From Slasher Films to Reality TV - From Betty Friedan to Dr. Phil, a Glossary for 'Rapture, Blister, Burn'

As one of our sneak-peek audience members stated, there is some "powerful dialogue" in Gina Gionfriddo's Rapture, Blister, Burn! Catherine's summer seminar certainly packs-in quite a bit of information and the conversation among the students is filled with references ranging from slasher films of the 1970s to Reality Television - from Betty Friedan to Dr. Phil. We thought it might be helpful to give you a short primer - a "refresher" if you will - on some of the key references made in Rapture, Blister, Burn.

A Glossary for Audiences

- Rapture Blister Burn.  In an interview with Tim Sanford, playwright Gina Gionfriddo explains the inspiration behind the title of her play, 'Rapture, Blister, Burn.'

"It's a little piece of the chorus from a song called 'Use Once and Destroy' [by Courtney Love's band Hole]. And it sounds to me like it’s about [Kurt] Cobain. It says, “Take your rapture, blister, burn. Stand in line, it’s not your turn.” There’s a resentment theme that runs through her songs after his death. It’s kind of like, “Yeah, I love you, but your suicide really stole my spotlight.” I think it’s a song about wanting to be first and not forevermore the widow in the shadow of greatness. I always loved that tension in her lyrics. She has a great lyric in that song, “I will follow you anytime anywhere.” And it’s a great lyric, I think, because it means (I think) two things simultaneously. I love you enough to follow you everywhere and also…It sucks that my story will always be a footnote to yours.”

- Raunch feminism. Raunch culture is a term coined by feminist Adrienne Levy in her book, Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture (2005). Raunch culture refers to the over-sexualized culture of the United States which not only objectifies women, but also encourages women to objectify themselves in the (false) belief that this is a form of female empowerment.

- Abu Ghraib and internet pornography. The influence that pornographic images have had on the prison abuses at Abu Graib is analyzed by Carmine Sarracino and Kevin M. Scott in their book The Porning of America: The Rise of Porn Culture, What It Means, and Where We Go From Here (2009). Their book argues, generally, that “we no longer have to purchase pornography to get porn because we increasingly live porn in our daily lives.” They contend that, to make the most of our hard-won sexual freedom, we must thoughtfully-and honestly-evaluate what is both liberating and damaging about porn.

- The Feminine Mystique and Betty Friedan. Betty Friedan’s 1963 “Feminine Mystique” is arguably the best known feminist text to date, and is often thought of as the foundation of second wave feminism in the US. Friedan believed that “the feminine mystique”—a term she coined to refer to the cultural belief that women could only find true happiness by fulfilling their femininity as wives and mothers—had succeeded in scaring women away from pursuing careers.

- The Feminist split over porn. This debate in the late 1980s/early 1990s grew out of the work of Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin. They were criticized by liberal feminists for their alliances with conservative politicians in service of their anti-pornography agendas

- Phyllis Schlafly. Phyllis Schlafly (born August 15, 1924) is an American constitutional lawyer, conservative activist, author, and founder of the Eagle Forum. She is known for her staunch social and political conservatism, her opposition to modern feminism and for her campaign against the proposed Equal Rights Amendment. Schlafly argues that although her feminist opponents seek to minimize the differences between men and women, “they will have to take up their complaint with God,” because “no other power” can alter the fundamental and necessary differences between men and women 

- Anita Bryant Anita Jane Bryant (born March 25, 1940) is an American singer, former Miss Oklahoma beauty pageant winner, former spokeswoman (brand ambassador) for the Florida Citrus Commission (marketing orange juice), and outspoken critic of homosexuality. She later became known for her strong opposition to homosexuality and for her 1977 "Save Our Children" campaign to repeal a local ordinance in Dade County, Florida, that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, an involvement that significantly affected her popularity and career in show business.

- Equal Rights Amendment.  The proposed amendment states:

  • Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
  • Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
  • Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

The statements above comprise the entire text of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), affirming the equal application of the U.S. Constitution to both females and males.  The ERA was written in 1923 by Alice Paul, suffragist leader and founder of the National Woman's Party.  Despite being introduced into every session of Congress between 1923 and 1972 (and again in 2007-2008), it has yet to be passed.

- Nancy Friday. (Born August 27, 1933). An American author who has written on the topics of female sexuality and liberation. Her writings argue that the “ideal of womanhood” and social expectations are outdated and unrepresentative of many women’s inner lives, specifically when it comes to sex. In the 1960s she started writing about women’s sexuality to try to contradict the idea that women do not have sexual fantasies.

- Carol Clover. Born in 1940, Clover is an American professor of film studies, rhetoric language and Scandinavian mythology. Her 1992 book Men, Women and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film achieved popularity beyond academia. She is responsible for the “final girl theory” that Avery discusses at the end of the play which changed popular and academic conceptions of gender in horror films.

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