The Casting Couch and Other Front Row Seats: Women in Films

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Let’s just say, for now, the witch is someone we know from a different movie in the timeline. However, this can't be quite right, as is shown by examples like this one: Let's suppose that this sentence, as uttered by me, is true. Cast: Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña, Danny Aiello. The arousal that horror pictures incite is well documented (Tannenbaum, 1980; Zillmann, 1984) and is generally thought to be a function of the atmosphere of suspense, visual stimulation, and, for males, an opportunity for mastery that movies in the horror genre provide viewers (Brosius & Schmitt, 1990).� The musical score and sound track add to the tension by building suspense and supplying information about a character�s current emotional state (Cohen, 1990).� Horror cinema�s ability to induce (curiosity/fascination) and relieve (catharsis) tension, and raise tension in anticipation of successful plot resolution (excitation transfer) is central to its appeal.� adventure and dramatic films because of the presence of otherworldly forces.� Movies like The Exorcist (1973) and Dracula (1931) reflect a strong sense of the supernatural, yet what about movies with more realistic antagonists like those in Psycho (1960) and Jaws (1975)?� The tension that made Psycho (1960) a hit derived from the viewer�s belief that something beyond his or her normal experience was going on at the Bates Hotel and that these experiences were grounded in the supernatural or at least grossly abnormal.� In a related vein, Jaws (1975) calls upon the supernatural or grossly abnormal by asking us to believe that a shark with a cerebrum the size of a walnut can outwit a Chief of Police, a highly educated marine biologist, and a seasoned shark hunter.� Tension based on the distortion of natural forms (Cantor & Oliver, 1996), either as a supernatural force or perception of gross abnormality, is one of three fundamental characteristics of horror cinema that appeals to audiences. ����������� For a movie to be watched, it must first generate interest among potential viewers.� Interest can be sparked in a variety of different ways but relevance is one of the more common avenues by which interest in a film is established.� The relevance of horror movies is oftentimes less obvious than it is for other genres and exists on four different levels: universal, cultural, subgroup, and personal.� The universal relevance of a film is the degree to which it touches on the ubiquitous aspects of fear and terror, as they apply to the themes of darkness, danger, and death.� Jung�s (1934/1968) archetype of darkness is said to embody absolute evil and is well represented in cinematic horror.� Danger, as symbolized by the unknown, and death are two additional universal fears that work their way into horror pictures.� From a purely evolutionary standpoint, avoiding dark places where predatory animals may hide, attempting to understand that which is presently unknown, and finding ways to postpone death have survival value and may have been passed onto future generations through an evolutionary process.� According to many psychoanalytic thinkers, universal fears make a horror film more relevant. ����������� Cultural and historical fears may be as paramount to the popularity of horror films as universal fears.� Based on Skal�s (1993) societal concern model of horror picture appeal, we can see that horror movies in the have reflected a number of cultural changes and historical events.� The creature features of the 1950s, Them! (1954) and Godzilla (1954) being but two examples, reflected world-wide concern over the proliferation of nuclear weapons, while the AIDS epidemic of the late 1980s gave rise to a renewed interest in vampires (e.g., The Lost Boys, 1987).� George Romero has used horror to poignantly critique American society with the zombies in his 1968 Night of the Living Dead representing dead American servicemen in and his 1978 Dawn of the Dead exploring the folly of American consumerism.� The dysfunctional American family became a popular target for horror films of the late 1980s as exemplified by The Stepfather series (1987, 1989, 1992).� Societal concern theory highlights the role of cultural and historical fears in the development of horror movie scripts (Wells, 2000). ����������� Subgroup fears, particularly those involving developmental trends, are a third way the relevance of horror movies can be enhanced.� Many horror films exploit juvenile fears since teenagers are presumed to be one of the larger, if not the largest, groups of horror fiction enthusiasts in America.� Adolescent-relevant issues of independence and identity figure prominently in horror pictures, making them particularly attractive to teenagers.� Gender role identity theory, it would seem, has a great deal to say about the relevance of the horror genre to adolescent consumers.� It is no coincidence that school serves as an important setting for many pictures in the slasher subgenre, movies which are made with teenage audiences in mind.� School plays a significant role in the everyday lives of teenagers in that it establishes a context within which students can compare themselves to their peers on criteria of success and failure both socially and academically -- issues that are at the heart of many juvenile fears (Jarvis, 2001).