Presentation on theme: "Radical Form, Politicizing Content Poison. Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1987) Made two years after Haynes graduated from Brown with degree in."— Presentation transcript:
Radical Form, Politicizing Content Poison
Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1987) Made two years after Haynes graduated from Brown with degree in Art and Semiotics Extended short, mock-documentary of Karen Carpenter, singer and drummer who died of anorexia-related conditions at age 32 Cast = Barbie-type dolls Haynes interested in identification Cease and desist order initiated by A&M records led to withdrawal of film from commercial exhibition
Form and Content in Superstar Form Content Image source: Google VideoGoogle Video Image source: Illegal ArtIllegal Art
Poison: Preproduction and Production Budget: $250,000 Funded by grants from National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, Jerome Foundation, New York State Foundation for the Arts and Art Matter, Inc. New York state grants allow crew to shoot prison sequences at facilities on Governor’s Island and Roosevelt Island Other locations include SUNY Purchase soundstage (Baton Reformatory) and producer Christine Vachon’s apartment (scientist’s apartment)
Poison: Structure Three intercut narratives shot in different styles and told via different genres Common figure of outsider who tells his own story or is “read” by his society Scripts shot separately by common crew
“Horror” Story of scientist Tom Graves, who isolates the sex drive, accidentally ingests his own serum, and becomes a diseased killer.
“Hero” Documen- tary of Richie Beacon, who shoots his father and flies out the window.
“Homo” Prison story of two men who encounter each other as adults in Fontanel Prison after they meet as children at Baton Reformatory
Poison and Jean Genet (1910-1986) Poison incorporating quotations from Genet’s: Miracle of the Rose (1946): First-person interwoven story of present/past in penal institutions; homoerotic desire and violenceMiracle of the Rose Our Lady of the Flowers (1943): Narrator Jean fabulating stories of transvestite prostitute, Divine, her lover, and murder Our Lady of the Flowers, to distract himself in prison. Moral inversion. Our Lady of the Flowers Thief’s Journal (1949): Protagonist Jean, thief and drifter, wanders through Europe in 1930s. Moral inversion, with homosexuality, theft and betrayal as virtues Thief’s Journal
Genet BiographyBiography Born 1910, abandoned by mother and becoming ward of the state, placed in foster care Accused of stealing at age 10; decides to “remain a thief”remain a thief 1926: Sent to juvenile penal colony at Mettray 1929: Joined French army, wanders throughout Europe as beggar, thief and prostitute after end of first tour of duty 1936: Deserts army and begins writing Our Lady of the Flowers 1943: Meets Cocteau, who finds publisher for Our Lady In and out of prison, Cocteau convinces judge to reduce automatic life sentence for theft to 3 months (1943). Leaves prison for good in 1944. Sartre, André Gide and Cocteau petition President for definitive pardon (1948) Late 1940s: Begins writing plays 1966: Turns away from writing to lecturing and political activism
Poison: Post-Production Image source: indieWIREindieWIRE Grossed $609,524 US box office gross Won Sundance Grand Jury Prize and Best Feature Film Teddy at Berlin International Film Festival Post-release controversy regarding film’s use of public funds for homo/sexual content (NEA grant required written promise of no “obscene” content) Defining “New Queer Cinema”New Queer Cinema
Haynes on “Gay” Film “I'm talking about it more as a structural idea than a content idea. Heterosexuality is part of the structure of a society that has its rules in place about what's normal and not normal. Narrative structure comes out of that society and is adhered to in dominant film practice over and over again. These rules can be broken and looked at from different perspectives; you might call that a gay approach to film making.” “Poison at the Box Office.”Cineaste 18.3 (1991).Poison at the Box Office Image source: Senses of CinemaSenses of Cinema
Screening Cues Thematic and structural continuities and contrasts among the stories. Visual styles and genre references of “Hero,” “Horror” and “Homo”: Why does Haynes shoot each in a different style and how does he work within and subvert genre conventions? “Queer” sexualities: How does environment both shape sexual expression and interpret alternative sexualities? Childhood sexuality: How does Poison subvert our notions of sexuality in children? Context: How does the film engage its contemporary cultural context?