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If ever one needed an example of a scholarly train-wreck, this is it. I have never in my life encountered an ‘argument’ where almost all of the interesting analyses are moved to the footnotes and the body of the text consists of nothing but very loosely related asides.

Honestly, his ‘argument’ goes from ‘Dr. Who was structured like BBC travelogues in the sixties,’ to ‘insert shots as establishing shots,’ to ‘the Mulveyan male-gaze versus screaming women looking at male monsters,’ back to the travelogue concept of random information gathering, to the Foucaultian panopticon as villain (though the Doctor reserves the right for himself to go anywhere and see anything), back to the travelogue concept with the Doctor as question-asker rather than answer-giver, Barthes “Mythologies” and the Doctor as ‘flaneur’ (these two things are entirely unconnected), before finally ‘concluding’ with “so, the Doctor…[is] both observer and observed.”

If you found that hard to follow…congratulations; that means you are a normal, rational human being. Unlike the author of this chapter.  The ‘argument’ is nothing more than a pastiche of formal, feminist, psychoanalytic, and historiographic analyses; there is no connecting tissue here at all, nor is there a coherent thesis.  The article is more of a scholarly CV than an actual argument; ‘look at all the things I can cite’ it seems to say.

There are a number of very interesting observations scattered around in here. So many, in fact, that to try to summarize this chapter in a blog post would run on for hours. I am, therefore, grateful that the chapter exists, if only to start discussions. But for the most part, this is like taking 30 observations, throwing them in a blender, and publishing it as though you’ve done an ‘analysis.’

This is the closest scholarship gets to actual physical pain.

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This is such an interesting little film, I’ll not spoil it with too much talking. I’d just like to point out some of the thought provoking elements of the film.

  1. ‘Reality’ of the plot vs. interpretive openings – Several points of entry into the film as metaphor seem to exist regardless of the plot.  The purely social (employer/employee, friend) relationship between Miss Pettigrew and Delysia Lafosse manages to have lesbian overtones despite overt heterosexuality as a plotline.  Miss Pettigrew, despite narratively being a Christian woman (father was a clergyman), manages to seem like both a depression era British poor woman and a Jewish woman in Germany just prior to World War II.  These are only two examples; the film is working on far more levels than it’s plot.
  2. Likewise, story setting and theoretical settings blend together – The depression and the threat of the blitz (an always fertile area for metaphor) are combined with both a sentimental critique of upper-class culture as shallow, and a liberal feminist critique of culture as ‘masquerade.’  Again, the story works on multiple, even seemingly conflicting levels of interpretation.
  3. Straightforward romantic ending as critique of the urge to criticize the romantic ending? – The fact that the film is working in such a complex fashion, with a vast store of ‘mood’ and meaning seeming to trail behind it, renders the very typical romantic happy ending as both unbelievably trite and disappointing (could such a complex film really end this way) and also one laden with hidden meanings.  The latter observation leads me to…
  4. Miss Pettigrew as Rick from Casablanca? – Though the film has virtually nothing to do with the overt war-time politics of Casablance (this film is, instead, entirely about women and romance), it actually feels like a remake of Casablanca from a woman’s perspective.  This gets complicated, but by the end, Miss Pettigrew effectively sends her only friend (a veiled lesbian version of Casablanca’s heterosexual couple?) to the ‘safety’ of America (see Rick’s “maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow” speech) with her ‘true love,’ and is left to help others through the coming war (Rick was a way out; Pettigrew is wisdom from World War I).  She walks away with her own new beau, Joe Blumfield (an overtly heterosexual version of Casablanca’s perhaps gay “beautiful friendship” between Rick and Captain Renault?).  The ending of this film is so perfectly constructed as a gendered inversion of Casablanca that it can’t really be unintentional.

Other elements are equally interesting.  The film is definitely about women, but power relations (men with money and position, women with nothing but manipulation) are never foregrounded – its feminism without the bludgeon.  The easing in of wartime imagery works very well – giving the story a historical setting without destroying the possibility of counter-(allegorical)-readings.  The form of the film is likewise provocative in subtle ways: sometimes an active party goes out of focus, despite the fact that we can still glean story elements from them (see the post-cigar smoking reaction of Miss Pettigrew, for example); two emotions are also played in the same visual space but in different planes (for example, a happy Delysia Lafosse will step across the frame to reveal a displeased Miss Pettigrew in the background).