� The neighborhood setting, as epitomized by Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), also facilitates the subgroup and personal relevance of horror fiction. ����������� Relevance can also exist on a personal level.� Individuals concerned with losing control (Cavallaro, 2002) or who possess strong sensation seeking tendencies (Tamborini & Stiff, 1987) may find horror movies more relevant than those who are unconcerned about issues of control or who possess weak sensation seeking tendencies.� Wells (2000) writes that the fear experienced by a viewer in response to watching a horror film is directly proportional to the viewer�s level of sympathy for and identification with the protagonist.� Dispositional alignment theory holds that viewing pleasure is enhanced when the movie portrays people receiving punishment the viewer believes deserve punishment (Zillmann & Paulus, 1993).� Hence, if a character enters an obviously haunted house, the punishment he or she receives as a consequence of this action is seen as warranted and adds to overall viewer satisfaction.� Movies in the horror genre that produce tension and incorporate universal, cultural, subgroup, and personal fear themes hold greater psychological appeal than horror films possessing low levels of tension and relevance. ����������� Haidt, McCauley, and Rozin (1994), in conducting research on disgust, exposed college students to three documentary videos depicting real-life horrors.� One clip showed cows being stunned, killed, and butchered in a slaughterhouse; a second clip pictured a live monkey being struck in the head with a hammer, having its skull cracked opened, and its brain served as dessert; a third clip depicted a child�s facial skin being turned inside out in preparation for surgery.� Ninety percent of the students turned the video off before it reached the end.� Even the majority of individuals who watched the tape in its entirety found the images disturbing.� Yet many of these same individuals would think nothing of paying money to attend the premier of a new horror film with much more blood and gore than was present in the documentaries that most of them found repugnant.� McCauley (1998) posed the logical question of why these students found the documentary film so unpleasant when most had sat through horror pictures that were appreciably more violent and bloody.� The answer that McCauley came up with was that the fictional nature of horror films affords viewers a sense of control by placing psychological distance between them and the violent acts they have witnessed. ����������� Most people who view horror movies understand that the filmed events are unreal, which furnishes them with psychological distance from the horror portrayed in the film.� In fact, there is evidence that young viewers who perceive greater realism in horror films are more negatively affected by their exposure to horror films than viewers who perceive the film as unreal (Hoekstra, Harris, & Helmick, 1999).� Several factors reinforce the fictional nature of cinematic depictions of horror:� First, the supernatural content and gross abnormality that characterize the horror genre facilitate psychological distance.� Likewise, the black humor that is part and parcel of many horror movies lends psychological distance to vivid portrayals of horror (McCauley, 1998).� Finally, the music track for many horror pictures serves a distancing function in the sense that while music can induce tension by supplying additional information and creating suspense, it also injects an air of unreality into a picture because our everyday actions are not normally accompanied by music (Cohen, 1990).� Apter (1992) remarks that cues for unreality serve a protective function to the extent that unreality helps people cope with the horrors they observe on screen.� This unreality is viewed to be a consequence of the psychological distance which fiction provides and through which the appeal of horror cinema is realized. ����������� When presenting a new psychological theory, it is important to keep description and explanation separate.� Theories that fail to make this distinction leave themselves vulnerable to accusations of tautology and circular reasoning.� The disease model of addiction, for instance, has been severely criticized for mixing description and explanation in its accrual of theoretical constructs to account for substance abuse etiology.� Arguing that problem drinking is the consequence of a disease process and maintaining that the evidence for this disease process can be found in a person�s propensity to drink alcohol is both tautological and unhelpful (Heather & Robertson, 1985).� Tension, relevance, and unrealism describe horror film appeal but do not explain why people find these features appealing or how these features contribute to the popularity of horror fiction.� Explaining horror film appeal requires a deeper analysis of human psychology than is possible using the tension, relevance, and unrealism descriptors.� Variables considered useful in explaining horror film popularity will be classified as core and peripheral elements of an integrated-interactive model of horror film appeal.� It should be noted that while the descriptive features and explanatory elements of horror film allure are closely related, they are not interchangeable.������������ ����������� The integrated-interactive approach views horror films as a stimulus with which a person interacts and eventually copes.� Horror movies initially attract our attention by building tension, showing relevance, and creating safety through unrealism.