The majority of critics have seen The Americans as a show about relationships and marriage, a view reinforced by the show’s creator, Joe Weisberg. But to me, regardless of the creator’s intentions, it’s a text about eighties politics and the decline of the traditional left in the US.
One of the key tenets of historical studies is that memory is political. What and how we remember certain events speaks volumes not only about those events, but also about the sociohistorical spaces in which those events played out, as well as the spaces in which the events are remembered. I am most interested in the way that the Beaumont children’s disappearance has been framed as symbolic of national innocence lost.
One of precious few Italian films to deal with the pre-war Fascist period, and most especially with the acme of Mussolini’s popularity, Ettore Scola’s Una Giornata Particolare (A Special Day) takes place entirely within the confines of a tenement complex known as Palazzo Federici in Rome. Watching the film again during the week of Scola’s death in late January, and being familiar with the story, I find that my attention is drawn not to the characters but to the buildings themselves.
Of course it’s true that transgender women don’t experience menstruation. I don’t think that’s very interesting, of itself: plenty of cis women don’t either. Nor, for that matter, do all women experience the following: childbirth, lactation, penetrative vaginal intercourse, bikini waxing, swooning over Colin Firth in a wet white shirt, wearing lipstick, and so on. And yet all of these are variously held up as universal – or definitive – experiences of womanhood in popular discourse. The shorthand we use for formative girlhood experiences privileges the white, middle class, heterosexual stories of cis girls in the Anglosphere.
I come from a family of Appalachian moonshiners who lived in obscurity in the Cumberland Gap of Tennessee. There in the poverty above the coal mines they smoked, chewed tobacco and drank in remote little bars, until bleary-eyed and swooning they staggered back into their rust-bucket cars and made their way on unlit, unpaved paths, through the hills back to their homes.