-146)

Whatever shapes of fear vampirism might evoke elsewhere, in this novel the dominant form has to do with sexual menace or the dreadful perception of sexual perversity.” (p.147)

“It is regrettable that few critics, with the notable exceptions of Franco Moretti and Carol Senf, have paid much attention to labor in Dracula, despite the pervasiveness of the theme in the text.” (p.149)

“…no one, to my knowledge, has explored the curious interrelations of labor, sexuality, and fear in the novel. Having linked up fear and sexuality, in what follows, I attempt to relate them to labor, or more specifically, the unique work ethic in the Crew of Light, characterized by industry, asceticism, rationalism, and a solemn sense of duty. Unlike Moretti, I want to take labor much more literally. I argue that fear, often aroused by the perception of sexual anarchy, demonic uncleanliness, or disfiguring excess, is productive rather than paralyzing. It arouses in the bourgeois imperial subject a quasireligious sense of “calling,” an imperative to work assiduously together [-p.150] to exterminate the demonic Other; in so doing, an uncanny kind of ascetic hard work accompanied by extreme rationalism manifests itself. This is not to claim that, before the vampire-hunters come into contact with vampirism, we cannot detect in them such traits as industry, frugality, punctuality, honesty, and rationality, so famously discussed in Weber’s classic study of the Protestant ethic. Like Stoker himself, Van Helsing, Seward, Harker, and even Mina are all bourgeois working people.” (pp.149-150)

To better explain the peculiarities of ‘“calling”’ in the bourgeois characters of the novel, allow me to take a detour. Turning to Weber’’s pioneering study, I will discuss the Protestant notion of ‘“calling’” and its subsequent development into a secular work ethic, characterized by the obsession with endless acquisition through hard labor, ‘“combined with the strict avoidance of all spontaneous enjoyment of life’” (Weber, 53). A “calling” is not only ‘“a task set by God,’” but ‘“a life task, a definite field in which to work’” (79), accompanied by the conviction that “’the valuation of the fulfillment of duty in worldly affairs [is] the highest form which the moral activity of the individual could assume’” (80). According to Weber, this conception is a product of the Reformation. Though Luther is the first to popularize the idea of calling through his biblical translation, it is in Calvinism and related sects of ascetic Protestantism that we find the development of religious calling into a vigorous work ethic.” (p.151)

““Good works” become, Lessnoff argues, “not a means to salvation, but the means of getting rid of the fear of damnation” (6). With a strong belief in predestination, it is ‘“as if the Calvinist subject were driven by an anxious premonition that, after all, the unavoidable might not happen,’” as ŽZizžek puts it (70). The Protestant ethic, in this perspective, is based on a profound, primordial fear. From this heritage of ascetic Protestantism, Weber announces, ‘“[o]ne of the fundamental elements of the spirit of modern capitalism, and not only of that but of all modern culture: rational conduct on the basis of the idea of calling, was born’” (Weber, 180). In the course of secularization, eventually, ‘“the idea of duty in one’s calling prowls about in our lives like the ghost of dead religious beliefs”’ (182), but the obsession, in worldly asceticism, with ceaseless work to maximize profit as an end in itself might not have entirely died out in later stages of capitalism, even with the rise of consumerism, predicated on insatiable expenditure rather than ascetic restraint.” (p.151)

In many ways labor depicted in this novel is an idealization of the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. We can detect in the Crew of Light the strongest disavowal of the darker side of labor under capitalism: instead of insatiable acquisitive desire and individualist concerns, we have voluntary work for a “good cause,” authored by God and benefiting all; instead of solitary or alienated labor, we have hard work based on robust, trusting, and selfless friendship and a true team spirit transcending sexual rivalry and even national, class, and gender difference.” (p.157)

Ref: (italics in original, emphases in blue bold mine) Yu, Eric Kwan-Wai (2006) Productive Fear: Labor, Sexuality,and Mimicry in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Texas Studies in Literature and Language, Volume 48, Number 2, Summer, pp. 145-170

the vampire’s sexual otherness


In a 1997 essay, Andrew Schopp considered the homoerotic aspects of modern vampire literature, and while his approach is in a context pre-the-current-vampire-craze, his comments are still relevant. He wrote:

