Gender and Power in The Conjuring

I’m short on time for writing this week, so I’m putting up a piece I wrote for Erin Riordan and Kat Kelley’s creation, Feminists-at-Large last summer. 

Conjuring

Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir has turned out the most fauxned-in diatribe you’ll read all month. Pretend-outraged rants against masculine values have to be the new lazy-man’s response to art. In the same way that early critics of Lolita’s ‘pro-pedophilia’ message were both ignorant and misguided, O’Hehir’s review of The Conjuring managed not only to miss the point, but portray the work’s message entirely backwards.

The Conjuring tells the story of the Perron family, mother, father, and four girls who move out to a house in the country. Soon enough, they discover an ominous boarded-up basement, and a standard possession-haunting scenario develops, with flying pictures, creepy sleepwalking, and terrifying apparitions. Coming to their aid are the Warrens, a husband and wife team of ghostbusting paranormal experts, with Ed Warren playing the academic and his wife the strong-willed psychic.

The soon-to-be-less-happy Perron Family

The soon-to-be-less-happy Perron Family

O’Hehir imagines the film’s politics to be reactionary, but his is the only retrograde thinking in taking a feminist dream and writing it like a nightmare. He claims that the women in the movie are the fount of all its evil, and he’s right, but only because the women are the only important characters in the film.

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