I can’t speak highly enough about this film.  It may drag a little in the middle; I can’t really tell without watching it again, knowing the ending so as to watch for the subtleties in the middle.  But otherwise this is a practically flawless, very thought provoking little ‘woman’s picture.’  Far far more than the sum of its parts.

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I’m going to combine these two chapters into a single post, as the latter is a partial elaboration and a partial critique of the former.

Chapter three, the first truly excellent chapter in the book, is a practically indisputable (in my opinion) theoretical analysis of the ways in which ‘history’ has been used as a genre over the course of Dr. Who. Approaching the shift from a ‘reception’ (spectator) perspective, history as a genre in Dr. Who is approached in terms of genre fluidity.

The basic argument starts with the old fan-made distinction between ‘pure historical’ stories (like the first season episode “The Aztecs”) and ‘pseudo-historical’ stories (think of “Time Meddler” or “War Games”). From this premise, the author proceeds to argue that ‘pure historicals’ – in which only the Doctor, his companions, and his ship are science fictional elements in an otherwise purely historical story…and in which our heroes spend the bulk of their time trying to survive – as imagined by the fans, were largely a function of the initial conception of the program. A clear focus on occasional ‘educational’ storytelling, a group dynamic for the heroes rather than the Doctor as central figure, and a clear division between the fields of science (represented by Ian) and history (Barbara), was the core of the show in its initial configuration. However, as the original companions left – leaving the Doctor as the strongest audience draw – and the original production team was replaced, the historical episodes went through a phase of ‘genre creep’ (the author’s term) in which the traits of the more sci-fi stories began to find their way into the historicals. Eventually, by the episode “Time Meddler,” there had been a complete shift to ‘pseudo-historicals’ – in which the ‘Doctor as hero’ motif plays out in a historical space that is either in need of protection from an alien menace or is a fabrication of the villains entirely. Only “The Highlanders” (second Doctor) and “Black Orchid” (fifth Doctor) functioned as ‘pure historicals’ after the show lost its original structure (Dr., Susan, Ian, Babs, and the initial production team).

Further arguments are made that the post-cancellation embrace of the ‘pure historical’ in novels and audio dramas has resulted in a hybrid form which embraces the ‘pure historical’ concept as educational, the ‘fictional history’ as equally plausible (and at times indistinguishable), and the ‘Doctor as hero.’ But he discusses this only briefly.

The only real criticism that I can offer of the chapter is also perhaps a mark of my highest praise for it. The author makes no mention of any outside scholarship, and barely even mentions any other television programs outside of Dr. Who. His treatment is one of pure isolation, which makes me wonder if he’s simply not bothering to research previously attempted approaches or if no one has attempted an analysis such as this before. Regardless, the argument here, built upon the two ideas of ‘genre creep’ and the emergence of a central hero figure in a series that outlives a number of its characters, I believe to be widely applicable to other long running television series. While most series don’t have such clear distinctions between their internal genres (unlike Dr. Who’s future/past/present split), I think we could still trace these patterns in other programs…especially fantasy and sci-fi.

Nicely done.

Chapter 4 follows this argument with a strongly grounded ‘industrial’ analysis of the transition from ‘pure historical’ to ‘pseudo historical’ between “An Unearthly Child” (1963) and “The Highlanders” (1967). (Though the chapter foregrounds a comparison between Dr. Who historicals and the Peter Watkins telefilm “Culloden,” the “Culloden” bits are easily jettisoned from this overview…and actually could have been removed entirely from the chapter without much difficulty.)

In this chapter, authorial and BBC mandate are foregrounded as the major factors in the transition from about half of the first season episodes being historical to, eventually, no historical stories at all.

Partially this acts as elaboration on Chapter 3. Interesting but tangential elements of the BBC’s approach to historicals are revealed here. For example, “Dr. Who” apparently had an ‘agreement’ not to produce historical stories set after 1600 as this was the realm of the ‘literary serials’ that would air on Sundays. (The further interesting claim that this left Dr. Who unable to “challeng[e] literary interpretations of history…instead becom[ing] dependent on them” is wonky and needs elaboration.) The bulk of the argument is designed not to discuss the shift in historical approach itself, but instead to explain the disappearance of anything remotely resembling pure historicals from the program after 1967. (This is a problematic approach, as it effectively disregards the shift laid out in the previous chapter and discusses pre-1970 and post-1970 ‘history’ as discreet types.) His argument along these lines is hazy, and seems to be poorly thought out (as the ending seems to conflict a little with the beginning. He appears to argue first that the BBC became less interested in having Dr. Who as a ‘challenge’ to viewer preconceptions and instead have it be more ‘reassuring’ (a familiar argument – as a program/character moves from ‘new’ to ‘company flagship’ it tends to become less and less envelope-pushing). Later, in an apparent turnaround, however, he seems to argue that the ‘challenge’ simply shifted away from historical stories and into either contemporary settings or into ‘base under siege’ stories (which did basically what the historicals did – using recognizable politics in an odd setting as an allegory for present day situations). Either of these arguments would work, but it’s difficult for both to be true.

