Examining Alfred Hitchcock‘s Rebecca in terms of the Gothic convention of non-realist doubled and split characters, this essay argues that the slippage of desire between characters, male as well as female, complicates the containment of the dead Rebecca and whatever she represents. Although the splitting of the female protagonist into the unnamed heroine, the ghostly Rebecca and her surrogate Mrs Danvers has been extensively discussed, the use of this strategy as it concerns the male characters has been less often noticed. The replication of the male protagonist, Maxim, by two other male characters at once deepens him psychologically and contaminates him with ghostliness. These two conflicting manoeuvres strengthen his connection with both his wives, the dead as much as the living. But even while the treatment of Maxim empowers Rebecca and her successor, the movie‘s depiction of male bonding invites a questioning of the extent of female agency.
This article provides a reading of gender politics in cyberpunk, drawing upon the Gothic, the cyborg and the (post)feminist subject. This reading is effected through an account of the ass-kicking techno-babe, a crucial component of the masculine strand of cyberpunk which valorises a masculinity and technology dialectic and draws upon film noir, with its hardboiled detectives and monstrous femmes fatales. From Molly Million‘s in Neuromancer to Y.T. in Neal Stephenson‘s Snow Crash (1992) and Trinity in Andy and Larry Wachowski‘s Matrix trilogy (1999–2003), this figure of the femme fatale demonstrates that the (post)feminist project of the ass-kicking techno-babe has found a home in the Gothic aesthetics of the noir-inf(l)ected genre of cyberpunk. The account of how hyper-sexualised cyborgic female bodies are positioned in contrast with the repressed bodies of male hackers reveals the destabilising conundrum of supposed agency contained by the determinacy of the (post)feminist body.
ESPN and the Un-Americanisation of Global Football
This article examines the cultural politics of American soccer fandom, with specific
attention paid to the ways in which the sport is positioned and platformed by the
major sports networks, including, especially, cable televisions biggest player in the
United States, ESPN. The networks‘ failure to exploit soccer as a marketable
commodity can be traced to a persistent American futility at the sport on the
international level, but it evinces as well a larger American cultural problematic,
one in which ethnocentrism and isolationism is disguised, as it often is, as American
Pablo Corro‘s 2014 book Retóricas del cine chileno (Rhetorics of Chilean Cinema) is a
wide-ranging examination of the style and concerns that have come to characterise
Chilean film-making from the 1950s to the present day. Corro demonstrates how ideas
of national cinema are always to some extent dependent on transnational currents of
cinematic ideas and techniques, as well as on local political contexts. The chapter
presented here, Weak Poetics, adapts Gianni Vattimo‘s notion of weak thought to
discuss the growing attention paid by Chilean films to the mundane, the everyday and
the intimate. Corro‘s dense, allusive writing skilfully mirrors the films he
describes, in which meaning is fragmented and dispersed into glimpsed appearances and
acousmatic sounds. Corros historicisation of this fracturing of meaning allows the
cinema of the everyday to be understood not as a retreat from politics, but as a
recasting of the grounds on which it might occur.
In 1807, the Duchess of Bedford and several of her circle attended a performance of the opera The First Attempt at Dublin‘s Theatre Royal. Their hair was not coifed in the style of the day but rather swept up and fastened with golden bodkins in the ancient Irish manner. Soon this became all the rage in polite Irish society, and Dublin jewellers, struggling to compete, took out advertisements to accuse other firms of making less than authentic replicas. Indeed, the great demand in Dublin for these golden bodkins inflated the price of gold in Ireland. Drapers soon saw a business opportunity in this Celtic fashion renaissance and started producing the `Glorvina Mantle, a flowing scarlet cape, ideally secured with golden replicas of Celtic broaches. Eventually these ancient Gaelic styles made their way to London and became fashionable among ladies from the upper class. The popularity of this exotic dress resulted from a confluence of factors. While the growing interest in Irish antiquarianism, the European fascination with orientalism and the popularity of Gothic romance fed the fire, the spark that ignited the blaze was The Wild Irish Girl, a novel written by a young Irish governess. Not only does this fashion craze bear witness to the popularity of the text, but so do the sales figures. This popular novel, first published in 1806, went through seven editions in two years, and was even successful on the Continent, especially in Germany, where the young authors popularity almost eclipsed Scott‘s and Byron‘s and her sales figures surpassed those of her fellow Irish writers, Maria Edgeworth and Charles Maturin. In fact, the great Gothic writer Maturin openly borrowed from The Wild Irish Girl in his own work.
In 1974 the British Board of Film Censors refused to grant a certificate to the
Swedish documentary More About the Language of Love
(Mera ur Kärlekens språk, 1970, Torgny Wickman,
Sweden: Swedish Film Production), due to its explicit sexual content.
Nevertheless, the Greater London Council granted the film an ‘X’
certificate so that it could be shown legally in cinemas throughout the capital.
This article details the trial against the cinema manager and owners, after the
film was seized by police under the charge of obscenity, and explores the impact
on British arguments around film censorship, revealing a range of attitudes
towards sex and pornography. Drawing on archival records of the trial, the
widespread press coverage as well as participants’ subsequent
reflections, the article builds upon Elisabet Björklund’s work on
Swedish sex education films and Eric Schaefer’s scholarship on
Sweden’s ‘sexy nation’ reputation to argue that the Swedish
films’ transnational distribution complicated tensions between
educational and exploitative intentions in a particularly British culture war
Frank Sinatra, Postwar Liberalism and Press Paranoia
Anti-Communist hysteria had a wide-ranging impact on Hollywood across the postwar
period. As writers, directors and stars came under the scrutiny of the House
Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) due to the content of their films and their
political activities, careers were interrupted indefinitely and Hollywood‘s ability
to promote cultural change in the new era following World War II was severely
hampered. Frank Sinatra‘s heavy involvement in liberal politics during this period
illustrates the problems confronting the American film industry as it attempted to
address the country‘s imperfections.
Averageness, Populism and Seriality in Robert Benchley‘s How to Short
Over the course of the 1930s, the comic persona of Algonquin humorist Robert Benchley
changed from that of a sophisticated humorist to an average man. This article
situates Benchley‘s How to short subjects for MGM (1935–44) within a broader public
preoccupation with averageness that characterised the populist political rhetoric of
New Deal-era America. In particular, it explores the function of seriality as a
discursive trope conjoining the format of Benchley‘s MGM shorts to the broader
construction of average identities in the eras political culture.
Adrian Scott and the Politics of Anti-Fascism in Cornered
Drawing on internal studio correspondence, multiple screenplay drafts and the final
film, this essay reconstructs the production history of Cornered to explore the ways
in which Scott both compromised with and challenged the studios expectations and
interventions. I argue that although Ceplair and Englund are correct in their
assessment that studio meddling shaped the films political content in significant
ways, Scotts complex negotiations during the films production ensured that Cornered
remained a powerfully anti-fascist film.