You Can’t See Creepy With a Cellphone Light: Guilt & Shadows in American Horror

This is a really interesting perspective and well worth the read. However, I think I have a pretty different take. I’d love to write a friendly rebuttal as a fellow horror fan, but only if that would be something you’d be receptive too.

Zombie Salmon (the Horror Continues)

American Horror. It’s become this great, terrible disappointment.

What used to set my imagination on fire is now a non sequitur, a discombobulated mess of unrealized terrors.

I am bummed.

That realization started with the attempt to watch a movie in a movie theater not so long ago… A simple task, one which turned out to be a farce in a room full of bobbing silhouettes, a lot of explosions from nearby theater screens, and scores of cellphones – like fireflies – punctuating the darkness that was supposed to have monsters in it.

Imagine my Horror when the stars of the movie produced their own cellphones , holding them out like crucifixes to ward off the darkness of their haunted house. No wonder it took so long to find something scary. When the worst that can happen is no signal or a deficit of bars… well, the Horror just doesn’t…

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Is Asami From the Japanese Horror Movie the Audition a Feminist Icon?

Is Asami From the Japanese Horror Movie the Audition a Feminist Icon?

It’s what I like to call “Halloween Month!” And as such, I thought it might be fun to write a critical analysis on the main female character from Takashi Miike’s Horror/Gore film The Audition. Also known as one of the most messed up  movies I’ve ever been forced to watch. This is critical analysis, so spoilers are kind of a given.

Now, this article has a bit of a background story. Back in my first year of University, I took a world film class. I’m pretty sure my prof took personal pleasure in making his students as uncomfortable as possible with his movie selections. One of the acquired movies was The Audition.

After the movie, and after our Prof took great pleasure in watching us squirm, he posed the question: is Asami Yamazaki a feminist icon? We didn’t get far in that particular discussion, mostly due to the one guy who felt the need to express his opinion that no she wasn’t over and over and over again, with little else to add. (In hindsight, kudos for that guy for not automatically associating feminism with psychopaths.) So… we’re gonna discuss this now.

There’s been a lot of discussion about this film as a feminist text already. Some people say the film is about objectified women finally taking revenge. Others caution against feminist reading because it demonizes women and because one of Asami’s victims was a woman. A third interpretation adds her culture into the mix, claiming that this movie paints the terrible consequences of the historical repression and oppression of Japanese women.

To be clear, I don’t condone Asami’s actions in the film and I don’t consider her or her actions as feminist in any way. Nor do I pretend to have any insight into the developers intentions for this film. That being said, I don’t think any of this rules out Asami as a feminist icon. I think the question is much more complicated and I think it goes outside the narrative of the film. But, before we get there, let’s first take a look at the narrative itself, because it can certainly allow for a feminist interpretation.

For those of who are unfamiliar with the movie, our protagonist, Shigeharu Aoyama, is asked by his son to begin dating again after his wife had been dead for 7 years. After seeking advice from his friend a film producer, they stage a fake audition for a fake film so that Aoyama can find his perfect wife.

And make no mistake, the woman are heavily objectified by these two men.  Aoyama states he’s only looking for young, beautiful, obedient women. What comes next is a montage of women completely unaware they’re auditioning for the role of wife. The male gaze is used to great affect. And of course he falls in love with the perfect woman who is the perfect embodiment of everything he wants. Of course, none of her references check out and it turn out. But, he’s not too worried about that. They go on a few dates, she shares her past history of abuse and he fully intends to propose, until of course, he learns about her tendency to torture and kill people in brutally disturbing ways.

I think the theme involving the oppression of Japanese women is absolutely worth while when analyzing this movie, especially when a male Japanese student in my class pointed out that the desire for this type of women is still very preventable in Japan. but that theme has already been explored, instead, I’ll look at how Asami, despite not having any sort of feminist ideology in her actions, can still be a feminist icon.

Asami is not fighting for oppressed women. She’s not even fighting for herself. She’s fighting for her understanding of love. To her love is pain and she has an idealized understanding of pain as the only truth that exists.

Sure, you can list her murder of another women as a reason she’s not a feminist, but it goes way past that. Her goal isn’t to even liberate herself from her suffering. She’d stay the small unassuming wife forever if it meant she could remain in her twisted idea of love. But it’s ruined because she get’s jealous. Her idea of love isn’t real and no one can match or understand it. Her actions simply aren’t framed as an act of feminist revenge.

