Identity

Topics for M 12/2

Here are, belatedly, some topics for our discussion of X2. Feel free to comment.

  • Which characters embody mutation as marginalization?
  • Which can “pass”?
  • How does the film in particular show mutation as a metaphor for gayness/queerness?
  • How does Mystique (Rebecca Romijn) embody mutation as queerness?
  • Brian Cox as William Stryker - how does he embody prejudice against mutants?
  • How does the film show de-humanization of mutants?
  • Logan (Wolverine/Hugh Jackman) - how doe he embody the dehumanization of mutants?
  • How do mutant “powers” complicated the idea of mutants as marginalized? How does Magneto, in particular, (Ian McKellen) embody that complication? Which of the “good mutants” also embody this complication?

Questions and topics for M 10/14

Here are points of discussion about Children of Men for M. Feel free to make additional suggestions or to start the conversation here.

  • Uses of color and light.
  • Use of multiple aspects of mise-en-scène to build the world of the film.
  • The significance of animals, and, the attraction of animals to Theo.
  • How the film shows different kinds of marginalization, e.g., marginalization from how a character is identified by others versus characters who are marginalized by choice, such as from their politics.

Questions and topics for M 10/7

Here are possible topics for discussion about The Perez Family for M. Feel free to make additional suggestions or to start the conversation here:

  • Showing marginalization through costume, and also character styling like with hair or make-up.
  • Showing marginalization through setting.
  • Action and performance as a way to show which characters have marginal identities and which do not.
  • Visual symbolism, e.g., water and flowers.
  • Uses of color.
  • How the film shows what makes a “family.”

Who are Kit and Holly?

In chapter 2 of Patterson, Patterson argues that, "Through com-binations of mise-en-scene - their actions and their spoken (and unspoken) words - we are offered various ways of reading their [Holly and Kit's] characters; what we are not offered are emphatically clear and definitive readings ... these characters are fundamentally lacking a clear sense of their own identity" (28).

What do you think Patterson means by "com-binations of mise-en-scene"? Can you think of examples to support her argument? Do you agree with her interpretation of Kit and Holly? Are their specific moments 'in the frame', or combinations of moments, that shift your understanding of who these characters are?


The language of "being John Malkovich"

In the film, characters use a variety of phrasings to describe what "being John Malkovich" is like:

  • JM Corp promises customers the ability to "be someone else."
  • Lotte, after her first experience, says, "I knew who I was." And Craig reponds, "You weren't you. You were Malkovich."
  • Maxine describes an experience of seeing "two people" looking at her "with complete lust and devotion through the same pair of eyes."
  • After learning of Lotte and Maxine's meeting, Craig says, "You were with him, right? And she was with him."
  • After starting to assert control, Craig compares Malkovich's body to a "suit", and says all he has to do is "make friends with the Malkovich body".
  • Even after years of "being John Malkovich" Craig still refers to Malkovich in the third person. When he is being pressured to leave he says, "If I leave Malkovich, I'll just be me."

What are the gradations of meaning in these phrasings? Which way of expressing the connections between mind, body, and identity make the most sense to you? Would you take issue with any of the ways that the characters see these connections (for example, in class it was suggested that Maxine was merely seeing what she wanted to see when she claimed to feel both Lotte and Malkovich looking at her with desire)?