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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Empty Words: The Politics of Performing Change

Anahit Behrouz | January 10, 2018
In an article for The Pool published the week before the 2018 Golden Globes ceremony, film critic Helen O’Hara questioned what a Hollywood awards ceremony would look like in a post-Weinstein world. O’Hara argued that although women only get 27% of the lines in the average Oscar-winning film, this year’s Golden Globes nominee list showed a progression towards a more equal awards ceremony, with numerous women and female-focused films up for consideration. As heartening as this may be, O’Hara did not delve into the question of how the mechanics of an awards ceremony in a post-Weinstein world would work, and what the optics would look like in an industry spending millions of dollars in self-congratulation during the same year that its ugly underbelly has been exposed.

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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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Netflix’s Alias Grace and Female Testimony

Maria Elena Torres-Quevedo | November 20, 2017
Netflix’s Alias Grace (2017) is the second series to be released this year based on one of Margaret Atwood’s novels. The six-part series is, like Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale (2017) before it, an unflinching depiction of women’s precarious position in society, through a defamiliarised, yet uncomfortably familiar, setting.

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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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