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Peculiar Picture Show
45 minutes | 2 days ago
Her: Love, Technology, and Mental Health
Intro by Maria The 2013 film Her can seem like an unappealing premise for a movie: A guy falls in love with a computer operating system. Yeah, right. Not sure how they’re going to make that work. Well, that’s what I thought. So I avoided watching the movie, and apparently Brandon did too, but I did eventually end up watching it somehow or another, and it actually wasn’t bad. The movie toys with ideas that are fun to think about, like what constitutes a human being and how technology may be helping or harming us. What it lacks in entertainment value, it makes up for with these ideas. So it’s kinda fun to watch, but it’s really fun to think about, and think we do. I talk about how this movie reminds me of what’s going on right now with COVID-19, and Brandon discusses tons of things, including why so many artificial intelligence assistants have female voices. That’s really all I have as an introduction to this episode. I know it was short, but we make up for it during the episode, so get ready for all these deep thoughts with just a hint of some artificial intelligence on this next episode of Peculiar Picture Show. Show Summary General: An excellent execution of a weird concept Brandon: Chose this; avoided because of the concept; movie is feelings heavy, yet deep; won some awards, including best screenplay at Academy Awards and best depiction of nudity, sexuality, or seduction from the Alliance of Women Film Journalists Maria: Saw it before; avoided because of the concept; Like: A thought-provoking film with a cool vibe Brandon: Director; style; music; vibe; a lot to think about; interpretation left up to the viewers, and it’s OK Maria: Interesting to think about, especially in relation to 2013 Dislike: Can be a bit of a drag, and Theodore is creepy Brandon: creepy character; split this into several viewings Maria: Kinda bored this time around; creepy character Mental Health: Technology, misogyny, and love Brandon: Lots of AI assistants voiced by females, and no real explanation; analysis of why Theodore and Samantha fall in love Maria: Technology and its pros and cons; COVID-19 tie ins; manmade vs. natural Quotes Brandon I’m glad I watched it, but I wasn’t glad when I was watching it. Next Film Winner in bold. Network (1976) vs. Closer (2004)
22 minutes | 15 days ago
2020 in Movies, and New Movie Picks
The Oscars for 2020 films have come and gone, which means it’s time for Maria and Brandon to talk about last year’s films, the showings at the Oscars, and their new picks to add to their list of films to cover in this podcast. Academy Best Picture: Nomadland – A woman in her sixties who, after losing everything in the Great Recession, embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad. Academy Best Adapted Screenplay: The Father – All Bimbo ever wanted was to be a father to his children and a husband to his wife, but providence has a different plan altogether. Academy Best Original Screenplay: Promising Young Woman – Nothing in Cassie’s life is what it appears to be—she’s wickedly smart, tantalizingly cunning, and she’s living a secret double life by night. Now, an unexpected encounter is about to give Cassie a chance to right the wrongs from the past. Brandon’s Pick: Palm Springs – Stuck in a time loop, two wedding guests develop a budding romance while living the same day over and over again. Brandon’s Pick – Minority Voices – Da 5 Bloods – Four African American vets battle the forces of man and nature when they return to Vietnam seeking the remains of their fallen squad leader and the gold fortune he helped them hide. Brandon’s Retro Pick – Frances Ha (2012) – A story that follows a New York woman who doesn’t really have an apartment. She apprentices for a dance company, although she’s not really a dancer, and throws herself headlong into her dreams. Maria’s Pick: The Sound of Metal – A heavy-metal drummer’s life is thrown into freefall when he begins to lose his hearing. Maria’s Pick – Minority Voices – Forty-Year-Old Version (not virgin) – A down-on-her-luck playwright thinks the only way she can salvage her voice as an artist is to become a rapper at 40. Maria’s Retro Pick – Double Trouble – Black Book (2006) and Elle (2016) –Black Book: After narrowly escaping death, young Rachel Rosenthal becomes part of the Jewish resistance, assuming the name Ellis de Vries. Her superiors order her to seduce a Gestapo officer named Ludwig. Ellis is successful in her mission but soon finds herself falling in love with her mortal enemy.Elle: A successful and ruthless video game company CEO attempts to track down the man who had assaulted her in her home. Soon, she is thrown into a massive cat-and-mouse chase with no end in sight.
52 minutes | a month ago
The Big Lebowski: Giving Approximately 280 Fucks About Philosophy and Politics
Intro by Brandon The Big Lebowski is unabashedly a 90s comedy. It’s the mix of dark comedy and apathy that would hardly be around in a decade. In fact, it’s such a 90s film that it’s hard to really see the appeal if you didn’t spend your formative teenage or young adult years in the 90s. For this 90s kid, though, it’s a solid classic. This is in my top three comedies of all time, along with A Fish Called Wanda and Airplane!, two classics from the 80s. The plot of this film follows Jeff Lebowski, or, as he would introduce himself, “The Dude.” The Dude is a deadbeat with no job and no real purpose in life, and yet he’s the hero of our story. He finds himself surrounded by warring ideologies and rising tensions that drag him into a kidnapping investigation that involves porn stars, Nihilists, a snobby artist, a guy named Jesus, and much more. Also, there’s bowling. What sets this film apart, though, is the layering of philosophy and intelligent political commentary underneath all that disaffected humor. It took me a while to catch onto what the film was actually trying to say, but there’s a lot of surprising depth in this film about politics in the 90s and the trajectory we’re still on today. Maria also gets into some of the philosophical aspects of the film, which are also surprisingly sharp. That’s not to say that this film is perfect. Like a lot of the 90s movies we’re revisiting, we’re discovering that there are a lot of things we didn’t care about in the 90s that we really should have. It feels kind of weird to look back to a film from 1998 and say, “It was a different time,” but we found ourselves doing a bit of that. As Walter said, “This is not ‘Nam—there are rules.” Still, there’s much more to like here than to hate. So grab your bowling shoes, mix yourself a white Russian, and mark it zero as Maria and I dig into this entertaining and surprisingly intelligent film in this episode of Peculiar Picture Show, the podcast that talks about movies, maladies, and mental health! Show Summary General: An essential 90s comedy with a lot of foul language Brandon: Quintessential 90s comedy; cult classics; gets better on repeat viewings; John Goodman’s favorite role to play Maria: Profanity: about 281 fucks in 117 minutes, 2.4 fucks/minute; first time seeing this; Dudeism as a religion Like: A funny allegory about politics Brandon: Fun comedy; enjoy the characters; set in a specific time—90s; morality tale for the common age; polarization of politics and moral discourse in America Maria: Pretty fucking funny; movie begs for analysis and study; many themes; genre play; Sam Elliot; meta parts; framing Dislike: That 90s apathy is getting old Brandon: Sometimes these 90s films seem sophomoric, antiquated, particularly regarding “not caring”; lack of BIPOC stands out now; quotes may get stale Maria: Cannot stand the Dude personality type, which is why I could never watch it before; Dude lacks efficient and clear communication skills Mental Health: Existential Absurdism and why we get so mad about politics Brandon: Psychology behind why we get so mad about politics; identity vs. politics; anger makes people more susceptible to misinformation; connection between emotion, fear, anger, misinformation; fight-or-flight response regarding politics; echo chambers Maria: Philosophies in the film: pacifism, nihilism, national socialism, capitalism; nihilism vs. existentialism vs. absurdism; in some ways, the Dude is embracing nihilism/existentialism/absurdism, creating his own meaning for existence (the rug) Sources https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/a32828138/why-politics-makes-you-angry/ https://www.psypost.org/2021/01/a-new-study-has-found-being-angry-increases-your-vulnerability-to-misinformation-59061 Quotes Brandon This movie is kind of about the death of civil discourse around politics, where everybody was so angry all of the time, and you have that one guy who doesn’t have an opinion and doesn’t care and he ends up dying because of the conflict. It’s about the death of not having an opinion—the freedom of not being able to give a fuck about things. Maria In some ways the Dude is embracing nihilism and absurdism even though they talk about nihilism being bad. The Dude creates his own meaning for existence. His reason for being is the rug! It really tied the room together. Next Film Maria and Brandon randomly chose the same movie. Her (2013) vs. Her (2013)
48 minutes | a month ago
There Will Be Blood: Capitalism, Religion, and Invisible Illness
Intro by Maria The 2007 film There Will Be Blood acts like a master class in how to create an award-winning drama—it’s hard to argue against grandiose shots of oil country that so perfectly characterize Daniel and his drive for money and competition. The movie, which is loosely based on Upton Sinclair’s novel Oil!, tells the story of Daniel Plainview, played intensely by Daniel Day-Lewis. Daniel is looking to get rich as fast as he can, and so he develops his story—a story of a family man only looking to better communities, not break them. In reality, he is more concerned with success and money, not family or community, and he demonstrates this clearly when his adopted son H.W. gets injured in an oil accident and loses his hearing; instead of being upset by the injury, all Daniel can think about is how rich he is going to get by striking oil. And get rich he does. We follow Daniel as he makes money and deals, gladly sacrificing his humanity as he grows wealthier and wealthier. He discovers he may have a brother but ends up killing that person when he realizes it’s not true. He sends H.W. away to school after the injury, and when H.W. returns, Daniel doesn’t even bother to learn sign language so he can communicate with his son. Probably the most interesting relationship in the movie is that between Daniel and Eli Sunday, the local preacher and small-time con artist, or seemingly so, as he dupes his followers into believing that he is a proxy of god. Daniel and Eli obviously despise each other—Daniel hates Eli’s religious claims and Eli despises Daniel’s greed, not because Daniel is obsessed with money, but because Eli wants some of that money. He even humiliates Daniel at church, forcing him to profess that he has abandoned his child. It’s an uncomfortable scene—Daniel at the front of the church, professing his sins, while Eli slaps him and tries to dispel the evil. “That’s a pipeline,” Daniel says under his breath with a smile—it’s clear that Daniel will do anything for money. At the end, both parties are “finished,” as Eli visits Daniel in his lonely mansion, asking for money. You see, the stock exchange has just crashed, and Eli is in bad spirits. Daniel uses the opportunity to get back at Eli. He forces Eli to confess he is a false prophet. And after that, he teases him, revealing that there’s no money for Eli, and then murders him.The movie has a lot to say about capitalism and greed, which Brandon explores fully in this episode. I take a different route, examining invisible illness and disease—like HW’s struggles with his loss of hearing. I also try my best at impersonating Daniel Plainview. So people, hold your beverages tight, because I drink your milkshake on this next episode of Peculiar Picture Show. Resources Role of religion in psychology: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2013/03/religion-spirituality Invisible illnesses/disabilities: https://www.talentinnovation.org/_private/assets/DisabilitiesInclusion_KeyFindings-CTI.pdfhttps://invisibledisabilities.org/https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/types/invisible/ Show Summary General Brandon: First time seeing