Language as Race & Gender Protest in STARZ Vida (2018)

An interesting show to consider for its atypical gendered communication is Tanya Saracho's Vida (2018), a series that debuted this year on STARZ. The short series centers on two sisters who return to the predominantly Latinx neighborhood of their childhood in East L.A. when their mother dies unexpectedly. The family of three is fairly estranged from one … Continue reading Language as Race & Gender Protest in STARZ Vida (2018)

History on Film: The Politics of Love on the Dole (1941)

All movies can be read as political texts, and with Love on the Dole (1941), this is especially true. Not even five minutes in, we have been ushered into a sympathetic view of the working-class struggle in post-war Britain. The movie opens with a prologue that presents rural 1930s Britain as a bleak place where the people, … Continue reading History on Film: The Politics of Love on the Dole (1941)

The Dark Dandy: Aesthetic Subversion in Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal

The Dark Dandy: Aesthetic Subversion in Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal. In Hannibal (2013-2015), a genre-defying television show developed and produced by Bryan Fuller, this is accomplished by complicating what is good and evil through careful aesthetic subversion that supports, in formal elements, a plot that with a consumerist morality deifies the bad guy, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). In doing so, such a show invites the viewer to reconsider the status quo and contemporary morality beyond television, into reality. By making Hannibal Lecter a success by the neoliberal American values of wealth, class, and beauty any attraction we have for him makes us question our own motives and the measures by which our society deems someone good. Hannibal  coded itself as a cool, intellectual TV show by using uncharacteristic art direction, costuming, and cinematography to make us like a killer by aestheticizing him and his grotesqueness, thereby critiquing what our capitalist society exalts.

On the Air Tonight: Music in FX’s The Americans

Music is the first thing one experiences in the pilot episode of The Americans. Quarterflash’s 1981 hit, “Harden My Heart,” plays as we get the show’s setting: Washington D.C. No year is announced, but the song, with it’s era-specific “sexy” saxophone, tells us we are in the ‘80s. We aren't sure that the music isn't diegetic … Continue reading On the Air Tonight: Music in FX’s The Americans

Prestige in Horror: The Semiotics of Penny Dreadful’s Intro Sequence

The opening titles sequence of Showtime's Penny Dreadful visually invokes genre conventions while using music to connote quality. The first shot is a selective focus close-up of a spider emerging from frame left in low-key light as violin music commences with suspenseful charge, two-thirds of the screen still in darkness. This isn't any ordinary spider, as the … Continue reading Prestige in Horror: The Semiotics of Penny Dreadful’s Intro Sequence

VISUALIZING HINDSIGHT: The Semiotics of Halt and Catch Fire’s Title Sequence

Halt and Catch Fire  is a show more about time and technological progress than characters, and the intro sequence reflects that.  Currently airing its fourth and final season on AMC, the show charts the evolution of digital technology from the personal computer boom through to the creation of our current portal to the web, algorithmic … Continue reading VISUALIZING HINDSIGHT: The Semiotics of Halt and Catch Fire’s Title Sequence

Sleeping Beauty: Media as Educator in the Performance of Acceptable Femininity 

I shudder to think how much of my personality and interests were molded by The Little Mermaid and Barbie. Only let your kids watch Jem and The Holograms. At least then they'll think being a woman involves wearing truly outrageous clothes BUT ALSO becoming a music mogul who funds girl-positive group homes. Check out the article: … Continue reading Sleeping Beauty: Media as Educator in the Performance of Acceptable Femininity