Swipe left to patriarchy: BoJack Horseman and neoliberal feminism

Valentina Aparicio | January 22, 2018
Nowadays, for the sake of good PR, supporting diversity is a must for any company. At least on paper. However, while identity politics has fully entered the mainstream political discourse, attention to material inequality continues to be overlooked. Last week, Anahit Behrooz’s article criticised the way in which Hollywood stars have come out to support victims of sexual harassment in problematic ways, such as Connie Britton’s $380 sweater that read ‘poverty is sexist’. The truth is that in fact most of the fights of identity politics have been now co-opted by the immensely wealthy. Media corporations and tech giants continue to portray the rich as messiahs of social change, turning the economic success of one (coloured, female, LGBT) individual into proof of equality for the many, through a discourse Naomi Klein has termed ‘trickle down identity politics’. And while criticism against ‘white feminism’ proliferates in the humanities, much work is yet to be done regarding neoliberal pro-diversity feminisms.

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The Key Ingredient to the Comedy Cocktail

Christa M. Burgin | January 15, 2018
Empowerment can be conveyed in several forms. For many individuals, it thrusts and swings in the dance of music. For others, it cuts across paper in the rhythm of words. And for some, it ripples, and builds, and shakes through laughter. That is the calling of our comedians, for they have the ability to influence a vast number of people through media outlets, including Netflix specials, late-night television, and YouTube.

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Mushi-Shi and Mental Health

Tomas Vergara | December 5, 2017

Netflix’s Mushi-Shi (2005) is a japanese anime series with a vast repertoire of philosophical and spiritual themes. The general plot of the series focuses on the travels of Ginko, an expert in creatures known as “Mushi”, from one place to another in the rural country. In each episode, Ginko encounters people who have been unconsciously hosted or influenced by these enigmatic creatures. What the series reveals about Mushi is that they differ in kind from other life forms, and that their existence is unknown to most people. Only a few people are aware of them: Ginko is one of these, a “Mushi-shi” aiming to discover more about Mushi in order to elucidate some of the enigmas concerning their existence and effects on other life forms.

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Leave Us Our Precious

Laurie Beckoff | December 4, 2017
The announcement of Amazon purchasing the rights to The Lord of the Rings was met with a resounding groan from many Tolkien fans. While some are certainly excited for more Middle-earth on their screens, a large contingent is more than a little concerned about how their precious story could be ruined.

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Big Mouth’s Big Splash

Julian Menjivar | November 30, 2017
While Netflix has a few interesting original productions, there is one that pushes the boundary, tests our comfort zones and heads in a different direction. Netflix’s Big Mouth is an animated series about puberty and sexuality as experienced by young tweens, teens and adults. It is a show that is awkward, fun, disturbing and confusing, yet gives a narrative that advocates for sex positivity, and views puberty as a natural and, frankly, much needed topic for open discussion.

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Trading One War Zone for Another: Daredevil’s Punisher and Violence in the City

Patricia Ng | November 22, 2017
The Punisher couldn’t have returned to Netflix at a better time. With a series of incidents involving gun violence in the past few months and the debate over gun control roaming the air, the famous Marvel anti-hero becomes an even more controversial figure. Yet, it is precisely because of the situation in America now that Frank Castle’s reappearance needs special attention.

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Gaga: Five Foot Two – Documenting Fame and Fibromyalgia

Anna Kemball | November 20, 2017
Microphone in hand, her bejewelled boots dangling, Lady Gaga rises into the heights of the NGR Stadium to rehearse an aerial performance in her Super Bowl halftime show. Rising higher, out of the camera’s focus, the singer disappears from view as a choir is heard singing Kaval Sviri (better known as the fight theme of Xena: Warrior Princess). So begins Gaga: Five Foot Two, a feature-length Netflix documentary. Although the documentary covers the release of Joanne, Gaga’s latest album, and her Super Bowl performance, reviews have focused on the coverage of her fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), a long term condition characterised by widespread pain, fatigue and other symptoms. The name alone – referring to the singer’s height – suggests our focus should be on Gaga’s physicality as we watch Gaga: Five Foot Two. On the face of it, documentary coverage of FMS is a much-needed representation of an “invisible disability” that affects around 1 in 20. Making the condition “visible” must surely be a good thing, right?

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Communicating the Upside Down: Meaning Making and Semiotics in Netflix’s Stranger Things

Anahit Behrooz | November 6, 2017
At its heart, Stranger Things is about tension: the tension between the normal and the weird, the familiar and the unfamiliar, the known and the strange. The normal and the familiar are established through the show’s primary setting – the small, quintessentially American town of Hawkins, where everyone knows everyone, children can play outdoors and, according to the town’s chief of police, Jim Hopper, the worst thing to ever happen was an owl flying at a citizen’s head. This familiarity is reinforced on an extradiegetic level through the numerous intertextual references to numerous works of 80’s sci-fi genre fiction, which provide a network of signifiers that make Stranger Things immediately readable and accessible. At the other extreme, events happen throughout the show to destabilise this familiarity.

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The (Ignored) Feminist Heroes of Wonder Woman

Scheherazade Khan | 13 June 2017

Warning : Spoilers ahead for Wonder Woman (2017)

Though box office ratings and some critiques seem to suggest that Wonder Woman is finally giving a female role the appropriate attention, I join with other critics who argue that the movie itself failed to deliver on the hope that it would be a feminist dream. For me, Wonder Woman suggests that the only way for female superheroes to be successful is to mimic traditionally male roles. That is, having adventures, engaging in physical violence while proclaiming superior – if not slightly naïve – moral standards, all while wearing absurdly tight clothing that seems like it would be a hindrance when fighting for one’s life. In comparison, the working women in the movie (of which there are a grand total of two) are used either as comic relief or for nefarious purposes.

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The Outlander Franchise and National History

Emanuela Militello | 12 June 2017

Since I came across the highly popular book and television series Outlander, partially set during the Jacobite rebellions, I have been asking myself how these fictional renditions of such a significant episode in Scottish history influence the perception of its viewers and readers. Do they allow viewers and readers to gain an understanding of the historical events they represent, or do they instead obfuscate the historical realities of the events in question?

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