� However, it is the position of this paper that it is a person�s manner of coping with horror stimuli that is responsible for the lasting appeal of horror fiction.� Before addressing the nature of this appeal, the lifestyle theory upon which the integrated-interactive model is based will be briefly discussed. ����������� The integrated-interactive model of horror film appeal that derives from lifestyle theory holds that people engage in various patterns of behavior or lifestyles as a means of coping with the problems of everyday living.� According to the founding tenets of lifestyle theory, the human being, like all living organisms, has the capacity to perceive, process, and manage threats to its existence.� Whether a threat is prepotent (stimulates a survival response in the absence of prior learning) or conditioned (learned through association with an unlearned fear stimulus or response), it must be perceived before it can be processed and acted upon.� A perceived threat is processed as existential fear by humans who have a sense of self, independent of the surrounding environment, a cognitive task that is initially accomplished in human children between the ages of 18 and 24 months (Lewis & Brooks, 1978).� Three early life tasks assist people in managing existential fear and the threat it implies: (1) achieving affiliation with others, (2) gaining a sense of environmental predictability and control, and (3) earning status and identity.� These early life tasks not only help people deal with existential fear, they also play a major role in shaping the fear which can best be described as an encapsulated expression of a person�s current existential condition (Walters, 2000a). ����������� The ability to cognitively represent external events foreshadows the human capacity for symbolic thought.� Taking its lead from the developmental work of Jean Piaget (1963), the lifestyle model asserts that people construct schemes to make sense of the world and to cope with natural feelings of existential fear.� A scheme is like a node in a neural network that contains cognitive, affective, sensory, behavioral, and motivational elements.� For our purposes, a scheme will be defined as the smallest or most basic unit of meaning.� Schemes interact with one another to form schematic subnetworks, six of which are emphasized in the integrated-interactive model proposed in this article.� Attributions are schematic subnetworks that code for the presumed causes of one�s own and other people�s behavior.� Outcome expectancies are the anticipated consequences of a particular action and efficacy expectancies are a personal estimate of one�s chances of securing a specific outcome.� Goals, a fourth schematic subnetwork, are the objectives people pursue; and values are the priorities that delimit and clarify an individual�s life.� A final schematic subnetwork, thinking styles, personifies the cognitive distortions that keep people locked in a pattern long after it has stopped being productive (Walters, 2000b). ����������� Schematic networks and subnetworks exist on several different planes, from the one�s that are nearly as circumscribed, simple, and selective as basic schemes, to those that are expansive, complex, and diversified.� In its most general form, the schematic network takes on the attributes of a belief system, two of which derive from an artificial breakdown of the space (self, world) and three of which originate from the time (past, present, future) dimensions of the time-space continuum.� According to lifestyle theory, the self-view is composed of reflected appraisals (how we believe others perceive us), social comparisons (how we stack up against others), self-representations (features of the environment with which we identify), role identity (our roles in life that we use to define ourselves), and possible selves (desired and feared future identities).� The world-view, by contrast, is comprised of four dimensions: organismic-mechanistic, fatalism-agenticism, fairness-inequity, and malevolence-benevolence.� A person�s time-related belief systems, the present-, past-, and future-views, demonstrate how a person perceives and acts on information, recollects the past, and anticipates the future, respectively (Walters, 2000b). ����������� Because horror movies feed on fear, the concept of existential fear would seem an appropriate place to start in erecting an integrated-interactive theory of horror film appeal.� The fear-producing nature of darkness, danger, and death is well documented in the annals of human history and is liberally represented in horror movies.� From an evolutionary standpoint, fear of death and the fear of the unknown have survival value (Pyszczynski, Greenberg, & Solomon, 1998), an observation that has not been lost on the directors of horror films.� The monstrous antagonist in Phantom of the Opera (1925) was specifically made up to look like the face of death (Schneider, 1993) and people�s fear of death and desire to overcome nonexistence are played out in films as diverse as Dracula (1931), Re-animator (1985), and Phantasm (1979).� The theme of Phantasm is a young boy�s struggle with loss, brought on by the deaths of his parents and older brother.� Death plays a key role in many horror films and is a guiding theme for the overall genre.� It is rare, in fact, to find a horror movie in which someone has not just died, been killed, or is currently being threatened with imminent nonexistence by an evil force or presence.