I Have Successfully Mastered the Arts

I’ve been in a bit of a blogging rut lately as I’ve scrambled to finish work, packing, finding an apartment, and da da daaaah: finishing my master’s degree!

Anyway, I haven’t had much time for movies…especially not good ones. Throw in NetFlix’s shipping delays (15% off my ass, give me The Saddest Music in the World!) and trips out of town and we’ve got a wide array of valid excuses to choose from.

But the important thing is, my thesis is finished. Here’s an excerpt:

Sadomasochistic imagery has become very popular in contemporary mainstream entertainment – “…in the fetish implements of bondage and discipline introduced into the sexual marketplace; in the persona of rock stars; in high fashion; and in mainstream films…” This sexual practice that “covers a wide range of perversions characterized by the derivation of sexual pleasure from either domination or submission” (195) is frequently teamed up with violence in an effort to provide narrative cohesion. Such is the case in a film like Blue Velvet, for example, which combines violent sexual pleasures with the seedy underbelly of a seemingly normal American town. The sadomasochistic imagery completes the picture of perversion that the film’s setting provides.

Graphic novel adaptations continue this recent trend, where “violence, aggression, and pain become vehicles for other things – for staging dramas of suspense, supplication, abandon, and relief that enhance or substitute for sexual acts.” In a medium that is so insulated within a relatively small readership, graphic novels explore these issues of sadomasochism from a male point of view. Combining harsh representations of violence with the sexual appetites of the characters, graphic novels tend to make their two most oft-explored themes into one issue: the sexual gratification of men that violence can provide. The film adaptations often taken a different approach to the subject, creating a much more subtle connection between sex and violence. By expanding the roles that are appropriate for females, film adaptations create female characters whose full power is not dependent on their sexuality. The adaptation process provides a useful tool for analysis here. By comparing and contrasting specific sadomasochistic images from the novels and then from their film adaptations, the more general trends of gender representation emerge.

Linda Williams, Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the “Frenzy of the Visible” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989) 196.

Blue Velvet, dir. David Lynch, perf. Isabella Rossellini, Kyle MacLachlan, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, 1986.

Williams 195.


Scandalous, right? I even get to use the quote “hung like a brontosaurus.” So that was fun, but mostly miserable.

Anyway, it’s done, and you’ll be hearing more from me soon.



Filed under Whitney

6 responses to “I Have Successfully Mastered the Arts

  1. You always find the funniest fuckin’ pictures.
    Congratulations on finishing your thesis, I’m proud of you, Rock!
    Way to go all Eye of the Tiger on that damn paper!

  2. natali

    congrats on graduating!

  3. brian

    i’d be interested in reading the entire thing

  4. really? it’s 37 pages…but if you want to, I would really like that.

  5. brian

    i think i can handle 37 pages

  6. Congratulations, Whitney. And thanks for recommending me to Rob Rector. I had a blast doing the Natsukashi episode and podcast.

    It’s really interesting to read this. I’m actually working on an essay about “I Spit on Your Grave” and “A Question of Silence” and their relation to gender roles during second-wave feminism. I’d love to read your entire thesis (really!), if you could e-mail it to me.

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