I appreciate Gaines’ criticism of feminist psychoanalytic theory and Marxist feminist analysis in pointing out that early/dominant feminist canon is built on male/female opposition and leaves no room to consider (actually “encourages us not to consider”) sex and gender alongside race and class in a way that reflects social reality. In relation to ego/libido and the consumption of women in film, her consideration of the lesbian gaze (as opposed to the assumed male audience [and the black male and hetero-female as sort of secondary, illicit voyeurs]) I found to be particularly powerful in contradicting Mulvey’s essentialist thesis on the Freud of it all.
(Honestly this kind of stuff [-isms?] boggles my brain, and at this point I have dropped my other GWS course and much prefer Borden’s concept of anarcha-feminism as an anti-ism-ism.)
Anyway, like others have already posited, Born in Flames had a slew of cool moments, but here are a few that I didn’t write down in my movie notes:
1) The montage format as a solution to low-budget filming over a long period of time was hugely successful to my untrained eye balls; any physical changes I picked out through the lo-fi clouds of grain I interpreted as signifiers of the passing of time within the film’s narrative. At face value I found this style to effect breaks in voyeurism, calling audience attention to our innate desire to project ourselves onto/consume/fetishize characters and thus destructs (or at least deconstructs) the idea of cinema as an appropriate medium to do so. The montage and low-budget aesthetic become symbolic of the movement and similar rebellions against the mainstream as grassroots activism.
2) The wrapping meat scene that cuts to wrapping more meat was very entertaining and just a clever way of illustrating traditional gender roles while addressing class distinctions and diving hand first into Borden’s criticism of the division and isolation of women groups.
3) The single Asian woman who appears for all of two seconds during the film, who embodies the flatness, invisibility and hyper-passivity of Latin and Asian women in every other mainstream cinematic experience even today. Initially this moment made me especially uncomfortable; but if we are to look at the film as a self-reflexive, culturally sensitive feminist artwork and activist statement, in which tropes of gender/sex/class/race are emphasized as contemp social criticism, I can see it fitting the bill. Borden asserts in a couple of interviews that the film was created with silenced minorities in mind (and particularly women of color). But I just thought of this now. What do you think?
4) Okay I don’t have time to write more on this but it’s SCI FI. 😀