There are also some helpful rephrasings of claims from Chapter 3; i.e. the shift from ‘unchangeable history’ to ‘Doctor as hero’ is described here as a move towards treating the Doctor as operating under a new philosophy of “happy-go-lucky interventionism.” (A slightly different, and perhaps slightly less accurate approach, but which has its own benefits in opening up the discussion.)

We also have, however, a few moments that seem to critique the earlier chapter. For example, it is problematic to do a genre analysis, as the previous author did, when the ‘genre’ is dominated by a small number of writers. (Siegfried Kracauer notably did this in his problematic study of German films – “From Caligari to Hitler” – when he claimed that an entire ‘group’ of films could be discussed when said group consisted solely of two films…both of which were made by Fritz Lang, no less.) This chapter brings up the valid point that there was a distinct difference between the approaches of writers Donald Cotton (“play[ed] with form to subvert audience expectations”) and Dennis Spooner (“lighthearted…and tended to exploit rather than challenge audience expectations”). Authorial difference, of course, should not be minimized in telling of the transition of a series’ approach to genre if changes in approach and changes in writing staff are contemporaneous.  This is potentially a major issue with the previous chapter’s argument about ‘genre creep.’

Again, nicely done, although this chapter is much more weakly thought out than the previous (and all the “Culloden” hoo-ha is a red-herring). The two chapters together make for an excellent study of Dr. Who’s relationship to history/genre.

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While watching a little bit of television to start my day today, I caught some of a show called “Man vs. Wild” (starring the ridiculously named adventurer ‘Bear Grylls’).

While lowering himself into a ‘deadly’ hole in glacial ice, jabbering the entire way about how lethal the thing was and how it could ‘close up any second,’ it was very obvious that a cameraman was down there with him – sometimes even deeper in the hole than he was.

For me, awareness of the cameraman made his prattle about deadliness simply insufferable.  I wanted him to shut up and get out of the hole and on to the next thing.  If he was treading so close to death, wouldn’t the cameraman have been in even worse shape – seeing as how he was rendered virtually helpless by being loaded down with a camera?  Mr. Grylls came across as simply self-aggrandizing rather than imperilled.

It is pretty much a common thing in film studies right now to criticize any scholar who would dare imply that the audience is not aware of what it is seeing…that the critic must somehow ‘explain’ the situation in order to save the lowly audience.  I’ve been known to voice this criticism of ‘elitist’ scholars myself, and may well have done so as recently as my last post.  My question is, does “Man vs. Wild” actually prove the myth of a ‘braindead’ audience?  Does my own dislike for the blatant artifice of the show – ranting about obviously faked danger – stand as the only rational approach to the show for a viewer who is aware of the artifice?  Or is my dislike for it simply personal taste, while others might be aware of the fabrication and still enjoy it?

For quite some time I have wondered if, perhaps, we shouldn’t retain the concept of the audience as ‘passive’ rather than argue for its inherent intellect.  I do not propose this because I actually think that people are stupider than me, or that they are incapable of noticing these things.  I simply wonder if the typical viewer doesn’t choose to be mindless (‘willful ignorance’ rather than ‘natural ignorance’) of the cues of fabrication.  For example, as a Bush-hating liberal, I tend to think that I myself am willfully ignorant when faced with such things as “Fahrenheit 9/11,” which is well known to include overstatment and fact-fudging in the name of making a broader argument.

Of course, the question doesn’t have an easy answer, it’s just an interesting one to talk about.  What assumptions about the viewer’s ‘mental posture’ are the most rational?  Obviously assuming they are stupid is stupid in and of itself.  But is assuming they are aware and thinking equally stupid from the opposite direction?

Obviously there are people who fit into each of those three categories, so a blanket decision can’t apply to everyone, but for anyone to make an argument about the ‘general audience’ (which is itself a problematic concept), they need to formulate some kind answer to this question, even if that answer remains unspoken.