Although it has long held a formidable place in the heart of western culture, until the nineteenth century the vampire existed primarily as a creature to be feared, the revenant come back to torment the living. Paul Barber explains that the vampires of early folklore represent the way ‘preindustrial cultures’ interpreted, or misinterpreted, the ‘processes and phenomena associated with death and the dissolution of the body’ (1). In the nineteenth century, however, the vampire transformed from a feared cultural phenomenon to a desired cultural product, from mythic explanation of the unknown to receptacle of cultural desires. This transformation has culminated in the contemporary vampire product, which provides a space for articulating and reconstructing cultural desires, even for contesting dominant cultural narratives. Given this product’s subversive potential, its frequent reliance on the homoerotic would seem an especially compelling subject of analysis.” (p.231)

By its very nature, the vampire is an outsider, an ‘other’” (p.232) “Burton Hatlen explains that the vampire’s position as alienated ‘other’ produces a dual response in the audience: the vampire comes to represent that which we both fear and desire (125).” (p.233)

“Comments by fans delineate a specific set of characteristics that render the vampire attractive, and perhaps the most prominent characteristic is the vampire’s sexual otherness. For the fans, vampire entertainment provides an opportunity for sexual deviation, for the chance to engage in all ‘forbidden sexual practices… oral, necrophilic, incestual [sic], homosexual’ (Dresser 152). The vampire’s sexual otherness both reflects and fosters a desire to break free from sexual constraints, while its immortality reflects and fosters a desire to break free from physical constraints (152). Underlying these two characteristics is the vampire’s power. According to fans, this power enables one to challenge almost any socially imposed barrier.” (p.233)

A couple more quotes form Schopp’s essay that I liked include:

“As one fan commented, “[…] Perhaps part of the appeal of the vampire is it gives us the belief that there are beings who can live outside the problems of society that we, as mortals, must face everyday. (Dresser 160-161)” (Schopp, p. 233)

“To an extent […] certain vampire products use the vampire ‘space’ simply to reinscribe dominant cultural ideologies and mandates, rather than using that space to revise such mandates, or offer alternatives.” (p.237)

“…the contemporary vampire product clearly functions as a site for playing with sexual alternatives, for acting out socially prohibited roles, and for reconfiguring desire. Though it can easily reinscribe heteronormative ideology, the vampire space has the potential to articulate alternatives and to contest dominant modes of structuring sexual desire and identity.” (p.241)

Ref: Andrew Schopp Cruising the Alternatives: Homoeroticism and the contemporary vampire The Journal of Popular Culture Volume 30, Issue 4, pages 231–243, Spring 1997

Note – reference is to: Dresser, Norine (1989) American Vampires: Fans, Fictions and Practitioners.  New York: Norton

The reference that look interesting in this article (to me, at least) is missing from the reference list at the end… ‘Rosemary Jackson’ on ‘paraxic’ worlds? Schopp explains: “Unlike science fiction characters who tend to live in a world removed from our everyday life, the vampire often has dependent connections to our world. The vampire product constitues a prime example of what Rosemary Jackson has termed a ‘paraxic’ world, a space that exists both inside and outside of our world. According to Jackson, paraxis ‘is a telling notion in relation to the place, or the space, of the fantastic, for it implies an inextricable link to the main body of the ‘real’ which it shades and threatens’ (19).” (Schopp, p.233)

Teen girls and genre in the critical reception of Twilight – Bode


I really enjoyed Lisa Bode’s critical analysis of reviews of the film Twilight – and how constructions of female adolescence are drawn on by film reviewers to patrol the (gendered) boundaries of genre. Great article! …some quotes:

“The critical reception of Twilight (2008), Catherine Hardwicke’s film adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s first teen vampire romance novel, though, repeatedly mobilizes an idea of its audience that is not just female but adolescent. This is hardly surprising as the Twilight novels were marketed in the young adult sections of bookshops, and the film features a dangerous romance between an ordinary 17-year-old girl, Bella, and a 108-year-old teen vampire, Edward. However, what is interesting in film reviews for Twilight is how [-p.708] often a (mainly) female adolescent audience, and associated mode of viewing, is evoked, and how this is variously used to denigrate or legitimate the film and its pleasures. The lowly cultural status of the teen girl audience has been examined before in Melanie Nash and Martti Lahti’s work on Leonardo DiCaprio’s disavowal of his teen idol identity (Nash and Lahti 1999, 72) in the wake of his role in Titanic (James Cameron 1997). However, Twilight’s critical reception provides us with the opportunity to see some of the variations in how differently situated film reviewers define and deploy the teen girl. [/] For some reviewers, the teen girl audience taints the film, and the film taints the girl, and both are to be reviled. But for others, the film, and the adolescent girl who is imagined to be captivated by it, become objects of a somewhat romantic fascination. This article asks: what can the adolescent girl, her different connotations, and the ways reviewers position themselves in relation to this figure, reveal about Twilight’s cultural resonance, and the ongoing dynamics of distinction in the contemporary cultural field more broadly?” (pp.707-708)

