Would you believe there was a time when I didn’t want an Instagram? I am not very big on selfies (I used to think that was all the photo sharing site was used for), do not post everyday and don’t have that many posts to begin with. Additionally, I am far from being “internet famous” and have a tendency to over think things. So I held out for a while, told my sister no every time she asked me to make one and convinced myself I did not need it.
Now, no one really needs Instagram, at least I don’t, but I would argue that everyone needs their own space. A place to share their creations, musings and day to day activities if they wish. Once I finally joined and realized that I could curate bits and pieces of life a whole new world of possibilities opened up.
The photo above is an outtake from my 4 before Crimson Peak post; not only does it serve as a little intro to the new behind the scenes category, I also think it is a good example of my Instagram process. I now admit to being slightly obsessed with the appÂ and have been known to delete or repost a pic or two if I don’t like the previous edit or placement in my feed (#instasnob). Lately I have been pretty proud of my pictures and thought it would be fun share the process.
There are a multitude of apps out there to help you take the perfect picture but I like to keep is simple and stick to VSCO Cam. This app allows me to control the focus and exposure ensuring I take the perfect picture in camera, which leads to minimal work in post. Â The VSCO app is also great because it stores all of the pictures you take while using it and creates a grid. I save my unedited photos to my camera-roll then import the one I like to the grid so I can see how it looks with the rest of my feed. After I choose the picture I want to post it’s time to copy it to Instagram and edit!
While Instagram is well known for their filters I personally skip them while editing and head straight to tools. The real magic happens in this section. Here I adjust the brightness only a tiny bit and up the highlights if I want to make a picture brighter. Next I add a bit of structure and contrast, then make my photo cooler by dragging the warmth bar back a bit. My goal is to enhance the natural elements of the picture, not erase or cover them completely.
Getting the perfect picture the first time is really hard and very rare, I like to take several so I have options and more to choose from. Sometimes I’ll take up to 20 pictures of the same set up, just to be sure.
Lately there has been a lot of discussion about authenticity in social media, especially when it comes to Instagram. My final tip is don’t take the app or yourself too seriously. Try not to get caught up in the numbers and keep in mind that people only post what they want you to see. Just like cropping and editing a photo you can also crop and edit certain aspects of your life. I love taking loads of photos, editing and sharing the things that make me happy. I have also found a great community of film lovers to talk to and follow through this app. If social media is what you make it, make it work best for you.
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I love scrolling and discovering new pictures to like and pages to follow! Be sure to leave your Instagram names below so I can check them out! As always I am @thecinemadoll. Thank you for reading!
Well cinefriends October has come to an end, but the thrills and chills don’t have to stop there! White Flight and Stepford Wives: A look at the underbelly of suburbia, a cinema studies paper I wrote in the fall of 2011, explores the very real attitudes and motives of the past that led to some of the most popular stories in horror films of the future. Enjoy!
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In the 1975 film The Stepford Wives based on a novel of the same name by Ira Levin we meet Joanna Eberhart: a photographer and mother of two who moves out of New York city with her family and settles in the quiet suburbs of Stepford Connecticut. It is here the family believes their problems will dissipate with a healthy dose of fresh air and solitude, but under the Pleasantville like charm and seemingly perfect faĂ§ade their lies a dangerous undercurrent. The perpetual fear of a homogenous society and loss or lack of individuality is a theme that has been explored in many films, particularly those in the horror and science fiction genres. The irony of the suburbs within both genres is that it is too good to be true; these films present the area as being two-faced, a utopian fantasy with dystopian levels. Yet the average white family moving out of the city and into the idyllic â€śburbsâ€ť is not a fictitious genre trope; during the 1940s and 50s thousands of American families moved out of the city, desiring to escape the mass influx of immigrants and the growing ethnic mix of the urban environment. This mass migration, known â€śWhite Flightâ€ť has given birth to some of the most memorable and iconic films we know and love today.
