Monday, December 12, 2011

Exclusion & Outsiders

It's funny - this is a season characterized by "goodwill towards men," you know, a time of "let's be a little nicer; times are tough and we're all in this together."  Only at both the film class and the Great Buffy Rewatch, the messages are a little - well, let's say mixed.

We saw the final class film last week.  I selected District 9 to contrast with the previous week's Planet of the Apes to provide a platform for discussing fear, power, and things turned topsy-turvy.  In District 9, humans are back to being top dog (unlike in Planet), but we're not exactly benevolent overlords.  The aliens look especially alien and we never learned to share all that well.  Also, the South Africa setting brings up many ways to discuss separatism and not only the simplistic binary of "humans good, aliens bad."  Watch for the comments about Nigerians.  And just to reinforce one of my main themes, science fiction is a fantastic genre for its willingness to take on these "big themes" such as exclusion, who decides where to draw the line of "insider" or "Other," and what happens on the borders of those circles (a theme explored imaginatively in District 9).  Always watch those liminal spaces.

Students are working on their final exam paper right now - those are due by this Friday.  They're digging into the film Surrogates for this one and I've already told them that they must limit their comments regarding Bruce Willis's hairpiece to no more than a single paragraph.  Seriously, there's some good stuff in that film.  While it's certainly not a classic in the mold of Metropolis or some of the other films on the syllabus, sometimes you are more willing to explore a middling-good film far more than you are to take on a classic - there's more room to maneuver.

Also, over at the Rewatch - wow!  The conclusion of the final season (and the end of this year-long Rewatch) is looming and (at least for the moment) life in Slayerville is a mess.  Elizabeth Rambo - she of Buffy Goes Dark, the book-length examination of Seasons 6 & 7 - is at the helm of this week's trio of episodes.  Nothing will ever be the same as it once was, but that's always true for everyone, everywhere.  And we find out where Spike picked up that leather duster he's so fond of.  Let's just say Spike doesn't shop at Goodwill.  We're only (gulp!) three weeks from concluding this project and there's a lot of (very bloody) ground yet to cover.

Join us, won't you, Gentle Reader?

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