American Horror Story: Coven
It seems in Hollywood, you can’t talk about women without talking about witches.
And if you’re anything like me, every reader of this site wants the same thing: to see more portrayals of women on film, televisions, and beyond that reflect their complexities, strengths and weakness alike. We want a greater range of body types, a greater representation of lifestyle choices, a broader world of occupations and skill sets and backstories and destinies.
Firstly, a definition of sorts: the myth of the “strong Black woman” is loosely defined as a Black woman who is emotionally hardy to the point of feeling no pain. She is never fazed or hysterical. She is cold and calculating. She has no personal needs or desires and doesn’t complain. She can take a beating and come out on the other side unharmed. This is supposed to be seen as a good thing. Black women are “so strong” that no amount of abuse will break them. They will always keep plodding on. “Strong black women” are superhuman.
‘The Lost Boys’ is a classic 1980s vampire flick directed by Joel Schumacher. It is as famous for its soundtrack as it is for its content. The entire film in fact is exemplified in its main theme–“Cry Little Sister,” by G Tom Mac–from the typical horror themed sections to its classic 80s rock moments down to its choral moments. These sections sum up the film almost perfectly.
Characters with physical or developmental disabilities are rarely given prominent roles on television ensembles, much less well-developed characters. ‘Glee’ and ‘American Horror Story,’ TV shows created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, both feature important characters with Down Syndrome and have received much praise for it. However, the mere existence of these characters is not enough to suggest they are well portrayed and in each character there are several questionable areas that warrant discussion.
From the get go, female sexuality in Coven is positioned as dangerous, sometimes deadly and something that people will try over and over again to control. In the first episode, a young witch, Zoe Benson, comes to the knowledge of her powers by accidentally killing the boy she chooses to have her first penetrative sexual encounter with, one of the few fully consensual sex acts we see on Coven. She literally kills a man with her vagina. The message that female sexuality is dangerous if not deadly is hammered home with the language Cordelia uses to welcome Zoe to the school for witches. The other girls claim that Cordelia wants them to suppress their witchy powers, and she responds, “Not suppress–control.” She expresses the idea that their powers are dangerous unless they are strictly controlled. This is not a subtle metaphor for the repression and control of women’s bodies and sexuality.
Check out what we’ve been reading this week–and let us know what you’ve been reading/writing in the comments!
This week we’ve been reading about how an actress prepares for violence in a film, women directors, the common flaw of TV’s strong women, and more. Tell us what you’ve been reading and writing this week in the comments!