This video reproduces media reports of sexual violence.
This critical supercut revisits my previous compilation of record playing moments in American Independent Cinema – it might make sense to watch this here first if you don’t know it. The original cut operates according to a pleasure principle, choreographing its images every more ornately to an accelerating indie soundtrack. This version confronts the fact that a number of the films in my corpus involve contributions from (nearly all) men who have been accused of abuse (usually sexual violence against women). Despite the discourse around American Independent Cinema as a progressive space, its production culture has proven as toxic as the mainstream’s, arguably more so, given the centrality of Harvey Weinstein within the rise-of-Indiewood narrative and the association of independent filmmaking with ‘risk-taking’ practices.
This alternative cut gets stuck in the groove each time it encounters a film associated with someone accused of abuse in a media report, as catalogued by the Rotten Apples website. On the one hand, this act of disruption points to the problem of dealing with any body of films made in an abusive production context; on the other, it might suggest particular issues with this subset of movies and with the research processes that led to me constructing such a corpus (processes which were limited by my own biases, the information about relevant movies available in the public sphere and the availability of films on accessible online platforms or commercially available physical media).
The revelation of the corpus as a compromised one is only one intention of the video. It also (literally) centres the critical work that has been done to rethink the way we evaluate films and construct canons in the #MeToo context. Additionally, it foregrounds on the audio track a positive account of an independent filmmaking process voiced by Jennifer Proctor, chronicling the making and distribution of her misogyny-exposing critical supercut, ‘Nothing a Little Soap and Water Can’t Fix’. With different information appearing simultaneously through different channels, the video invites the viewer to make decisions over what to watch (and listen to), encouraging the self-conscious state of spectatorship promoted in the cited critical writing.
The Rotten Apples database is updated all the time. The screengrabs reflect the website as it stood in early February 2020. The editorial guidelines for the site are here.
Jennifer Proctor’s ‘Nothing a Little Soap and Water Can’t Fix’ is available on Vimeo on Demand here – all proceeds go to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund.
Jennifer’s interview with Will DiGravio on The Video Essay Podcast is here.