this; blown away; tough Academy Award competition Maria: Loosely based on Upton Sinclair’s novel Oil!; my pick; saw in theatres; Paul Dano not originally slated to play both Sunday brothers; best milkshake joke Like Brandon: Directing; editing; music, especially the burning oil rig scene; tension directly from filmmaking, rather than plot or story; first 15 minutes; connections between capitalism and religion; how capitalism replaces Christianity as the dominant faith in America; H.W. and Mary joining religion and capitalism Maria: four distinct acts that perfectly summed up the movie; characterization; intertwining of these people’s lives and the community; musical score; cinematography Dislike Brandon: Nothing Maria: Can be slow for people; confused by Paul Dano playing the characters and no explanation that they were twins Mental Health Brandon: Psychological role of religion; people who are religious tend to get more religious when under stress, particular when they’re not supported by the system; the intertwining of capitalism and religion Maria: Invisible disorders/illness; losing hearing; gaslighting Quotes Quotes B: Religion and spirituality is generally pretty helpful for people dealing with stress, particularly when they have little help from the system. B: When people feel their faith is threatened, they will guard that closely, sometimes irrationally…because it’s an attack on some of the deepest foundational parts of who they are. B: We see people defending capitalism the same way we see people defending their faith. There’s this really unhealthy union of capitalism and politics and religion. It’s so intertwined that if someone perceives an attack on capitalism it can feel like a crisis of faith. B: People a lot of times will look at religion and say, because religion exists, justice exists in the world. Good things will come to good people, and bad things will come to bad people. That’s the justice that exists because of religion. And people have the same idea about capitalism. Capitalism rewards good people and it punishes bad people, and they just have faith in this system that will provide the justice they want, and it’s normally people who have already succeeded that believe this justice exists. Next Film New process: Both Maria and Brandon pick a random movie, and then they decide on one of the two. Winner in bold. The Big Lebowski (1998) vs. Memento (2000)
50 minutes | 2 months ago
Serial Mom: Our Movie Mascot, and the Psychology of the Death Penalty
Intro by Maria This next movie is one of my favorite films of all time. It’s the John Waters film Serial Mom. The movie is from 1994, which as I explain during the episode, is apparently the defining movie year for me, your host—or one of your hosts—Maria Milazzo, and really a kind of important year for me in terms of mental health, as that’s when I was 14 years old, and if you’ve been listening to this podcast, you know that was around the time I was going through some trauma. But unlike the movie Natural Born Killers, which is also from 1994, and a movie Brandon and I talked about on an episode a while ago (check it out if you have a chance), I don’t think my love for Serial Mom is related to nostalgia and connecting it to important milestones, like perhaps my affection for Natural Born Killers is. No, I just love this movie to death. Much like I love the movie I Love You to Death, but maybe that’s in a future episode. This is about Serial Mom, and this introduction is supposed to give you a brief synopsis of the plot, so here I go. Beverly Sutphin is your “typical housewife” and mother—she sews, makes meatloaf, and brings fruitcake for her son’s teacher at their parent-teacher conference. Pretty regular, right? Well, we soon discover she also loves prank calling and harassing a neighbor who took her parking place one time at a grocery store, a long time ago. And then she kills her son’s teacher. Beverly Sutphin is Serial Mom, a murdering mother of a fucker, bringing judgment to the especially nasty—the cheating boyfriend, the condescending teacher, the mean lady who doesn’t rewind her video tapes. Beverly gets caught, goes to trial, and ends up being released just to immediately kill again—a lady—a juror—played by Patricia Hearst—who wears white after Labor Day. The movie is a dark comedy written and directed by the King of Filth himself, John Waters. Waters, known for raunchy films like Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble and more tame ones like Hairspray and this one, has a knack for telling stories that comment on social norms, and in this one, that’s exactly what he does, commenting upon what we think is right and wrong, America’s true crime obsession, and the death penalty. This movie is very much anti-death penalty, so Brandon spends some time talking about that while I propose this movie becomes our movie mascot. That’s it in a nutshell, so just pour yourself a big old glass of whole milk, sit down, and get ready to experience our love of John Waters on this next episode of Peculiar Picture Show. Show Summary Intro: This film has a special place in Maria’s heart Brandon: First time seeing this; movie is deep Maria: Chose this; favorites; John Waters is special Like: Dark humor done right, and commentary on the death penalty Brandon: Humor; church scene; closing scene; anti-death penalty sentiment Maria: Hilarious; really knows how to set tone; commentary on American obsession with true crime; L7 as Camel Lips; musical score Dislike: We’ve got nothing Brandon: Its subtlety may be lost to some; really nothing Maria: Nothing, sorry Mental Health: Breaking down stigma, and the psychology of the death penalty Brandon: Why do we still have the death penalty? Death penalty and it being the result of an emotional reaction to a terrifying event Maria: Should be our podcast’s movie mascot because this movie tries to break down stigma, and so do we Quotes B: The death penalty is an emotional reaction to a dramatic and terrible event. It is a terrible event, but it is an emotional reaction because a lot of people don’t understand what the legal process is. They make an emotional decision based on how much they hate this person. In that light, if they are making an emotional decision to kill someone, is that any different than the person who made an emotional decision to murder someone? That’s the whole point this movie is making—there is no difference. M: I would like to propose that this movie be the official movie mascot for our podcast just because John Waters does what we are trying to do with our podcast—he is trying to break down social norms, stigmas, and things related to marginalized people or people who live outside of the so-called norm, and he tries to make us re-think about how we think people should be. Next Film There Will Be Blood (2007)
15 minutes | 2 months ago
Women in the Movies Battle Bias and Irrational Hatred
I recently watched Ready Player One for the first time. Here’s a (very) loose synopsis of the plot. A young male player named Parzival competes in games for a fantastic prize. He meets Art3mis, a young female player known for being one of the best in the game, who plays for a more noble cause than Parzival. Art3mis teaches Parzival to play for a higher purpose and helps him succeed. In the end, Parzival is declared the winner and he chooses Art3mis to stand by his side. This is an odd comparison, but the story reminded me of Harry Potter. Harry knows nothing of the wizarding world when he goes off to Hogwarts, and he meets Hermione, who is probably the smartest girl in school and is pretty much better than Harry at everything. She educates him about magic and the wizarding world and even sets him straight a few times when he begins to stray morally. In the end, Harry wins the battle against the villain Voldemort with Hermione and his friend Ron at his side. That also reminded me of The Lego Movie. In that film, Emmet, a young man who’s pretty incompetent at everything, unwittingly finds an artifact of great power. He meets Wyldstyle, a badass young woman who has been searching for the artifact for some time and is incredibly competent at just about everything she does. Wyldstyle guides Emmet along his journey. You can guess where this is going. Emmet is the hero and Wyldstyle is the sidekick. In Western media—movies, books, television, and even video games—it’s not uncommon to have a strong female character. Thankfully, we’re way past the need of every story to have a damsel in distress, but now we’re on to the next problem. These strong female characters are often among the smartest, bravest, and most capable of all their comrades. But even when there’s a strong female character, even if that female character is significantly more talented than the male lead, she doesn’t get to be the hero. In fact, she’s usually the one who has to coach the incompetent male lead to greatness so he can win the prize. In the movies, and in most Western media, if you’re a girl, it’s alright to be the best, but it’s not alright to win. This isn’t always true, of course. There are stories where women get to be the hero, such as Rogue One and Zootopia, and even 1951’s The African Queen. The idea of a female hero is not unheard of, nor is it a recent invention, although it’s certainly not a popular notion even today. But even films that feature a female hero can fall prey to other problems. There was a study of dialogue in 2,000 screenplays published in April, 2016 that was pretty eye-opening when I found it. It actually calculates, for each script in the study, what percentage of the dialogue comes from males and what percentage comes from females. Male dialog dominated the list. 58 movies on the list were made up of 100% male dialog. By comparison, there were 58 movies made up of 74% or more female dialog. Even movies primarily about women, like Disney princess movies, were usually predominantly male dialog—Frozen, a movie about two sisters, was 57% male. According to another article with similar data, Rogue One, with the very heroic Jyn Erso in the lead, contained only 9% female dialogue. So why is this? Why would women be given such little importance in the films we watch? There are a few reasons. I’ve mentioned this in other episodes, but I write my own movie reviews for classic films. That’s BrandonTalksMovies.com, if you’re interested. I have 183 movie reviews on this site. Want to guess how many of those were directed by women? I’m somewhat ashamed to admit this. Here’s a list: City of God (2002)Lady Bird (2017)Little Miss Sunshine (2006)Lost in Translation (2003)Marie Antoinette That’s right, 5 out of 183—just shy of 3%. And two of these films had a co-director who was male. Even films that are deeply feminist, such as Colossal, were given to males to direct. Now, the directors aren’t making most of the decisions about which roles to give to women and which to give to men—that power is in the hands of the writers. I unfortunately am not tracking the writers of the films with my list, so I don’t have complete data on this, but I did spot-check a few titles and I saw a similar problem with the writers: they’re predominantly male. If most of the writers and directors of big-budget films are males, of course there’s going to be a skew in female representation. Most writers of any medium write heavily out of their own experiences. And, yes, there are some men that are writing and directing films that are empowering for women, such as Nacho Vigalondo who wrote and directed Colossal, which had a great message for women suffering from abuse. But as long as we have this skew in writers and directors, we’ll have this skew in film. So, the bigger question: why aren’t we seeing more women write and direct movies? Well, there are a few reasons, some seemingly benign and some really problematic. Moviemaking is much like any other job in that the producers look at past work and experience before hiring someone. Males have dominated the industry pretty much since its inception, so of course they have more experience, which means they keep getting hired for bigger and bigger films. Hiring a less-experienced woman is viewed as a professional risk for moviemakers, and when you’re dealing with budgets in the millions of dollars (often more), it’s a risk many are not willing to take. Change is needed, but it won’t be easy. But there are some other reasons that are less practical. Male directors make a lot of lousy movies, but we never hear Hollywood say, “Well, that’s the last time we’re hiring a man for that!” It’s not that men make better