ROOM’s Metamorphosis from Feminist Critique to Oscar-fied Inspiration Porn

In the first half of Emma Donoghue’s meticulously psychological Room, the character of Ma is just that—she’s a mother. She’s a near-saintly, self-sacrificing angel who unfailingly thinks of everything and always knows how to make everything better. She’s also not a person in her own right, but that’s the entire point, as the story is told from her five-year-old son’s perspective. To him, she is just “Ma,” because he’s never known her to be anything else. Continue reading →

Homeland Recap: 5×06 “Parabiosis”

After the events of this past weekend, it seems a little strange, and frivolous even, to recap a soap opera about CIA agents chasing down terrorists in Europe. I thought for awhile about what to write here—but in the end, this seems like the wrong venue to say anything other than that our thoughts are with the people of Paris and Beirut.

Because the episode wasn’t particularly violent or scary, I am comfortable posting about it today, with the side note that this recap will attempt (as we always try to attempt) to highlight any ways in which this episode might encourage assumptions that we should instead be questioning. And with that, on to the recap.

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Euripides + Britney Spears = Feminist Manifesto in Rachel Cusk’s “Medea”

“Why are you watching me? Do you enjoy watching me suffer?… I am all the parts of you that you disown. I take on all of the punishment you abdicate. That’s why you’re here.”

Rachel Cusk’s modern interpretation of Euripides’s classic tragedy is a lot of things—consistently compelling, politically engaged, extremely loud—but subtle it is not. While I am nothing if not a fan of tendentiously feminist literature, sociopolitical themes are much more effective when they are a little more subliminal. In Medea, characters break the fourth wall to explicitly implicate the audience in Medea’s taboo desire to murder her children not once, but twice, and the lack of delicacy dilutes the play’s worthy message. Continue reading →