For May 20th, and the Week After

For May 20th, we’ll be talking about The Sopranos a little bit, since it wasn’t discussed in class, we’ll compare it with an episode of another crime-focused TV show, the sitcom Weeds. In preparation, I’m going to ask you to watch the (hilarious, bizarre) anti-marijuana propaganda film Reefer Madness (or download it here) and read a little bit about the cultural history of Reefer Madness at Wikipedia. If you want to read the [reconstructed] movie script, it’s here.

For interesting comparison, this discussion of the history of the hemp plant in Japan is worth looking at; I couldn’t really find information on the history of hemp in Korea but the article suggests it historically arrived in Japan from China; this suggests it probably arrived via Korea, and may have been used in medicine here as it was in China historically. Most interesting is the fact that marijuana was banned in many countries because of US pressure. Was this also the case in Korea?

Following this discussion, there will be a Panel Discussion on Bechdel’s Test, also known as Bechdel’s Law.

Wikipedia describes Bechdel’s Law as a part of online popular culture. It was first mentioned in a webcomic by Alison Bechdel, where a character says she doesn’t watch movies if they cannot pass her test. To pass the test, the movie must meet all three of the following criteria:

  1. It has to have at least two women in it.
  2. The two women must talk to each other in the movie.
  3. Their conversation must be about something else besides a man.

Of course, many movies don’t pass this test. In the panel discussion, we can discuss which movies do pass the test, or might pass the test, but another interesting question is why so few movies do pass the test… and why women go to movies as much as they do despite this fact.

In other words, we’ll be discussing why so many of the archetypes we’ve talked about in class are applied to male characters, while female characters are so often “the girlfriend” or “the love interest” or just one part of a “love triangle,” without much character or individuality on their own… more almost like something for men to fight over.

(The way, for example, Kate is in later episodes of Lost, especially in Season three onward.)

For preparation, you can consider looking at your own favorite movies to see how women are depicted in them, and think about how you feel about this.

We will not be having class on May 22nd, due to the University festival. Have fun, but don’t forget to spend some time preparing for the following week!

For the week after, we’ll be discussinga lot of movies:

May 27th’s Panel discussion will focus on Kill Bill and the Black Widow archetype of the violent female character. It’s a good idea to watch both parts of the Kill Bill duology, meaning Kill Bill Part 1 and Kill Bill Part 2. That’s a lot of blood and violence, so make sure you schedule a break between the two… unless you like that kind of thing, that is. If you don’t know Quentin Tarantino, the director, you could also check out what Wikipedia has to say about him, or choose another film by him to watch. (Jackie Brown is an excellent and pertinent film to the discussion.)

On May 29th, we’ll be discussing the romantic comedies of Nora Ephron, specifically When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail. You should choose two of these and watch them.

That’s a heavy load of films to watch, so making sure you watch some of them ahead of time is a good idea!

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