At this moment, I do not know what my answer to that question might be.

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In this chapter/essay, what should have been an interesting approach, reading the ways in which various viewers were allowed ‘into’ the program via being able to identify with certain characters, becomes an unbelievably narrow minded analysis of child viewers only.

The argument, such as it is, basically claims that children could identify as easily with the Daleks as with Susan because the Daleks featured ‘child-like’ traits that included such things as being ‘outsiders,’ being frequently incapable of following ‘social codes of politeness,’ and sharing with children “the powerful drive to get what they want.” I am willing to grant, despite the apparent lunacy of claiming that a Nazi allegory can function as a child allegory, that anything is possible to identify with – one simply has to find the way or ways in which the thing in question correlates to oneself. I’ll actually even credit the reading with being pretty profoundly against the grain, as one doesn’t normally think of Daleks as anything other than pure evil.  Kudos for breaking the mold in ‘identification’ theory.

However, the author fails to do anything with this observation as he seems incapable of discussing a child’s identifying practices as the result of anything other than authorial intent. He reads the Daleks as something with which the child might identify and lets the observations sit there in the open air as though the observation itself is enough. No discussion of the differences between a positive-lesson (intended identification as reinforcement), negative-lesson (intended identification as corrective), and subversive/accidental identification (unintended). Nothing at all; the possibility of identification is simply stated.

Rather than go down the road of complicated viewer relations to onscreen characters, the author provides himself with even more interesting suppositions with which he will do nothing.  He justifies the prospect of children identifying with Daleks by arguing, again intelligently, that toy-culture is evidence of the child’s ability to identify with or interact with a character beyond any narrative placement of the character/creature as a villain.  The toy brings the creature into the home and into the child’s power. This is an exceedingly interesting argument, one which complicates a number of accepted notions about what is happening when a viewer ‘identifies’ with an onscreen surrogate…but again, nothing is done with it.

The real problem seems to be that the author is incapable, despite insinuations to the contrary, of seeing the viewer as an active party. It is argued that the child viewer is capable of identifying with Daleks and has a relationship with Daleks that is more complex than their placement as a screen villain, but no effort is made to understand how that works or why we should care. Instead, after all of the arguing that children can identify in places we might not expect, he has a line near the end that disregards any potential value to such identification: “children’s media culture is produced not by children, but for them.”

Sorry, but I have to call ‘bullshit’ there. Children’s media may be produced “not by children, but for them,” but children’s media culture is produced as much by the children themselves as by the media they are consuming.  Media may be a one way street, but culture is mutually created by both speakers and interpreters.

As a scholar interested in the screen use of children and childishness, I am very disappointed in this article’s utter lack of interest in anything other than the child as target or receptacle. As a media scholar in general, I am further disappointed by the article’s apparent lack of interest in providing the slightest legitimizing factor for its own existence. One cannot simply argue that viewer identification can be found in places other than the hero characters – to say this is to say nothing, as it is the very definition of obvious. It takes only the slightest similarity between the self and the screen character to allow identification.

It is very disappointing to read an article with such intelligent observations as grounding which then fails to erect any sort of argument over its foundation.

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(By way of introduction, let me say that, as I could get no one particularly interested in reading the new scholarly book on Dr. Who – “Time and Relative Dissertations in Space” – along with me and starting a conversation blog to discuss it, I have decided to simply write personal reviews of each chapter here.  This may bore everyone to tears, but I feel like doing it.)

Far and away the longest chapter in the book, this article opens the proceedings by attempting a comparison of the pilot of the original series of Dr. Who – “An Unearthly Child” – with the 1996 telefilm as a pilot in its own right. You might be tempted to say “stop right there”…and you would be right.

Here we have an example of an article that raises the question of whether or not its argument is valid or simply interesting. (Not that an ‘invalid’ argument can’t produce valuable analyses – the point is, do we come up with analyses via an ‘invalid’ approach that we might not or could not get from a simple close-reading?) The problem is, the telefilm is not a pilot in the same sense as “An Unearthly Child”; it is a ‘pilot’ that also has 30+ years worth of back story. To expect it not to play by different rules when it tries to ‘define’ the program (one that we hope the public will want to see continue) is simply crazy.

