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The most horrific scene in Clarissa…

The most horrific scene in Clarissa… published on No Comments on The most horrific scene in Clarissa…

…is not actually the rape scene, in my opinion. It’s the scene in which [yet again] Clarissa has escaped Lovelace’s clutches and found refuge in some nice person’s house.

Lovelace finds out where she is and barges in. He claims that Clarissa is his wife. In excessive anger over a disagreement, she, the silly thing, is now denying their marriage. He has, however, come to take her home now.


Clarissa, understandably vibrating with fear and barely able to support herself at the sight of her jailer and abuser coming after her [yet again], says that she is not his wife. He is not her husband. He’s vile, horrible, contemptible, and mean, and she wants nothing to do with him.


And the women who stand between Clarissa and Lovelace, guarding Clarissa, don’t know what to do. They hold their ground in compassionate defense of the obviously terrified and distressed Clarissa. And yet they can’t dismiss Lovelace out of hand. He has cleverly predetermined the situation so that every statement of Clarissa’s may be interpreted as the unreasonably incensed blather of a hysterical wife. Plus he’s a straight white cis aristocratic dude, and, just as the women are used to deferring to him and his ilk, so he is used to receiving deference.


That, right there, is the horrifying crux of Clarissa: the realization that straight cis white rich dude privilege may be employed to break links of compassion, altruism, and resistance so that even allies start thinking that they should betray each other for a man’s favor. It’s this sort of scene that demonstrates the chilling omnipotence and inevitability of straight cis rich white dude privilege.

In such a setting, Clarissa’s choice to opt out of the toxic system entirely by dying appears less like the Instructive Apotheosis of Virtue and more like The Only Thing She Really Could Do. I pretty much loathe Heroine Deaths for the Promulgation of Moral Sentiment, but I can accept Clarissa’s death because, besides being morally sentimental, it arises straight out of Clarissa’s character, conflict, and setting. She chooses to die because, as the bulk of the novel demonstrates, it’s the sole action she can take on her own terms. It’s not a happy ending, obviously, but, given the fictional universe and its populace, it’s right and fitting and good. [The happy ending is when Lovelace dies. > :p ]

I finished an abridged version of Clarissa last night.

I finished an abridged version of Clarissa last night. published on No Comments on I finished an abridged version of Clarissa last night.

No one really knows how long Samuel Richardson’s epistolary novel Clarissa, first published in 1748, is. The exhaustive story of a young rich white woman’s struggle for self-determination is, however, considered the longest novel in the English language. If you’d like to follow the story, I’ve modernized, condensed, and dramatized it for you in a single blog post below! You’re welcome. Continue reading I finished an abridged version of Clarissa last night.

I like Steven Universe!

I like Steven Universe! published on No Comments on I like Steven Universe!

Now that I’ve watched every single episode except for that April Fool’s one, I have to state that I love Steven Universe!


I love the fact that it’s about a boy with three [living] moms, including two women of color, whose closeness, queerness, and strength is celebrated.

I love the fact that Steven’s awesome superpower is basically love and open-minded acceptance, modeled not only by Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl, but by his dad. I love the fact that his dad could so easily be a dull schlub, but instead he’s a wonderful, practical, down-to-earth guy who nurtures Steven’s big heart.

I love the fact that his best friend, Connie, is a super-serious, nerdy, analytical girl, respected as a character in her own right, never relegated to the role of love interest or stick-in-the-mud.

It thrills me beyond belief that the two of them fuse into a genderqueer “experience” named Stevonnie whose immediate reaction to creation is not to have some heteronormatively determined panic with sexual subtexts, but to revel in the sheer joy of dancing.

Of all the characters I watch this show for, my favorite is Pearl. As an intellectual who believes in the power of rational thought, she constantly struggles with the supposed purity of knightly virtues and the supposed messiness of emotional attachments. I identify all too much with her tendency to lead from her head [or to at least convince herself that her head is right] rather than to appropriately respect her intuition. I find her equation of devotion and abasement poignant and psychologically profound. I like how, even though she feels worthless, even though she can be rigid and snappy, she’s also capable of great love and tenderness. I think that Steven’s open-minded acceptance benefits all the Crystal Gems, as they all have reasons for hating themselves, and I hope that, in future, his love can help her see that love, equality, and self-respect can coexist.