� Research indicates that disgust in response to real-life horrors correlates significantly with fear of death (Haidt et al., 1994).� One possibility, then, is that horror films help people cope with their fear of nonexistence, although this probably depends on the film components with which the viewer identifies.� ����������� Of the three early life tasks that help shape existential fear, control/predictability appears to be the task that relates best to people�s fear of darkness, danger, and death.� Control lost under the cover of darkness is rediscovered in the light of day; danger posed by things unknown is reduced by increased knowledge and predictability; and death is conquered by the promise of symbolic immortality.� Along these same lines, Urbano (1998) notes that �the shower murder in Psycho and the alien birth from John Hurt�s stomach in Alien shocked two different generations with similar images of utter powerlessness� (p. 896-897).� Fear of loss of control exists at all levels of relevance�personal, subgroup, cultural, and universal�to where we might predict that: (1) individuals who score high on measures of control-related existential fear will be more attracted to horror films than individuals who score low on measures of control-related existential fear; (2) subgroups, like adolescents, who struggle with issues of mastery and autonomy, will find the allure of horror films stronger than subgroups for whom mastery and autonomy are less an issue; (3) cultures that are preoccupied with control, such as are found in industrialized Western nations, should show greater interest in horror films than less control-preoccupied cultures; (4) universal themes surrounding the fear of losing control should be prominent in the horror literature of widely diverse cultures.� Hence, control-related existential fear is considered the core element of horror film appeal. ����������� Moving from the core element of horror film appeal to the peripheral elements entails a shift in focus from fear to belief systems.� The principal means by which people manage existential fear is through their belief systems, so we will explore the manner in which horror films help shape a person�s developing self-view, world-view, present-view, past-view, and future-view. ����������� In a classic study on the social psychology of horror films, Zillmann et al. (1986) presented college students with a clip from the movie Friday the 13th: Part III while in the company of an opposite-gender confederate who was instructed to feign distress, mastery, or indifference.� Male undergraduates enjoyed the film significantly more in the presence of a distressed female confederate and found the distressed confederate more attractive than the mastery or indifferent confederates, whereas female undergraduates enjoyed the film clip significantly more when accompanied by a male confederate who displayed mastery.� The authors concluded that the results of their study supported the gender-role or snuggle theory of horror film appeal.� In early hunting and gathering societies, the adult male was the hunter and the female remained behind to care for the home and children.� Hunters who survived encounters with wild animals told stories of their adventures designed to frighten those who remained behind.� Such stories, along with tests of physical strength and bravery, were instrumental in socializing young males.� Overt fear reactions were reinforced in women and adolescent girls.� Adolescent boys, on the other hand, were instructed to remain strong in the face of fear, just like their fathers and the other men of the village.� In modern times, these traditional rites of passage have been replaced by symbolic acts like watching scary movies (Zillmann & Gibson, 1996). ����������� The results of the Zillmann et al. (1986) study are broadly consistent with the gender-role theory of horror film appeal but these results may relate to a great deal more than just gender role socialization.� Three components of the self-view seem to be particularly relevant to the results of this study: reflected appraisals, social comparisons, and role identity.� Reflected appraisals or how people perceive themselves as coming across to others, a process which Cooley (1902/1964) called the looking-glass self, may have played a significant role in the Zillmann et al. study by way of peer influence.� Adolescents possess a strong imaginary audience and believe that other people are as preoccupied with them as they are with themselves (Bee & Boyd, 2002).� Hence, many juveniles are tremendously concerned about how they come across to others, even as they watch a horror film.� Likewise, they are on the lookout for social comparisons, making upward comparisons with same-sex peers who display gender congruent reactions (males = mastery, females = fright) and downward comparisons with same-sex peers who exhibit gender incongruent reactions.� Role identity is a third component of the self-view.� It rises to prominence when watching a horror film with someone of the opposite-sex.� In this context, self-attributions of role identity are made on the basis of one�s reactions to the film. (1995) study showed that gore watching was marked by identification with the killer in a slasher film.� Students who adopted independent watching or problem watching styles identified with the victim;� independent watching and problem watching students differed in that independent watchers identified with exhibitions of mastery on the part of a victim or potential victim, problem watchers identified with the sense of helplessness commonly expressed by some of these same victims.