By Frances Pheasant-Kelly
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Extra resources for Abject Spaces in American Cinema: Institutional Settings, Identity and Psychoanalysis in Film
The artifice of 38 SCHOOLING AND THE FEMININE BODY: CARRIE ‘heaven’ manifests in the triteness of the prom, where ‘love among the stars’ is the theme and the overhead position of the pig’s blood marks its ambivalence. Moreover, Margaret White, the epitome of religious fundamentalism, is paradoxically monstrous, while Sue Snell’s character remains ambiguous. The home, usually a space of protection, is literally labelled ‘hell’ and towards the end of the film a low angle shot of the cross that marks the site of the submerged Whites’ house looks up towards a blackened sky, further reinforcing this ambivalence.
Moreover, the religious references that permeate the film frequently invoke abject spaces (hell) or abject acts, and there is repeated reference to the blood of Christ and the sins of the flesh. In Powers of Horror, Kristeva describes how abjection arises in relation to sacrifice, animal slaughter and bloodshed, aspects that feature prominently in Carrie. The interpretation of the feminine body as the sole source of monstrosity is therefore debatable. Thus, while abjection is an irrefutable aspect of both the horror 28 SCHOOLING AND THE FEMININE BODY: CARRIE genre and the feminine body, I suggest that, in a broader context, space in Carrie is implicated in abjection insofar as it relates to selfimage and ego formation.
While there was a resurgence of black independent filmmaking during the Harlem Renaissance,10 the incorporation of black Americans into mainstream Hollywood film remained subordinated to derogatory stereotypical roles. While some stereotypes are usefully deployed as cinematic shorthand, Richard Dyer considers that many, however, have a more demeaning function. ’11 Stuart Hall’s description coincides even more closely with the concept of abjection. Stereotyping … is part of the maintenance of the social and symbolic order.
Abject Spaces in American Cinema: Institutional Settings, Identity and Psychoanalysis in Film by Frances Pheasant-Kelly