Steven Universe has so many wonderful aspects that I can scarcely believe that it will continue such a magnificent run. I dread its inevitable devolution into heteronormative crappiness, overrun with male-coded Gems and supposedly romantic plots for Steven and Connie. It’s the only piece of mainstream media that I’ve encountered recently where I feel like myself and my imagination are represented — i.e., it’s a world where queerness is a fact of life, where women are fuckin’ awesome in multifarious ways, where kindness, honesty, emotional expressiveness, and open-mindedness are strengths, and where the white, straight, cis, male, bourgeois narrative is shown for the unimaginative, boring, toxic, dull, and ultimately irrelevant delusion that it is. It’s not perfect, but it’s surprisingly awesome…although I wonder how long it can stay that way.

Cards Against Humanity and the insidious trap of hipster prejudice

Cards Against Humanity and the insidious trap of hipster prejudice published on 1 Comment on Cards Against Humanity and the insidious trap of hipster prejudice

For those of you not up on the latest hip party game for people in their 20s and 30s, let me introduce you to Cards Against Humanity. Essentially a group form of multiple choice Mad Libs, this game features a bunch of black cards, which contain sentences with key nouns left out, and a bunch of white cards, which contain nouns or noun phrases. Each player draws a hand of 10 white cards, and then everyone gets a chance to read a black card aloud. After a card is read, players choose from their hand the white card that they think best completes the sentence. These cards are distributed to the reader anonymously. The reader reads the selections aloud and selects the one they like best. The player whose white card is chosen wins the black card. All players draw another white card to keep their hand up to 10, and the role of reading black cards passes to the next player.

In concept, Cards Against Humanity is the sort of game I love. There’s no competition and no real winning or losing. The game emphasizes creativity and amusement instead of points and strategy. It’s the type of game that grows exponentially more hilarious with more and more players, and it sparks very interesting side conversations when people ask or joke about each other’s choices.

In practice, however, I find Cards Against Humanity very problematic in terms of content and framing. The black cards, with their framing sentences, feature mostly topical references familiar to people in their 20s and 30s. Examples include: "What does Prince insist on being included in his dressing room?" and "What does Obama do to unwind?" Fine, no big deal.

It’s the white noun cards, though, that drive me up the wall. If they contained only generically amusing phrases such as "murder most foul," "inappropriate yodeling" and "licking things to claim them as your own," I wouldn’t object. But no, those cards are a distinct minority. The white cards focus heavily on topics apparently considered taboo or difficult to discuss by the white, straight, cis, male, bourgeois creator, including people of color ["brown people," "the hard-working Mexican"], people with disabilities ["amputees," "Stephen Hawking talking dirty," "a robust Mongoloid," "a spastic nerd," "the profoundly handicapped"], queer people ["the gays," "praying the gay away"], fat people ["feeding Rosie O’Donnell," "the morbidly obese," "home video of Oprah sobbing into a Lean Cuisine"], gender-nonconforming people ["passable transvestites"], genocide ["inappropriately timed Holocaust jokes," "helplessly giggling at the mention of Hutus and Tutsis"], Muslims ["Allah [praise be unto him!]," "72 virgins"], poor people ["poor people," "homeless people"], old people ["Grandma," "hospice care"], child abuse ["child abuse"], rape ["surprise sex"], paraphilias ["German dungeon porn"] and crap ["fiery poops"]. I could go on, but then I’d be quoting the entire suite of white cards.

Cards Against Humanity glancingly acknowledges the problematic structure of its game by billing its audience as "horrible people." "It’s as despicable and awkward as you and your friends," crows the main page of the game’s Web site. Of course, below this description are various cool publications and people praising the game, so clearly the game’s creators see being "despicable and awkward" as a coveted, desirable status. They quote condemnations from the Chicago Tribune ["absurd"], The Economist ["unforgivable"] and NPR ["bad"] in contrast with praise from INC ["hilarious"] and Boing Boing ["funny"]. Thus they associate criticism with old-fashioned, conservative, humorless media outlets full of old people and appreciation with the young, hip, cool crowd. To be "despicable and awkward," then, is ultimately to be cool. 

What does Cards Against Humanity’s concept of coolness — that is, their idea of rebranded despicability qua awesomeness — entail? Basically it means laughing at anyone who’s not a straight, white, cis, bourgeois, hipster dude [like the creator]. Don’t try to tell me that, because the game has white cards like "white privilege," it actually critiques those who are discomfited by the concept. No, it doesn’t, not when the majority of cards make marginalized people who lack privilege into punchline after punchline after punchline.