â€śWhite Flightâ€ť or the â€śflight of the middle classâ€ť (a more accurate term) is a term describing the mass departure of the newfound Caucasian middle class from the city to the suburbs. This â€śflightâ€ť took off due to the passing of the G.I. Bill, a bill that gave rise to the American middle class and provided vocational education for veterans returning from World War II. With its passing veterans or G.I.s were now able to attend college and start training in a specific field of study. This bill was passed in 1944 and with that knowledge one can gain a better understanding of the â€śBaby Boomâ€ť that took place the following year. With the influx of veterans now established in their new careers it is only natural for many of them to desire a family. This generation of â€śBaby Boomersâ€ť (1945-1961/62) spiked not only the fertility rates that had dropped during the depression but the economy as well, including the motion picture industry. Naturally the cities that the veterans were returning to did not resemble the â€śpicturesqueâ€ť communities of the suburbs they would eventually move into, picturesque meaning all white. A reasonable case can be made that the suburban flight of whites, which occurred immediately after World War II, resulted in part from racial motivations (Frey 426). Laura Pulido, author of Rethinking Environmental Racism: White Privilege and Urban Development in Southern California explores environmental and spatial forms of racism. Although the paper specifically uses Southern California as case study it does make a good point; â€śwhites have secured relatively cleaner environments by moving away from older industrial cores via suburbanizationâ€ť (12). This self-segregation represents the drastic reaction to racial integration within an urban environment that peaked during the 1950s, creating the 50s housewife that would later be satirized in The Stepford Wives.
One film, or rather opening sequence that best illustrates this is David Lynchâ€™s 1986 film Blue Velvet. In the opening scene we are introduced to an idyllic 1950s suburb; a man who was watering his lawn suddenly suffers a heart attack and falls, from there the camera travels onto the lawn and sinks below the grass, reveling the insects that are essentially ripping each other apart. An obvious metaphor representing the clandestine discord that festers below the sunny and pleasant exterior the suburbs prides itself on possessing. There is also the 2005 film Hide and Seek whose basic plot is after what appears to be the suicide of her mother a young girl named Emily moves with her father to a quiet neighborhood in upstate New York. It is believed that the move from the city will ease Emilyâ€™s mind but it does the opposite and proves to be more dangerous than the city she grew up in. History professor Matt Lassiter states that the notion of perfect suburban blandness may give us a safe way to talk about difficult things (Ulaby). In the case of films like The Stepford Wives that blandness represents is a sign of conformity. Â The fear of being one and the same dates back to the original film Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the Twilight Zone episode entitled The Number 12 Looks Just Like You. No monsters lurk within the closets of these stories because the real fear is the fear of being replaced. That is precisely why the original cinematic adaptation of The Stepford Wives is the perfect example of the suburban nightmare.
In both the novel and the film audiences are aligned with the character of Joanna Eberhart; a photographer and mother of two. We learn that she and her family are the newest residents of Stepford CT and that they moved from New York to feel â€śsafeâ€ť and start anew. Stepford is everything a middle class white suburban area set out to be; clean, safe, friendly, perfect, yet the longer Joanna remains in Stepford the more sinister it becomes. Joannaâ€™s husband joins a menâ€™s only society and begins to spend all of his time with them and Joanna begins to notice that the wives of the men of Stepford are a little too good to be true. The notion that Stepford would be safer than New York is quickly shattered when Joannaâ€™s fears are confirmed by the zombie-esque nature of the wives. As the film unfolds we learn that Joanna is not the only one who believes something is wrong, her new friend Bobbie thinks something is off as well. In one scene one of the Stepford wives repeats â€śIâ€™ll just die if I donâ€™t get this recipeâ€ť over and over at a party, her expression a permanent mask of pleasantness. Joanna soon discovers that the meetings her husband has been attending at the Menâ€™s club are the leaders of a conspiracy and are replacing their wives with robotic versions of themselves in the form of the perfect 50s housewife.
