Rape as Narrative Device in ‘American Horror Story’

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I recently began watching ‘American Horror’ Story on Netflix to see what all the hullaballoo was about, and I quickly became a die-hard fan of the series. I’ve heard some feminist criticism that popular television’s rape trope is abused and unnecessary. Many viewers find rape scenes more difficult to endure than the goriest and bloodiest of murder scenes in film and on TV. AHS depicts rape in each of its three seasons (season four: “Freak Show” begins in October of this year), and I’ve been trying to make some sense of these scenes: all very different, yet centered around the idea that rape is its own horror, worse than murder. Sexual violence in film has always been controversial, in part because it works as an acknowledgment of something so many victims are afraid to share or discuss, even with other victims. AHS’s handful of rape scenes reference gender roles, mental illness, and identity politics, and do in fact have a place in the storylines in which we find ourselves so invested.

Sex, Violence and Girls in Pink Dresses: Thoughts on Prom Horror Flicks

Lola and Brent pose for twisted prom photos

Like most horror films, prom horror is about teenage girls and what they chose to do with their bodies. As a culture, it’s a topic we find truly terrifying.
We’re taught to think of prom night is an important moment, as a signifier for burgeoning, barely contained sexuality and transformation. It’s the night, good girls become bad girls, shy girls reveal their hidden confidence and ugly girls shed their glasses or comb their hair and look almost beautiful, imperceptible from their peers.

The Layered Danish Pastry Called ‘Borgen’


A subtitled Danish drama about Danish coalition politics sounds rather elitist (if not absurdly boring) and one that, at best, would appeal to a niche audience. However headlines such as “Stop what you are doing and go watch ‘Borgen,’” “Why Danish Political drama ‘Borgen’ is Everything” and “Why the World fell for ‘Borgen’” from sources ranging from ‘The Telegraph’ to the ‘Buzzfeed’ may make you reconsider that initial assumption.

Inviting Global Celebration of Films #DirectedbyWomen

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We are living in an age where there is an explosion of films #DirectedbyWomen. That’s cause for celebration, but an enormous number of women filmmakers are working below the radar or on the fringes of awareness in the global film community. The result? Many film lovers are being left in the dark. They’re missing out on a rich vein of film treasures. Let’s draw films #DirectedbyWomen up into the light, so we can explore and appreciate them. Let’s help the world fall madly in love with and wildly celebrate women filmmakers and their films.

Love It or Hate It, Emotions Served Raw in the Music of ‘Les Misérables’


Ugly singing; ugly make-up. ‘Les Misérables’ is deservedly known as the film that tried too hard to bum us out, and Anne Hathaway is known as the actress who tries too hard to be liked. But, isn’t it nice, sometimes, when somebody makes an effort?

Everything’s Coming up Braverman in ‘Parenthood’

Everyone gathered 'round the Parenthood table

‘Parenthood’ is about showing us rounded human beings, triumphantly showing us their strengths and compassionately portraying their weaknesses. The interconnectedness and communication of this family is inspiring, and the series is always true to its characters’ unique psychology.

‘One Cut, One Life’: Love, Death, and Jealousy


First person documentary filmmakers Ed Pincus and Lucia Small are no strangers to letting an audience in on their family “secrets”: Small in ‘My Father, The Genius,’ a film about her own father and their ambivalent relationship, and Pincus in ‘Diaries,’ in which he filmed both his girlfriend and wife in 1970s Cambridge, the latter–in one scene that seems to sum up the post-hippie atmosphere of the time and place–nude and playing a flute.

Bitch Flicks’ Weekly Picks


Check out what we’ve been reading this week–and let us know what you’ve been reading/writing in the comments!

Seed & Spark: The Spectrum of #BetterRepresentation


A lot has been written recently (this week) about ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ This is strange, in 2014, because it’s a show that we’ve all stopped watching at least as many times as we’ve begun again. But for all the talk about the lack of diversity, the lack of female characters with volition, and the heyday for feminism happening now on TV, ‘Grey’s’ stands out as a show that was ahead of its time and as one that has endured. The three top surgeons at the show’s conception were African Americans. Female doctors seem to outnumber male ones and nobody in the world of the show finds that remarkable. But I do.

When Can You Laugh at Suicide?: ‘A Long Way Down’

Poster for A Long Way Down

Suicide is no laughing matter, but we try. If it’s not a heavy drama or inspirational story telling you to stop and watch the sunset, stop and smell the roses, and the like, making a film about suicide requires a light touch and buckets of understanding and sensitivity. As a comedy plot, it only seems to work when sensitivity is disposed of completely. Suicide has been a successful plot for dark comedies, most notably ‘Heathers’ and ’Harold and Maude’, which are full of irony, satire, insight and meditation. But ’A Long Way Down’, a British film based on the bestselling novel by Nick Hornby, is not a dark comedy

Facing Down the Devil in ‘The Lesser Blessed’

Dreamlike images of a body immersed in bathwater intermingle with images of fire and shadowy figures running. The camera settles clearly on the deeply scarred back of the young man in the tub as the opening sequence to ‘The Lesser Blessed’ comes to a close and the camera travels across a remote landscape split by a single road.

Wedding Movies Revisited

'Bride Wars', the quintessential obnoxious wedding movie

The staggering majority of wedding movies take on the inherent drama of an impending lifelong commitment by tearing apart the engaged couple for a more “meant to be” love, generally with either a close friend or someone working on the wedding. This trope became incredibly frustrating for me when I was engaged, because I wasn’t inclined to root for weddings falling apart at the altar. I became so jaded about the genre, hating that so many movies with central female characters are wrapped up in the wedding world. But this week I’ve been rethinking wedding movies a bit.