Tag Archives: rachel sexton

More than Mammy: The Life of Hattie McDaniel

The situation for African-American actors in Hollywood is a constant topic of discussion in the industry, and for good reason because it needs improvement. (Remember the #OscarsSoWhite controversy a couple years back?) Black History Month seems like the perfect time to look back at the past for a source of inspiration that black actors working today can utilize going forward. The first African-American Oscar nominee and winner was Hattie McDaniel for 1939’s Gone With the Wind. She won for Best Supporting Actress. Hattie McDaniel’s Academy Award win is an undeniable example of why she is a fascinating pioneer. Continue reading More than Mammy: The Life of Hattie McDaniel


Back to the… Present?


Time travel is a well-used and familiar trope of science-fiction narratives. It is such a useful plot device that the concept of time travel has appeared in stories with no other science-fiction elements in them. Often, the characters operate under the rule that any changes to the past will have a detrimental effect on the present. One exception to this is also one of the most successful and beloved films of all time. The Back to the Future trilogy allows its protagonists to not only change but improve the past, present, and future within the story. Continue reading Back to the… Present?

A Madding Crowd of Suitors


The years of history known as the Victorian era offer readers a plethora of literary possibilities to choose from and enjoy. Many impressive and essential efforts from authors of both genders from England and America have endured through the years. This period was before the world made much progress towards women’s equality, however, and one author couldn’t help but be a product of his times. Thomas Hardy wrote novels that remain in the public consciousness despite their often downbeat endings. One of Hardy’s happiest endings is in his fourth novel, Far From the Madding Crowd. In it, the three suitors represent patriarchal archetypes to guide women in their choices regarding the opposite sex. Continue reading A Madding Crowd of Suitors

Small and Mighty: Golda Meir


Even now, in the 21st century, the sight of a woman occupying a nation’s highest political office is rare. The examples of such women throughout history is a low number. Their names (Margaret Thatcher, Indira Ghandi) should be familiar to everyone, and it’s sad the United States has not yet added a name to that list. (Hopefully someday soon!) They all contributed something important to the world, and Golda Meir was one of them. Golda Meir left a legacy in a male-dominated field just as complicated and inspiring as any man’s. Continue reading Small and Mighty: Golda Meir

Destiny at High Noon


More than any other genre of film, the aspect that defines the Western the most is setting. It’s right there in the name—western. The open, often arid vistas of the western United States in the mid- and late-1800s provided the backdrop for a distinctly American type of story, where men instilled justice and order in a lawless land. Many films have filled in this genre and made a lasting impression. One is High Noon. Every element reflects the story’s themes of time, loyalty, and cowardice. Continue reading Destiny at High Noon

Magic in a Bottle: Aladdin and the One Thousand and One Nights


Stories all come from somewhere. Our beloved fairytales originated in the oral storytelling tradition that thrived for centuries before the written word. Though the Grimm brothers have gained the most notoriety and familiarity for writing these tales down, hundreds of years earlier, various authors collected together stories from the Asian and Arabic world into One Thousand and One Nights. Also called Arabian Nights, this extensive work is full of well-known tales such as Aladdin. The film versions of Aladdin show how One Thousand and One Nights contains examples of classic fairytale themes. Continue reading Magic in a Bottle: Aladdin and the One Thousand and One Nights

“Do I Offend?”: Duckie in Pretty in Pink


Sidekicks as a type of character prove to be very interesting. They are not the lead character of a story but they can often be so entertaining that the audience comes to care about them just as much or maybe even more than the main character. Many times, the comedy in a story can come from the hero or heroine’s best friend, and this can result in some of the viewer’s favorite moments. The same can be said of the actors who play these characters. Lead actors may get more attention but the appeal of a supporting performer cannot be underestimated. Pretty in Pink provides a sidekick like this in the teen genre. Duckie in Pretty in Pink becomes a classic secondary character through the use of style and humor. Continue reading “Do I Offend?”: Duckie in Pretty in Pink

Forceful Females: The Women of Star Wars


The science-fiction genre has long been a source for the Strong Female Character on movie screens. Ripley in the Alien franchise, Sarah Connor from The Terminator, and the Tomb Raider herself are just a few examples. Other types of film could take a cue from sci-fi about how to elevate women’s roles, particularly with regard to the amount of screen time in which they get to do some action. Even when details that aren’t true to our reality make up part of the story, these characters can feel very authentic to viewers and act as inspirations for girls in the audience. There is one film series that has excelled at presenting its leading female characters: Star Wars. Whether they are endowed with the abilities of the Force or not, the women in the Star Wars saga exhibit moral strength and physical courage. Continue reading Forceful Females: The Women of Star Wars

Gone Gothic: The Turn of the Screw



Typically, the horror genre can be separated into the slasher type of story and the psychological thriller. This is true in the mediums of both literature and film. One is defined by the fact that the audience is shown all the violence and gore, while the other revels in the power of suggestion. An even further focusing of genre leads fans of psychological scares into the realm of the Gothic ghost story. Setting is a key characteristic of this type of tale (an isolated place, usually a large house, often in Victorian England), but a classic example of the genre also pioneers a narrative technique now popular in thrillers: the unreliable narrator. The Turn of the Screw achieves ambiguity and atmosphere through its use of an unreliable narrator and the story is all the more frightening because of it. Continue reading Gone Gothic: The Turn of the Screw

A Merry War: Romance in Much Ado About Nothing



For me, the reason William Shakespeare earns his reputation as one of the greatest writers in human history is a combination of form and function. The use of beautiful poetry as the method for crafting a fictional play is something special. The audience gets an entertaining story AND language that can often be memorable. Add to this the deft observation of the universalities of the human experience that he was able to convey and it was inevitable  Shakespeare would reach a measure of immortality. This observation occurs in both tragedies and comedies, and today’s audiences can often easily spot the influences Shakespeare leaves behind in the entertainment of the present day. Much Ado About Nothing, for example, pioneered the bickering lovers archetype that continues to enchant romantic comedy lovers today. Continue reading A Merry War: Romance in Much Ado About Nothing