All posts filed under: Featured

Hollywood’s Global Domination

My experience of foreign cinema – or the value that it has provided for me personally – is deeply rooted in my national identity and Hollywood’s history of global dominance. Scholar B. Ruby Rich writes in Subtitles: On the Foreignness of Film, “My guess is that foreign films function as a rebuke for some viewers, offering up evidence that the world is not made in ‘our’ image, and that neither our society nor our language is universal.”[1] While I agree with Rich’s evaluation, I’d like to complicate it just slightly. My argument, instead, is that foreign films function as a rebuke for most American viewers specifically, though not all. In his chapter titled Hollywood’s International Market, from The American Film Industry (ed. Tino Balio), Thomas H. Guback describes how Hollywood began to permeate the global film market after World War I, acting in a moment when numerous countries were economically devastated by the war and left financially indebted to the U.S. As a result, due to the surmounting strength of the American film market, international film …

A Weekend in NYC

A few weeks ago I spent a long weekend in New York City, marking my first trip to the big apple ever. On the flight from Reykjavik I started reading How to See the World by Nicholas Mirzoeff – on visual culture and how we see things and are seen – and realized that although I had the experience of observing the New York City of film, television, and advertising, I had never actually seen the city. While I had been dreaming of visiting NYC for years, I showed up almost nervous. After spending time in parts of rural Iceland (the least populated place I have ever been to) I was heading to the most densely inhabited place I had yet to occupy. Iceland has a way of slowing you down and I worried that the extreme change in environment would almost be jarring. But instead of feeling overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of New York’s streets, it felt good to finally see it myself – not on a screen or billboard. I found New York City to …

#RESISTANCE Playlist

With major news breaking every single day, the enormity of the issues that we’re dealing with in the U.S. and abroad can seem insurmountable. In America, I feel as though we’re on the verge of a collective meltdown. Stress and tensions are mounting and the government seems to be doing everything it can to weaken the people. From blocking refugees, to pulling out of the Paris Agreement, and fighting to dismantle our healthcare system – the list goes on and on. Across the globe we’re seeing an uptick in fascism, and it’s our duty to fight it. On the day of the election I listened to a playlist I made in hopes that Hillary Clinton would become our first woman president. That day didn’t arrive, but I’ve continued to make playlists – for the inauguration and the historic Women’s March – to either get me through the day or strengthen my resolve. Today I wanted to share my #RESISTANCE playlist, which is short, but packs a punch. We have to persist, and listening to music …

On America, Mobility, & Freedom in “Easy Rider”

“A man went looking for America, but he couldn’t find it anywhere.” Few taglines remain relevant long after a film’s release, but Easy Rider’s ominous warning (“he couldn’t find it anywhere”) maintains its potency nearly 50 years after its debut. In David Laderman’s Driving Visions, he situates the road film genre within an explicitly American context and characterizes Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper, 1969) as “arguably the quintessential, genre-defining road movie.”[1] Following the cult popularity of low-budget biker exploitation films, Easy Rider seems to have borrowed from the aesthetic and tonal vigor of these works, but extended itself to a broader cultural critique that was relevant for a wider spectrum of Americans falling under the banner of “the counterculture.” While the influence of cinema imported from Europe and Asia facilitated the rise of the American auteur, the explosive socio-political context of late 1960’s could also be credited for cultivating unique works which explored social tensions and questions of identity, and more specifically, what it means to be an American. Easy Rider – in addition to preceding …

Fast Fashion & “The True Cost”

The True Cost is one of those documentaries that everyone should watch, and then tell their friends and family to see too. I discovered the film after a friend told me it was necessary viewing, and I’m so grateful for her insistence. In order to be conscientious consumers, it’s imperative that we know where our clothes come from, who’s making it, and how they’re being treated. The True Cost examines the human rights, labor rights, and environmental impact of the garment industry, focusing on the horrific practices of fast fashion in particular. It’s also important to note that with women making up the majority of garment workers across the globe, this topic is a feminist issue as well. Before watching The True Cost I admittedly shopped at places like Zara and H&M because they offered affordable, cute clothing. But such low prices are the first sign that something is not ethically produced. Now I not only shop less (why do we need so much stuff?) but I buy second-hand and search for brands that are known to treat their employees well and embrace sustainable practices. Compared …