Kickass Women Shedding Light on Issues in the Middle East
Over the Cannes Film Festival's 71 years, over 1,600 directors have had their work featured. Only 82 have been women.
Sentiments regarding issues of gender equality in the film industry were plethoric at the festival. The American Pavilion required attendees to sign a waiver that they would not tolerate sexual misconduct of any kind. Kristen Stewart graced the red carpet without her heels to go against the tradition of the festival. And most prominently, Cate Blanchett led a protest along with 81 other women trying to shed light on the representation issue, a protest that introduced the red carpet premiere for this film.
However, there were still only three female directors competing for the Palm d'Or, so maybe these efforts were only in vain. Les Filles du Soleil's Eva Husson was among these women.
The film takes inspiration from the August 2014 ISIS raid into Yazidi territory, where the soldiers killed the men and kidnapped the women in a mass act of genocide and sexual slavery. Emerging out of these events were a group of strong women known as the "Girls of the Sun" combat unit, who fight to take back their country from the barbarian behavior overwhelming it. They were ultimately successful, but the impact goes far and beyond this powerful story. It also reflects the struggles that women suffer through all over the world, which are often struggles to which Western women can easily turn a blind eye.
In its fictionalization, the film focuses primarily on Bahar (Farahani), the commander of the Girls of the Sun unit, who is determined to locate her son after his kidnapping over the course of these events in pursuit of freedom. She shares her story with journalist Mathilde (Berco) from France as the women come to understand the impact of war on both of their lives.
Success is found in balancing these elements of the film, where a viewer is able to feel equally empathetic for Bahar and Mathilde upon viewing their experiences of war. This is most especially in the handling of Mathilde as it is often difficult to portray the journalist in a way that does not come off as cheesy. Even with the decision at the conclusion of the film to read from Mathilde's writing feels natural. The delicate handling of flashbacks throughout helps to build our trust not only of the story, but also for the well-being of the characters. It engages the audience in a way films at Cannes traditionally struggle with.
Maneki Films/ Eva HUSSON
Another success of the film is the starring actresses. Both play their parts divinely, fully fleshing out their characters as far more than women in their situations, but rather whole people who happen to be dealing with their problems uniquely based on their gender. The question of gender is handled interestingly throughout. While there are male characters, their names are not important, if revealed at all. They are aggressors. They are the reason the women are having to struggle so hard because they are power mad and brutish. But they are not important as individuals, a reversal of the stereotypical position of women being the pawns in men's games. The combination of these elements, therefore, sounds a lot like the jury's ideal for a winning film given the social issues in discussion.
Why, then, would the film not succeed in the award circuit of the festival? Despite the bold protest on the red carpet and a slew of journalists cramming into screenings, the jury did not award Les Filles du Soleil with any recognitions. This makes you consider the film's biggest flaw: its rawness, its truth. Cannes is a place for great stories, but there is a lot of prestige held in these stories being something concocted from the imagination mostly and only reflecting on the exterior elements of the world. I believe this film mostly did that, but I can see how the jury may not feel the same.
I think, however, that this film will be able to be considered a major success if it is able to make its way into the homes and heads of Western audiences. These are people who can't spell Kurdistan by and large, let alone tell you the political goings on of the place. By sharing this story with more people in order to understand the complete scope of the conflicts of the Middle East (as well as grasp the complexity of the role women play there), it will educate audiences. That most likely means more than any trophy.
Running time: 115 min | Director: Eva Husson | Starring: Golshifteh Farahani and Emmanuelle Bercot
More about the Cannes Film Festival can be found here.
Rachel A.G. Gilman is a writer, a radio producer, and probably the girl wearing the Kinks shirt. Visit her website for more.
Let's take a look at Nazi-inspired fashion.
Villains always have the best outfits.
From Darth Vader's polished black space armor to The Joker's snazzy purple suit, bad guys always seem to show up their protagonists in the fashion department.
Way more handsome than Batman. static.giantbomb.com
But could there possibly be a real world equivalent to the type of over-the-top villain fashion often found in fiction? It would have to be sleek and imposing, austere and dangerous. Probably black.
Maybe it's him. Maybe it's fascist ideology.
Let's call a spade a spade. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Nazi SS outfit is very well-designed. The long coat tied around the waist with a buckle portrays a slim, sturdy visage. The leather boots and matching cap look harsh and powerful. The emblem placements on the lapel naturally suggest rank and authority. And the red armband lends a splash of color to what would otherwise be a dark monotone. If the Nazi uniform wasn't so closely tied with the atrocities they committed during WWII, it wouldn't seem out of place at Fashion Week. Perhaps not too surprising, considering many of the uniforms were made by Hugo Boss.
Pictured: A real thing Hugo Boss did. i.imgur.com
Of course, today, Nazi uniform aesthetics are inseparable from the human suffering doled out by their wearers. In most circles of civilized society, that's more than enough reason to avoid the garb in any and all fashion choices. But for some, that taboo isn't a hindrance at all–if anything, it's an added benefit.