movies than women—behind the camera, men just get more chances than women do. Because men are the default option, they’re not blamed for mediocrity, but women are—women directors are seen as risks, so they’re expected to achieve excellence or take the blame for the failure. My favorite film, Lost in Translation, was written and directed by a woman. It’s very different than mainstream films, and it’s a reminder that we’ll get some amazing new perspectives as we start giving women more power and more of a voice to tell their stories. But, whether it’s true or not, there are some perceived risks involved in solving this problem. Moviegoers need to reward these risks for moviemakers to keep taking them—and that right there is the other half of this problem. Remember when they announced an all-female Ghostbusters and the internet shit its pants? Yes, I know, it wasn’t the best remake, but the backlash started well before the film was released, with a ridiculous amount of downvotes on the official YouTube trailer and a deluge of premature one-star reviews on IMDB. Some IMDB demographics on raters reveal that, even after the film’s release, men rated it significantly lower than women. What’s with the hate? The idea of empowering women is actually a popular one nowadays, but the practice of doing so is less developed. Moviemaking is a business like any other, and rarely do studios afford filmmakers the purity of making films solely to put a good message out there. Studios make movies to make money, and that means focusing on popular ideas. Empowering women is, thankfully, a popular idea today. Hurray! Unfortunately, largely due to the gender imbalance in the industry, big film studios are woefully unaware of what it actually means to make a film that empowers women. Going back to Ghostbusters, I actually missed seeing it, but based on the post-release reviews, it was pretty clear that the focus wasn’t on telling an amazing story or offering something significantly different and improved over the original. There were some clever jokes in there achieved by switching the genders (most notably, Chris Hemsworth’s character Kevin, who is given the same shallow eye-candy role as the female receptionist in the original, playing the double standard for laughs), but most people agreed that the film paled in comparison to its source material. Regardless of the intent, this attempt at female empowerment comes off as a gimmick employed to cash in on society’s desire to empower women rather than a serious effort to actually do so. And, sadly, that’s not the only example. The recent gender-swapped Overboard only got a 25% on Rotten Tomatoes. Ocean’s 8 was a valiant effort but came in with a 68%. Going back further, a gender-swapped reboot of The Karate Kid in 1994, starring Hilary Swank, got a measly 7%. (If you’re wondering, these were all directed by men.) What’s going on? There’s a concept called the pink tax that describes an unfortunate reality for women. Razors, clothing, personal care products, and many other things are marketed separately to each gender, and the feminine versions are almost inevitably either higher in price or lower in quality—or both. Women pay a premium for products made for them. The wave of lousy gender-swapped reboots and poorly-scripted female empowerment films is Hollywood’s version of the pink tax—the premium women pay to see movies about them is usually lower quality and a lower budget. In most cases, filmmakers don’t care about empowering women—they care about making money, and they see female empowerment as a marketing tactic that will sell more tickets. And this is, unfortunately, hurting the viewing public’s image of female empowerment movies. But the problem is bigger than that. Yes, there are some viewers who have caught on to the trend of false female empowerment and roll their eyes when a female-led film is announced; but there are just as many men who truly believe women don’t deserve a chance in the spotlight. The excellent Mad Max: Fury Road had an amazingly competent female lead in Imperator Furiosa and men attacked her specifically, saying that women had no place in an action movie. When the BBC cast the very capable Jodie Whittaker as the next Doctor Who, men threatened a boycott. And, I hate to keep harping on this, but remember that the brutal backlash against the new Ghostbusters began well before anyone knew how good it would be. For these angry critics, all those ill-conceived grabs at the female moviewatcher market we mentioned before seem to confirm their deeply ingrained beliefs that male characters are just better. Regardless of why it’s happening, it’s clear that many male viewers simply don’t want strong female leads. Of course, there are many who do, but studios who make a decision to earnestly empower women in their movies run the risk of incurring the wrath of angry fanboy audiences. This is another case of bias reinforcing bias. If you’re wondering why we talk about things like racism and misogyny on this podcast, it’s because of this: those things are legitimately hurting the film industry. As I mentioned, this has had an impact on female characters not getting the same opportunities as male characters. This, of course, impacts actresses with both their job prospects and paychecks. But it also impacts what movies and media are being made, and that difference can be huge. Wonder Woman was a huge hit and the studio got behind it in a real way, giving it a budget of around $149 million and letting a great female director take the helm. This was a huge success and the movie ended up being the third highest grossing in the studio’s history. But the studio wasn’t quite as sure about this film as some of its other efforts. The godawful Batman v Superman was given a budget $100 million higher than Wonder Woman, and the director’s salary was quite a bit higher as well. Oh, but that was Zack Snyder’s second film with the studio. For a fair comparison, let’s look at his first: Man of Steel. Well, that one also had a budget quite a bit higher than Wonder Woman—$75 million higher. Did those extra dollars pay off? According to Rotten Tomatoes, Man of Steel has a score of 55%; Batman v Superman has 27%. Wonder Woman has a 93%. And director Patty Jenkins still had to fight to get the salary she wanted for the sequel—an amount equal to what Zack Snyder was paid for Batman v Superman. Now, I’m not bashing Warner Brothers here. They made sure Wonder Woman had the resources it needed, and they had the guts to really make this a female-led film rather than just another superhero film that featured females. And it was no doubt because of Wonder Woman’s success that Marvel went back on their original statement that Black Widow would not have her own solo film—trailers are out for it, and it has a female director. But female-led films are still viewed as risky by most major studios, and that’s undoubtedly holding other stories back. Television has similar problems. The Legend of Korra, an amazing follow-up series to Nickelodeon’s Avatar: the Last Airbender, features a female protagonist, but it almost didn’t—the studio tried to get the show makers to switch Korra’s gender, and production was delayed as the writers refused to back down. The writers fought for and won their case, and it paid off, but the fact that they had to fight for what was their best writing is a symptom of this problem. Video games suffer as well. Life is Strange, featuring some of the best writing I’ve seen in any game, has a female protagonist and a female sidekick. When small game developer Don’t Nod started shopping around for a larger studio to finance the game’s development, they were met with closed door after closed door. They finally found one major studio, Square Enix, that was willing to finance the game (and this game was way outside of their wheelhouse). Having played Life is Strange and its prequel multiple times, there’s no way that story could have been told with a male protagonist. This is a story we wouldn’t have gotten had the studios had their way, and it’s, in my opinion, one of the best stories in gaming history. Not every story needs a female protagonist; but there are many stories that are made stronger by a female protagonist, and some that can only be told with a female protagonist. As long as we have a gender imbalance in film and the film industry, many of those stories will be crippled or held back altogether. So what can we do? Well, the obvious answer is to support movies that truly empower women, whether that’s strong female characters or talented female directors. Overcoming this bias is going to mean making female-led films seem less risky for studios, and the only metric that really matters is sales. There are other things you can do to increase sales, like leave thoughtful reviews online and invite friends to see the movie with you, but the biggest thing we can do to combat this bias is to simply go to the movies. As a movie-lover myself, that’s a solution I can get behind. The other part of the solution is to call out bullshit sexism when you see it. If someone’s causing a ruckus because they think female characters just don’t belong in the spotlight, call them out. If a studio is using female empowerment as a gimmick to sell movie tickets but completely failing to actually empower women or make a good movie, call them out. We should be making women’s empowerment less risky for filmmakers, but we should also be making blatant sexism more risky. That’s also a solution I can get behind, and I hope you all will too.
57 minutes | 3 months ago
The King’s Speech: Stammering is No Joke
Intro by Brandon Think of a movie character with a stutter. Got it? OK. What’s this character like? Are they a hero? What role do they play in the story? Hold onto that for a minute. Today, we’re taking a look at the 2010 Best Picture winner The King’s Speech. It’s a slow-moving British drama about King George VI, who must lead the nation in the midst of royal turnover and a world war breaking out. There’s one problem. King George speaks with a stammer, and with the advent of radio, this becomes a real problem for him. Stuttering is an often overlooked and underestimated problem in film. It’s usually not taken very seriously in film, and most of the portrayals out there are not exactly sympathetic. Think of your movie character from earlier. They’re likely either a sideline character or a villain—in film, people who stutter rarely get to be heroes. There really is a stigma attached to this condition, and portrayals in film aren’t helping. Thankfully, The King’s Speech is a positive and very sympathetic portrayal of the very real problems associated with stuttering. Like I said, this isn’t exactly a gripping thriller, but it takes great care to really show us a hard look at this condition and its treatment, and that’s a rarity in the film world. In this episode, Maria and I talk about where stuttering comes from, how it’s treated, and one famous person’s struggle to overcome his stutter and become a leader. We also talk about the shame of showing weakness among leaders and how something like a stutter can affect perceptions of that person. And if you’re wondering about other portrayals of stuttering in film, we play a game that goes over some of the more prominent examples and examines whether these are positive or negative portrayals. So, no jokes at the end of the intro here, but we hope you enjoy this episode of Peculiar Picture Show, the podcast that talks about movies, maladies, and mental health. Resources National Stuttering Association: https://westutter.org/Article on Joe Biden and stuttering: https://www.stutteringhelp.org/content/president-joe-bidenAmanda Gorman’s inauguration poem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZ055ilIiN4 More on Amanda Gorman: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/21/how-amanda-gorman-used-writing-to-overcome-speech-impediment-.html Game: How Is Stuttering Portrayed in Film? Brandon gives Maria eight films and asks: Is the portrayal of stuttering in this film negative or positive? Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone (2001) – Negative – Professor Quirrel faked a stutter to convince people that he was benign and incompetent.A Fish Called Wanda (1988) – Positive – Michael Palin’s father had a bad stutter, and Michael himself sponsors the Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children in London.Lady in the Water (2006) – Positive – The main character speaks with a relatively severe stutter, and the film portrays this in a very sympathetic light.Primal Fear (1996) – Negative – A young character speaks with a stutter and is made fun of. The portrayal is not sympathetic and doesn’t add to the character in any meaningful way.Pearl Harbor (2001) – Positive – The character who speaks with a stutter is generally a good and brave person who just happens to have a stutter.Do the Right Thing (1989) – Negative – A minor character gives a negative portrayal of someone who stuttersSixth Sense (1999) – Positive – Shows a character who overcame a stutter earlier in life starts struggling with it again when anxiety increases. Mostly sympathetic.Space Jam (1996) – Negative – Porky Pig is not a good representation of stuttering. Maria got 6 out of 8 correct: 75% or C Show Summary General: Award-winning film in a year with some fierce competition B: Won tons of Oscars; second time seeing this; wasn’t impressed as much the first time because it was kind of boring M: Competition for Oscars was amazing—seen many of them; second time seeing this Like: A thoughtful portrayal of stammering with some great performances B: Learned things from watching this movie; Details were well thought of and right; Screenwriter David Seidler stammered as a child; some scenes contained the actual conversations that happened, as seen through letters found from Lionel’s grandson. M: Performances (by everyone); they didn’t try to make Bertie too sympathetic—still royalty; surprisingly entertaining Dislike: A bit boring B: Moves slowly; subject matter is boring; not fascinated by royal families; maybe a little too dry M: Subject matter is boring; not fascinated by royal families; don’t understand titles like Duke of York so I spent much of the movie trying to figure out; idolization of Shakespear; Capital A “Actor’s” film Mental Health: Stuttering facts and the pressure for leaders to hide their weaknesses B: Stuttering is not a psychological problem; affects more men than women and about 3 million Americans (including children who grow out of it); 25% will suffer their entire lives; many myths surround stuttering, like people stutter because they are nervous, shy, or self conscious; stuttering can cause anxiety (not other way around) and it’s not something the sufferer can just “turn off,” and we see this in the film; President Joe Biden has struggled with a stutter, has overcome it, and looks at it as a point of strength, crediting his stutter with the empathy he developed. M: Amanda Gorman read her poem at Biden’s inauguration, and she suffers from a speech impediment, and like Biden, she has turned that into something that gives her strength; mental illness/health issues/maladies often hidden from view for people who suffer from them (examples: FDR, this film); hiding maladies like this just further reinforces the stigma against people who suffer from them Both agree: This film is an accurate portrayal of someone who suffers from a speech impediment and also accurate portrayal of how people view illness, particularly those in power. What is your earliest memory? B: When they brought my younger sister home from the baby hospital place (about two and a half years old) M: My dad gutting a fish and showing me; trying to swim and drowning in a lake (about three years old) Quotes B: Stuttering is so severely underestimated on what impact this can have not only on a person’s career path but also their self esteem, and so I think stuttering can cause some mental health issues. B: Hearing somebody as accomplished as Joe Biden talking about how he is still humiliated by his stutter gives some insight into how serious this condition can be; at the same time, he overcame this and is now the president of the United States. M: It’s a common thing for people in power, like we see in this movie and throughout history, that if you are “weak” and suffer from any illness, you don’t really show that weakness. This notion of weakness and illness being shameful really permeates everywhere and becomes toxic, and that’s how we get the stigma. Next Movie Serial Mom (1994)
52 minutes | 3 months ago
Monster: Poverty, Sex Work, and Mental Health
Intro by Maria Monster is a 2003 film that tells the story of Aileen Wuornos, or Lee Wuornos, a real-life serial killer who was active in Florida in 1989 and 1990. The film doesn’t get into the nitty gritty details of Lee’s capture, trial, and eventual execution, like some dramas that focus on serial killers do; instead, the film gives us a brief snapshot of Lee’s humanity, particularly in the form of a woman named Selby. Lee and Selby fall in love—pretty quickly it seems, but we talk more about that in the episode. We learn Lee has spent most of her life experiencing trauma, poverty, and prostitution, so her newfound love for Selby briefly appears like a positive development, but that ends when one of Lee’s johns knocks her unconscious, ties her up, and then rapes, beats, and tries to kill her. She fights back, and shoots him in despair and self defense. Not being able to go to the police, Lee covers up the murder, and continues her relationship with Selby, vowing to quit tricking and get a real job. But her efforts to “clean up” and become legit backfire, and she has to start tricking again in order to support herself and Selby, who has, at the time, abandoned her religiously fanatic family and a job for Lee. All of Lee’s trauma comes to a head when she starts tricking again, and this triggers a post-traumatic stress response. She kills again. And again. And again. She becomes the serial killer, the monster that people thought she was from the very beginning of her life, since she was a young girl—when she first left home and started tricking. This is the humanity that many other stories about serial killers lack, and it sends a strong message about the nature of monsters and victims and who those people actually are. The movie, punctuated by Lee’s voice overs, gives voice to trauma and abuse survivors but at the same time condemns Lee’s actions and shows her as a truly flawed person. Brandon and I also have plenty to say about mental health and how it’s portrayed in this movie. I talk about sex work, prostitution, and the much-needed de-stigmatization and legalization of it. Brandon connects the dots between poverty, mental health, and general illness, and we come to the conclusion that the movie seems to do a good job of showing that connection. That’s not to say that the movie is perfect. The movie seems to speed up in places that should be slowed down, and there’s some cheesy ass music at the end, trust me on that. And this movie is set in Florida, filmed in Florida, and pretty-Florida specific, so you know I’m going to have fun with that, so how about you wrangle yourself an alligator, put on some jean shorts, and get ready for action at sea level on this next episode of Peculiar Picture Show. Show Summary General: A true Florida setting, and surprisingly emotional B: First time seeing this; different than I thought it would be; Selby is a fictional character, loosely based on the actual woman in Aileen’s life; best actress Charlize Theron M: Patty Jenkins’s first film; filming locations I’ve been to: Southern Nights: Gay bar on corner of Bumby in Colonialtown South, near 408Semoran Skateway, in Casselberry—where we would always skateFun Spot, on I-DriveI-4 Daytona Beach signLast Resort Bar (never been there—HA) Idea Exchange B: Confucius Say Anything: Film about a young Confucius in high school trying to win the heart of the most popular girl in school M: Rant on getting parents vaccinated in Florida Like: Excellent performances, complex characters, no inherent fairness B: Theron and Ricci slay in these performances; they didn’t try to make Lee more likable; message of life being unfair and there not being justice for those without power M: Finally something actually filmed in Florida and gets it right; idea of victims vs. monsters—people typically aren’t just one or the other Dislike: A bit rushed in places B: Lee seemed to fall in love with Selby too quickly—beginning was rushed M: Ending was abrupt; some cheesy ass fucking music at the end; the voice over Mental Health: The mental health impact of poverty, and the legalization of sex work B: The impact of poverty on health, particularly mental health; mental illness can also be a major contributing factor in homelessness; economic inequality is a mental health issue M: Sex work, including the legalization of it and de-stigmatization Quotes B: From watching movies, we have this sense that there’s this inherent justice in life where the good guys win in the end and the bad guys are punished, but we know that’s not how life works at all. B: Poverty is actually one of the most significant contributing factors in mental health and general health just because it intersects with every other factor: education and opportunity; home and community living conditions; family dynamics, and access to healthcare. B: It’s a vicious cycle: Mental health issues that poverty creates can also prevent people from escaping poverty. Next Movie The King’s Speech (2010)
47 minutes | 4 months ago
Split: The Worst Portrayal of Mental Illness in Film?
Intro by Brandon There are some movies that have great representations of mental illness. Grounded in reality, not used as a cheap plot device, and not harmful to already stigmatized communities. We will not be talking about one of those films in this episode. Today, we’re talking about the 2016 film Split, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, and we have a lot to say about it. This is a film about Kevin, a man with dissociative identity disorder whose alternate personalities cause him to kidnap, torture, and eventually devour some teenage girls. One of these girls is Casey, a teenager who knows exactly what to do in this situation because her uncle sexually assaulted her. I don’t know, take your questions to M. Night Shyamalan. This is a tense thriller that actually works on several levels. Unfortunately, there are also some problems with it that keep it from really accomplishing its goal. From a mental health perspective, this is a dumpster fire of hot garbage and horrible shit. Shyamalan did just enough research to make Kevin believable as a patient with DID, but then made him a soulless killer with superpowers. As we talk about in this episode, this was not done out of ignorance. Shyamalan had the data, he knew what he was doing, and he was warned not to do this, and he chose to anyway. This is one of the first films we’ve talked about that not only has inaccurate stereotypes, but actively causes harm to the mental illness community. So in this episode, we talk about how Shyamalan got it wrong, lay out some facts about DID, and talk about some stats on how the media influences public opinion on mental illness. All that and more coming up in this episode of Peculiar Picture Show, the podcast that talks about movies, maladies, and mental health. Resources Media portrayal of mental illness: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Stephen_Platt/publication/249806569_The_impact_of_the_mass_media_on_public_images_of_mental_illness_Media_content_and_audience_belief/links/5a0abbc7aca272d40f4147b9/The-impact-of-the-mass-media-on-public-images-of-mental-illness-Media-content-and-audience-belief.pdf Mental illness stigma: https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.ps.52.7.953 Mental illness and violence/crime: http://www.mentalhealthcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/mentalhealthcenter.org_ebook_mental_illness_and_crime_print.pdf Dr. Bethany Brand and interviews with her on DID and Split: https://bethanybrand.com/selected-media-interviews/ Dissociative disorders: https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Dissociative-Disorders Show Summary General: Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is a horrible supervillain origin story B: First time seeing this; did some research, but still, the movie was so bad—much worse than I thought; made back over 30 times its production budget M: Second time; my pick—thought it would be good to talk about it because of how poorly it does to represent people with DID; not supposed to be about mental health—this is actually a super villain movie; second part of a three-part series; according to this movie, we would be OK at the end since we have self-harm scars! Like: A decent thriller with some good performances B: Performances from James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy; Shakespeare in Love was worst M: Entertaining; doesn’t feel like an M. Night Shyamalan movie; no twist at the end; Shakespeare in Love was worse Dislike: Exploits teenage girls and mental illness B: Exploitative of teenage girls; at the end, Beast says, “I am not human”; built on that bullshit premise that humans only use 10% of their brains and we just need to unlock the rest of it; ending seems tacked on because it wasn’t the original ending; Shyamalam’s inaction towards raising awareness about DID or trying to bring about positive awareness about DID M: Cheesiest ending, particularly the part with Bruce Willis; very exploitative; makes me uncomfortable regarding the teenage girls’ roles; weird mention of Hooters; the writing Mental Health: Straight facts on DID and the link between media and perceptions of mental illness B: DID characteristics and its accuracy in the film; media coverage of mental illness is unsatisfactory, just like this movie; majority of people get their information about mental illness through films and documentaries, which makes it important to get these things right, because many people do, in fact, think that people with mental illness are inherently violent M: Possible link between DID and Borderline Personality Disorder; mental health message are strange, like it suggests that trauma is something special and makes you great; Casey is positioned as “different” because she has mental illness and cannot relate to most other people; romanticizing mental illness Quotes M: If you have mental illness, either you’re a serial killer or you’re super creative and a writer and an artist—you’re never just a “regular” person. Brandon said nothing intelligent in this episode Next Film Monster (2003)