� As such, gore watchers reported the lowest level of fear, problem watchers the highest level of fear, and independence watchers an intermediate level of fear.� Self-representation, it would seem, has a monumental effect on people�s interest in and attitudes toward horror pictures.� Possible selves also appear to play a role in people�s attitudes toward fictionalized accounts of horror.� The famous anthropologist, Joseph Campbell (1988) once remarked that the monster concept in fiction can be traced to a �feared adventure of the discovery of the self� (p. 8).� Such a journey holds the potential for confrontation with feared selves but may also permit exploration of desired selves given the fact that horror movies are rich in social commentary. ����������� Horror pictures promote a particular type of world-view, one that leans toward the mechanistic side of the organismic-mechanistic dimension, the fatalism end of the agenticism-fatalism dimension, the fairness pole of the fairness-inequity dimension, and the malevolent fringe of the malevolent-benevolent dimension.� Like Frankenstein�s monster, horror pictures are diverse bits of legend, myth, and superstition sewn together to form a whole that is the sum of its individual parts.� John Carpenter, director of Halloween (1978), took a mechanistic approach to the principal subject of his story, Michael Myers, who becomes nothing short of a killing machine.� Horror movies from Dracula (1931) to Final Destination (2000) often emit a strong sense of fate or destiny.� Likewise, despite the senseless violence, there is an odd sense of fair play in many horror films, such as the well-recognized fact that promiscuous girls are significantly more likely to be killed in slasher films than chaste girls (Weaver, 1991).� In following up on some of Weaver�s findings, Oliver (1993) discovered that traditional attitudes toward female sexuality (i.e., women should remain virgins until marriage) were associated with greater liking for graphic horror films in which sexually promiscuous women were victimized.� Finally, horror pictures tend to promote a malevolent world-view as evidenced by Forgas� (1991) observation that positive moods foster a belief that the environment is safe whereas the negative emotions aroused by horror films often give the impression that the environment is unsafe.� It is hypothesized, therefore, that more regular viewers of horror films should possess more mechanistic, fatalistic, fairness-leaning, and malevolent world-views than less regular viewers of horror films. ����������� Even while promoting mechanistic, fatalistic, fairness-leaning, and malevolent world-views, horror films are not exclusive to these poles and often touch on organismic, agentic, inequity, and benevolent themes as well.� Watching a horror picture is a little like taking the Rorschach inkblot test, in the sense that our perception determines what we see.� In this way, horror films both create and reinforce particular world-views.� Halloween (1978) may offer a mechanical killer, but there are several more multi-dimensional characters, particularly Laurie Strode (played by Jamie Lee Curtis) and Dr.

Pages: 208

Publisher: Praeger (September 25, 1990)

ISBN: 0275929124

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At this point, the doctor, nurses and other people in the hospital, whose faces have never been seen clearly before, are now revealed to be horribly deformed in the audience's perspective, with large brows, curled lips, and misshapen, pig-like noses. Distraught by the failure of the procedure, Tyler runs through the hospital as the terrible faces of everyone she runs into, apparently the norm in this society, are revealed online. She leads them out of quarantine and onto the ravaged streets of the city. Their voyage is fraught with danger, but their survival is a reflection of the depth of the human spirit. Based on the novel "Ensaio sobre a cegueira" by José Saramago. 121 min. DVD X7287 Breaking the Waves (Denmark / Sweden / France / Netherlands / Norway / Iceland, 1996) Directed by Lars von Trier , e.g. Paths to Middle-Class Mobility read here But what happens to man's desires when there is plenty of bread and when his belly is chronically filled? At once other (and 'higher') needs emerge and these, rather than physiological hungers, dominate the organism. And when these in turn are satisfied, again new (and still 'higher') needs emerge and so on , cited: The Mediterranean as Seen by read for free The Mediterranean as Seen by Insiders. Since then, I’ve obsessed over this concept, working to complete what I call “The Pixar Theory,” a working narrative that ties all of the Pixar movies into one cohesive timeline with a main theme download. Japan, 2003) Directed by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang. Cast: Asano Tadanobu, Sinitta Boonyasak, Laila Boonyasak, Takeuchi Riki, Matsushige Yutaka, Miike Takashi. Kenji is a mysterious, obsessive-compulsive, suicidal Japanese man living in Bangkok, Thailand who gets thrown together with Noi, a Thai woman, through a tragic chain of events pdf. With Jane fighting tirelessly by his side, Stephen embarks on his most ambitious scientific work, studying the very thing he now has precious little of – time Midnight Movies (Da Capo Paperback)

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