Tuesday 27 January 2015

XX - Initial Impressions Regarding a Female-Helmed Horror Anthology

XX is a horror anthology film featuring short films made by Karyn Kusama, Mary Harron, Jennifer Lynch and Jovanka Vuckovic. The film has not yet been released, so it is difficult to comment on the project in much depth.

So far, there are two aspects of the film that I want to draw attention to:

1) The poster is awesome

2) Some people are already bashing the film on the basis of its premise. I agree it is awful that the directorial collective is being singled out on the basis of gender, as if it is incredible to think that women might direct horror. However, it is even more awful that the project is remarkable: that there are not more women directing horror (or at least there is a lack of industrial and commercial support for horror projects helmed by women). The crass responses to XX documented here create the conditions under which an intervention such as XX is both noteworthy and necessary. It is tragic that some individuals conflate support for female-fronted creative endeavours with an anti-male sentiment before the product has launched. 

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Forthcoming Presentation: 9/2/15

I have been invited to present a paper based on my recent Sexuality and Culture journal article at the University of Sunderland on 9th February. I'll update the blog with details as soon as I have a more specific location and time.

In the meantime, here is the abstract for the paper:

Torture Born: Representing Pregnancy and Abortion in Contemporary Survival-Horror

In proportion to the increased emphasis placed on abortion in partisan political debate since the early 2000s, there has been a noticeable upsurge in cultural representations of abortion. This paper charts ways in which that increase manifests in contemporary survival-horror. This paper contends that numerous contemporary survival-horror films foreground pregnancy. These representations of pregnancy reify the pressures that moralistic, partisan political campaigning places on individuals who consider terminating a pregnancy. These films contribute to public discourse by engaging with abortion as an individual, emotional matter, rather than treating abortion solely as a matter of political principle. This paper will posit that survival-horror—a genre that has been roundly disparaged by critics—makes an important contribution to sexual-political discourse: these films use horror to articulate “the things we cannot say” about abortion.

Thursday 8 January 2015

Autumn: Simulating PTSD

I am reluctant to refer to Autumn as a "game" (although the developers use that term themselves); rather it is an attempt to metaphorically simulate the experience of PTSD following sexual assault. The result is as haunting as it is unsettling.

Given the number of rape threats thrown around in gaming forums recently, Autumn is a sobering and necessary intervention that takes sexual assault seriously, focuses on aftermath rather than the attack itself, and seeks to foster empathy: the essential facets that are missing from or are negated by the idle rape threats and jokes that are too often proliferated on social media.

This is a story about the struggles and conflicts with fear; the guilt and the shame; but also about perseverance and healing. Autumn is about the aftermath of an attack and sexual assault.
Autumn has been designed to take people through the looking glass, using Oculus Rift to step into someone else’s reality. We ask of our players to experience something terrible, but also to be part of the healing process and empathize with the vulnerability of a rape survivor.
We believe that an interactive experience, where you literally walk in someone else’s shoes, is the best medium to explain what words alone cannot. We also believe that games can be about meaningful and important topics, capable of exploring uncomfortable and thought provoking subjects, just like film, literature and other media are capable of doing too
Tusmørke is a two people team, a designer and a developer. We have created Autumn because we believe that an interactive experience, where you literally walk in someone else’s shoes, is the best medium to explain what words alone cannot. We have created a game that asks of players to experience something very difficult, to have some distressful emotions first-hand. It is very challenging to try to project your own personality into the personality of another in order to understand that person better and relate to their emotions, and that is why we wanted to create an experience about empathy and identification, to take you on an emotional journey, and to engage with these emotions deliberately.