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    Babyteeth and the Subversion of Terminally Ill Tropes

    Almost everyone is familiar with the coming of age genre in which a teen is diagnosed with a terminal illness. From the popular adaptation of John Green’s A Fault In Our Stars, to more recent additions such as 5 Feet Apart, this type of film is normally associated with its ability to provoke tears rather than to impart the cinematic experience. Unlike its predecessors however, Babyteeth is simultaneously both moving and cinematic. It is not a movie about death, but rather the pursuit of life.

    By avoiding the cliches of its genre, Babyteeth is ultimately able to impact a greater audience. Rather than portray its protagonist as a victim, Milla (Eliza Scanlen) becomes the film’s hero and is able to retain the dignity that her illness threatens. With the film in mind, examine the way that illness is conceived and thought of in today’s society. What shift in thinking has contributed to this change? In your opinion, what is the best way to present terminal illnesses in film?

    • A thing that grinds my gears would be the representation of mental illness, specifically, as something that either provides a limitation or a superpower... because plot. Often depictions are oversimplification of a person's experience or comically inaccurate. A bipolar charming-but-secret-murderer or autistic savant hacker with trouble speaking are some stereotypes. Another issue is when it feels like a checkbox has been crossed out. One egregious example would be in "The Predator" a while back where the main character's son is depicted as a school child that feels compelled to put back a chess set that has been knocked over into its original mid-game position, but then in the next scene is bullied after some kids pull a fire alarm that begins making loud noises. Main character's-kid-with-autism balls their hands and rocks back and forth to deal with the stimulation... of course later in the movie the kid is able to understand the Predator technology and language and is literally called a pinnacle of human evolution to be harvested for his DNA. This is lazy and uninspired writing at the expense of those with the mental condition being misrepresented, courtesy the media industry. – DancingKomodos 3 years ago
    • Yeah a lot of times those kinds of illnesses feel like a cheap way to the audience's heart. I remember feeling this in Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl. I wanted to like the film, but I felt like the "Dying Girl" was a convenient plot device to the protagonist's character. He even straight up lies about the true ending of the film, and later tells us the truth: this was to keep the emotional beats of the film in check. How to do it properly? I'm not sure, that is a good question – JuanGomez 3 years ago
    • It would be interesting to consider how the exploration of ideas of sadness, vulnerability, sickness and pain in women being factors that glamorise the female experience probe our perceptions of feminine pain as beauty. How many of our heroine's in film, television and literature suffer from pain? I recommend reading Leslie Jamison's essay ‘Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain’in The Empathy Exams. Jamison writes of pain turning women into “kittens and rabbits and sunsets and sordid red satin goddesses, pales them and bloodies them and starves them” (pg114). This contradiction reminds me of the Madonna Whore complex also prevalent in literature and art – where men love, they cannot desire, and where they desire, they cannot love (Freud, 1912). Could this perhaps apply in the same context, where for women to have worth they must have pain, but with pain they are damaged or unworthy in some way? When we want women to feel pain and simultaneously shun the idea, what societal views are we perpetrating? In our male dominated world of media, it has become difficult to find celebrated television written by women for women, and therefore the true female experience proves elusive. It is unsettling in popular culture the extent to which women and pain coexist, to the point that I wonder if we have maybe come to associate pain as feminine. – Zoe Odessa 1 year ago

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    Latest Comments

    The Quiet Place was one of the best movies of 2018. Krasinski was able to recreate moments that are rare within the cannibalistic genre of horror. I have not had a chance to see the second film. I think the work that Krasinski is doing with the deaf community is extremely important. Not only has he provided representation for a community that is rarely seen in film but has created an immersive experience that allows the viewer to place themselves with it within the world of a deaf person.

    Hollywood's Fascination with Silence and Horror

    I finished The Secret History over a period of three days. Once you have entered Tartt’s world, you never wish to leave. Her style of writing, and the feelings it invokes, are rarely captured by modern writers. Tartt is able to made the reader feel as if they were truly a member of this inner circle, in a way that blurs the lines of morality. You cannot help but sympathize with the actions of Richard and his friends, to wish for their redemption despite what they have done.

    The Secret History: A Novel with Staying Power

    And Then There Were None is one of the most formative novels from the genre. Simple and easy enough to read, but with an elegance that is rarely expected from a mystery novel. A must read.

    Books That Will Leave A Lasting Impression on Its Reader