“Jesus loves you, everyone else thinks you’re an asshole”: Neo-Noir and Homosocial Relationships in The Exorcist III

Film noir is, of course, a kind of Hollywood crime drama, popular between roughly 1940 and 1955. "The film of darkness and the night, of shadows and mean streets, of losers, grifters and bottom-feeders," explained Roger Ebert in 1995. Ebert said then that "noir is undergoing an explosive rebirth of popularity" and cites everything from … Continue reading “Jesus loves you, everyone else thinks you’re an asshole”: Neo-Noir and Homosocial Relationships in The Exorcist III

Nick Spencer’s Captain America, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and the Fetishization of Black Pain

Nick Spencer's run on Captain America was, to put it mildly, controversial. When Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 was released on May 25, 2016, it did what so much hyped-up pop culture claims to do: it broke the Internet. The series saw Rogers back in fighting form, restored to his youth after a few years … Continue reading Nick Spencer’s Captain America, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and the Fetishization of Black Pain

Back to the Future, Car Culture and Masculinity

Cars are important in the Back to the Future trilogy. That may seem like an obvious statement, considering how the movies are intrinsically tied up with a retrofitted DMC DeLorean car. But what's not so obvious is how cars represent expectations of masculinity, in terms of financial success and virility. According to "Asian American Auto/Biographies: … Continue reading Back to the Future, Car Culture and Masculinity

Tank Girl: Masculine Demeanor, Feminine Disempowerment?

Tank Girl has been receiving a bit of a reappraisal lately. The 1995 science fiction action comedy, starring Lori Petty as the titular anti-heroine and Naomi Watts as Jet Girl, was mostly ignored upon release — by critics and audiences. But in the 25 years since it's been embraced as a fun and unique feminist … Continue reading Tank Girl: Masculine Demeanor, Feminine Disempowerment?

Mad About You, The Good Place and Soul Mates

Mad About You and The Good Place couldn’t be any more different. And yet the two NBC sitcoms, separated by several decades, both have a lot to say about soul mates. Mad About You, the romantic comedy that ran from September 23, 1992 to May 24, 1999 in its original iteration, could get philosophical on … Continue reading Mad About You, The Good Place and Soul Mates

How Joss Whedon Writes Guns

Caveat: Let’s assume that even in his collaborations, Whedon has final say and creative control.Joss Whedon has a complicated relationship with guns. On the one hand, he seems to despise them and that shows through in several of his famous works. On the other, he has a tendency to fetishize guns in a bizarre, psychosexual … Continue reading How Joss Whedon Writes Guns

“You Come to Us”: Secular Humanism in Phantasm II and Hellbound: Hellraiser II

Most horror movies come baked in with the assumption that any supernatural evil proves the existence of an equal and opposite good — namely, the Christian God. The A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, for instance, presents Catholicism as the inverse of Freddy Krueger. In the first movie, Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) hangs a crucifix … Continue reading “You Come to Us”: Secular Humanism in Phantasm II and Hellbound: Hellraiser II

Witch, Thou Art Loosed: How WandaVision Can Fix the “Hysterical Woman” Trope

The Scarlet Witch has had a tumultuous 21st century in the comic books. In 2004, Brian Michael Bendis's "Avengers Disassembled" storyline radically reimagined the character, turning her from heroic superhero into unhinged murderess. Even though the character has since been rehabilitated and redeemed, this idea of her persists, to the degree that any of her … Continue reading Witch, Thou Art Loosed: How WandaVision Can Fix the “Hysterical Woman” Trope

Is there a Text in This Class?: “Happy Accidents,” Intent and Response

In The Godfather (1972) oranges are used as symbolism. This is a pretty well-known bit of trivia, as is the rebuttal that this wasn't intentional: Though some have interpreted the presence of oranges in various scenes as a harbinger of death to come (see the oranges that roll across the street as Don Corleone gets … Continue reading Is there a Text in This Class?: “Happy Accidents,” Intent and Response