The Dead Girl Show
When you really think about it, how many books, television shows, movies, and news programs feature a girl tragically gone missing or a woman being attacked, murdered, or abused? If you are a thriller junkie like me, your list will be adding up quite quickly. Of course there are men who are victims, but it seems the obsession with “dead girls” remains. Why is that?
In my latest read, DEAD GIRLS, author Alice Bolin writes about how our culture is fixated on using women in life and death to push forward the narrative predominately created by men. By putting herself out there in this collection of essays, Bolin allows the reader to identify with her as well as her message. She addresses everything from Swedish Noir to iconic literature to Susan Sontag to Britney Spears to Pretty Little Liars. There is no stone flipped over as the author examines why we continue focus on the sometimes macabre portrayal of women.
Before reading these essays, I was starting to formulate an idea. Now that I have read Bolin’s book, I think I was onto something. People say violence in video games and movies impact the actions of children and adults in real life. For some, they see a depiction of a fight, a suicide, or a murder and it triggers something in them. If this is the case, can’t the same be said for the way women are seen through the lens of a camera or paragraph in a book? Society has a plethora of options to see women being depicted as less than or worse yet the dead girl propped up for the story. Why are we still surprised woman are not making an equal wage or being treated as objects? It is all right there in front of us.
It is in the entertainment we all consume, including me. I read the books and watch the shows, even if I know better or can see there is a message being conveyed. I will admit, there are many strong female characters and icons for us to look up to, but there are far more out there which perpetuate a male fantasy. It is nice to see a slight change as more women are getting invited to the table, but we still have a long way to come.
There is a scene in DIETLAND on AMC where Plum walks into Margo’s room of porn. She sees these beautiful, perfect looking women being choked and forced to preform sex acts until they are sick. This is what people were watching at that very moment. The poor treatment of women is getting people off. There is something very wrong with this. Listen, I am all for owning what you want and if you want to choked or tied up, all power to you. But doesn’t it say something about our culture if this is what is searched for the most on a porn site? I know it is fiction, but as we all know, fiction is informed my reality.
All I am saying is…Alice Bolinstarts the conversation in DEAD GIRLS and we all need to continue it.
DEAD GIRLS by Alice Bolin
☕ ☕ ☕ ☕ ☕
My Highly Caffeinated Thought: A smart, honest, and in-depth analysis of our culture and the way women are treated.
In this poignant collection, Alice Bolin examines iconic American works from the essays of Joan Didion and James Baldwin to Twin Peaks, Britney Spears, and Serial, illuminating the widespread obsession with women who are abused, killed, and disenfranchised, and whose bodies (dead and alive) are used as props to bolster men’s stories. Smart and accessible, thoughtful and heartfelt, Bolin investigates the implications of our cultural fixations, and her own role as a consumer and creator.
Bolin chronicles her life in Los Angeles, dissects the Noir, revisits her own coming of age, and analyzes stories of witches and werewolves, both appreciating and challenging the narratives we construct and absorb every day. Dead Girls begins by exploring the trope of dead women in fiction, and ends by interrogating the more complex dilemma of living women – both the persistent injustices they suffer and the oppression that white women help perpetrate.
Reminiscent of the piercing insight of Rebecca Solnit and the critical skill of Hilton Als, Bolin constructs a sharp, perceptive, and revelatory dialogue on the portrayal of women in media and their roles in our culture.
About the Author: Alice Bolin is the author of Dead Girls (Morrow/HarperCollins), a collection of essays about crime, gender, and the American West. Her criticism, personal essays, and journalism have appeared in publications including Elle, Salon, Racked, The Awl, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Paris Review online, and The New Yorker's Page-Turner blog. Her poems have been published in Guernica, Washington Square, Blackbird, and Ninth Letter, among many other journals. She is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Nonfiction at the University of Memphis. Her website is alicebolin.com.
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 26, 2018)
Reviewer Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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