But that’s ok, because my idea of feminism isn’t about women turning the tables on men or a narrative of revenge. It’s about the equalization of the sexes and the dissolution of oppressive gender roles for both the sexes.

Looking at the film though the perspective of a white, North American female there were certain aspects of the film that I found especially interesting. The way the male characters literally held a audition for a wife. Literally anyone could have auditioned. The main character went on dates, had sex in a hotel room and fell in love with a woman who was little more than a stranger. He was considering marriage before he ever even went to her apartment. And for the most part they were completely unconcerned. Most woman I know would say that it’s crazy. As far as I remember, there was no discussion about being careful or taking precautions.

In any other movie Asami would be the clear victim. The trope of the innocent and vulnerable girl being taken advantage of there. But, instead she uses those same stereotypical characteristics that Aoyama was so attracted too, to lure him in and trap him. It defies the innocent, and pure  and honestly sexist trope that is common in horror movies.

The best way for create a feminist icon is to portray women as human beings, flawed and different with their own thought and motivations. Asami Yamazaki is a deeply flawed and damaged human being who is genuinely terrifying. She’s cemented herself as the most iconic female villain in horror movies. And I think this is exactly why she’s a feminist icon.

Things my Psych Major Taught me

This may or may not fit into the theme of this blog. But it’s that time again in which family drama worms it’s way into my life and I think that there are some things I’ve learned in basic psych classes that applies both to designing experiments and every day life.

1.You’re biased. You’re mom’s biased. Everyone is biased.

People like to think that they’re the embodiment’s of rationale and logic, but the the truth is human’s aren’t made to be 100% logical. We are emotional, social beings and like one of my professors once told me we put a lot of stock in symbolism. If you can’t find the logic in something in an action it’s usually because of symbols. Look for the logic in a death row inmate being put on suicide watch. There isn’t any. Everyone, including myself have biases that affect us everyday that we aren’t even aware of because it happens on an unconscious level. And we were made this way. These biases have a very real practical function.  They let us process information more efficiently and make quicker decisions which is essential  to our daily lives and survival. But it’s just as important to try to be aware of them and to minimize human error and it’s consequences.

2. You’re experiences are not universal

Humans are complex beings. A lot of different things go into our development. Our personality, thoughts and motivations can all be shaped and changed by variety of biological and environmental factors which means that our experience really are unique. Psychological studies deal with probability and the general population. If your experience is different from the trend of study that doesn’t necessarily  invalidate that study. And if your experience is different from someone else’s it doesn’t invalidate their experience either. Which leads us too…

2. Beware common sense.

There is a lot of concepts in psychology that would appear to be common sense to the general population. One common bias, “hindsight bias”, is when you consider something as predictable after you already have the information. For example, love and comfort being necessities for babies may seem obvious to us now. But it was only after Harlow’s wire/cloth mother studies that this concept became known. In fact, some of these “obvious” solutions might not even be correct. Studies show that things like personality between a parent and a child tends to have little correlation. The point? Your interpretation of a situation  or person, even if it seems correct to you, won’t always be right. Don’t assume you know another person’s thoughts or feelings. A lot of misunderstanding could be solved through simply communication. Just ask!

4. Co-relation does not equal causation

There are three different claims that studies can make: frequency claims, co-relational claims, and causation claims. The meanings of each are fairly intuitive. Frequency claims are only making a claims based on how frequent a phenomenon is. Like, cancer being the leading cause of death in Canada. A correlation claim just means that two things are related or associated to each other. It says nothing about one being the cause of the other. It’s just as likely that some third variable is affecting them both. And causation does claim that one thing is directly affecting the other. Just because someone tends to be busy every time you call them does not mean the hate you. More information is needed. As hard as it may be to believe they might just always be busy or it might be yet another bias in affect: you might only being paying attention to the times they’re busy and neglecting the times they aren’t to reflect your own expectations.

 

Review of Stranger Things

Review of Stranger Things

I started watched Stranger things at the recommendation of my little brother and I think it’s safe to say that I loved it, considering I finished the series in less than two days.

Stranger Things is a nostalgic filled love letter to the best of 80’s sci-fi. The cinematography is stunning and the dedication to 80’s aesthetic is commendable. It’s a really beautifully stunning show at moments.

It somehow manages to effectively balance three popular sci-fi genres of the 80s era by using the three different story lines that show follows. Joyce and Chief Hopper are in a shady government thriller, Jonathon and  Nancy are stuck in a horror monster flick, and the kids follow the plot of a coming of age adventure story.

