A timely symposium – Women in Hollywood

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Me attempting to channel Rita Hayworth. Image courtesy of Beki Doig

I am very pleased to announce that on Monday May 28th I will be running my first ever symposium at DeMontfort University.

It seems odd to me that having organised and been part of so many public events over the years, I haven’t yet organised a conference or symposium.

The idea for this event came a couple of months ago when myself, Alissa Clarke and Laraine Porter were asked by PhD candidate Becky Jones to be part of a panel discussion around the treatment of older women in Hollywood following a screening of Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool – a film about the final years of Hollywood vamp Gloria Grahame at the Phoenix cinema in Leicester.

We had a lot to say but understandably, only a small time in which to say it. We all remarked on this and also on how unusual it was to be part of an all female panel. As we gathered in the cafe bar afterwards, to continue the discussion, we drifted onto other issues women in Hollywood have had and still do encounter when trying to get on.  The #MeToo movement and the Weinstein allegations were only the tip of the iceberg. There were so many historical precedents.

The seed was sewn. We needed a day long event at least to discuss these issues. Vicky Ball also came on board and Women in Hollywood was born.

In case you are interested in attending and participating, here is our call for papers:

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Podcast #9: ‘I’ll Show Them, I’ll Record Everything’: Audience, Performance and The Room (2003)

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In this podcast I follow up on my recent blog post You can laugh, you can cry, you can do whatever you like, express yourself, just don’t hurt yourself’: Performance, Pedagogy and The Room by talking with The Room aficionado, audience researcher and Film and Culture lecturer Dr Richard McCulloch about the ‘best worst film ever’, cult phenomenon The Room.

We discuss what makes this film so bad it’s good, its director, Tommy Wiseau, The Disaster Artist and the Golden Globe winning performance by James Franco but most importantly we talk about the unique fandom around The Room.

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Other topics we cover include fan communities and bonding via film, participatory cinema more generally, authenticity, performance and the nature Continue reading

‘You can laugh, you can cry, you can do whatever you like, express yourself, just don’t hurt yourself’: Performance, Pedagogy and The Room

 

 

Tommy in tux

Earlier this month saw one of my yearly teaching highlights, the annual screening of ‘the best worst film ever,’ 2003 melodrama, The Room.

It is ironic that a film renowned in part for such poor performances became the ultimate performative text, prompting a whole range of audience behaviours at its regular screenings.

Every year for the past three years, a participatory screening of this film has served as the climax of my third year Cult Film module, and it is promised to students at the start of the module, as a reward for their hard work and inevitably enthusiastic contributions over the course of the eleven week undergraduate module.

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The Battle of The Sexes

I was recently interviewed by PhD candidate Becky Jones* for Phoenix Talks – her podcast in association with the Leicester’s independent cinema, the Phoenix.

Becky kindly invited me to talk with her about biopic The Battle Of The Sexes which recently ran at the cinema. The film tells the story of the famous tennis match of the same name that took place in 1973 between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.

I wanted to talk with Becky about some of the ways in which this film raises issues around the media representation of sporting women’s bodies (which are often understood to be a problem as the power and potential they convey means they aren’t feminine or pliant enough) about toxic masculinity and about feminism. It’s a bit rambly, but hey, it was the end of term!

Here is a link to the podcast:

Bad and Beautiful: Reflections on Gloria Grahame and the treatment of women in Hollywood.

815CE927-16D7-43EA-93C2-A58261FAF7A8A couple of weeks ago I was part of an all-female panel discussion of the treatment of older women in Hollywood. The discussion followed a screening of the recent Paul McGuigan biopic Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool which charts the relationship between ageing Hollywood star Gloria Grahame and younger British actor Peter Turner.

I enjoyed the film very much and was excited to be asked by marketing assistant and my PhD supervisee, Becky Jones, to be part of the discussion event at the wonderful Phoenix cinema in Leicester.

The film itself was very good, beautifully shot and both Benning and Bell’s performances were excellent. It also raised a number of issues around the idea of the ageing female star and the broader treatment of women in Hollywood which really seemed to chime with the recent Weinstein allegations and the public debate around the #MeToo campaign.

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Here’s Looking at You Podcast #8: What Happens in Blackpool Stays in Blackpool: Seaside Freak Shows and Permissive Entertainment in Britain

In this podcast I talk with PhD candidate Emma Purce about her research into the British seaside freak show in 20th century Britain. Whilst a lot has already been written on the freak show in the 19th century and particularly in America, Emma is really helping to shape our understanding of the 20th century freak show.

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We discuss the notion of liminal, permissive working class spaces and the history, the legacy and the politics of the freak show and of the curious, scrutinising gaze employed when attending such an entertainment

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Podcast #7: Old Shouty Tits is Back: Unruly Femininity in the Public Eye

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Kiki onstage. Image courtesy of Joust Photography, taken at the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival, 2017

In this episode of Here’s Looking at You I chat with burlesque emcee, singer, teacher and former contestant in BBC’s The Voice, Kiki Deville. Kiki is a charismatic and hugely talented performer who is renowned for her big voice, big personality and big boobs and this has led her to be considered an unruly woman.

Inspired by Anne Helen Peterson’s recent book ‘Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of The Unruly Woman,’ we got together to talk about Kiki’s experience of The Voice and subsequent attempts by the popular media at bullying and body shaming her, about being ‘fair game,’ picking your arguments, the pleasures and pitfalls of celebrity culture, appropriate online behaviour, and grief.

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Feel free to comment below on the podcast or the Continue reading

Here’s Looking at You Podcast #6: Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You down.

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Following its success at the Emmy Awards, where it won best TV drama, best actress and best supporting actress, it is probably time to release my podcast about the TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale.

In this podcast I talk with poet, teacher, writer, musician and community activist Josie Moon, about the Margaret Atwood source novel and its recent, television incarnation.
A strikingly prescient pair of texts, both prompt us to discuss all manner of contentious topics, from women’s reproductive rights, to the process of othering, to hierarchies, freedom of speech and star activism.

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As you’ll hear, as is always the case when Josie and I get together, this conversation is quick fire and there are no holds barred. Josie is a very political creature and it’s one of the many Continue reading

We Shall Overcome

 

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Joe answers audience questions

 

Whilst the issue of austerity and food banks might seem an odd subject to blog about on a website about the representation of gender and sexuality in the media, I’d argue it is an ideal subject.

I hadn’t really thought much about food banks until recently, having been lucky enough to have never had to use one. However, that changed when I saw Ken Loach’s extremely moving condemnation of the austerity agenda, I, Daniel Blake. I defy anyone to see the scene whereby Katie gorges on food in the food bank and then breaks down or the scene where she is forced to steal sanitary products, and not be moved. Imagine having a period and not being able to afford to keep yourself clean.

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Retrosexual: The Notorious Work of Bettie Page and Irving and Paula Klaw 

I have written a blog for the ‘Screening Sex’ website, an academic blog curated by Darren Kerr and Donna Peberdy.

The blog briefly examines the fetish films of Bettie Page and Irving and Paula Klaw. In particular it discusses Page’s performances, the repetitious nature of these films and how the original point of interest in these short films may have shifted over time and context.

To view the article simply follow this link.