Author Archives: Deborah Krieger

Live from the Lilith Blog

April 13, 2018 by

How Should Jewish Feminists Relate to Tarantino?

When I’m not overthinking popular culture, I study art history. It’s been my passion since I was 10, and it hasn’t abated over the years. My younger self was given a short guide to five artists of the Italian Renaissance, and immediately was captivated not only by the gorgeous work of Botticelli, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Fra Angelico, but also by the men themselves and the times they lived in.

Several years later, I read The Agony and the Ecstasy, the highly fictionalized “biographical novel” about Michelangelo, which traces his life from around age 14 until his death. For me, the attraction wasn’t just about Michelangelo’s incredibly passionate and deeply humanistic paintings and sculptures, but about how these works told us so much about the man himself—about his thundering temper (memorably captured by Charlton Heston in the film adaptation of the book), his stirring love for God and mankind alike, his fascination with the (male) human body, his self-critical nature, his inability to be satisfied.

For those of us who study art history, especially historical art history, learning about great works is more often than not accompanied by familiarization with the person who made those works. In many cases, separating the art from the artist, as the dictum goes, leads to a fractured decontextualization of the body of work. When you treat works of art (or work in any media, for that matter) as divorced from the person whose mind, heart, and body conceived them, when you treat them as if they simply dropped from the sky, fully-formed, into our laps, something important is lost.

  • No Comments
  •  

Live from the Lilith Blog

December 27, 2017 by

Loved the New Star Wars? Here’s a Jewish, Feminist Angle to Consider

the-last-jedi-theatrical-poster-film-page_bca06283Note: This essay contains spoilers.

While Hanukkah has just wound down, there’s plenty of Maccabee spirit still floating around from a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. After all, as we’re told many, many times over the course of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the Resistance’s ship—now its sole bulwark against the fascistic First Order—only has several hours worth of fuel left. Defeat seems inevitable, and yet, of course, the Resistance manages to scrape together a victory, living to organize and fight another day.

For those of us in the audience who learned about the little jar of oil that provided enough light for eight nights, the Resistance’s fuel struggles certainly lent the usual underdog-versus-imperial forces a very Jewish flair. Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) even works as a would-be Judah Maccabee—at least, he sees himself as the kind of loose-cannon leader the Resistance needs in the face of what he perceives to be the passivity of Vice-Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern). Of course, it is Holdo whose careful strategizing and personal sacrifice (as well as judicious use of fuel) keep the Resistance from being completely destroyed by the sheer might and firepower of the First Order.

Women saving the day is a general theme in this film. In fact, The Last Jedi commendably has more women in central roles than any previous Star Wars movie. Apparently Leia was the only woman in all of the galaxy when she, Luke and Han were young and scrappy, fighting Darth Vader and hanging out with Ewoks. Having a whopping four women with major roles is a huge step forward. Even progressive Star Trek (both the original series and its big-screen reboot) only had one woman in the main Enterprise crew.

That said, it remains in question how effective, well-written, and engaging these female characters actually are, and the results do vary.

  • No Comments
  •