78 minutes | 4 months ago
Boyhood: 12 Years of Puberty, Personality, and Abuse
Intro by Maria We’re gathered here today to talk about the 2014 film Boyhood, directed by Richard Linklater and starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette. The movie’s plot is simple: We follow the protagonist, Mason Jr., as he grows from a boy, age 6, to adulthood, age 18—over the span of 12 years. When I say over the span of 12 years, Linklater literally filmed the movie for a few weeks at a time each year for 12 years. This tactic may seem gimmicky, but as Brandon and I discuss, it works for this film to give it an unprecedented sense of realism and depth. Additionally, this tactic allows us to not only see Mason Jr. change and grow, but we see everyone around him grow as well, including his mother and father, who are divorced. There’s not much more to say about this movie in the introduction, but we have a lot to say during the episode, particularly in regards to the mental health section, where I ask the big question: How does childhood affect one’s personality? Brandon spends his time talking about the psychology of abuse and how that relates to power and control. But before you listen to the audio, there are several items I’d like to address within the episode now that I’ve had time to reflect on some of the open questions we just happened to leave dangling. Let me de-brief you here, and let’s see if you can find where these belong in the episode. So first, Linklater is indeed pronounced “link-layter”—I was just thinking of Art Linkletter, the host of People Are Funny, a gameshow from the mid-twentieth century. Second, there is a character named Ted in this film, and it is Olivia’s professor husband. And third, Samantha is definitely like the oldest or first child, because I forgot that she excels at school and almost everything she does. Phew, well, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, we can move on. I hope you’ve brought your trapper keeper, your training bras, and the socks you used to cum inside and hide from your parents along for this ride, because you’re going to need them. We’re going to experience puberty as if we have never experienced it before on this next episode of Peculiar Picture Show. Show Summary General B: First time seeing this; didn’t see it when it first came out because was nervous about not liking it; “gimmick” of filming this over 12 years was done great; about a boy growing up and there’s so many directions it could have went; character-driven. M: Second time seeing this; picked this just to see again; Richard Linklater (director) told Ethan Hawke he would have to finish the movie if he died; risky to film this if anything happens to the cast, etc.; good at showing all the different characters growing and changing; script was days before shooting; nominated for many awards, but only won for supporting actress Idea Exchange M: What would three Ben Stiller movies be if I was the star? Current TitleMaria TitlePlotMeet the ParentsMeet the Parents Who Love You Because You Tell Them Everything About Their ChildBecause I am disarmingly honest and communicate a ton, parents tend to love me because I tell them things that their children never would, particularly about their children. There’s Something About MaryThere’s Something Off-putting About MariaRather than being a story about Ben Stiller obsessing over a high-school prom date, this would be a story about Ben Stiller being uncomfortable with my honesty, since he obviously doesn’t practice this in the movie.Night at the MuseumOne and Only Night at the MuseumIt would only be one, short visit, because I would immediately tell everyone and their mother, including news, about the exhibits coming alive at night. B: Movie Mashup: Joan of Arc: Portrait of a Lady on Fire—Joan of Arc burning at the stake of five hours. Like M: The filming over 12 years worked; growth and change in all characters; literary ending that sums up the entire film and the film’s technique; emotional scenes, particularly with Olivia B: Film feels very real; drama is understated, but that’s the point; performances; initially I didn’t like some characters, but I actually starting liking them (Samantha, Mason Sr.); related to Mason Jr.; so many things this movie did right Dislike M: Sometimes got lost with time shifts B: Pacing has no varied structure; frustrating to see Olivia end up with assholes over and over (not really a flaw) Mental Health M: How does childhood shape our personalities? Birth order, emotional wounds, family climate, role models Birth order M: Baby B: Oldest Emotional Wounds M: Not being heard B: Not being heard Family climate M: Not divorced family B: Divorced family Role Models M: Doesn’t want to be her parents B: Doesn’t want to be his parents B: Psychology of abuse—power, control; what is abuse?; Olivia’s trouble with abusive men; power imbalance Quotes M: I really liked the literary ending. Maybe it’s cliche, but it sums up the entire experiment. It talks about how the moment seizes us, the present, having to be in the moment—the movie is itself being in the moment; it’s shot in real time. M: I like things that really get me to be emotional because sometimes I feel like I have the block up of being emotional, and I have to let myself be emotional because maybe, as I am now realizing because I have Borderline Personality Disorder, is that I have to put that up because if I don’t, I’m feeling so much all the time that it gets overwhelming for me. B: More than anything, I look at this film and more than any other film about family life and drama, this feels very real. It didn’t shy away from darkness and didn’t try to win you over with over-the-top drama. B: There can be isolated instances of abusive behavior because the point of abusive behavior is control, power. It’s not necessarily a system, so there can be isolated instances or even small things that are abusive behavior that maybe are not something that would warrant a legal authority getting involved but nonetheless, the intent is to exert power.
67 minutes | 5 months ago
Secretary: 50 Shades Better Than Other BDSM Movies
Intro written by Brandon, performed by Maria BDSM used to be a pretty taboo topic in film—until the godawful Fifty Shades of Grey exploited it as an artless debacle. But back in 2002, serious portrayals were a pretty foreign topic in cinema. Most of the time when it showed up in film, it was the punchline to a raunchy joke. In 2002, Secretary gave us a serious look at what a real BDSM relationship could look like, and it’s surprisingly a lot more sweet and romantic—and empowering—than most other BDSM films would lead you to believe. The film centers on its two lead characters: Lee Holloway, a young woman prone to self-harm who’s very unsure of herself, and Mr. Gray, a caring man with some domineering tendencies who worries about his relationship with women. Lee gets a job as Mr. Gray’s secretary, and their work relationship turns into something markedly less professional. Secretary was an amazing film because it easily could have been either a sermonizing condemnation of the subject matter or a gratuitous exploitation of it; but the way the movie respects this relationship elevates this from the drivel that usually surrounds the topic. Great writing and some great performances turn this into an intriguing film on an often misrepresented topic. To help us talk about this romantic relationship, we brought in two romance experts: Marion and Kim from the podcast More Than a Crush, a podcast about love. We spend some time analyzing how the relationship progresses and talking about how two abnormal people found something that’s normal and healthy for them, even though some others don’t see it that way. So put on some leather, grab a whip, and get ready to make the next hour your bitch as we delve into this surprisingly complex love story in this episode of Peculiar Picture Show, the podcast that talks about movies, maladies, and mental health! Special Guests Kim and Marion from More Than a Crush, a podcast about love Instagram: @morethanacrushpodcast Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/morethanacrushpodcast/ Show Summary General: An empowering and refreshing look at BDSM in cinema Brandon: This movie was my homework in college for a screenwriting course; not your typical 50 Shades of Grey forbidden-fruit thing; sweet and romantic Maria: Based off a Mary Gaitskill short story, and she thought the film was a little too tame Kim: Lee’s transformation in the film and how it’s portrayed is amazing; film challenges ideas of love, sexuality, attraction; stylistically it was very early 2000s Marion: Refreshing, as a love story; maybe not something that could be done in 2020, but that’s not the point; sweet and romantic; sets are so detailed Like: The movie nails the alternative romance and power dynamics Brandon: The way the transformation happens in the movie with the characters, including the power dynamic; feminist message Maria: Main message of the movie; doesn’t make BDSM abnormal; set design; characterization Kim: Maggie Gyllenhaal’s performance and the entire cast (except punchable Spader); candid role of mental health Marion: Beautiful and complicated love story; the worm; empowering; sees it through to the end (where they actually get married)—it’s not just a fling Dislike: Fake Florida and James Spader’s punchable face Brandon: The guy is a lawyer and everything he does is illegal and that’s never addressed Maria: Film is set in Florida but obviously filmed in California, but then why the heck even set a film in Florida if you don’t make it a character?; font in title sequence doesn’t match typewriter ending was rushed, weird, and random, as if everyone knew everything about the main characters’ sex lives, but that’s unrealistic; was unclear on the significance of the other secretaries Kim: James Spader and his punchable face; the ending—seems Disney-fied (like the author suggests) Marion: Not much except Peter’s mom; painful to watch Grey reject Lee Mental Health: Surprisingly accurate Brandon: Empowering for people with mental health issues—a positive ending and view of someone who has mental illness Maria: Positive views on therapy; some self harm parts, like triggers, felt true, but didn’t connect with the ritual of it; unclear message regarding the connection between cutting/self harm and BDSM Kim: Not sure where to begin, because this film says a lot; family systems with poor coping skills, failure to launch, mom over-protective; interesting the use of cutting and how that is interpreted with BDSM; Mr. Grey is stable and provides safety for Lee and is a contrast of what Lee has in her life; realistic Marion: The nice thing that it says about mental health is that you can be yourself and people will love you for who you are Next episode Boyhood (2014) Please remember to go listen to More Than a Crush, a podcast about love!
