Monday, May 16, 2011

Ms. Russ & Horror

Lesson: this is what happens when you complain about something to generally nice people -- you get asked to share your opinion, too. I commented on Ms. Magazine's initial post on Joanna Russ' passing by expressing my disappointment that the piece was so cursory and written by someone who said she didn't really read the genre (always distressing). So here's my piece:

When Joanna Russ Changed Us

May 15, 2011 by K. A. Laity · Leave a Comment

Michele Kort’s vivid remembrance of Joanna Russ (who died April 29) based on a single encounter with Russ’s short story “When it Changed” is a testament to just how far this woman’s influence continues to spread. Few have come away from reading Russ without a strong opinion. Ideas she posed as many as 30 years ago—a world without men, kick-ass action heroines, feminist romance—continue to vex and inspire us.
The Russ’s unflaggingly popular novel The Female Man and its development of the world known as Whileaway—a place devoid of men for centuries—will long be part of her fame. This imagined future is an agrarian reverie filled with hard work but little advanced technology beyond the ability to merge ova to make babies. People tend to refer to Whileaway as “utopian” but I doubt that Russ would agree. Simple answers never suited her....

Read the rest at Ms.

Today I begin the summer intensive,  Three Weeks of Terror -- or a sort of abbreviated history of the horror film. It's always a bit of a breathless run which tantalises more than it teaches, I fear. As a boot camp in the genre, at the very least it usually introduces the students to films they've not seen and a way of looking at familiar films that makes them completely new. It also funds my travels in England for June, so whoo hoo! Doubtless I will have much to say about the class in the coming days.

6 comments:

Todd Mason said...

Pity none of Russ's horror fiction has been filmed...or, for that matter, given the dramatic qualities of this playwright's fiction, that none of her fiction, as far as I know, has been adapted for A/V presentation.

THREE CASES OF MURDER! The delightfully uncanny first story, and Welles having such fun with the third. So much better than nearly all other horror anthologies (albeit this one Looks like a crime drama antho, and the central story is a mystery story, if a mildly but not supernaturally weird one).

Todd Mason said...

And, my gentle correction of sorts I'll carry over..."When It Changed" was first published four decades ago, and that not even the first of her challenges...

Todd Mason said...

IMDb notes that THE HIDDEN ROOM, the Canadian antho tv series which played in the States on Lifetime cable, did an episode called "Hungry Girls" based on a Russ story...which IMDb also notes that the production failed to credit (!)...even down to who wrote the adaptive script.

I'm hoping that someone contributing to IMDb just saw a defective cut of the episode...that is the sole (un)credit for Russ at that site.

Todd Mason said...

The Very Hidden Room of One's Own. Where the Women and Hunger Artists Play.

Todd Mason said...

I have to wonder if Russ wrote the script then demanded they take her name off.

K. A. Laity said...

The Very Hidden Room of One's Own. Where the Women and Hunger Artists Play. Excellent! I would love to see some Russ on stage or screen. Considering the idiot aims of most entertainment in this country, I doubt it will be forthcoming soon.