Comments on: [Guest Post] Clothes-horse of the Apocalypse: Katniss’ Dress Size and the Book of Revelation /2012/07/10/guest-post-clothes-horse-of-the-apocalypse-katniss-dress-size-and-the-book-of-revelation/ A feminist pop culture adventure Wed, 15 Jan 2014 03:26:05 +0000 hourly 1 By: Must YA heroines be beautiful, do you think? | Lynley Stace /2012/07/10/guest-post-clothes-horse-of-the-apocalypse-katniss-dress-size-and-the-book-of-revelation/#comment-151910 Wed, 15 Jan 2014 03:26:05 +0000 […] also: [Guest Post] Clothes-horse of the Apocalypse: Katniss’ Dress Size and the Book of Revelation from Bad […]

By: Link: Clothes-horse of the Apocalypse « quiteirregular /2012/07/10/guest-post-clothes-horse-of-the-apocalypse-katniss-dress-size-and-the-book-of-revelation/#comment-4289 Wed, 08 Aug 2012 21:12:20 +0000 […] first post for them, which I wrote a few weeks ago whilst still on probation as a guest blogger:  “Clothes-horse of the Apocalypse: Katniss’ Dress Size and the Book of Revelation”.  It’s a discussion of the ridculous controversy around Jennifer Lawrence’s body […]

By: Jem /2012/07/10/guest-post-clothes-horse-of-the-apocalypse-katniss-dress-size-and-the-book-of-revelation/#comment-3035 Wed, 11 Jul 2012 11:25:22 +0000 In reply to Kirsten / Hodge.

Hey, thanks – glad you enjoyed the piece. It’s a big, multi-faceted topic, isn’t it? My major problem with the Bridget Jones question is the whole way “realism” is framed – I think it’s a good example because it takes us away from “OMG skinny girls ewww! Have a sammich, amirite?” (which there was a certain amount of on reddit in response to this article.) It’s telling that the most significant aspect of “realism” identified in that performance (and the surrounding rehearsal, publicity, reception etc) was her body shape. Not, for example, hair colour, accent (tho she does a brilliant accent, and I know that got coverage do), gait, line inflections, the fact that they were translating a work written in an odd mixture of tenses (the narrative goes forward, but the accounts, bcos it’s a diary, are written in retrospective chunks) or any other “accuracy” to either the book or real life.

I know it would be a little disingenuous to say that for a performer body shape doesn’t matter – for all the reasons I mentioned in the article – but I think it’s worth pausing to think about the sheer extent to which we accept a massive amount of convention, adaptation, unreality, but regard the body shape as a non-negotiable tenet of “realism”. That’s why I’m uncomfortable with the defence “but it says in the book Katniss is bigger than other girls, and if you think about her diet and exercise, she’d be stronger…”etc because unless the film has screen-Katniss saying every single word in the same order as page-Katniss, then “the book says” should be immediately discounted. (It should be anyway, but that’s by the by.) I threw in Zellweger to make the point that this isn’t a one-dimensional problem about people telling female actors to eat less, it’s about the fact that what a female actor eats is considered her most relevant professional attribute. (All of which I know you knew already, by the way!)

You also make a very good point about the gender/genre question and why Fassbender doing it counts as arthouse. Didn’t see the film, but I do recall quite a lot of people making a similar point about “ah, so a male actor has a lot of explicit sex on screen and it’s proof of his artistic profundity and his grasp on the existential dilemmas of our time. Interesting…”

(Which also plays into what a friend was saying a while ago about why people were amazed about FSOG – and I really don’t want to make this an FSOG derail, so sorry for the example! – when if you wanted to read loads of sexual material intended for a male audience all you’d have to do is read everything called the Great American Novel or Modern Canon in the last thirty years. People say “a mother at the school bus stop was reading FSOG, imagine if a Dad was reading porn there!” when the better comparison would be “what if he was reading The Slap, or The Witches of Eastwick, or The Pregnant Widow, or…” you get the picture)

I think in the case of Fassbender- arghh, I’ve just realised I’ve swapped Hunger and Shame in my memory. Anyway, will plough on…! In the case of Hunger I think there’s also a more conscious “performance” of his body shape. This is Fassbender heroically (as you say) starving himself to embody the history and resistance of a particular tradition at a crisis point. It carries a lot more gravitas – and of course it’s framed in the film as something the character did to himself. Sorry that got a bit muddled there, but yes I think you’re right there’s a very illuminating distinction to be drawn in the way similar plots are framed and the meanings that get attached to them when the gender of the lead actor differs.

By: Kirsten / Hodge /2012/07/10/guest-post-clothes-horse-of-the-apocalypse-katniss-dress-size-and-the-book-of-revelation/#comment-2999 Tue, 10 Jul 2012 11:45:59 +0000 Hello!

Great post – haven’t read the books or seen the film, but thought these ideas are really interesting. Just curious – what do you think is awful about Renee Zellweger and Bridget Jones (aside from her own obvious body fascism)?

The realist question in performance was also raised recently during the buzz for Andrea Arnold’s (as it became in the media) Wuthering-Heights-with-a-black-Heathcliff, and this particular ‘realist?’ debate – and questions like ‘should we cast black actors in Henry V or focus instead on literature that includes non-white people?’, ‘why is it cool for Domingo to sing Otello, but not for Larry Olivier to act Othello?’ etc – is an ongoing and hotly contentious argument, of course. Interesing to see it related to body shape though, as I suppose (however it is appropriated for dastardly ends) that this, unlike race, is something changeable, and applicable to everyone, regardless of gender – I’m thinking particularly of Godlike Michael Fassbender emaciating himself for Hunger.

I suppose you get an interesting dynamic where Zellweger doing it for Bridget Jones is an actress obsessing over body image in the service of (as it might be considered) Hollywood tripe, whereas Fassbender living on 800 calories per day is all for the Art(house).

How that might also relate to moral judgements of fat = bad and thin = noble, self-sacrificing etc is also potentially of interest, although I am literally just transcribing thoughts as they occur…