If you’re still not convinced, let me break it down to you with a single example: the white card that has the phrase "passable transvestites." There is so much wrong with this card that it’s hard to know where to start. Well, to begin with, clearly someone thought this phrase worthy of inclusion into the deck of white cards, meaning that someone perceived it as shocking, racy, funny and potentially ridiculous. So what’s shocking, racy and entertaining about "passable transvestites?" Yeah, a gender nonconforming person who goes out in public en femme so that they avoid being clocked always makes me laugh. The stats on trans and other gender nonconforming people being harassed, assaulted and killed provide comic relief every time I read them. The outdated language on this white card — the vexed concept of "passable," coupled with the no-longer-used, clinical-sounding "transvestite" — signals that the game’s creators are hung up on old-fashioned binaries of gender presentation, the transgression of which they find hilarious and pathetic, instead of a matter of life and death.

I can make the same points about Cards Against Humanity’s treatment of people with disabilities, the prejudice against whom can be summed up in a single white card: "Stephen Hawking talking dirty." Yup, yup, of course, people who are neuroatypical, emotionally atypical and physically atypical to the extent that society doesn’t really know how to accommodate them — they’re comedy gold! I mean, really — can you imagine a man with paralysis talking dirty? First of all, he’d be doing it with the help of his computer, which is inherently hilarious, you know, because he can’t really talk. Second of all, it would imply that he, despite being unable to move parts of his body, has active sexual desires and interests, which is a shock, because no paralyzed person has ever had sexual interests and agency before — ever! They’re just…like… wheelchair-bound automatons. Yeah, "the profoundly handicapped" are a gas all right. Yet again, Cards Against Humanity’s decision to employee the passe and offensive term "handicapped" shows that they’re not interested in mocking prejudice, but in perpetuating it.

EDIT: As rosettanettle points out in a comment on my LJ crosspost, the creator of Cards Against Humanity expressed regret for the "passable transvestites" white card, which is now no longer included in decks. This does not, however, negate any of my points. If anything, it reinforces them, since the creator’s expression of "regret," which came only because he was called on his transphobia, comes across as less a regret of treasuring bigoted tenets and more a regret at getting caught. I also suspect his theatrical Tumblr photoset of him lighting the card on fire of being a self-aggrandizing performance so that he may be showered with praise about what an enlightened ally he is. Why do straight, cis, white, middle-class dudes think they deserve extra special plaudits for meeting minimum standards of decency? "Despicable," indeed.

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Girl, implicated: the child in the labyrinth in the fantastic

Girl, implicated: the child in the labyrinth in the fantastic published on No Comments on Girl, implicated: the child in the labyrinth in the fantastic

Greer Gilman, master of purple involuted mock-Jacobean epics, muses about one of my favorite themes. The girls who have adventures in labyrinths fare differently compared to the boys. [Also she has a bone to pick with Tehanu’s crabbed domesticity in Ursula Le Guin’s novel of the same name. So do I, Gilman. So do I.]

I like her observation that the girls [Ariadne, Alice, Eilonwy from — yack! — the endlessly irritating Book of Three, Arha/Tehanu, Sarah] find their ways out; they know where they’re going. Meanwhile, the boys [Theseus, the White Knight {?}, Taran, Sparrowhawk/Ged, Jareth] don’t; they get lost and bonk around aimlessly. They’re "clueless," Gilman says, which is to say without a clue…or without a clew, Ariadne’s map-like ball of thread that knows the way through the passages. ["Clue" as a hint of a guide derives from "clew" qua thread. I love etymology!]

So why do we only hear of the boys getting out and through the maze? Why don’t we ever hear of the girls who get to know their labyrinths and walk through the darkness, unafraid of Minotaurs?

Beats me. For some reason, Inanna’s descent to the otherworld ain’t considered as compelling. Why not???


Goin’ to read Moonwise again, even though it drives me up the wall.

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Annie redux with Quvenzhane Wells as Annie!

Annie redux with Quvenzhane Wells as Annie! published on No Comments on Annie redux with Quvenzhane Wells as Annie!

Coming in Xmas 2014! Watch the preview! Hopefully it features less racism and sexism than the 1982 version with Aidan Quinn!

I’m actually really excited about this! I have fond memories of the 1982 version as one of of the few movies of my childhood focusing on a female protagonist’s experience [the other two being The Journey of Natty Gann and Labyrinth] and allowing her to fully develop as a character! Also I like the soundtrack! And my Annie doll!