I thought this storytelling was ideal because it gives motivations and screen time to every character. I’m never left wondering where the parents are while the kids where off bicycling into danger every two minutes because I get to see what they’re doing too. Each group is left to solve a piece of a puzzle, and it’s only when they come together at the end that they are able to solve the larger, expanding mystery of the show.

Stranger Things has a lot of heart and has an interesting story to tell. For a cast full of younger actors the acting is pretty solid. It stays true to the genre it’s attempting to tribute while also playing with common tropes it keep the series fresh and unique.

Overall the show is fantastic and I would defiantly recommend it to anyone I know, particularly sci-fi lovers.

The only issue I had with it was the ending. It’s been argued that the ending felt very rushed which is fairly accurate. It was obviously leaving room for another season, I felt like a lot of things weren’t properly dealt with and I was left with a lot of questions. I was also pretty surprised to find a lot of the character were left of seemingly exactly were they had began. I would also caution those with epilepsy or any similar illnesses from watching this series. Lights play an important role and the ending especially features  a heavy amount of flashing lights.

 

Why I recommend Pokemon Go To People Who Never Liked Pokemon

Why I recommend Pokemon Go To People Who Never Liked Pokemon

Pokemon Go has had quite a mixed reaction since it’s come out. The initial excitement has somewhat soured among reports of muggings, reckless endangerment, and a broken game.

Amidst all this it’s hard to remember why this game became so popular so quickly after it’s release even among those who didn’t know what a Pokemon was. I’m looking at you Cathy. I even have a friend who admitted she loves the game, but hated the franchise up till now.

So this is why I recommend the game to those who where never bitten by the Pokemon bug before.

1. It’s actually a really good motivator to go out and exercise

I’m not a huge exerciser. You’ll never see me at the gym. I hardly ever go outside, let alone go to for a walk. When people say Pokemon Go motivates them to get out and walk, they aren’t lying. Trust me, I have personal experience.

I’ve been on 10 mile walks hunting for pokemon. I went out everyday for a week. When I first got the app I saw an Eevee outside my window and literally left my apartment to go catch it and then preceded to walk around the block to find a different pokemon that popped up on my radar.

Pokemon Go is supposed to be an excising app. That’s why we need to walk to hatch eggs. And so far it’s been the best app for motivating me to get out and move yet.

2. Weirdly promotes a nice kinda social interaction

Pokemon Go requires you to leave your house and go. Sure you spend the whole time looking at your phone, but so is everyone else. And this makes it really easy to spot anyone else who’s also playing. And everyone is playing.

Pokemon Go has a team system that promotes teamwork and competition. There has also been several events at popular parks and other locations in which players are encouraged to meet up and play.

Pokemon had given me something to talk about with my friends and coworkers and me and my brother now regular go pokemon hunting together when before we honestly didn’t spend much time together before.

But perhaps the most common social interaction that has sprouted from the game is simple joy and excitement of meeting another player while playing the game. Many people have stories about playing with other players they meet and sharing lures and areas in which specific pokemon have spawned.

 

3. Pokemon stops are landmarks and give you the chance to explore where you live

It helps that Pokemon Go actually motivates you to go outside. But, it also has a feature called pokemon stops that are absolutely crucial when playing the game. These pokemon stops also happen to be landmarks and locations around your city.

Statues, murals, eateries, churches are a few of the common pokestops, but I’ve run into many more cool hotspots that I never knew existed before Pokemon Go.

I’ve also noticed some local places use excellent marketing tactics to make the most of their pokestop. The best example being the local burger place that decorated their windows with pokemon stickers, placed a lure around their store and placed a sign outside their shop that encouraged “trainers to come in for meal while the take a break trying to catch them all”.

 

First blog post

First blog post

Hey, my non existent readers. I had two ideas for a blog before I went ahead and made one. Both of which had something to do with the entertainment industry in a way. And both of which had something to so with my hopes for a future career. The first would be revolved around my writing and my novel and advice. The second, what would become this blog, was supposed to be a fun pop culture place where I can talk about my favourite things and maybe report some news down the line.

I decided I probably wouldn’t have much to say for the first blog, considering my book is unfinished and I’m really in no place to be giving anyone any kind of advice, and to go with my second idea. I’d rather start something fun and not too serious I can do in my spare time anyway. And so this blog was born.

As will soon become obvious, I have a lot interests, so hopefully there will be content for everyone. If this actually picks off I have no doubt that this blog, and my options, will go through a ridiculous amount of changes. But I figure there is a very little chance anyone will read this anyway. So let’s get into it.