The second episode of The Pop Culture Lens podcast is up and live!
In the second episode of The Pop Culture Lens podcast, Christopher Olson and CarrieLynn Reinhard are joined by young scholar Clelia Sweeney to discuss the counterculture cult horror classic Freaks (1932). Their guest brings to bear her research on freak shows, reality TV and serial killers as the discussion considers why we humans are so fascinated with abnormality.
Our basic conclusion: while there are great similarities between this film and contemporary reality TV, the biggest difference is in how they treat people who are considered to be abnormal in some way. And the eighty year-old horror movie about a freak show seems to treat them more like humans than modern reality TV! Listen to find out more!
In the United States, women’s nipples are not allowed to be seen in the media. These natural, life-sustaining features are deemed inappropriate — even to the point where pictures of breastfeeding were banned from Facebook.
But men’s nipples, those rather meaningless holdovers from at one point being a female zygote in the womb? Those are completely fine.
So, okay, let’s take advantage of that with an arena where the male nip is always slipped: professional wrestling aka sports entertainment.
And so I present to you the satirical yet serious Wrestlers’ Nipples.
Christopher Olson examines a forgotten movie that should be a classic. If you like gangster movies, revenge flicks, and handsome French men, then this is the movie for you!
Originally posted on Seems Obvious to Me:
In Cult Catalogue, I offer my thoughts on cult movies, and try to determine whether or not they are essential, forgettable, or somewhere in between. Throughout this series I will endeavor to focus primarily on cultish, lesser-known, or largely forgotten films, though in the age of the Internet, nothing is ever truly forgotten, so occasionally the movies may seem more familiar. These posts will be less academic, and more in the vein of straight up reviews or blog posts, though occasionally I will attempt to bring in some sort of scholarship or academic approach to these write ups whenever warranted. More than anything, these posts simply represent my attempt to put forth my thoughts on lesser known cult films and so-called “bad” movies. Anyway, I hope you enjoy. As always, I welcome your feedback, so please, let me know what you think of this entry in the comments after the…
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As we have repeatedly seen during this project we are calling Tensions in Exorcism Cinema, there appears to be a narrative made popular by the success of The Exorcist (1973). There is a reason we like to say that the 1973 movie is the one that started it all, even though there had been films before The Exorcist that depicted demonic possession and exorcism rituals. The success of the 1973 horror classic led to many other film producers, around the world and across time, to attempt to capitalize on its success by essentially redoing the film’s central narrative and conflict. A common narrative and conflict emerged across the movies that were released after The Exorcist. In our analysis of The Last Exorcism and The Last Exorcism Part II, we call this commonality the “traditional exorcism narrative.”
In this traditional exorcism narrative, a demonic or evil force possesses a girl or young woman, leading her to behave “badly,” as defined by society and culture. This afflicted person must then be saved, and thereby the danger to the rest of use removed, by some member of a religious order, usually a male priest, reverend, pastor or rabbi. This male religious figure can be read as representing a patriarchal order that seeks to maintain a status quo in which women are not a threat. By removing the possession and returning women to a state of innocence, the threat the woman represents is undone and traditional order is restored.
We have seen this pattern repeated over and over again, across time and cultures. Few films reject or subvert this narrative. As we have discussed, The Last Exorcism Part II does subvert this narrative. Additionally, while exceedingly rare, there are stories that focus on the possessed being male. Most of these films come to us by being associated with The Exorcist, and thus could be read as attempting to keep the franchise fresh. For example, The Exorcist III could be read at William Peter Blatty’s attempt to reignite the passion generated from the first movie. Furthermore, while Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist featured a possessed African boy, the movie was scrapped by the studio as the official prequel to The Exorcist, leading to Exorcist: The Beginning returning to the possessed woman as threat narrative. Additionally, the “true story” behind The Exorcist, Possessed, which featured a possessed young boy, only aired on Showtime. These three films, then show examples of trying to capitalize on The Exorcist by presenting twists on this traditional exorcism narrative, but none were financially or culturally successful.
Beyond this franchise, there have been occasions of men being possessed during the course of an exorcism cinema film, such as in The Devil Inside or The Rite. However, these possessions were secondary to the main female possessions that were at the center of the film or were the inciting incidents of each film’s narrative. Only in The Rite does the possession really feature the conflict between a possessed person and a man of faith how is struggling with his faith, this conflict being so central to the traditional exorcism narrative. In a sense, the presence of a possessed man in exorcism cinema is more novelty than commonality.
From Reaffirming to Challenging Traditions: A critical comparison of The Last Exorcism and The Last Exorcism Part II
Christopher Olson and I presented our first analysis for the exorcism cinema project at this year’s Midwest Popular Culture Association conference. We subsequently wrote the presentation as a paper that would go in a book we are developing. We just submitted the book proposal last night, and now this morning you can read this analysis here: From Reaffirming to Challenging Traditions: A critical comparison of The Last Exorcism and The Last Exorcism Part II.
As All Hallow’s Eve approaches, and the dark veil between the land of the living and the land of the dead lists, we in the Western world turn to concerns of all things supernatural.
But it is not just Halloween that propels people to be worried about how the spiritual plan can impede in this world of ours. According to the article below from The Huffington Post, people are continuing their concerns about the supernatural, and how it can influence their daily lives through the form of possession. Not only are these concerns continuing from tradition, but, according to some quoted in the article, they may be increasing.
Why would these issues be increasing? Could it be that the uncertainties and anxieties of our current age compel us to look for explanations from extremely external sources — from the spiritual plane, beyond our control? Could it be that four decades of exorcism cinema has led people to be more concerned that what they are experiencing is something Hollywood has shown us is real? Or is it just that a recent resurgence of exorcism cinema is because of the uncertainties and anxieties of our time?
What are your thoughts? Are demons real? Can demonic possession occur? Are exorcisms necessary to make people’s lives better?
Or are such beliefs just ways for people to cope with the fears in their lives? And could exorcism cinema films be just another way to cope?