We open our discussion on “Superstar”, the gnarly short by Todd Haynes. Some folks in class found it to be funny or ironic, while others took it more in the vein of a serious, informational goof and a spoof. Bruno went deeper, touching on the nature of the dialogue; the lack of subtext, the disembodied voice, etc. We arrived at the conclusion that the voice matches the characters, whom are depicted as Barbies, a doll that symbolizes an unreachable perfection.
We segued into the two types of film appropriation and its role in “Superstar”. I recall being completely dumbfounded, as I did not understand the meaning of the word. I am a dumbass. Bruno, as always, was merciful enough to give us some insight. The appropriation of material in “Superstar” includes the use of Barbie dolls as characters, the actual story as a biopic of sorts, the music/concerts by The Carpenters, etc. Appropriation of style can be seen in its educational/informational format and even its use of campy horror sensibility in the “dramatization”. What a riot!
Next, it was Julie’s turn at the podium. She had a look in her eyes that said: “I’m going to kick everyone’s ass with this presentation”. She did, but only after going over the Sklar reading. She went over how the Reagan era basically shone through in the movies of the time, namely action flicks, which exemplified good war values, superheroes, adventures, and bodies coated in KY Jelly to look like extremely sweaty action is actually taking place.
Julie proceeded to show perhaps the greatest video on the YouTubes: “Rocky and Rambo Montage” (which, surprisingly, only has 92 views).
The whole class cheered, laughed, cried…
Julie then drove the hard-body image home, saying its use was to fix the masculine dilemma of not being all that awesome at fighting wars and such in real life.
Next, she taught us the importance of Home Alone, and how its success at the box-office went to show that ideology belongs on the back burner and whatever it is that makes money will always be the most important aspect.
Julie concluded her talk by asking if there was any connection between the franchise/sequel movies of today (Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games) and politics? What ensued was a heated argument about The King’s Speech and Perez Hilton.
Bruno shows a clip from Raging Bull (whatever that is). He asks us, “How does this movie reinforce and complicate the hard-body image?” Matthew answers, plain and simple and correctly: “We see the before and after conditions of Jake LaMotta’s body.” He is a real man with a real body. He does not have lubed-up pecs. It’s da troof, yo.
We then go through the checklist given in the Wood reading, that is, the main focuses of 1980’s Hollywood or whatever.
4.nuclear anxiety/fear of the end of the world
5.fear of facism
6.restoration of the father
We watch the end of E.T. I weep gently to myself.
E.T., in this ending scene, tells Drew Barrymore’s character to “be good”, that is, “Behave yourself, girl! Don’t get pregnant, etc.!” He then gives what can be interpreted as patriarchal power to Elliot. He is now the man of the house. It’s like something out of The Bible.
Now we talk about Body Double (one of Patrick Bateman’s favorite films). The film is just one big goof and a spoof on what Hollywood thinks we enjoy. We talk about how the last shot of the film is not only a boob, but a boob covered in blood, which sums up every American’s fascination with movies (right?)