Wouldn’t it be neat if there was an Annie doll from this movie that actually looked like Quvenzhane Wells? I would snap that up in a moment! Quvenzhane Wells is talented and adorable! I’m going to see this movie, possibly in the theater!

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“You have no power over me!”

“You have no power over me!” published on 2 Comments on “You have no power over me!”

Though generally not a fan of Jennifer Connelly’s one-note performance as Sarah in Labyrinth [where that one note = HUH???], I do love the way she delivers that line. She starts off reciting the little climactic speech from the play that she was struggling with in the beginning.

As she begins, you can see her speaking pro forma, mouthing the words because that’s the function of the Protagonist during a Showdown with the Antagonist. Staring into middle distance, not really at Jareth, she goes through the motions necessary to achieve the Climax…

…And then she stalls on "kingdom as great." While she’s wracking her brains, Jareth takes the opportunity to butt in with a truly ridiculous show of groveling: the "Do as I say, and I will be your slave" speech that has launched a thousand kinky OTPs.

Sarah continues to try to remember the next Step in the Formulaic Process, but then you can actually see the moment where she stops. She looks up at Jareth and really perceives him for the first time in that scene. You can see her realizing that, for all his bluster, he’s terrified of her. You can see her deciding that he’s no longer worth it. You can see that weight of terror lifting from her shoulders. You can see her confidence blooming as she looks straight into his eyes, standing up a little taller, even smiling a bit.

At that moment, she’s finally full of herself and her own power. You can see her pride and her hope and her determination when she states with calm finality and some amazement, "You have no power over me." Those words happen to be the Next Words in the Spell of Confrontation, but, more importantly, they are the words with which Sarah seizes her own agency after an entire movie of being a whiny, reactive, powerless girl. HURRAY!!!!

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Reasons that I love Ivan Doroschuk

Reasons that I love Ivan Doroschuk published on No Comments on Reasons that I love Ivan Doroschuk

Above and beyond his ebullient, hard-pumping, catchy synth aesthetic, balanced with equal parts fantastical optimism and wistful melancholy aslant:

1. He plays air guitar at his own concerts.

2. He plays air drums at his own concerts.

3. He headbangs at his own concerts.

4. He jumps around in circles at his own concerts.

5. He incorporates these weird noises — "Wha hoo hah hoo haaa!" — into his lyrics, as if to indicate that the music is so kickin’ rad that it renders him wordless.

6. His style of "dancing" involves lots of fist-pumping, wrist-twirling, spinning in circles and hopping.

7. He never lets his complete lack of kinesthetic talent get in the way of his bodily transmission of the super awesomeness and hip-unscrewing abandon of his music. He doesn’t just sing and/or play the music; he becomes it.

8. He is a complete dork, and he doesn’t care.

Seduction of submission, creepiness of dolls in The Doll Maker by Sarban

Seduction of submission, creepiness of dolls in The Doll Maker by Sarban published on 3 Comments on Seduction of submission, creepiness of dolls in The Doll Maker by Sarban

Summary: Creepy, luxuriously described dark fantasy about lonely, intelligent Clare and her seduction by titular doll maker. Convincing, sympathetic main character, smooth prose, kinky subtext and great insight into the weird, ambivalent relationships people have with their dolls — all these things make The Doll Maker a neglected gem.

Most of us, with some atavistic part of our hearts, secretly suspect that our toys are alive. Of all playthings, we feel most ambivalent about dolls. The humanoid shapes of dolls make them seem more like Homo sapiens than, say, stuffed animals or toy cars. We easily envision dolls as alive. The perfection of their small scale and the stillness of their beauty seduce us with admiration and longing. They will never change, never wear, never die, never degrade. They are unsubjected to time and therefore immortal and desirable.

But there are melancholy currents in our yearning. Though pure in their design and unaging in their flawlessness, dolls are always under the control of their owners, which means that they are often victims of their owners’ careless abuse. When they are not being played with, dolls lie in a state of suspended animation like death. Their existence is bounded subservience on one end and coma on the other. What sort of immortality is this?

Sarban [pseudonym of John William Wall] explores the weird attractions of dolls in his novella of psychological horror The Doll Maker. It is the story of the lonely, intelligent ingenue Clare, a boarding school student in her last year before college, and her relationship with the titular character, a young scion of the nearby manor. Lacking room to exercise her curiosity and intellect, she first sees Niall [the doll maker] as an opportunity to open the narrow avenues of her mind and her life. As she pieces together the truth about his sinister, magical art, however, Clare realizes the danger of submerging her will in his: she might never get it back. She struggles to thwart Niall’s designs while she saves other students and herself.

