Spring 2020 Newsletter

Call for Contributions:Screening Sex in the Time of Coronavirus We are seeking short (1000-2000 word) articles, interviews, discussions or other content (video essays, artwork) that explore the impact of coronavirus on representations, cultures and discourses of sex. We would also welcome considerations of the impact on and implications of researching sex at this time. To what extent is coronavirus … Continue reading Spring 2020 Newsletter

CFP – Edited Collection: Gender, Genre and the Body in Contemporary North American and European Film

Gender and the body are inextricably connected, and it could be argued that within any given filmic context, they are also closely related to genre and generic traditions. Moreover, genres often use genders, gender stereotypes and bodies in diverse and specific ways, and gender and its relationship to the body performs different functions in the context of any given genre. This collection aims to critically examine and interrogate the representation of the body and its relationship to both gender and genre in contemporary North American and European films.

CFP – Cine-Excess XIII: Independent Visions of Excess

Birmingham City University Presents: Cine Excess XIIIIndependent Visions of Excess7th-9th November 2019 - Birmingham City University (and related screening venues) Confirmed Guests of Honour:Jen and Sylvia Soska (Rabid [2019], American Mary)Norman J. Warren (Terror, Inseminoid) Keynote Speakers:Dr Stacey Abbott, Roehampton UniversityProfessor Ernest Mathijs, University of British Columbia Cine-Excess XIII is hosted by Birmingham City University and will feature a … Continue reading CFP – Cine-Excess XIII: Independent Visions of Excess

CFP – Screening #TimesUp: Exploring Rape Culture in Hollywood Film

Beginning in 2017, the #MeToo movement drew attention to the sexual assault, coercion, and harassment experienced by many individuals and especially women working in Hollywood. Over the last two years, actors have come forward to speak about their experiences, condemning the industry for silencing victims while safeguarding predators. This conversation about sexual conduct and safe … Continue reading CFP – Screening #TimesUp: Exploring Rape Culture in Hollywood Film

Speaking of Sexual Violence: A Provocation

During an introduction to a City Eye Southampton Film Week screening of The Rape of Recy Taylor (Nancy Buirski 2017) at Solent University in November 2018, a brief exchange ensued about how we overcome the difficulty of starting conversations that address challenging topics. This was not about how we actively tackle issues of sexual violence, racism and abuse but how do we even begin to talk about them in a way that is not divisive, insensitive or biased by our own cultural identities?

Issues with the BBFC’s 2018 Consultation Exercise

In 2018, the BBFC undertook a public consultation exercise that will inform its 2019 Classification Guidelines. Thus far, journalists have over-reached in their reactions to the exercise. To illustrate, various press outlets erroneously declared that films featuring sexual violence will be automatically allocated an 18-certificate under the BBFC’s 2019 guidelines. Both the Daily Mail’s Emily Kent Smith and The Daily Telegraph’s Charles Hymas refer to (but fail to substantiate) the motivating factors for the as-yet unconfirmed shift in BBFC policy, pointing towards ‘widespread concern that current age ratings are sometimes misjudged’ and ‘public backlash over “liberal” classifications following the #MeToo movement’. Hymas’s reference to #MeToo conflates real-world sexual assault with fictional representations of sexual violence. #MeToo was certainly driven by discussions about sexual assault within the film industry. However, outrage over real-world incidents of sexual assault does not directly equate to concerns about representations of sexual violence in fiction film; the latter may be of concern to ‘the public’, but the #MeToo campaign does not evince any such concern. Moreover, any change in BBFC policy would only impact on how films are classified; it would not directly curb instances of sexual assault within the film industry, for instance. Conflating real-world sexual assault with fictional representations is unhelpful inasmuch as it distracts from the campaign to prevent real-world sexual violence by changing working conditions within the film industry (and beyond).

The (Non-)Depiction of Rape in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Coming hot on the heels of the growing #MeToo campaign and the Hollywood sexual harassment revelations, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh 2017) was the first star-studded Oscar vehicle featuring a rape-revenge narrative template to be judged according to the changed media standards. As Kevin Spacey was written out of a film expected to bring him an Oscar nomination, students were calling for Woody Allen to be removed from film studies curricula and Molly Ringwald was questioning the sexual politics of her own cult hits, Three Billboards seemed about to face unusual scrutiny of its storyline of rape and murder. While many critics pointed to the brilliant performances, especially by Frances McDormand as the victim’s mother, and the strength and determination of her character, little attention was paid to the images of the brutal crime: there were almost none. As a film that centres around the rape and murder of a young woman, Three Billboards is highly unusual in mainstream filmmaking in containing no imagery of the fatal episode itself. A glimpse of the corpse in the police file is the only visual reference to her death.

An ‘alarming cautionary tale’: Castrating the Faux Feminism of Teeth (2007)

Two years ago, writing in celebration of the film’s tenth anniversary, Vice critic Sirin Kale identified Teeth (Mitchell Lichtenstein 2007) as ‘an incisor-sharp commentary on male entitlement, consent, and sexual violence’. Yet just as the title of her article refers to Teeth as a ‘Feminist Horror Classic’, it is curious that Kale does not define the film in direct relation to feminism. This is not to say that issues of male entitlement, consent and sexual violence are not feminist concerns. Rather, Kale implies how Teeth critiques masculinity through these concerns, without politicising it in a feminist context.