I’m very cheered to announce that I’ve just joined the team over at Bad Reputation, the popular culture and gender blog. I’ve been reading their work for quite a while, so it’s fun to be writing alongside them – I particularly like their enthusiasm for the unexpected ways in which feminist themes turn up in unlikely places, and the attention they lavish on half-forgotten works from the past.
Here’s my first post for them, which I wrote a few weeks ago whilst still on probation as a guest blogger: “Clothes-horse of the Apocalypse: Katniss’ Dress Size and the Book of Revelation”. It’s a discussion of the ridculous controversy around Jennifer Lawrence’s body shape, and whether she was suited to playing Katniss Everdeen in the recent film of The Hunger Games. Sidestepping the question of whether she was or not (because trying to answer like feels like admitting it’s a fair question), I suggested that other factors should come into play beyond “fidelity” to the source novel. I think performance studies can help us recognise that different forces are brought to bear on an actor’s body than those operating on our image of a character in a book.
It could also help us move beyond the two reductive options of either insisting that adaptations should be “accurate” (whatever criteria that might involve) or throwing the question open and saying that any film should be judged “on its own merits” as if we had no knowledge of the original work or the wider cultural context. Both seem to me to ignore the fact that films are inevitably interpreted alongside other images of bodies, and of young women, in our culture. Having said that, I do shamelessly use a bit of literary criticism when I argue for using the Biblical genre of “apocalypse” to read sci-fi films… Anyway, I hope the piece might provide some interest, and I’d be very happy to hear what you think in the comments, either over at BadRep or here.