Our discussion of the growth of independent cinema in the early 1990s began by talking about two documentaries about the life of serial killer Aileen Wuornos. The conversation focused on the way that America’s first “female serial killer” was discussed in the media especially in terms of gender. Her story fascinated the media going on to inspire many different book and movie topics just as Wuornos herself prophesized in her last interview before her execution. Her legacy raises a number of questions about the effects of her being a woman–furthermore a lesbian woman–has on the way her story is portrayed in popular culture.
We went on to analyze the ways in which independent films reach an audience. What does it mean to fill a niche audience opposed mainstream appeal? What subjects can indie films explore the studio system believes would alienate a wide audience? To illustrate this point we watched a clip from the Todd Haynes film “Happiness” in which a father character talks to his son about “cumming.” The context of the scene that makes it even more disturbing is that the father is a pedophile unbeknownst to his family.
Next we talked about issues of masculinity in “Boys Don’t Cry” related to the way Brandon’s “performance” as a man effects those around him. Brandon’s murder can largely be seen as a result of him conning those around him and insulting the masculinity of the men that commit kill him.