In one of the films two terrifying scenes Joanna visits her friend Bobbie to see if she is looking after her children only to discover through stabbing her that she is no longer her open minded, witty friend but a narrow and rigid wife whose sole purpose is to please her husband. It may sound a bit silly but the way The Stepford Wives is presented is a brilliant commentary on suburbanization. Sadly in the end Joanna is introduced to her robot counterpart and we are led to believe that she kills her as well. The pair is identical; one would never know which Joanna is the real one if it were not for the unfinished eyes on the robot version. They are pitch black and devoid of any soul, Joanna is just another poor resident to loose her individuality to the suburbs becoming a shallow, repressed housewife, but being forced to like it.
It is the insects killing each other in Blue Velvet, aliens taking over unsuspecting victims in Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the perfect 50s housewives in the suburbs of Stepford. It is the picturesque eeriness of it all, the place that is too perfect and too good to be true. Where something is wrong but you cannot quite put your finger on it.
Frey, William H. Central city white flight: Racial and nonracial causes.Â American Sociological Review (1979): 425-448. Pulido, Laura. Rethinking environmental racism: White privilege and urban development in Southern California.Â Annals of the Association of American Geographers 90.1 (2000): 12-40. Ulaby,Neda. Popular Culture’s Evolving View of the Suburbs.Â Weekend Edition Saturday. 7 Oct. 2006. Radio.
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That’s it for October! I really enjoy sharing my work and look forward to the cinematic adventures of next month, thank you for reading!!
I have a confession to make. I, myself, am strange and unusual and I’m sure you are too! If you’re like me you worship the wild and weird, strange and unusual. You look for and find beauty in the unnatural, unknown and unseen but how did this interest (obsession)Â start? As a culture we are obsessed with origin stories. We look for and crave the narrative that started it all no matter how big or small. This little one is mine.
I don’t know how or when it began but I know it started young. If you’ve visited my about pageÂ you know I grew up surrounded by movies. Everything from the tragic scenes of Dr. Zhivago to the unreal images of our very real world in Baraka flickered before me during movie night, but the ones that have stuck with me, the films that I still cite as inspiration to this day are those that were darker in tone. Horror was a genre I was kept away from and the monsters I did see were pre-approved by my parents but there were some nights when they slipped through the cracks and into my subconsciousness. The monsters of RayÂ Harryhausen for instance were so visually striking and magical that I went to sleep praying I dreamt of skeletons after watching Jason and his crewÂ fight them off in the Jason and the Argonauts. I welcomed them and there was nothing “strange” about it, at least not in my mind, nothing morbid either.
That word was not introduced to me until I was older and whenever it was brought up it was almost always in a negative context, like a dirty little word. I found no morbidity in the mummified hands I was showing the other kids at break time during computer camp, or the scrying mirrors I wanted to recreate in middle school. Yet despite all my interests and all the knowledge I thought I had I remember being really afraid of death. I suspect everyone is the first time they fully grasp what it is. I can vaguely recall sitting in the girls bathroom when I was little, my body engulfed in a complete panic repeating, “I don’t want to die.” Why I did this I do not know but books and stories helped me eventually shake off the fright. I turned to research and the fear quickly turned to fascination.
Suddenly, my nights were filled with stories of ghosts and hauntings, my head utterly consumed with the supernatural but my heart with guilt.Â I would beg family friends to tell me every ghost story they could think of but would have trouble sleeping later that night. I’d spend hours reading up on shadow people and local haunts but would feel so ashamed for being curious in the first place. Now that I am older, my interests have not changed and remain stronger than ever.
Recently, my friend Jackson and I took a trip to the Morbid Anatomy Museum, a must see if you’re like me and you want your day trips to be a bit out of the ordinary. The museum is a black mass on 3rd ave. and the corner of 7th Street in Brooklyn (you seriously can’t miss it.) The fairly small exhibition room lends itself to an intimate atmosphere and allows you to be upÂ close and personal with the art on display. However the real gem in this morbid crown is the library; this cabinet of curiosities houses thousands of books, photographs and artifacts on a myriad of subjects ranging from death and burial practices to psychotic women in cinema. It was an absolute dream room and I look forward to going back. Before you leave make sure to grab a drink at the cafe downstairs, the chai and spiced hot chocolate are perfect for a chilly day in and around all oddities.