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Chair der Sitzung: Jan-Hendrik Bakels, Freie Universität Berlin
Ort:C (Seminarraum III) Institut für Theaterwissenschaft, Grunewaldstr. 35, 12165 Berlin
Fighting the Hydra – All That Is Wrong with Neo-Mythological Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
TU Dortmund, Deutschland
The movie adaptation of the first instalment of Rick Riordan’s successful Percy Jackson series is a fun ride as it mashes Greek mythology with coming-of-age narrative and American road movie tropes: Percy Jackson, the son of Poseidon, and his two friends have to travel the United States of America in order to find three magical pearls that will allow them to retrieve Percy’s mother from the Underworld. One of these pearls is located in the Parthenon in Tennessee – and it is guarded by the infamous Hydra.
On the intradiegetic level, fighting the Hydra with its ever-growing heads is not an easy task. Considered, however, from an extradiegetic point of view, the fight and its various participants lay bare all the problems that the movie conveniently ignores or brushes over with a quip: racism, misogyny, class bias and elitism. Coincidentally, the moment one discovers one problem, it leads directly to another within the neo-mythological world of Percy Jackson and, like the Hydra’s heads, there seems to be no end to them: the movie turns into a rhizomatic mythosphere of ever-increasing complications.
In my talk I will address these problems and show that the movie is indeed making matters worse by being so deliberately oblivious to them and their interconnections. The postmodern parodic pastiche the movie creates from Riordan’s novels creates a conservative mythosphere in which females become admiring companions and people of colour comedic relief. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief turns mythology on its head – and not in a good way.
The Art of Resistance: Afrocyberpunk, Empowerment and Re-Individualization in Janelle Monáe's Dirty Computer
In Dirty Computer, Janelle Monáe creates a powerful audiovisual language that gives voice to and makes visible marginalized groups that are normally silenced and rendered invisible in US-mass culture. In what she refers to as an “emotion picture” she employs the already hybrid generic form of Afrocyberpunk to advocate for a more fluid concept of identity. In my paper I will explore the ways in which this narrative concept album-become-movie relates a story of resistance against oppression in a futuristic dystopian world, visually and sonically anchored in the rich cultural past of African American pop music of the 1980s and 90s. By reconnecting to her (musical) roots, I argue, Monáe not only reinforces a strong sense of identity that makes resistance against (racial) oppression possible in the first place, but by connecting to these intertexts, she also adds rich layers of meaning to a narrative of fluidity and hybridity, highlighting the interconnectedness of various groups that, in the past, have been outcast as ‘other’ and pushed to the margins of society, advocating for a sense of solidarity. Dirty Computer is a work of art strongly situated in the present, addressing pressing current political issues, drawing its power from African American history, and imagining (and working towards) a future where the hope to overcome systemic violence is very much alive. The picture makes a strong plea for a pluralistic society that allows for individuality and self-expression, transcending the boundaries of sexuality, culture, and even humanity. Here, fluidity is key, be it in content, in form, or in the media this emotion picture fuses. By using the subversive techniques of Afrocyberpunk, Monáe succeeds in creating mass media impact and putting intersectional identity politics on the agenda of mainstream culture.
“Defiling the graves of the dead will only anger their souls!” Native American Horror Movies & Native Americans In Horror Movies
Mark van de Logt
Texas A&M University at Qatar, Katar
This presentation analyzes Native American monsters in American cinema between 1976 and 2011. It distinguishes between horror movies made by Native Americans and horror movies made by non-Natives featuring Native American monsters. Whereas Native American artists use the horror genre to cope with the traumatic effects of invasion, conquest, genocide, and colonization, horror movies made by non-Native producers capitalized on the new-found sensibilities—primarily guilt—of non-Native audiences concerning historical injustices against Native Americans. Although the stereotypical depiction of Native Americans as “savages” was no longer appropriate after the Red Power protests of the 1960s and '70s, the horror genre was spared from this trend: horror films allowed film makers to continue to portray certain Native characters or aspects of Native American culture as “savage.”