11 minutes | 5 months ago
Movies I Watch When I’m Depressed
Hey folks, Brandon Gregory here with a minisode to give ourselves a little break for the holidays. I’m flying solo today, but Maria’s going to be back with us next episode. Listeners of this show know that both Maria and I struggle with depression. And it sounds so ominous when you say it like that—“struggle with depression”—but now that I’m almost 40 years old, I’ve come to accept this about myself. While it can still be crippling at times, there are also times when depression is just this normal part of my life. Like, oh, I’m depressed now. Let me pull some standard coping mechanisms out of my bag of depressing tricks. This is a podcast about movies and mental health, so I thought I’d spend some time talking about movies I enjoy watching when I’m depressed. These films are sad, although not necessarily soul-crushing, and they just feel familiar when my mood starts tanking. At the same time, these aren’t just sad films; they’re also about coping with that sadness and overcoming it. They’re just the right mix of clouds and sunshine to make me feel better as I feel myself getting depressed. Let’s get started. The Royal Tenenbaums OK, first on the list is a film that all hipster kids knew, the film that put Wes Anderson on the map, The Royal Tenenbaums. Maria and I are big fans of this film, and it was actually the topic of our second episode of this podcast. This isn’t a heart-wrenching drama—in fact, I’d describe it more as a quirky comedy. But it hits pretty close to home on a few fronts. First, and probably most obviously, there’s the character of Richie Tenenbaum, who grapples with severe depression throughout the film, culminating in a pretty graphic depiction of a suicide attempt. As Maria and I discussed in our episode on this, that suicide attempt wasn’t just a plot twist; it was the catalyst that marked the turning point for many of the characters. In a film full of uncommon style and charm, this scene and the aftermath felt painfully real, and I think that’s a feeling that depressed people know all too well: things seem normal and even happy, but tragedy can so easily work itself into that story, and we know that that’s the painfully real part of the story. But the story isn’t about Richie killing himself. It’s about him and his family dealing with their pain and their shame and finally, painfully taking steps to make it better. Richie was the most direct representation of that, but all of the main characters show a growth like this. Second, this film is about the Tenenbaum family, but it’s really about the patriarch, the eponymous Royal Tenenbaum. Royal is a guy who has lived his whole life doing what he wants, and in the end, he realizes that it never got him anything worth holding onto. Royal has been an awful person, and he wants to be a better person, even if he has no idea how to do that. When I’m depressed, I don’t know that I act like Royal, but I sure feel like him. I feel selfish and overbearing, and I know people don’t like to be around me, and I want to make that better, but in my depressed state, that’s not something that’s really clear to me. Royal comes up with this convoluted plan to make his family love him, and that doesn’t go so well for him, but he ends up learning that honesty and authenticity are what these people really want out of their relationships as they struggle with their own pain. Knowing and feeling all of that just makes the ending of this film all the sweeter. Little Miss Sunshine Next on the list is the 2006 indie darling film Little Miss Sunshine. No film embodies the message, “It’s OK to not be OK” like Little Miss Sunshine. In fact, our podcast episode on the portrayals of depression and failure in Little Miss Sunshine is actually titled “It’s OK to not be OK.” My reasons for choosing this one are actually very similar to my reasons behind The Royal Tenenbaums, but this film deserves a spot on this list too. While my reasoning behind The Royal Tenenbaums was mostly behind the scenes, happening in metaphors and symbolism, Little Miss Sunshine makes this message the star of the show. First off, we have the character of Frank, who is actually stated to have depression, and starts off in the hospital recovering from a suicide attempt. When he moves in with his sister’s family for recovery, we quickly find that this family is pretty closed off to talking about failure, and one character in particular views Frank as the embodiment of failure. Frank goes through his own transformation and has a little monologue toward the end of the film about failure being the best teacher in life, marking his acceptance of his own failure. But the point of the film isn’t just Frank. Every character has to learn to cope with failure, and the resulting depression, in their own way. It’s this collective coming to peace that draws the family together in solidarity toward the end of the film. When I’m depressed, the common advice from people who don’t understand depression is to focus on the positive. Practice gratitude, think about the good things in your life. I’m not saying those are bad things, but that’s the wrong mindset for depression, because depression doesn’t have a lot of positives. Instead, the message of this film—be at peace with failure and negativity—is something that helps me a lot more, and that’s something many people aren’t willing to talk about. So the fact that this film so gleefully makes this point is something that brings me comfort when I’m depressed. Never Let Me Go Next up is a 2010 film that I only discovered recently, Never Let Me Go. Now this is a lesser known film on this list, but it absolutely deserves a spot here. This is a film about three friends growing up and dealing with the fact that their lives are not going to be what they want. I’m assuming many of you have not seen this film, so I’m not going to spoil anything for you, but the three main characters are dealt a pretty crushing blow that impacts their entire lives. This happens pretty early on in the film, so what the film is actually about is them dealing with this emotionally and coming to terms with all of their hopes that will never become realities. This is probably the saddest film on this list, but it’s a beautiful one nonetheless and one that I really enjoyed watching. What was most striking to me about this film is that they don’t spend a lot of time showing how sad these characters are, even though they have every right to be. Instead, the characters are full of optimism, and they learn to cherish every moment they have. They even feel proud of their acceptance of their lot in life. These are things that depressed people don’t like being lectured about, because our coping mechanisms are not your inspirational Instagram stories, but on some level, we’ve all learned how to do these things, mostly out of necessity. Show me a depressed person who doesn’t know how to laugh in even the darkest moments. You can’t. We all laugh in the darkest moments. That’s kind of our thing. Anyway, in this film, the tragedy is not the point—the acceptance is, and that’s something I really relate to when I’m depressed. Roman Holiday Alright, these last two movies are actually my two favorite movies, so I have a special affinity for them. Coming up next is the 1953 classic film, Roman Holiday. If you’re familiar with Audrey Hepburn, this was her first film, and it’s a fantastic film. This is an interesting pick because, through most of the film, this is an upbeat romantic comedy. There’s a bit of drama in the beginning, but the reason this film is on this list is the ending. If you’re expecting a happily ever after ending, you will be sorely disappointed, and that’s a bit of a shock coming after all these light adventures that Princess Ann has. As the film reminds us, life isn’t a fairytale and even flights of fancy are anchored to reality. The film is about Princess Ann, who is really a princess somewhere in Europe, but it’s not about her being elegant and romantic, it’s about how the responsibilities of her position are this crushing weight on her. So she escapes. She runs off into the busy city of Rome, meets a handsome man, and has a little adventure. It’s a reprieve from a life that’s been dictated for her, and the fairytale would be Ann running off with this man because they’re in love. But like I said, this is not a fairytale. Reality is an ever-present force in this film, and in the end, reality wins out. Not to say that Ann’s little Roman holiday wasn’t meaningful, but reality wins out in the end. Again, this is something I really relate to when I’m depressed. Depression can be crushing, and it can make some decisions for you that you really don’t want to make. We can go out and have some adventures—in fact, depressed people can be a lot of fun to be around—but when we’re stuck in a depressed state, these fun times are just like Ann’s little adventure: a brief holiday with reality waiting on the other side. Seriously, if you haven’t seen Roman Holiday, I highly recommend it. This is the quintessential classic film and it’s what I recommend people start with if they want to get into classic films. Lost in Translation The final film on this list is my favorite film of all time, the Sofia Coppola masterpiece Lost in Translation. Coppola has this amazing ability to show us really complex emotions that can’t really be explained, but you know it when you see it, and that’s what this film is. If you try to explain the plot, it doesn’t sound all that interesting, but it captures a very specific feeling, and it’s one that really hit home for me. Have you ever felt somehow more alone in the midst of a crowd of people? That’s where the two lead characters here find themselves. One is an aging actor and the other is a young housewife. They’re both terribly alone despite having a lot of people in their lives, and in the midst of all this, they find each other. This is a story about being lost, but it’s not a story about being found—it’s a story about being lost together. That’s a significant difference, and I really appreciate the subtlety Coppola used in portraying this. This is a very specific feeling. I’m lost, and nobody really understands it, but anyway, I can’t explain it. Oh hey, I met someone who feels the same way. Even if we don’t know a way out, at least I’m not alone. It’s a feeling that some people know very well. It’s also a feeling that, if you don’t know it, it’s almost impossible to get someone else to understand it. I think there are a decent number of films that try to portray this emotion, but none do it as well as Lost in Translation, and that’s why I love it. So that’s my list. If this is your first time tuning in, this is Peculiar Picture show, the podcast that talks about movies, maladies, and mental health. Most of our other episodes deal with specific films and we get into what these films say about mental health. So if you enjoyed this, check out some of our other episodes.
46 minutes | 6 months ago
Borderline Personality Disorder: A Day in Maria’s Life
In this episode, Brandon asks Maria a series of questions to uncover what a day in the life of someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD, is like. Questions & Answers About BPD Q: What are some of the things about BPD that commonly cause issues, either socially or personally? A: Extreme emotions over seemingly insignificant things; uncontrollable anger, at times; when younger, got into a lot of fights; lack of fear; good in emergencies; tendency to handle stress well; resilient; intense; passionate; loud; outspoken; blunt; compelled to be honest and tell the truth Q: One of the most common signs is fear of abandonment—do you feel that at all? A: More like a fear of being alone for me. Q: What does BPD feel like? A: Heart races, blood pressure soars; can’t sleep; can’t eat; obsessive; pre-occupied with dying and hurting myself; heightened sense of arousal; adrenaline rush Q: Is chronic emptiness something you’ve dealt with? A: It’s more like: No one understands and no one will ever know what I’m going through, and I’m alone. Q: What does a typical social engagement, like a happy hour, look like? Do you have any special concerns or precautions? A: I have a lot of fun; tend to be the center of attention; love social situations and thrive in that environment; tend to dominate conversations and need to slow down sometimes; can butt heads with certain people Q: How does BPD affect your closer relationships? A: Hard for me to express love sometimes; mood swings; I need a lot of good communication to function positively Q: What has treatment looked like for you? A: Talking things out; therapy; running and exercise Q: What are some of the most important things you’ve learned in therapy that helped you? A: You can’t control anything but yourself. (Cheesy, but true.) Movies Related to BPD Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindFatal AttractionGirl, InterruptedProzac NationSilver Linings PlaybookThirteenUncut GemsWelcome to Me Quotes About BPD M: When I get really down about things that are affecting me, one of the mantras in my head is: I just wish someone could see how much I’m hurt. M: I have a lot of anger, and when I’m angry—I get angry. Everyone knows I’m angry. There’s no silence about me whatsoever. I’m very passionate, and sometimes that can cause issues. M: I don’t think I’m scared of many things—I can’t imagine having an emergency situation and not being able to act and be rational in that moment. M: It’s very hard for me to fake something, so if I don’t like you, it’s not going to be hard for you to figure it out. M: Being okay with being alone is really how I’ve dealt with my feelings. If I had to characterize my entire life, I’d say it’s that I’m scared I’m going to be alone. M: It’s constant pressure, like a boiling point—I’m boiling over the edge and it’s an at-any-time-I-can-blow kind of thing. M: I obsess over “when am I going to be able to end this?” I start planning how I’m going to kill myself, because the only way I’m going to escape this feeling is if I can just end it—that’s how I feel in that moment; there’s nothing else that can ever stop it. M: I just need to hurt myself on the outside so that people can understand how badly I am hurt inside. M: I really think that one of the things I need to do is to talk it out. If I can’t do that, I’m just going to get angrier and angrier, and it’s going to become an issue.
