11 March 2013


Marek Najbrt's 2009 film Protektor has been criticized as "overly stylized" and obsessively concerned with "surface" concerns instead of "real" issues. But "surface" is exactly what is in question in a film about the experience of a movie star who was on her way to being the latest glamour queen of Czechoslovakia before the Nazis ended her hopes of a career. We are introduced to her as her stardom seems assured, and the film continuously plays upon the differences between image-based photographic media and the very different dynamics of radio/voice/text. Some of the most compelling sequences are Hana's reckless photographic protests against the labelling of her body/image as Jewish despite her own lack of identification with that heritage at the outset of the story. She performatively tests the line between Jewish and Aryan images and Jewish and Aryan spaces. Marking, labelling, reproducing and manipulating images are continuous threads throughout the film, even in the case of her costar whose false papers aren't convincing enough reproductions to allow him to escape. In the end, Hana's reproductions of herself as an Aryan-looking woman whose image was valued and desired before the Nazi occupation is also not able to stand against the power of the occupying regime and the Czech collaborators. However, the themes of image, surface, manipulation, and diguise are central to the film, and the stylization supports the film's examination of these issues.

Also: note that all of these reproductions and manipulations of images are of the image of a woman who was, it bears repreating, on her way to becoming a sex symbol and a sign of all that is desirable and lovable. The process through which her image changes from aspirational to undesirable is well worth examining and the film addresses it well.

I could say so much more! The film is absolutely incredible. I also find it fascinating that the NYTimes review sees the film as not depicting the Nazi oocupation and deportation of Jews "seriously" enough. Must every film about the Holocaust represent one, single experience? It is made clear to Hana that her misery in her experience of the Nazi occupation is not nearly as terrible as the experiences of many others, but nonetheless, a story such as hers is as interesting as other experiences of genocide. Sometimes I think people don't realize that not all violence and oppression is as clear cut as actually being imprisoned in Auschwitz. Given the wealth of films and documentation of the extreme horror of the Holocaust, the film's reference to Hana's comparative privilege reminds the viewer to watch the film in dialogue with everything else ze has encountered in literature, art, and history about the Holocaust.

03 March 2013

This Week in Aggressions and Microaggressions


The Fierce Chemist reported to me that an op ed in the campus paper of her New England SLAC argued that feminism has lead to the current imbalance in gender demographics in the STEM fields and other "harder" (ahem!) fields like economics. Because apparently in some primordial eden, women were equally (or over?) represented in these fields, but feminism has made women embrace a "victim mentality" that leads them to conclude that STEM and Econ are "for men" and not take part. The author, who identifies himself several times as a white, privileged, male student, equates feminism and other social justice movements to the conflicts between opposing sports teams, when he is not conflating all social justice movements as being essentially the same in their efforts to alienate white, privileged men like himself. He even claims that the greatest achievement of liberals on campus has been their success in alienating him from their movement, despite the fact that he's totally for progressive laws. The Fierce Chemist intends to write a rebuttal op ed. Go TFC!


I told my coworkers at the bakery that I would be meeting The Fierce Chemist's mother this weekend. As is their wont, my coworkers in general managed to not directly respond to the GAY content of my statement, spending 3-5 minutes talking about the restaurant that we were considering going to without ever referencing the fact that I would be eating with anyone but myself. Let alone that this represented a significant step in my (GAYGAYGAY) relationship with The Fierce Chemist. When they brought the topic up again, it was again solely in reference to the reviews of said restaurant. In a day when my coworkers refer to their wives and girlfriends upwards of 30 times and we hear and respond to all sorts of mundane details about their lives, my single statement about my relationship was so difficult for them to process and respond to appropriately that they simply avoided it all together. Sometimes when I bring up The Fierce Chemist in conversation, there is simply a thundering silence until someone changes the subject. As Lewis Carroll said, "a hush fell on the crowd, injuring six." I'm getting tired of it.

Hello World, 2.0!

It's been over two years since I last posted on this blog. A lot has changed -- I spend almost no time actively engaging with Internet Misogynists, which has upped my productivity and reduced my stress level, but which has also lead to a dearth of amusing anecdotes about the complete cluelessness of sexists, homophobes, and other uninformed folk. I have been accepted into a PhD program in film studies at Unnamed Midwestern University, and I can't wait to start course work in the fall. I want some outlet for my non-academic musings on cinema, feminism, the academy, and queer politics, and although I could begin a new blog -- something fresh and scrubbed free of the records of previous foolishness -- I've decided to attempt to revive this blog as a home for a variety of musings, both personal and political. In a way, it feels like starting a new blog would represent an attempt to deny or disavow the many hours I spent in Internet Feminism, hours that have deeply shaped my own identity as a feminist and my awareness of the continuing need for radical, active, and engaged feminism. I may not still believe everything I said in the past, but it is a history that has lead me to where I am today.