That said, his analyses of the two ‘pilots’ results in some worthwhile readings. To start with “An Unearthly Child,” he provides significant evidence for the idea that it was actively bucking against basically all forms of ‘typing’ (from genre to identifiable film style) in basic structural ways. What I mean by this is that the opening P.O.V. shot – in which a cop looks toward the camera but doesn’t see it, and yet a door opens for us as though we were a person – acts as both embodied and disembodied camera; the music, due to 60s era needs for pre- rather than post-recording, seems untied to the image; the lack of ‘flying’ footage for the Tardis, and the focus instead on passenger reaction downplays science fiction in the name of character study; the Doctor and his ship are treated as mystery rather than with traditional sci-fi over-clarity; etc. He analyzes “Unearthly Child” as an example of ‘making the familiar strange’ – Todorov’s definition of the ‘fantastic.’

He follows this with an analysis of the telefilm as Todorov’s ‘marvelous,’ or the setting of the story in a clearly secondary world, rather than the world we know. Again, all of his analyses are valid: the telefilm does feature overly ‘mickey mousing’ music (music that follows perhaps too closely to the image); it features typical invisible ‘Hollywood’ editing rather than the odd real/unreal opening scene of “Child”; it revels in spectacle rather than character intimacy; and it engages in practically clubbing the viewer over the head with explanations of who and what the Doctor is.

It is in the comparison that the chapter falls apart, however. He spent all this time arguing that Dr. Who was genre-defying rather than genre-specific, and praised “An Unearthly Child” for being so, but then proceeds to lambast the telefilm for not being enough of a ‘mystery’ and for not “fulfill[ing] Darko Suvin’s definition of science fiction as revolving around the dialectic between cognition and estrangement.” Disregarding his own love of genre fluidity in “Child,” he argues that the telefilm does not fit into the ‘genre’ that “Child” created (and even tries to pull in two authorities – Suvin on Sci-Fi an Todorov on the ‘genres’ of fantastic and marvelous – to boot). He tries to justify this turn away from his own tenets by discussing a ‘focus group’ that he held with college students in which he showed them the two ‘pilots’ back to back, and they overwhelmingly preferred “Child” to the telefilm. But audience preference, especially when the audience in question is composed entirely of film scholars and college students, does not say anything about the value of any given approach. When comparing an apple and an orange, one shouldn’t necessarily ask “which is better?” That is a ‘fan’ question, not a scholarly one, and one’s answer depends entirely on the group being asked.

A further problem is that the entire concept of comparing the two, even if they were on level ground is a ‘film scholar’ perspective, not a ‘TV scholar’ perspective. He ignores the fact that just because “Child” was genre defying and emblematic of the ‘Todorovian fantastic,’ that doesn’t mean that the entirety of the original series fits that description – in fact, “The Daleks” pretty much sold the series down the river of ‘Todorovian marvelous’ in the very next story. The comparison of one to the other ignores the fact that they are linked by a vast connecting tissue that proves that comparing two approaches as approaches means very little in the medium of television – we’re ignoring the 300 approaches that lie between. The generally held opinion is that television is less of a directorial medium and more of an author’s one, so analyzing the difference between two episodes is a bit of a reach to begin with. While we could use the comparison in this chapter to argue that directorial choices do have significant impact on this ‘writer’s medium,’ the question remains just how worthwhile such an approach is in the general scheme of things. Would any such approach ultimately result in nothing more than playing favorites for the simple fact that we’re discussing an element relatively insignificant to the whole?

In sum, while the article provides perfectly fine close-readings of the two ‘pilots,’ and even provides us with an interesting comparison between Dr. Who as ‘mystery’ and Dr. Who as ‘spectacle,’ it provides us with an argument that only works in isolation. It is absolutely meaningless from a ‘TV scholar’ perspective, as it treats its two texts as isolated events and then proceeds to play favorites.

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During my long day at work, I was able to take an hour and a half off in order to see a presentation on the above topic by a job candidate in Emory’s film department.

It strikes me that there was an undeclared assumption somewhere along the line.  I’m not entirely sure I’ve pinpointed it, but I would like to voice some thoughts on the topic.  (Not that anyone reading this cares; my blog is for me as much as for anyone else.)

At the outset, I would like to say that I will leave aside my rather profound reluctance to embrace the phrase ‘post-feminism,’ as I don’t think the term has any real impact on her argument.  If we just refer to it as ‘gender relations in the last 10-20 years,’ the argument seems to work the same.  So I will stick with the term despite the fact that it implicitly criticizes the idea of ‘third wave feminism’ – an ideology it claims to include under its umbrella.  (‘Third wave’ is a positivist/progress oriented description of modern feminism; whereas the ‘post’ tag implies that feminism is dead and the new version is something else – it seems to tacitly assert that feminism is inseperable from political activism…which I would dispute.  Scholarship is way too ‘post’ happy these days for my liking…I find it lazy.)