41 minutes | 6 months ago
Grave of the Fireflies: A Soul-Crushing Wartime Film
Intro by Brandon Grave of the Fireflies is a 1988 anime film which tells the story of two Japanese children orphaned after an American firebombing raid during World War II. It’s widely regarded as one of the saddest movies of all time. Or at least on Reddit. That’s where I read that. Anyway, it’s not just sad—it’s soul-crushing. Which of course meant that Maria and I loved it. This is a bit of a unique film. There are a lot of war films, but not many from a civilian’s perspective, and far fewer from a child’s perspective, and that’s one of the things that really sets this film apart. The Americans who firebomb the small Japanese town aren’t painted as evil, they’re just this force of nature. Seita and Setsuko, the two leads in this film, don’t make the best choices—and I wouldn’t expect them to, they’re 14 and 4 years old, and their actions and choices are reflective of that, but it’s something you don’t often see in war movies. Wartime trauma for civilians is an under-discussed topic, and it made for a fascinating, and heartbreaking, film. The trauma in this film gave Maria and me a lot to talk about in regards to mental health. I go into some of the cultural differences that help explain not only the choices of Seita and Setsuko, but many of the other characters in this film. Maria talks about the link between mental health and physical health and how people struggling with their physical health are often forced to overlook their deeper mental health issues. So grab a box of tissues and let’s talk about this harrowing World War II story in this episode of Peculiar Picture Show, the podcast that talks about movies, maladies, and mental health! Show Summary General: This is a very sad movie B: Second time seeing this; heartbreaking story of two orphan children during World War II M: First time seeing this; very sad; double feature with My Neighbor Totoro Idea Exchange B: Pearl Harbor: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, starring Jack Black and Sarah Silverman M: N/A Like: A sad film that made us feel things B: Format (anime); WWII Japanese perspective; made feel some things; overall execution M: Format (anime); WWII Japanese perspective; sad; not focused on war but lives are affected by it Dislike: It’s hard to like kids with annoying voices B: English dub version M: Hard for me to get into a story with little children; Setsuko’s crying and screaming; least favorite Studio Ghibli film; translation of the film’s title; beginning Mental Health: Wartime culture and the link between physical health and mental health B: Japanese cultural differences to explain how some of the people in this film behave; wartime culture; poor choices; sociology; not traditional villain/hero story M: Link between physical health and mental health Quotes B: Seita is a character who lives by his ideals, and he believes that love is all he needs. That right there is the main conflict in the film: choosing to stick to your ideals versus doing what you have to in order to survive. B: In wartime, values and ideals are a luxury, and [during World War II] the price was skyrocketing, and that’s something we see here. It shows that in America and throughout most of the world, they’re dealing with this same problem, but values and ideals are just not enough. M: This film shows how physical health and mental health are inextricably linked. When people don’t have access to adequate healthcare in general, mental health care is going to lack, and vice versa. Next Movie Secretary (2002) – our favorite BDSM movie
55 minutes | 7 months ago
Carrie: The Psychology of Abuse and Criminality (With Pig’s Blood)
Intro by Brandon Carrie is a film so popular that it almost needs no introduction. When it came out in 1976, it had a huge impact. For director Brian de Palma, it was his first hit film. For Stephen King, who wrote the original novel, this film launched him into superstardom. Growing up, this was a film that everyone had seen—except me. I didn’t see it until just a few years ago. I didn’t tell anyone, though, because I was afraid that… wait for it… they’re all gonna laugh at you! Following in the footsteps of films like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, Carrie brings horror right to our doorsteps by showing us a supernatural story in a pretty typical high school. Though the characters are exaggerated, the film gives us relatable human experiences that feel a lot closer to home than older horror films like Psycho and Night of the Living Dead. The film tells the story of the eponymous Carrie White, a shy, abused teenager who discovers that she has telekinetic powers. Carrie is abused by her overly religious mother and pretty much everyone else in the film until she reaches her breaking point, and her breaking point is mass murder. That’s right, Carrie kills most of her high school in what is probably the most intense prom scene ever filmed in a gymnasium. Though Carrie is remembered for that super-freaky prom scene, it’s the slow burn of abuse and mistreatment that Carrie endures throughout the film that got our attention. As it turns out, for a podcast about movies and mental health, there is a lot to talk about in this film. Maria and I talk about the film’s feminist themes, the psychological effects of abuse, the purported link between abuse and violent criminal behavior, and more. So go slaughter a pig and get a bucket of its blood and settle in for this episode of Peculiar Picture Show, the podcast that talks about movies, maladies, and mental health! Actually, don’t do that thing with the pig. That’s very bad. Enjoy this episode, though. Show Summary General: Stephen King and interesting tidbits B: Tragic tale; based on Stephen King’s first novel; success of this film launched King’s career; joint audition with Star Wars, Sissy Spacek was amazing; several of the actors in the film thought this was a comedy before it was complete; typically dislike horror films; second time seeing thisM: No, real general ideas Idea Exchange B: 101 Dalmatians Drag Me to HellM: More Rated R Movies for Young People Like: Campy 70s horror and a feminist message B: The ending; anxiety-inducing cinematography; feminist lensM: The beginning; campiness; my brother; over-the-top; 1970s Dislike: Dated and over-the-top (and Brandon’s a prude) B: The beginning; dated; absurd scenes that don’t belong, like long-drawn out discovery scene, tuxedo scene, car chaseM: Dated; were we supposed to know that Tommy and Sue were “good”; unbelievable; pig killing for what—a little too evil Mental Health: Abused kids are believed to be more dangerous and can develop dissociative identity disorder to cope B: 1970s crime, criminality, and child abuse; psychological effects of being treated like a criminalM: Dissociative identity disorder; parapsychology; telekinesis Quotes B: A lot of people assume that abuse leads to criminal behavior, so unfortunately now there’s a social stigma against kids who were abused. B: I think Carrie is a somewhat political movie because it makes a statement of empathy about abused kids who are driven to violence, because that’s what this is: Carrie is an abused kid. She is abused by everyone, and she is driven to violence, and we’re supposed to feel bad for her. M: Get out and vote. Next Movie Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
50 minutes | 7 months ago
American Psycho: Rich White Men Get to Do Everything
Intro by Maria For this week’s episode, Brandon and I talk about the 2000 film called American Psycho. The movie takes place in the 1980s, and the central character is Patrick Bateman, a seemingly typical Wall Street executive who deals with mergers and acquisitions. But it doesn’t take long for us to realize that he actually isn’t so typical; in fact, you could say that he deals in MURDERS and EXECUTIONS, because we soon find out that Bateman is an actual, real-life killer. The movie lays into this, and it was controversial (the book was too) because it can be terribly violent. We follow Bateman as he struggles with his deteriorating mental health and slowly succumbs to his psychosis—he becomes THE American Psycho. And he can’t seem to stop killing people—particularly women—until he finally breaks down, after being chased by police, and confesses. Still, after he confesses, we realize that perhaps Bateman is typical after all. He is rich and white, and has a Wall Street job. He is what society deems as worthy of living, and so no one penalizes him for his murders or his sins; no, at the end, people are willing to overlook this because of his status in society. Sound familiar? It is yet another movie about the myth of the American dream and growing rich and being successful in this country. It is another movie that sends a strong message about toxic masculinity and capitalism. It tells us society is broken, and Brandon explores this by talking about how society benefits people who have money and wealth and some of the psychology behind that. But that’s not to say this movie is without its problems. It uses mental illness as a vehicle to tell a murderer’s story, and given the stigma behind mental illness, that probably isn’t the greatest or nicest thing to do. Still, we can’t help but love this film and its scathing portrayal of American society and our American psychosis. So join us to hear this and more on this next episode of Peculiar Picture Show. Show Summary General: A Smart Take-Down of Capitalism Based on a Controversial Book B: First time seeing this movie—smarter version of Fight Club and American Beauty; good job articulating the trouble with capitalism M: Based off Bret Easton Ellis’s novel by the same title; adapted screenplay written by Mary Harron (director) and Guinevere Turner; controversial—many people think film is anti-feminist; Ellis’s novels are usually somewhat connected with similar characters and themes Like: Intelligent Commentary on Reagan-Era Economics and Toxic Masculinity B: Smart; from a musician standpoint—every album he thinks is better is actually the album where people would say “they sold out,” which says a lot about his character—the mass produced mainstream music; left me thinking for a while, and I felt like I had to “solve” the mystery, but then I realized that isn’t the point, and it doesn’t matter because society allows Patrick Bateman to exist because he makes a lot of money M: Themes: toxic masculinity, misogyny, consumerism, yuppie culture, conformity, the 1980s; satire; ending for me is more about the fact that someone like Patrick Bateman could get away with all these horrible things because that’s how society has framed white, rich men; humor; Bateman is a music dork, and the type of music he likes says a lot about the type of person he is; Christian Bale’s acting; entertaining; escaping themes and being stuck; mistaken identity Dislike: No One Speaks Up About Misogyny B: Wished there was just one character to speak up about misogyny, feminism, so that the message is slightly clearer since Bateman is portrayed as tragic M: I have a hard time with this segment; I dislike it when people just write this film off as violent or anti-feminist without watching it Mental Health: Mental Illness as a Plot Device, Self Worth Deriving from Net Worth B: Annoying that this is mental illness as a metaphor; some things certainly didn’t help mental health; psychology of how our social worth derives from how much money we make and how much we put into society; society is broken M: Title has a lot to say; problematic with equating psychosis, a real thing, with being a killer, but I don’t think the writers were doing that—this film is not about mental illness (or so it seems); movie has a lot to say about toxic masculinity, and we have so many episodes on this Quotes B: In another movie, him getting away with everything would be seen as a triumph for that character, but honestly, I see him getting away because people don’t care as a crushing moment for him because it was his last shred of humanity reaching out and saying, “No, I don’t want to let go of my humanity. I’m scared of losing myself here.” And then society is just, like, “Nope, don’t give a fuck.” And that was this permission he needed to get rid of the last of his humanity and society had finally won. M: The fact that the movie makes you think that [Patrick Bateman] could get away with something like that—that he is obviously killing all these people and everything at the end with the helicopters—to think that you can think twice about it says a lot about how society treats privileged people. Next Movie Carrie (1976)
45 minutes | 7 months ago
Brandon’s Anxiety. Branxiety. The Breckoning?
Brandon talks about his recent struggles with anxiety and realizing that he’s had chronic anxiety for a long time. Anxiety looks a lot different than he initially thought. Maria asks the following questions: How does anxiety affect you?Have you always suffered from anxiety?What triggers your anxiety?What’s the difference between anxiety, having a panic attack, being nervous, etc?What helps you?How can people help you when you are suffering from anxiety? Is that even possible?Why is there a gender disparity in anxiety?
