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Whose body? Auteurism, feminism and horror in Hostel Part II and Jennifer’s Body

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The gender politics of horror cinema are ambiguous and ideologically complex. In 2007, film-maker Eli Roth generated considerable debate when he claimed that his film Hostel Part II (2007) was a feminist horror film. More recently, awardwinning screenwriter Diablo Cody generated a similar uproar when she likewise claimed that her film Jennifer's Body (Kusama 2009) was feminist. In both cases, the attacks directed at Roth and Cody stemmed as much from animosity towards their very public personas as from their films' content. These attacks also stemmed partly from long-standing prejudices against horror films as vehicles for violently reinforcing patriarchy, and from the fact that these film-makers, in speaking about feminism, were speaking on behalf of a generalized, unified and coherent entity that most feminists would argue does not actually exist. This article analyses the claims made by Roth and Cody and the outcry generated by these claims. Moreover, this article considers whether the contemporary horror film can legitimately serve as a vehicle for forging feminist statements, given both the nature of the horror film and the many competing and contradictory ideas of what constitutes feminism.
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Keywords: auteurism; feminism; film; gender; genre; horror

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of South Australia

Publication date: 2011-09-08

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  • The Australasian Journal of Popular Culture is a peer-reviewed journal devoted to the scholarly understanding of everyday cultures. It is concerned with the study of the social practices and the cultural meanings that are produced and are circulated through the processes and practices of everyday life. As a product of consumption, an intellectual object of inquiry, and as an integral component of the dynamic forces that shape societies. The journal will be receptive to articles which focus on Australasian examples, or broader comparative and theoretical questions viewed through an Australasian lens.
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