Forget your Outbreaks and Contagions. Even your World War Zs need not apply.

The Thing (1982)

If it is the perfect encapsulation of the Coronavirus pandemic experience you seek in a movie, then look no further than John Carpenter’s masterpiece from 1982, The Thing. While other contenders try hard, with their smuggled monkeys (Outbreak); adulterous, infectious wives returning from business trips (Contagion); and seemingly mysterious zombie infections (World War Z), this 1982 version of The Thing strangely manages to weave the detail of our new reality into a prescient 109 minute tale about a shape-shifting alien.

When it arrived in cinemas, The Thing was deemed a failure in both commercial and critical terms. Based on the…

The question of when to return to cinemas is a quandary with large ramifications

Photo by Krists Luhaers on Unsplash

We’re devoted film fans. We mark time, not by the hands of the clock, but by release dates. We view history, not in terms of human experience, but in terms of the way it is reflected in cinematic evolution. Some might call it obsession but, to us, it is passion; a love of the art form; a chosen way of life. That chosen way of life — like all others — has now been irrevocably changed by the arrival of something for which the most apocalyptic of dystopian movies failed prepare us, apparently.

This gives rise to a dilemma of…

While nostalgia can be comforting on an individual level, large-scale nostalgia is where the wheels come off

Photo by Jim Witkowski on Unsplash

Nostalgia is the common sensation defined as “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past.” We all experience it, on occasion — when a particular song comes on the radio, or we spot an old movie while channel surfing. Stumbling across a dish that Grandma used to make, or hearing Grandpa’s catchphrase can evoke a wave of memories that leave us feeling warm and fuzzy inside because, naturally, this unconscious game of historical, cultural association tends to be played through a rose-tinted lens.

The United Kingdom spends a lot of time and energy on nostalgic endeavour…

The British attitude to immigration remains steeped in hypocrisy and classism

From the U.K’s Daily Mail

With Coronavirus wreaking havoc across the globe, and causing severe economic strife to countless countries, news that the United Kingdom (along with Germany) has begun chartering flights to bring seasonal workers in from other countries has prompted some breathless speculation across social media.

We thought it was Brexit that revealed the truth about the U.K. We were wrong.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Remember that time the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights — Professor Philip Alston — told the world that the Conservative government of the United Kingdom had long possessed all the resources necessary to lift millions of children out of Dickensian levels of deprivation, but they chose not to?

That was in November 2018. It entered the public discourse again in December 2019, when U.K citizens had the opportunity to vote that same Conservative government out. But, they chose not to.

That should really have been the thing that revealed the truth about the U.K; the way…

It’s a means to an increasingly grim end

Photo by Clark Young on Unsplash

I recently received a letter from the Art Department of the High School my children attend.

“Given the recent and historic funding issues that impact on smaller rural schools like ours, we have a constant challenge to be able to source affordable materials. In order to maintain the high standard of provision that we want to offer students, we are asking parents for donations toward the cost of materials.”

I was not surprised to receive this letter. Funding for the Arts in local schools — in Yorkshire and around the United Kingdom — has been steadily stripped away over the…

It’s an eye-opening game.

Photo by Caterina Berger on Unsplash

When we are young, particular birthdays serve a purpose for all genders in terms of legal minimum ages. In the U.K, for example, the age of sixteen coincides with leaving secondary education, and it means you can apply for a provisional driving licence. It is also possible to leave home, start full-time employment, consent to medical treatment, and, with parental consent, enlist in the armed forces and marry. The age of eighteen in the U.K provides the right to vote, get a commercial pilot’s licence, gamble, or enter into a contract. By 21, you can adopt a child.

These are…

The cruel ironies of wilderness-based reality TV

Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

For several years now, the American reality television landscape has been filled with shows that follow a similar narrative: White Americans head out into the wilderness , and have to survive while building a home, or making food, or mining for gold… or any number of manufactured scenarios. It is almost always white American men, although very occasionally, a white American woman may join a team. Thanks to the tax credit that followed the creation of series Deadliest Catch, Alaska is a favourite location for these types of shows — though, sometimes, the Canadian wilderness such as Yukon is used…

Social context is key. So is accountability.

Photo by Ricky Turner on Unsplash

In media criticism, social context is absolutely key. Media products do not exist in a vacuum — they are created by people who are influenced by many social factors, using technology from a particular era, and delivered to an audience who bring their own experiences to bear on it, influenced by all of those same things. In every way, when we view media products — especially movies — they provide an important snapshot of the social context in which they were created. That’s why the application of a modern critical lens to older movies is a vital and valuable exercise…

Most movie heroism, of men and women, is underpinned by the victimisation of women — and, ironically, that’s the only kind of gender equality in cinema

The Bride (Uma Thurman) in Kill Bill

It’s fairly standard Hollywood screenwriting. The hero can’t be a hero until they overcome something. There has to be some kind of obstacle to greatness that makes their journey to greatness even greater. If that obstacle can then be spun to act as motivation of said character as well, then that’s even better. But, have you ever noticed that - whether the hero in question is a man or woman - their heroism is disproportionately dependent on the victimisation or sacrifice of women?

For male heroes, it’s often a dead wife or daughter. Or, it’s a wife and/or daughter under…

Sarah Myles

Freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction. Credits include Film International, Twisted Sister Lit Mag, Channillo, and Flickering Myth.

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