49 minutes | 8 months ago
Jojo Rabbit: Imaginary Friends and the Psychology of Nationalism
Intro by Maria The 2019 film Jojo Rabbit takes place In Germany during World War II. The movie’s protagonist is a German boy whose imaginary friend is a goofy Adolf Hitler. In the movie, the boy discovers that his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their apartment, and this discovery forces him to come to terms with the blind nationalism he has believed in for, what it seems, his entire life. The movie is funny—even when tackling such a heavy topic—but it is also heartwarming and heartbreaking. The movie’s genre play as it seamlessly drifts between comedy and drama makes it a unique one, something rarely seen when dealing with the atrocities of the Holocaust. For the mental health section of this episode, Brandon talks about the psychology of nationalism. He gives us a brief overview as to why people turn to nationalism during times of distress and makes parallels between Germany after World War I and the United States after 9/11. SPOILERS: Americans are not impervious to nationalism. Shocking I know, but something that definitely bears repeating. I go in a completely different direction away from nationalism and explore the psychology of having an imaginary friend, which, as it turns out, is a completely normal part of growing up—just like not having one is completely normal too. Which reminds me—if any of you had an imaginary friend, please write us by going to PeculiarPicture.show or emailing us at email@example.com. Be sure to describe everything about your imaginary friend. What was it like? Did you physically see and hear your imaginary friend? I have so many questions about imaginary friends, all of which you will hear, and more, on this next episode of Peculiar Picture Show. Show Summary General B: Based on a book—imaginary Hitler is not in the book; accurate depiction of what Germany was like during that time (happy, colorful)—nationalism; saw it in theater; first film entire family really enjoyed M: Nominated for Academy Awards—won Best Adapted Screenplay; Waititi inspired by concerning statistics that state a good deal of Americans don’t know what Auschwitz is; first time seeing this Like B: Film totally works; message about German nationalism was honest; genre play; natural relationship between Jojo and Elsa; strong female characters M: Genre play; absurd details; movie is still true to its time; art direction Dislike B: Not much; maybe haters out there don’t consider satire/comedy to be true art M: Couldn’t think of much; maybe haters out there dislike the funny aspects of subject that is supposed to be serious Mental Health B: Psychology of nationalism; nationalism is an easy way to meet specific needs; related to military might; nationalism grows when threats come from other nations—after 9/11 nationalism in the U.S. grew; when intolerant white people know democracy benefits people other than them, they reject democracy and support authoritarianism; narrative of good vs. bad; this all happened after WWI in Germany too M: First film that our podcast has done that takes place during WWII; dehumanization an issue; imaginary friends and child psychology—imaginary friends (or not having one) is completely normal Sources “The Everyday Psychology of Nationalism” from The Atlantic“The Trump effect: New study connects white American intolerance and support for authoritarianism” from NBC News Next Movie American Psycho (2000)
33 minutes | 8 months ago
Minisode: Our Favorite Movies 2010-2019
Thoughts on the 2010s in film Different perspectives Black cinema went mainstream and is largely just considered cinemaGet Out, Black Panther, Moonlight, 12 Years a Slave, Sorry to Bother You, BlacKkKlansman, Selma1 Oscar for Best Picture, 2 for Best ScreenplayFemale characters and directors also getting more of a chance in the spotlightFemale-directed: Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, Lady Bird, Book SmartFemale-led: I, Tonya, ColossalCharacters with disabilities or other maladies tooSilver Linings Playbook (mental illness), Mad Max: Fury Road (physical disability), Black Swan (severe trauma)Intricate character dramas about atypical charactersBlack Swan, Lady Bird, Frances Ha, Her, Marriage Story Superhero films All but 2 MCU films came out this decadeMCU films expand to show other more diverse perspectives, like Black Panther, Spider Man: Into the Spiderverse, and Captain MarvelX-Men: First Class reboots the X-Men franchise in the best way possibleX-Men franchise also introduced more mature films like Deadpool and LoganDC films try really hard to follow; Wonder Woman deliversDC delivers some different perspectives with Joker and Birds of Prey Maria’s Top 13 Films 2010-2019 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)Django Unchained (2012)Elle (2016)Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2 (2010/2011)Blackfish (2013)Bridesmaids (2011)Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)The Hateful Eight (2015)Joy (2015)Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016) Thor: Ragnarok (2017)Get Out (2017)The Florida Project (2017) Brandon’s Top 11 Films 2010-2019 Lady Bird (2019)Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)Get Out (2017)Silver Linings Playbook (2012)Marriage Story (2019)Sorry to Bother You (2018)Logan (2017)Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)Colossal (2016)Frances Ha (2013)Her (2013) Fun Facts Maria used to work at Sea World and experienced first-hand much of what’s in Blackfish.Twitter recently shit all over J.K. Rowling after some very transphobic behavior.Silver Linings Playbook prominently features a man with bipolar disorder and a woman with borderline personality disorder—just like this podcast.
76 minutes | 9 months ago
12 Years a Slave: Cumulative Trauma and Dehumanization (with guests Stephanie and Tux!)
Intro by Brandon It’s August, and the widespread discussions on race that our country started having in May are still in full swing. Race in America is such an important topic, and it’s a vital part of the mental health conversation, so we’re continuing our series on systemic racism with 12 Years a Slave, a historical look at racism in America. When I mention racism, there are a lot of modern images that come to mind: the Black Lives Matter protests, police shootings, the Charlottesville Alt-Right march, and many more. But it’s important to examine racism’s long and deeply-ingrained history in America as well. Racism in America is deeply rooted in our history. It’s in our DNA. Understanding racism today means understanding its history, and that’s why we’re doing this episode. 12 Years a Slave tells the true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man living in America during the slavery era. Solomon’s life is drastically changed when he’s sold into slavery despite having his freedom. When Solomon is sold to Ford, a particularly abusive plantation owner, he sees first-hand the horrors of American slavery, and the film spares no detail in showing us just how brutal it was. This film is uncomfortable to watch, but that’s the point: we need to feel uncomfortable about these things. Being that this is a historical movie and I’m certainly not a history buff, we’ve invited two guests to help us explain the historical context of this film. On the mental health side of things, we also talk about the psychology of dehumanization and moral disengagement that was necessary to perpetuate the system of slavery in America. There’s a lot to talk about here, and we hope you’ll join us as we unravel the history of racism and slavery in America in this episode of Peculiar Picture Show, the podcast that talks about movies, maladies, and mental health. Guests: Stephanie and Tux from Beyond Reproach! Hosts: Stephanie Domingo and Tux Loerzel Summary: Beyond Reproach is a comedic history podcast about scandals and scandalousness in politics and government. Each episode, hosts Stephanie & Tux explore the sordid stories of America’s past, all while drinking heavily, talking too much, and generally making fools of themselves. They hope that these stories entertain you, teach you a thing or two, and maybe even draw parallels between the mistakes of the past and the quagmire that is American politics today. Website: Beyond Reproach, a podcast about scandals in American politics and government Twitter: https://twitter.com/ReproachBeyond Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/beyondreproachpod/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/beyondreproachpod/ Show Summary Overall Thoughts: We liked the unbiased, unfiltered view of American racism Stephanie: Saw it in theaters; English people and white people who aren’t Americans can sometimes see things clearer than white Americans; this wouldn’t be the same movie if told by an American; story felt British Tux: First time seeing it; England wasn’t founded with the slavery system like the United States was Maria: First time seeing it; based off a true story and sentiment rings true; American story told by an Englishman Brandon: First time seeing it; could have been overly preachy To learn more about Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome (PTSS), check out Dr. Joy DeGruy: https://www.joydegruy.com/. History: Even abolitionists could hold onto racism Tail end of the Industrial Revolution, which made cotton processing faster, and the southern states needed slave labor, and they took to abducting free Black people from the North; popular sentiment at the time that you could be anti-slavery and anti-black; Lincoln was not an abolitionist, even though he had some in his cabinet that pushed for the end of slavery; Lincoln’s solution for slavery was to deport Black people Like: A masterfully executed but painful look at American slavery Stephanie: Didn’t glorify slavery; beautiful—everything thoughtfully done; visceral; soundscape; not melodramatic Tux: Evilness and violence is not sugarcoated Maria: Painful; slavery story, not freedom Brandon: Painful and exactly what it needed to be; technical filmmaking and performances were great Dislike: A little hard to watch Stephanie: I understand why the violence was gratuitous, and since this was my second time watching it, I could have done with less; Brad Pitt’s character Tux: In the beginning, it seemed like the Northern whites were way too nice for him (missed the mark a little) Maria: A little lost in a scene or two (Native American scene) Brandon: Negative reviews from offended white people…not as many as you would think, perhaps because this movie takes place in a more distant past Stephanie: Hannah Arendt, Ikeman and Jerusalem (the banality of evil)—it’s important to see how routine and mundane slavery was and everyone was in this system and not thinking about it because it’s like the air you breathe; infusion of religion throughout the movie Mental Health: The cumulative effects of racism, and the process of dehumanization Tux: As a white person in this system, you are hurting too, and religion helped soothed their worry Maria: Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome (Dr. Joy DeGruy) Brandon: Dehumanization was intentional and still happens today (enslaved people vs. slaves) Quotes Tux: I think we’re at a time in America where a lot of people are trying to rewrite the history of the Civil War and slavery, and act like slavery wasn’t as bad as it was, like the Civil War was fought about something else, like states’ rights instead of slavery. So I think it’s really important to have reminders for people to be like, ‘No, this was really, really fucked up.’ Stephanie: We can ignore the problem all we want, but it just exacerbates over generations if we don’t explore it. Movies like this put it front-and-center, there’s no hiding, there’s no shying away from uncomfortable, violent truths about this nation. Stephanie: I think that English people—and white people who aren’t American—I think that they can see very clearly American racism, because they’re not implicated in it, so they don’t have a justification sort of thing happening in their head. I don’t think this movie would have been made this way had it not been a British person’s brain-child. Brandon: I feel like this very easily could have been overly-preachy, and I really appreciated that it wasn’t. Maria: I learned [in high school in Florida] that the Civil War was not caused by slavery, I literally heard that what caused the Civil War was economics—all these unstated things that were all about slavery. Like, states’ rights—yeah, it’s the states’ rights to keep slaves. It never went far enough, people just said, ‘Oh, it’s over states’ rights. They want to have their own rights.’ Yeah, because they want to keep slaves. Stephanie: It was a popular sentiment at the time, that you could be anti-slavery, but still violently anti-black. Stephanie: I think a lot of people think about the fact that we live in this white supremacist country, we think that it only hurts black and brown people—no, it hurts us the most, but it hurts everyone. It changes us as a people to dehumanize others. It’s not a good system for anyone. Maria: I love that we linger in that pain. … Some of those scenes are so painful, like when he’s being hung and no one comes and saves him—that was so powerful that it dragged on for so long. Also, the scene where they’re burying the man who died in the field and they’re singing. It’s so long and drawn out and so painful, and I like that about this movie. Stephanie: I think we need to build up our stamina to be able to sit with discomfort. The fact that we’re so quick as a nation to just look past things—this is why nothing changes, is because we don’t dwell, we don’t reflect, we’re so resistant to that feeling, but that feeling is life, that feeling is real. Maria: It’s like the false American dream. Everyone thinks this is the best nation in the world. When you live here, you’re taught from an early age, this is the best nation in the world, you’ll have opportunity, all you have to do is work hard and you’ll have everything at your fingertips, and it’s such a big lie. Brandon: I have a theory on why there weren’t as many offended white people on this. I think white people are generally OK thinking about racism if they see it as this far-off bit of history. If we look at a lot of popular movies, like the recent Green Book, it was dealing with racism, but white people watching were like, ‘Well, I’m sure glad we dealt with racism in the 60s and we don’t have to deal with that anymore.’ Stephanie: I loved the infusion of religion into this, and how different people can take different things from religion. Like, the slavers were still thinking they were super-pious, and they were blaming a crop failure on the fact that their enslaved people didn’t believe enough. It’s wild what you can do with that book, you can bend it to however you feel. Stephanie: White supremacy is violence, every day. And you kind of get used to it, unfortunately, but it is an adaptive behavior. In the movie, they did a really good job, in my opinion, showing that. There’s a scene where Solomon went to the store, and he sees two young boys being hanged, and he just has to walk by that. That is something I deal with every time that there’s a shooting, and there’s dashcam footage—it’s reliving that trauma on a daily basis. And it wears you down. How could it not? I know I don’t have the same freedoms as white people in this country. I know that there will never be justice for me. Maybe generations from now—maybe—but for now, this is something that we have to hold all the time. Stephanie: White supremacy affects us all. It’s like being outside when it’s pouring and saying you’re not wet. Everyone is wet.
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