Anyway.

The argument ran something like this.  (My apologies to the presenter if I unintentionally make a straw man of her presentation.)  Since around the mid-eighties or so, after the ‘neurotic romances’ of the ’70s which were not afraid of discussing the sexuality of the romantic leads in adult terms (I’m winging it there – I know nothing of ’70s rom-coms), women’s sexuality has gone in two directions.  The romantic comedy has become a genre in which sex is absented from the narrative (hidden in an ellipse, if it’s implied at all), and the female characters’ relationship to relationships is effectively ‘adolescentized.’  (An ugly term, but it’s my own.  I do work on children and childishness and therefore refuse to use the term ‘childish,’ or any variants, lightly.)  The woman tends to act as though being ‘in love’ could somehow exist regardless of sex.  ‘Destiny’ plays a prominent role, and even hookers like Julia Roberts’ character in “Pretty Woman” regard sex with stereotypical teenage giggles and bashfulness.

Meanwhile, sexual women have become more and more associated with non-romantic, violent films.  Let’s just use “Basic Instinct” here as an example and pull a ’nuff said.  This is unfair to the professor’s argument, but I have no qualms with the description of this as a ‘genre,’ and would imagine that any reader can flesh it out themselves.  Seems to me to be a pretty straitforward argument in regard to female sexuality as either dangerous or unromantic in modern films.

My question is, however, is the connection here one of argument or one of presumption?  Can we really say that these two ‘genres’ are related in a way that makes a comparison more enlightening than looking for romance differences between science fiction and soft-core porn?  It seems to me that the two ‘genres’ have been cherry picked as evidence for a rather shallow argument, rather than the argument arising naturally out of evidence.  (Not that this would be anything new in the realm of scholarship.  We’ve all done it.  One of the biggest lessons we each have to learn is to catch ourselves in the act.)

My point being, the argument enacts my criticism of the term ‘post-feminist.’  (OK, so maybe the term does matter.)  It takes the modern romantic comedy to task on grounds that are somewhat combative.  Seeming to assert the existence of a split as though in evidence for the crumbling of the world now that activist-feminism is in decline.

This is not to imply that the observations are bad.  On the contrary, I thought that much of the presentation was actually quite ingenious.  I just don’t agree with the connecting thread.  I think that it assumes an antagonistic relationship as evidence that the two genres are antagonistic.  (But I may be quite incorrect on that score…I have admittedly become quite snippy with race and gender scholarship of late.)

My point is this, her excellent analysis of the situation of women in romantic comedies seemingly made for women could be made just as poignant, and I think much more interesting, if it were compared with its natural double – the romantic comedy for men – rather than this phantom double of the sex-violence film.  We got into this in the post-lecture Q&A.  I had been thinking about it before hand; I did not bring up my own example as it was covered to my satisfaction then (though not now) by the time I had formulated the question fully.  To be brief, what I think this points to is less a situation in which women’s sexuality has been absented from romantic films and made into a perversion – indeed sex for all human beings has suffered this fate thanks to Hollywood self-censorship (the ‘instant R-rating’ topic of onscreen sex is bound to be paired with additional ‘adult’ material, isn’t it?) – and more a situation in which women’s romantic comedies encourage women to be less mature, while men’s romantic comedies encourage them to be more mature.  The examples of ‘men’s rom-coms’ raised were “Wedding Crashers” and the Judd Apatow films – which posit a world in which the men, seemingly ‘adolescent’ at a very late age, finally ‘grow up’ and enter into what is hopefully to be an ‘adult relationship.’  My example – baseball films – could be used for the same exact argument.  “Mr. Baseball,” “Major League,” and “Bull Durham,” just to name three off of the top of my head, all display ballplayers at the end of their careers who eventually learn to love women who – contrary to all previously asserted notions about women in romantic comedies – are both sexual and mature.

Unlike the women, who are seemingly asked to be ‘cute’ by romantic comedies geared towards the female market, the men are asked to be ‘mature’ in rom-com films geared towards them.

Now we still have to be wary of describing this in our oft overused ‘scholarly scary voice,’ implicity descripting it as some vast conspiracy, but the fact of the observation seems to stand.

In short, thought provoking presentation…but I’m not sure about the set-up.

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