Monday, May 2, 2016


PCU was released the year I was born (1994), but this is the first time I’ve seen it. I’m not entirely sure how well-remembered the film is nowadays, but it has a 47% on Rotten Tomatoes so I suppose I know how others feel about it.

My boyfriend warned me about this film as we got ready to watch, citing that the take-down of the activist groups on campus were upsetting. As an activist, a progressive, a feminist, yadda yadda, I was nervous. And as all of that, I feel a little wary of saying how much I loved this movie. Now let me explain.

Screenshot from trailer

For those who haven’t seen the film, PCU stands for some university name, but the ~cool kids~ call it Politically Correct University in jest. Our audience surrogate and protagonist is a young, eager, incoming first-year who is thrust into the university environment by rooming with one of the members of the ragtag fraternity-flipped-on-its-head group The Pit (perhaps one of the reasons I identify with this film is because this group of weirdos reminds me so much of my fraternity, the gender-inclusive, literary-arts fraternity of Delta Psi Xi, aka St. Anthony Hall). Besides The Pit (which consists of men and women, with some racial diversity), the university is strongly divided by other groups: the Balls and Shaft faux-fraternity (very norm-core, would love to be a fraternity again but frats have been outlawed), the radical feminists, the vegans, the causes of the week. The Pit scoffs at all of them. Shenanigans ensure. You get the gist. *spoiler* In the end, The Pit encourages an uprising of the students against the authority figures, claiming that the division among them is exactly what they want.

Screenshot from trailer

Now there are some very legitimate problems with this film:

  • It’s a total straight white dude film. It features straight white dudes, is for straight white dudes, and I’m pretty certain it was written by straight white dudes.
  • It pokes fun at the norm-core conservative Balls and Shaft group, but doesn’t really align itself with meaningful, progressive ideals…in fact it actively pushes against those (see meat-drenched vegans), choosing instead to (almost) promote inaction over action–which, for the record, is a fallacy; inaction does not exist, it is a choice that ultimately promotes the way things currently are.
  • It seems to roll its eyes at issues that are legitimately important
Despite those things (which are usually reason enough for me to have an unpleasant taste in my mouth) I loved this movie.

  • It makes fun of what I find so unbearably frustrating in the college activist community:
    • So much supposed care for an issue but so little action that actually changes it (no, sharing a link on social media doesn't give you an excuse to do nothing else)
    • An air of superiority that prevents meaningful interaction with those who are unintentionally ignorant
    • "Causes of the week"
    • A stressful atmosphere that makes others feel that they must "walk on eggshells" and be wary of joking
  • It features an inclusive group of ~frands~ who enjoy life beyond fighting against something. They are unified because they like each other, not because they are all the same.
  • The women are totally autonomous and not hyper-sexualized
  • It encourages unity among the students to fight against the authorities and this is what the administration most fears–they’re down to play along with the game of the well-behaved students, but only to keep their powers at bay
  • It’s a goofy, fun movie with all of the charm of a 90s college/high school comedy
Screenshot from trailer
So yes, this film is dated and has some major cringe-worthy components but it is also something deeper, something fun, and something that encourages young people to come together. This film could easily be remade today, and made well, from a different viewpoint, and with the definite acknowledgment of the importance of progressive values while still poking fun at the problems found in activist groups. Let’s see people within the groups poke fun at themselves a little instead of an outsider with nothing to lose (see hetero white dude movie) poking fun at them.

Watch the trailer here

The Ascent of Woman

Photo from official website
Netflix has had a sad selection over the past few months, but BBC2’s mini-docu series is quite an exception. The Ascent of Woman, written and narrated by Dr. Amanda Foreman (who is kind of the shit), is brilliant. The series is a four-part, hour-long episode journey through a history that most of us know little about: the history of women.

Think back to your introductory history education (hell, probably your higher education too if you’re like me) and you will probably notice that something is missing. In my history education (which, on all accounts was pretty poor), women were there, definitely, but much of the information was centered on men. When women were mentioned, it was often a general, brief reference to their status in said time or place that excused further discussion, with the exception of a handful of exceptional women deemed worthy of a place in our history books. But here we have a history that centers on women: their varying status of power and oppression, their experiences, their strides. 

Photo from official website
The series is brief, but packed to the brim with information. I need to watch it at least two more times before it will all sink in. Despite being jam-packed, the flow of information, the transitions through thousands of years of history, is surprisingly easy to follow–even for a history novice like myself. In the first episode alone we learn about the fluctuations between equality and subjugation women experienced in societies from pre-civilization to the Roman Empire. I promise, no matter how much you already know, at least a few facts will surprise you.

We see experts sharing surprising, recent, and sometimes little-known research, as well as everyday modern women talking about and illustrating these histories. History is brought to life, but without the use of cheesy reenactments. On top of that, the cinematography is beautiful.

A lot of wonderful stuff is going on here. Honestly, I would just recommend changing the Netflix image–Dr. Foreman looking into the distance–to something more telling of the program. I originally clicked on this because I thought it would be something to roll my eyes at, and how wrong I was.

Photo from official website

Official website found here

Hello, stranger-friend


Nice to virtually meet you. My name is Taylor, and I’m on the verge of graduating with a bachelor’s in Comparative Literature and Film. So my opinions on writing/media are infinitely more important than yours, obviously.

Ask any poor soul who has sat through a movie with me, I’m opinionated. As a writer and hopeful filmmaker, these opinions are more than me indulging in the pleasure of hearing my own voice; they are how I understand and appreciate the entertainment around me. The good stuff gives me goosebumps and I won’t shut up about it for days. The bad stuff is wonderful to pick apart and makes me scream to the heavens “why?!”.

We are all extremely influenced by the media we consume, so it is important to be critical of it. It’s also just as important to celebrate the good in it as to be mindful of the bad. I just think it’s important to engage with all this media instead of letting it wash over us.
My partner has challenged me not to be passive in my criticisms, but think about what I would have done differently. This has pushed me to see the good in the bad, and has offered me an opportunity to create a something new, something that I find meaningful out of what was, on the surface, sometimes painful to watch.

Conversations and debates are how I grow. They challenge me to think differently and gracefully accept that I may have been proven wrong, or they present me with an opportunity to make a compelling argument to support my opinion. Feel free to comment (kindly) on any of my posts if you feel I have missed a crucial mark. This blog isn’t about me trying to show the world that I know what I’m doing, it’s a way for me to hone my critical skills in a space that I can totally attach to a job application.

Hope your day is full of sunshine,