By Murray Pomerance

Examines the various kinds of cinematic badness during the last 100 years, from Nosferatu to The proficient Mr. Ripley.

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Additional resources for Bad: Infamy, Darkness, Evil, and Slime on Screen

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Although McKenna grants laudable uses of motion pictures, he immediately cautions: “But they [motion pictures] may be used for evil, and against that possibility the [Ohio] statute was enacted” (3). The following quotation, a fragment of which I cited earlier, captures something of the power McKenna sensed in motion pictures that gave them a dangerous aspect: Their power of amusement, and, it may be education, the audiences they assemble, not of women alone nor of men alone, but together, not of adults only, but of children, make them the more insidious in corruption by a pretense of worthy purpose or if they should degenerate from worthy purpose.

Giroux, in “The Ghost World of Neoliberalism: Abandoning the Abandoned Generation,” assesses Ghost World’s attempt to address the question of how popular representations of youth use a discourse of privatization to signal social crisis. ” This chapter illuminates the simplistic notion of the “bad kid” and its function for hiding broadly developed and pernicious social formulations that imperil democracy. ” Part II, “Auteurs of Negativity, Icons of Darkness,” focuses on screen darkness and immorality as particularized in particular motion pictures or in the work of particular filmmakers.

The final part, “The Charisma of Villainy,” has contributions that focus on particular characterizations or characterizational types. Alexander Doty and Patricia Clare Ingham give an extended queer reading of Cat People in “The ‘Evil Medieval,’” suggesting that the film can be read as a tale of the conflict between a heterocentric power structure and a transgressive cultural tradition that emphasizes women’s pleasure and liberation. The “badness” of the cat women is portrayed narratively as a cultural strategy for containing those who threaten the dominant order.

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