On the Road Again with Thelma & Louise (1991)

THELMA & LOUISE (1991)

To view Thelma & Louise click here.

I recently showed Thelma & Louise in one of my film history courses. I had never shown the film in a class before, and I had not seen it for over a decade. Most of the students had never seen it, though they knew the basic story. Referenced for over 25 years in talk-show monologues, sitcoms and The Simpsons (1989-2017), Thelma & Louise has become an iconic tale of female frustration and dissatisfaction with the patriarchal status quo. In a way, that identity does the film a disservice, reducing it to a feminist rant. But, Thelma & Louise, which is currently streaming on FilmStruck, is so much more. I had forgotten just how well crafted and entertaining it was until I re-viewed it with my students, who smiled, laughed, and sat on the edge of their seats as the characters’ misadventures escalated.

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Department Store Movies: A $ign of Our Times

Whether in the news, online, or around the water cooler, more attention was paid to Black Friday than to Thanksgiving this year. What used to be an unacknowledged tradition for mainstream America—women shopping the day after Thanksgiving while men watched football—has now become a barometer of the American economy. Retailers and their corporate masters outdid themselves in the sheer volume of advertising for Black Friday in the hopes of whipping up the masses into a shopping frenzy. Early bird sales turned into midnight sales, and shoppers revealed the ugly side to this new “holiday” in the stampedes, fights, and pepper-spray incidents that marked Black Friday 2011.

I remember when shopping in the big department stores was festive and fun. Each year, I was able to tap into the Christmas Spirit in the big department stores, which were always decked out in colorful holiday decorations, as I took my time pondering over my gift purchases. Undoubtedly, I was seeing the experience through the haze of memories of Hollywood movies, which have mythologized the department store as an important American social institution. Somewhere along the way, holiday shopping ceased to be festive and fun, but I continue to expect that my shopping experiences will be like those in Miracle on 34th Street or A Christmas Story. The ugly stories of Black Friday mayhem and madness inspired me to poke around the history of department stores and their depiction in the movies, not only in Christmas films but in all genres.

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