As a result, we have Nazi chic, a fashion trend centered around the SS uniform and related Nazi imagery.
History of Nazi Chic
For the most part, Nazi chic is not characterized by Nazi sympathy. Rather, Nazi chic tends to be associated with counterculture movements that view the use of its taboo imagery as a form of shock value, and ironically, anti-authoritarianism.
The movement came to prominence in the British punk scene during the mid-1970s, with bands like the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees displaying swastikas on their attire alongside other provocative imagery.
Very rotten, Johnny. i.redd.it
Around this time, a film genre known as Nazisploitation also came to prominence amongst underground movie buffs. A subgenre of exploitation and sexploitation films, Naziploitation movies skewed towards D-grade fare, characterized by graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Plots typically surrounded female prisoners in concentration camps, subject to the sexual whims of evil SS officers, who eventually escaped and got their revenge. However, the most famous Nazisploitation film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, flipped the genders.
The dorm room poster that will ensure you never get laid. images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com
Ilsa was a female SS officer and the victims were men. She spent much of the movie wearing her Nazi uniform in various states, sexually abusing men all the while. As such, Ilsa played into dominatrix fantasies. The movie was a hit on the grindhouse circuit, inspiring multiple sequels and knock-offs and solidifying Nazi aesthetics as a part of the BDSM scene.
Since then, Nazi chic fashion has been employed by various artists, from Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Lady Gaga, and has shown up in all sorts of places from leather clubs to character designs in video games and anime.
Lady Gaga looking SS-uper. nyppagesix.files.wordpress.com
Nazi Chic in Asia
Nazi chic has taken on a life of its own in Asia. And unlike Western Nazi chic, which recognizes Nazism as taboo, Asian Nazi chic seems entirely detached from any underlying ideology.
A large part of this likely has to do with the way that Holocaust education differs across cultures. In the West, we learn about the Holocaust in the context of the Nazis committing horrific crimes against humanity that affected many of our own families. The Holocaust is presented as personal and closer to our current era than we might like to think. It is something we should "never forget." Whereas in Asia, where effects of the Holocaust weren't as prominent, it's simply another aspect of WWII which, in and of itself, was just another large war. In other words, Nazi regalia in Asia might be viewed as simply another historical military outfit, albeit a particularly stylish one.
In Japan, which was much more involved with WWII than any other Asian country, Nazi chic is usually (but not always) reserved for villainous representations.
OF COURSE. i.imgur.com
That being said, J-Pop groups like Keyakizaka46 have publicly worn Nazi chic too, and the phenomena isn't limited to Japan.
In South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nazi imagery has shown up in various elements of youth culture, completely void of any moral context. For instance, in Indonesia, a Hitler-themed fried chicken restaurant opened in 2013. And in Korea, K-Pop groups like BTS and Pritz have been called out for propagating Nazi chic fashion. Usually such incidents are followed by public apologies, but the lack of historical understanding makes everything ring hollow.
So the question then: is Nazi chic a bad thing?
The answer is not so black and white.
On one hand, seeing Nazi chic on the fashion scene may dredge up painful memories for Holocaust survivors and those whose family histories were tainted. In this light, wearing Nazi-inspired garb, regardless of intent, seems disrespectful and antagonistic. Worse than that, it doesn't even seem like a slight against authority so much as a dig at actual victims of genocide.
But on the other hand, considering the fact that even the youngest people who were alive during WWII are edging 80, "forgetting the Holocaust" is a distinct possibility for younger generations. In that regard, perhaps anything that draws attention to what happened, even if it's simply through the lens of "this outfit should be seen as offensive," might not be entirely bad. This, compounded by the fact that Nazi chic is not commonly associated with actual Nazi or nationalistic sentiments, might be enough to sway some people–not necessarily to wear, like, or even appreciate its aesthetics, but rather to understand its place within counterculture.
Ultimately, one's views on Nazi chic likely come down to their own personal taste and sensibilities. For some, Nazi chic is just a style, an aesthetic preference for something that happens to be mired in historical horror. For others, the shadow of atrocity simply hangs too strong.
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Summer Walker returns and is no longer playing games.
Summer Walker loves creating music but despises the music industry.
She regularly considers retirement and ended her 2019 tour early because of social anxiety. "I hope that people understand and respect that at the end of the day I'm a person, I have feelings, I get tired, I get sad," she said in a video post. "I don't want to lose myself for someone else." She was relentlessly vilified for her decision. Fans cited stiff meet-and-greets and chalked up Walker's cancellations to a sense of entitlement.
Then she was presented with the "Best New Artist" award at the 2019 Soul Train Awards, and her hurried acceptance speech was dissected by tasteless memes all across the country. Walker's candid cries for understanding remained completely ignored by years end. The truth of the matter is that Walker suffers from anxiety and stage fright that is all but totally crippling. So she did what any misunderstood artist does, she disappeared and stopped saying anything at all.