“Film critics perform an important role in pre-shaping audience reception (Barker 2004). In the words of Pierre Bourdieu they often influence ideas of ‘what is worthy of being seen’, what is unworthy, and ‘the right way to see it’ (Bourdieu 1984, 28).” (p.708)

“Film reviews […] are useful to analyse not only for what they foreground of the struggles over cultural meaning but also for what they [-p.709] reveal of the dynamics of power in classification of films and their audiences, and the ways in which such things as gender, age and class are linked in this process of classification.” (pp.708-709)

“…when reading the reviews it is often difficult to separate the evaluation of Twilight from the reviewer’s disposition towards the teen girl audience. For instance, in the negative reviews is Twilight a ‘bad’ film because it is supposedly made for teen girls, or are teen girls deficient because they like Twilight and reveal their intense engagement with the film and, notably, its display of young male beauty, through gasps and shrieks?” (p.709)

“While all the reviews examined describe Twilight’s audience as ‘teen’, ‘tween’ or ‘adolescent’, the more negative the review, the more derisive is the language used to describe the audience, and maintain distance between the taste of the reviewer and that of the audience. Repeatedly, adolescent females are maligned for their lack of cultural capital, described as ‘indiscriminate’ (Ochieng 2008) or said to have ‘insipid’ (Burns 2008), ‘banal’ (Brayton 2008) or ‘less discriminating palates’ (Chang 2008). Dehumanized and de-individualized as the film’s ‘designated demographic’ (Ochieng 2008) and described in animalistic terms as ‘swarming’ (Puig 2009) and ‘mallrat masses’ (Ochieng 2008), they are presented as easily targeted and manipulated by a cynical market-driven mass culture. Accordingly, Twilight is seen as a crass commercial ‘product’ (Hanke 2008), a ‘cash machine’ (Vasquez 2008) designed to feed the gaping maw of this indiscriminate swarming squealing mass, and part them from their money.” (p.710)

“…reviewers use the girl as a means to leverage their own cultural superiority: their individualized and aesthetically informed responses to the film; their detached, rational and critical disposition; and importantly, too, their knowledge of vampire and horror film genres that enables them to distinguish between greater and lesser examples.” (p.710) … “For instance, horror film aficionado Felix Vasquez Jr complains bitterly that Twilight’s trailers promised ‘vampire action’ to ‘non-fans’, but failed to deliver, being hybridized or rather, polluted, by the teen and romance genres. He curls his lip at the way female authors such as Anne Rice have popularized the ‘emo’ vampire who struggles with his or her monstrosity instead of gleefully predating, and reveals that by his definition a ‘good’ vampire film should foreground blood lust, gore and ‘action’ rather than moping introspection (Vasquez 2008). Vasquez’s particular definition of the vampire genre, as a subgenre of horror, appears to exemplify the way some horror fans use their ability to ‘stomach’ onscreen blood, viscera, gore, and transgression as a marker of a rather masculinist distinction, or what Hollows calls ‘the ritual test of masculine hardness’ (Hollows 2003, 44). Clearly, Twilight, Anne Rice and the ‘emo’ vampire provide little opportunity for viewers to test themselves in this way. However, by positioning these films generically, Vasquez and others work to patrol the boundaries of their idea of what the vampire genre should be, and determine who it is for (and not).” (p.710)

In contrast to the way that the audience is portrayed in the negative reviews as swarming indiscriminate mallrats, positive reviews have an empathetic or affectionate regard for Twilight’s perceived or imagined audience, and for female adolescents and adolescence in general. While the positive reviewers still mostly identify themselves as ‘not the film’s target’, these writers strive to reconnect with their own adolescent yearnings (either as romanticizing or wryly commenting on their younger selves) or produce a reading of adolescent imagination as a complex and liminal state, on the cusp of cultural and sexual knowledge. This attempt to see the film in relation to a teen girl perspective is in part predicated on the way the positive reviewers tend to frame Twilight generically as a teen romance film, rather than as a vampire film. Evaluating it as a teen romance produces a very different set of cultural and cinematic reference points, and it means that if there is evidence of an affective link between teen girls in the audience and the teens represented on the screen then it testifies to the film’s success. For instance, Sukhdev Sandhu, writing for the Daily Telegraph (UK), refers to the vocal responses of girls in his screening as evidence that the film has succeeded in conveying an ‘emotional truth’ that connects with its audience (2008). [/] While this type of assessment casts the teen viewer in a more favourable light, it is nevertheless the case that neither in the positive nor in the negative reviews is the adolescent girl mode of engagement imagined as rational, mindful or critical. If negative reviewers see the female adolescent as uncritical and easily enthralled, the positive or more ambivalent reviewers describe her as ‘estrogenic’ (M. O’Sullivan 2008) or ‘hormonal’ (Knight 2008). Such labels do not in this case necessarily mark the teen girl viewer as ‘more easily seduced’, but rather as one who experiences a natural, complex and mysterious state, that makers of teen films rarely manage to connect with or capture.” (p.713)

