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Peter Whitehead and Niki de Saint Phalle's Daddy (1973)

Bourke, Joanna (2011) Peter Whitehead and Niki de Saint Phalle's Daddy (1973). Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media 52 (2), pp. 622-637. ISSN 1559-7989.

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Trauma has become the central motif of modernity. The two world wars reduced enlightenment beliefs in the glorious possibilities of humanity to rubble; the holocaust and the threat of nuclear annihilation stripped even that rubble of any meaning. For many Europeans and Americans in the 1960s and 1970s, the dark world of suffering that had been forged in the first half of the twentieth century was ready to be contested. While the world created by daddies was steeped in trauma, daughters became seduced by apocalyptic fantasies of overturning the oppressive triptych of patriarchy, religion, and the military-industrial complex (MIC). Peter Whitehead and Niki de Saint Phalle's 1973 film Daddy (UK) was an angry retort to oppressive regimes, particularly that most destructive one of childhood sexual abuse. But its power lies equally in its ambivalence and, in the end, its profound negativity. While Whitehead and de Saint Phalle resolutely sought to free representations of women from the triad of narcissism, masochism, and passivity, insisting that the feminine is home to the full range of aggressive and sexual drives, they also stripped away even the most facile hopes for a better world. In this, Whitehead and de Saint Phalle joined other creative radicals of the 1960s and 1970s (such as poets like Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, who wrote eloquently about both female resistance and resignation in the face of paternal sexual abuse) in presenting a pessimistic account of late modernity.

Item Type: Article
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > History, Classics and Archaeology
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2012 13:52
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2016 11:59

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