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"...another reason I'm intrigued with the hanged of Salem, especially the women, is that a number of them aroused suspicion in the first place because they were financially independent, or sharp-tongued, or kept to themselves. In other words, they were killed off for the same sort of life I live right now but with longer skirts and fewer cable channels." Sarah Vowell, The partly cloudy patriot.


Feel my pain

This is the worst period I've had in a long long time. Heavier and way way more painful.

During my brief week of unemployment, I watched the 2 seasons of Carnivale. Has anyone seen it? It inspired me (unfortunately) to chop my hair off (myself, grrrr....) into a chin length bob. But it also affected me more than that.

It is a pretty complicated program - much of the religion stuff went over my head as I just don't get all the references and mythologies of judeo-christianity (well, okay - of any religion, really). But it was still pretty fascinating.

The gist is that it is set during the great depression - 1930s, mostly in the midwest, south, and the west. From that perspective, it was really pretty interesting as a corollary to our current financial struggles.

It was also mostly set in a carnival.

The sets, set decorations, and costumes were fantastic - I'd love to decorate my house like several of the trailers of the women characters, and their wardrobes were enviable (the dresses! the low heeled oxfords)! As were the haircuts, obv.

I liked too that they chose to cast a lot of unknowns - people not conventionally thought of as attractive. It was really good for me to see not-skinny women portrayed as very sexy (and even as strippers). Ironically, these were women who inhabited their bodies and their sexuality, and their size. They were beautiful, sexy, and strong. The nudity in the show was interesting in terms of my own social comparisons. I look a lot like one of the strippers (maybe a bit thinner - hard to know), and I thought that was really good for me to see her really inhabit her sexuality. I'm not explaining it well.

Another interesting thing about the program was the high amount of violence against the women. I think it may be one of few (any?) shows to really portray violence against women realistically, as being a part of the culture, in many different forms (sexual, harassment, physical, emotional, etc.) and showed the women's reactions to it. I think normally we don't see the effects of the violence on women - the fear, the anger, the shaping of behaviors and relationships. I think typically it is either minimized or we take the male gaze/perspective (or it becomes sexualized like on Law and Order).

For example, one of the rousties (roustabouts - the hired hands) was trying to get a carny to let him have sex with the carny's wife (who is a stripper). When that failed, he tried to coerce, bully, threaten the woman into having sex with him, and basically threatened to rape her. We got to see her react to him, but also the fear she had later of him coming after her. We got to imagine what it would be like for her having to live side by side with this fuckwad, knowing she must be terrified.

There was a lot of violence - sometimes it felt like an extremely extended version of the "Home" episode of the X-Files (anyone know what I'm referring to?). But, it felt realistic and like it was necessary to depict accurately the time. And all of these types of violence continue today, so I guess I can't just locate them in that time.

I recommend it - it's intense and complicated, but it is engrossing and takes you into a particular time and culture that is really interesting.


At 11:16 PM, Blogger The History Enthusiast said...

I'm a huge X-Files fan, but I totally understood why "Home" wasn't allowed to air very often. It was seriously disturbing.

Carnivale sounds interesting, though. I'll have to check it out.

At 10:38 AM, Blogger Limon de Campo said...

Thanks for the review. I've never really considered watching Carnivale, but I will now. It sounds more interesting than I thought it would be.


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