For a story that’s basically a fairy tale of a young woman under the spell of an evil magician, The Doll Maker packs a surprising amount of character development and psychological truth. As a rule, I’m deeply suspicious of male writers who write about female characters seduced by male ones because male writers seem much more likely to create wilting, pliant, submissive, boring, UNREALISTIC female characters. Therefore, I approached Sarban and his portrayal of Clare with defensive hostility.

I was, therefore, gleefully surprised when Clare turned out to be an actual, fully rounded, active character. Sheltered, chaperoned and guarded by her boarding school, Clare first comes across as introverted, lonely, detached and dreamy, like a ghost with no place to haunt. At the same time, while not wildly rebellious, she is smart and curious, and these traits propel both her meeting with Niall and her eventual discoveries of his secrets. Clare is both appealingly intelligent and thoughtful, but also naive enough to be susceptible to Niall. To his credit, Sarban presents both Clare’s brains and her inexperience in measured detail, taking her seriously, rather than mocking her. In a delicate balancing act, he makes her passive enough to temporarily submit to Niall, but assertive enough to eventually throw off his yoke and find her own identity.

The Doll Maker crackles with sexual tension. As Niall tries, in some sense, to make a doll out of Clare, he brings the artist’s craft out of the realm of inanimate material and into the social world, where doll making becomes a power play. Niall wishes to be Clare’s creator and to make her do as he sees fit. He portrays his mastery over her as a release from the cares and changes of life, a perfectly fulfilling dream. Uncertain about her scholastic future, friendless and anxious, Clare eagerly lets him manipulate her. She does indeed gain a certain swooning ecstasy from Niall’s control over her; in fact, the passages in which she feels powerless and yet peaceful are accurate descriptions of the altered state of consciousness that a submissive may feel in BDSM play when he/she is being effectively topped by a dom. Clare’s pleasure dwindles when she realizes that Niall’s domination depends on death and annihilation. She must assert herself against Niall’s destructive power. The kinky subtext of The Doll Maker adds another level to the story so that it can be read as a sensually charged but non-explicit story of a woman who finds some erotic satisfaction in submission, but who eventually has to free herself from an abusive partner/dom.

I strongly recommend The Doll Maker to people interested in horror and/or dark fantasy and/or dolls and/or feminism and/or rites of passage for female characters and/or kinky sex. First published in 1953, The Doll Maker is inexplicably out of print as a stand-alone novel, but you can buy it in The Sarban Omnibus. Incidentally, I hear that The Sound of His Horn is also weird and strange and erotically charged too, although not as good. I should probably get a copy of The Sarban Omnibus because I bought a 1960s paperback of The Doll Maker, and it’s falling apart, and I am very sad, and so are my dolls because they want to read it too. :p


Anti sexual abuse PSA

Anti sexual abuse PSA published on 1 Comment on Anti sexual abuse PSA

Dunkelziffer creates a viscerally effective PSA about the importance of helping kids who experience sexual abuse. A slithering arm/penis thing, covered with hair and moles, appears at various points in a woman’s life, leaving only when she’s dead. Ad accurately transmits the deep disturbance and revulsion that survivors of abuse can feel in almost any situation, as well as the feelings of disgust, invasion and violation. Also great use of the arm/penis thing to depict how the abuse seems to take on a life of its own. One and a half minutes of pathos and horror.

Helen Boyd will be at Gender Crash next week!

Helen Boyd will be at Gender Crash next week! published on 5 Comments on Helen Boyd will be at Gender Crash next week!

This is the author of My Husband Betty and She’s Not the Man I Married, which I have discussed previously in two entries [1 and 2]. She’s a writer and activist for transgender rights, and you should go see her if interested. I am excited to hear her in person. I really hope her reading/presentation is good….

Thursday Dec 13, 2007
Gender Crash Open mic
For poets/spoken wordsters/literary geeks/journal
writers/queers/transgender/gender queers

Feature: Helen Boyd!

Helen Boyd is the author of My Husband Betty and She’s Not the Man I
Married. She speaks and writes regularly on becoming queer and being
the partner of a trans person, and her writing has been published in
anthologies edited by Vern Bullough, Mattilda, and Rachel Kramer
Bussel. Her blog (en)gender can be found at

Bring your Poetry, Spoken Word, Slam Style Poems, Essays, Acoustic
Music, Performance, Singing, Drag, and Dance are all welcome. Where
you can be a Rock Star! for at least 3 minutes!

