Today’s Rabbit Hole

Today’s library work session started with a conversation with Ann McClellan about the chapter that she’s currently working on for her Sherlock book. She’s working on a chapter about gender swap in fan fiction that focuses on characterization. In other words, what is it about a particular character that lets you know that that character is who they are? She was talking about how to incorporate some ideas into her chapter and mentioned the work of David Bordwell on character in Classical Hollywood Cinema. I asked her to send me the source information for the chapter I’m working on concerning verisimilitude, which as I said in my previous post, is just a fancy way of talking about the creation of a fictional world that feels real. Ann suggested that I might also want to read an article by Roberta Pearson called “Kings of Infinite Space: Cult Television Characters and Narrative Possibilities.”

Pearson’s article is excellent and since we already discuss cult television in my Analyzing TV class, I’ll probably have my students read it in the spring. Pearson does a great job of distinguishing cult film from cult TV and has a provocative set of characteristics for “cult” that I think my students will find useful.

As I read Pearson’s article, I was intrigued by a name that she mentions in the context of cult film that I have never heard before: Doris Wishman. Wishman was an American film director, screen writer, and producer who made films that focused on outsiders, many of which are considered sexploitation films. I have never heard of a single one of her more than 30 feature films. She made a whole series of “nudist” films in the 1950s and 60s, some of which were banned. How could you not be intrigued by a movie called Nude on the Moon, which was banned in New York State because films about nudist colonies were acceptable but science fiction films about nudist colonies were not acceptable?

By Nude_on_the_moon_poster_01.jpg: Employee(s) of J.E.R. Pictures Inc.derivative work: Crisco 1492 (talk) – This file was derived from  Nude on the moon poster 01.jpg:, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18516055

800px-Nude_on_the_moon_poster_01_Crisco_Edit
Nude on the Moon

Doris Wishman explored film genres. She produced some “hardcore pornography,” like Satan was a Lady, starring Annie Sprinkle, whom I know as a sex-positive feminist working on behalf of sex worker rights and health care. But I’ve never heard of this movie. Wishman was a fan of slasher films and near the end of her life worked on A Night to Dismember which has been called insultingly bad but which, like many of Wishman’s films, has attained cult status. The film that I’m most interested in seeing is a “semi-documentary” called Let Me Die a Woman about transgender people. I’m so intrigued that her “quirky personal style” is described as “bizarre cutaways to ashtrays, lamps and squirrels; suggestive lesbian subplots and gratuitous nudity and violence.” She has been called the “female Ed Wood” so I think it would be interesting if today’s “female Johnny Depp” starred in a movie about her life.

Her movies don’t seem to be widely available but I plan to watch at least some of them on Fandor. Today’s rabbit hole was a fun one and it didn’t stop me from having a productive writing day.

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