From time to time Religion Dispatches includes articles and commentary that dovetail with the interests and perspectives of TheoFantastique. This was the case recently with an article by W. Scott Poole titled “Jennifer’s Body and Why I Like Buffy’s Body Better.” Poole situates Jennifer’s Body within the context of previous horror films that have incorporated a “raft of cultural baggage,” including Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist.
In the discussion Poole notes that Jennifer’s Body includes a subtle attempt ”to sneak a feminist message into the cineplex, subverting the paradigm of horror films in which women are merely the shrieking victims of male violence.” But in consideration of this film Poole questions whether this goal has been accomplished. Poole argues:
I admire Cody’s effort, but am not sure she has subverted older paradigms as much as made them shiny and new with her irresistible narrative style. Indeed, the film could be read as a fairly simplistic rendering of women as the source of evil; tales that were born among ancient Mediterranean patriarchies, but have had a long and troubled history in the United States as well.
As Poole’s discussion continues, and as the title of the article indicates, he believes that Buffy the Vampire Slayer does a better job of of subverting religious and cultural paradigms:
Buffy’s seven seasons did more than simply reverse the formula that makes women the predators rather than the prey. Whedon and his writers and directors created a truly nuanced and complex hero, an archetypal figure in the same sense that Beowulf and Achilles represents the heroic. Rather than perform a parody of female identity (or simple revenge fantasy), Buffy instead embodied both the limitations of human ability and the struggles against darkness that are the price of transcendence.
Poole’s article is a reminder of the significance of horror films, not only as entertainment, but as vehicles for social and cultural commentary as well. See the complete article here.