“In the reviews of Twilight I have surveyed, the affective contagion of the teen or preteen girl audience is much more usually disavowed or resisted. Even positive reviewers of the film appear to need to bring in references to legitimate culture, such as the nineteenth century romance novel, not just as a means of elevating Twilight but invoked as a kind of talisman against a teen girl pop contamination of their adult critic identity. How does this reconcile with the fact that grown men and women happily confess to enjoying Transformers (Michael Bay 2007) or The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan 2008), and that so many reviewers of Transformers in particular tap into a 13-year-old boy viewing mode? For instance Ebert, who as we saw above was keen to delimit Twilight’s audience, but in his review of Transformers, however, he self-consciously slips out of his stuffy adult critic persona with lines like: ‘it’s goofy fun with a lot of stuff that blows up real good’ (Ebert 2007). Ebert willingly submits to an uncomplicated joy in dumb kinetic violence and spectacular explosions, and revels in the hoots and cheers of the audience with which he shared the screening. Perhaps, then, more so than age, it is gender that functions here as a key factor in the relative status of taste formations....” (italics in original, p.716)

“This article has examined some of the different ways in which film critics, in their reviews of Twilight, construct the film’s teen girl audience and, in relation to this figure, reaffirm both their own taste formations and their cultural values. Although film reviewers are often reporting upon the vocal behaviour of actual girls attending their screening, these writers use the adolescent girl as an imagined ‘other’. Thus, references in reviews to girls as a dehumanized swarming mass or as the giggling bearers of complex longing, reveal more about the cultural values and social position of the film reviewer than that of actual adolescent girls. Moreover, childhood and teenhood (unlike other social categories such as race, ethnicity or gender) are thought to be temporary states, transitional phases that are passed through on the way to an adult identity imagined as ‘fixed’. Because of the teen girl’s temporary occupation of her identity, and the sense that she is not yet properly initiated into systems of culture, and not yet fully sexual, reviewers appear to denigrate or sentimentalize her without guilt. Where does this leave the adult audience and fandom, those of us old enough to ‘know better’ and yet confess to drawing pleasure from Twilight?” (p.717)

Ref: (my emphases in blue bold) Lisa Bode (2010): Transitional tastes: Teen girls and genre in the critical reception of Twilight, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 24:5, 707-719

Abstract: “Reviews of Twilight (2008), Catherine Hardwicke’s enormously popular screen adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s teen vampire romance novel, reveal a focus on both the gender and age of the film’s audience. The teen, tween or adolescent girl, her tastes and affective response, are evoked in different ways by many reviewers to denigrate the film. However, the adolescent girl is also used in positive reviews to legitimate Twilight and its pleasures. This article asks: what can the adolescent girl, her different connotations, and the ways reviewers position themselves in relation to this figure, reveal about Twilight’s cultural resonance, and the ongoing dynamics of distinction in the contemporary cultural field more broadly?” (p.707)

Language is always intimately linked to the body


I’ve just been thinking about the connections between language and body – the gendered and ethnic aspects of both and how literature works to challenge/perpetuate these connections… relevant to this thinking is work done on Maxine Hong Kingston’s writing. For example, Jeehyun Lim writes:

“While The Woman Warrior debunks the idea that there can be a causal relationship between language and the body, it grapples with the question of what it means for a racialized body to acquire language. By showing how the body’s racial marker precedes language performance, Kingston dismantles an easy distinction between language ability and disability and makes the reader aware that language is always intimately linked to the body that speaks and the material conditions of that body.”[1]

Does recent urban fantasy engage with these pressures? how so? just wondering… sexuality is often a key feature… as is the question of identity… hmmm

[1] 50 Jeehyun Lim (2006) ‘Cutting the Tongue: Language and the body in Kingston’s ‘The Woman Warrior’ MELUS 31(3) Fall: 49-65