Doors open at 7p show at 7:30pm at Spontaneous Celebrations, 45
Danforth St, Jamaica Plain, Orange line, Stony brook stop, all ages $5
– 10 at the door, open to everyone, more info?
http://www.gendercrash.comRight-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.


Feminist dymanics of a movie about necrophilia

Feminist dymanics of a movie about necrophilia published on No Comments on Feminist dymanics of a movie about necrophilia

Kissed, the movie mentioned in my July 3rd entry, came in the mail on Monday, and I watched it. I’m only now reviewing it because I was busy priming and painting Tuesday and Wednesday.

Kissed, a closely focused movie with very few extras or characterological background, is a character study of two characters who are debatably nuts, yet perfect for each other.

The narrator, Sandra, is a college student who studies embalming. From her earliest ceremonious funerals for dead birds, she has been fascinated by death. She believes that caressing dead bodies allows her to pick up their lingering energy or charge and to help them cross over. She’s introverted, socially awkward, necrophiliac and romantic in an unhinged way.

Sandra happily makes love to dead guys until the arrival of Matt, an intense stalkerish type who penetrates [literally] her defenses with his combination of gentleness and slightly creepy persistence. Though he is initially curious about Sandra’s necrophilia, his curiosity consumes him, becoming a fixation. He tries to understand and get through to Sandra in ways that demonstrate his true possessiveness. Of course, in a movie where love and death are intertwined, such a conflict can only end in death for one of the characters.

Fascinatingly enough, neither Sandra nor Matt are particularly likeable. Though she uses the language of transcendence when talking about necrophilia, Sandra’s stereotyped actions during her secret childhood funerals suggest the bleak, unimaginative play of a severely damaged, possibly abused, child. The repetitive and orderly nature of the funerals makes me think of the way that kids of alcoholics or abused kids structure their otherwise chaotic lives. But I really have no idea how her family life or early experiences may have contributed to her interests, though, because, even as a child, she completely lacks social context [dangers of a small filming budget, I guess].

As for Matt, what the hell is his problem? He spys on Sandra, follows her, writes down her movements for weeks, tries to diagnose her, dresses up like a corpse [in a tux], wears make-up like a dead body, etc. Some of his behavior seems to be an extension of his med student’s need to label and understand everything, but then he too becomes pathetic when he tries imitating a corpse. When he does so, he is practically groveling, trying to get Sandra’s attention. His anxiety, combined with his escalating desperation, made me worry that he was going to rape her. [Hooray, a stalker AND a rapist.] But no…Matt has too much self-loathing for that. Instead, he turns his violence on himself, concluding that he is not good enough for her. 

There’s a misogynistic undercurrent in Matt’s attraction to Sandra that deserves a separate paragraph. Matt’s stalking and notetaking are commented on by Sandra herself as his attempts to “understand” her. He wants to know her, define her, label her and confine her desires so that they do not flow toward the dead bodies, but toward him.  He does not want a woman on top who is in control of herself and her desires; in fact, during their first sex scene, Matt tells Sandra to “lie back” and be “still” in the quintessential position of a passive woman who accepts male dominance. [This position is also corpse-like, which intimates that he may wish she were dead quiet and dead as well.] In the end, though, he gives up and annihiliates himself in a last attempt to fit into Sandra’s life.

Despite the inherent unlikeability of the characters, Kissed is an interesting, solid movie. It’s by no means as artistic, philosophical, psychologically profound and daring as it thinks it is, but it’s interesting and saved largely by convincing performances. The acting is all-around low-key, underplayed, even a bit deadpan [hah], which keeps the story from becoming sensationalized. The lack of extras [never have I seen a more desolate college campus] mars the realism, but also adds a dreamy, depupulated atmosphere to the story, demonstrating how much Sandra and Matt are focused on things besides the real world. The languid camera work and the poetic voice-overs add a meditative mood to the proceedings, though there are far too many fade-to-the-white-light-of-transcendent-orgasm shots. Also, the voice-overs could have been used much more parsimoniously, at the beginning, the end and during the extended childhood flashback of Sandra’s. 

Apparently Kissed is based on a short story, “We So Seldom Look on Love,” by Barbara Gowdy. I’ll have to look into it. Maybe it provides some history for Sandra and Matt.

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