House Logo
Explore categories +

Monica Lewinsky (#110 of 3)

Jennifer Lawrence: On Female Spontaneous Combustion

Comments Comments (...)

Jennifer Lawrence: On Female Spontaneous Combustion
Jennifer Lawrence: On Female Spontaneous Combustion

The image of women spontaneously combusting while doing housework was one of the most popular tropes of filmmaking more than a century ago. In a widely viewed early film from 1903, Mary Jane’s Mishap, a British housemaid accidentally immolates herself while attempting to light a hearth fire with paraffin and subsequently explodes out of the chimney. It was, of course, not uncommon for 19th-century women to catch fire in their own homes when their bulky hoop skirts would graze against an errant spark from the fireplace. Women spontaneously combusting in their own homes was a frequent hazard of the time that journalists then tastefully referred to as “crinoline conflagrations.”

Comical media images of women exploding provided outlets for spectators to laugh off the hazardous politics of everyday domesticity. While many aspects of the relationship between gender politics and media culture have changed since the early 1900s, we still harbor an unconscious tendency to laugh at otherwise horrific images of violence inflicted on women’s bodies. Fortunately, 21st-century domesticity isn’t quite so fraught with the perils of instantaneous conflagration. Yet, the image of women catching fire—quite simply as a metaphor for women’s ambitions to be visible at all—continues to spark our cultural imagination.

And perhaps no other movie star walks this fine line between media visibility and human calamity as deftly as Jennifer Lawrence. There’s something oddly literalistic about the actress’s star appeal. From her “electricity” with Bradley Cooper, to her near-fatal calamity with a 1970s microwave in American Hustle, to her iconic portrayal of “The Girl on Fire” in The Hunger Games trilogy, Lawrence draws on a long tradition of female combustion in cinema.

Music Video: Eminem, “Rap God”

Comments Comments (...)

Music Video: Eminem, “Rap God”
Music Video: Eminem, “Rap God”

Eminem goes back to the future in the new music video for his single, “Rap God,” from his latest album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2. Dressed up like fictional ’80s icon Max Headroom, Rabbit from 8 Mile, and, befitting his status as a self-anointed deity, the One from The Matrix, the rapper spouts off cultural touchstones (Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky) and influences (2Pac, Busta Rhymes), who appear on stacked television screens throughout. Of course, “Rap God” has already courted controversy over Slim’s tired use of certain homophobic epithets, but the clip is as mesmerizing as the track itself, which at one point finds Em spitting a supersonic 97 words in 15 seconds. Watch the video, directed by Rich Lee, below:

Summer of ‘88: Call Me - Orange You Glad You Came?

Comments Comments (...)

Summer of ‘88: <em>Call Me</em> - Orange You Glad You Came?
Summer of ‘88: <em>Call Me</em> - Orange You Glad You Came?

The poster for Call Me is full of sexy promises. It prominently displays a dame’s gorgeous gams, one bent and one elevated. Both are wrapped in a long, curly telephone cord that salaciously travels the length of female real estate. The eyes can’t help but traverse that cord. Into the poster it comes, going around the calf and across the thigh. It ventures between the bend behind the knee that no lover should ignore before making its exit over the ankle and dangerously close to an elevated high-heel shoe. Positioned between the legs is a pink switchblade and the orange from which it has just carved a small, obscene sliver. This juicy fruit is positioned so the viewer can see the suggestive slit in it. “Her fantasies can be fatal,” the tagline warns, reminding us that nobody can enjoy fucking without consequence in American cinematic smut. The title, complete with punctuation, beckons the horny reader with its bold, typewritten font: “Call me.” Naughtiness should ensue if you obey, n’est-ce pas?

By now, you should know that such advertising tawdriness can only lead to tears of disappointment. Call Me is a wrong number on all accounts. It plays as if someone saw the poster and, inspired by its visual elements, wrote a terrible screenplay. The title should have been Call Me: Based on the Poster Pushed by Sapphire, the Vestron Pictures Marketing Lady. You can almost hear the director, Sollace Mitchell, yelling, “Don’t forget the orange!” to screenwriter Karyn Kay. That orange is the only memorable aspect of the film. Since it plays a dirty, yet crucial role, I will gleefully spoil its appearance for you later.