Episode 67. Where is my mind: The Stepford Wives (1975) and Get Out (2017)

This month, Andrea and Alex tackle two films whose hearts lie in the darkest, most secret parts of suburban utopia. In Bryan Forbes’ The Stepford Wives and Jordan Peele’s Get Out, we follow protagonists who are socialized to make room for the privileged and examine what happens when they strike back.

REQUIRED READING

The Stepford Wives. Dir Bryan Forbes, 1975.
Get Out. Dir Jordan Peele, 2017.

EXTRA CREDIT

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. The second-wave feminism manifesto that examines “the problem that has no name.”

The 21st century cult of domesticity. As relevant today as ever.

The Cyborg Mystique. Anna Krugovoy Silver’s examination of the opposing and overlapping views in The Feminine Mystique and The Stepford Wives.

How to Dress Like a Stepford Wife. Great fashion advice without a trace of irony.

On Photography by Susan Sontag. Sontag’s influential treatise on photography and its power.

Capitol Couture via ladyhellbat.com. In which Andrea gets her Hunger Games in a twist.

HORROR BLACKADEMICS: THE GET OUT (2017) SYLLABUS. Graveyard Shift Sister’s compilation of essays about Get Out.

The Horror, The Horror: “Get Out” And The Place of Race in Scary Movies. NPR’s Code Switch’s episode on Get Out and race in horror.

Jordan Peele on Why Get Out Is an Important Movie. Oprah’s interview with Jordan Peele.

‘Horror Noire’ Author Robin R. Means Coleman: The Horror News Network WiHM Interview. An interview with Means Coleman about horror, her book and Get Out.

Surveilling the City: Whiteness, the Black Man and Democratic Totalitarianism. John Fiske’s examination of the normalization of Whiteness through surveillance.

Whitopia: My Trip Through the Whitest Towns in America. Rich Benjamin’s TED talk about his experience living in the fast-growing white communities in America.

Why Hollywood’s White Savior Obsession Is an Extension of Colonialism. An examination of the problematic trope embedded in numerous popular films.

The White-Savior Industrial Complex. How the White Savior trope is embedded in day-to-day life.

LISTEN

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9 thoughts on “Episode 67. Where is my mind: The Stepford Wives (1975) and Get Out (2017)

  1. Hanna says:

    It’s true that that is 3rd wave feminism, but if you can do whatever then what is the point of it 🙁

  2. Deborah Fay says:

    You two do the best f’ing podcast out there. I can hardly wait for them to come out. Your commentary on racism is so enlightening

  3. nathan says:

    I’ve been a longtime listener but never commented here; I just wanted to thank you for the “extra credit” links — it’s so helpful for those of us wanting to dig deeper into the material. I truly appreciate it!

  4. Amie Ranum says:

    Goddamn I love you ladies so much. This episode was brilliant, and the sound editing at the end b/w Alex’s voice –> “Do you bleed?” –> The Pixies was the icing on the cake. THANK YOU for making this podcast.

  5. James Mayse says:

    I rewatched “The Stepford Wives” a couple months ago, and what really stood out for me this time is the level of the conspiracy against Joanna (and Bobbie, Charmaine and the other women).

    When Ted’s robot wife brings Walter and Joanna the casserole, Walter takes the pot back to and says, “she cooks as good as she looks, Ted.” That’s when I realized Walter knew what was going on in Stepford even before they moved there, and that making Joanna the “perfect housewife” is his dream.

    Late in the film, Joanna says her replacement will cook and clean but it won’t take pictures “and it won’t be me.” Frankly, that’s what Walter wants. As an actual, equal human being, Joanna has wants, frustrations and ambitions outside of her role as wife and mother. But Walter and the other men don’t want to deal with their wives as people — they just want docile, smiling robots who will, yes, cook and clean, while also faking it (loudly, if not exactly convincingly) during sex.

    I don’t know what’s more depressing — that Ira Levin and the director expected so little of their male characters, or that they were probably right, and that’s largely what men wanted back then.

    I really enjoyed the episode. Very interesting discussion.

  6. Minoo says:

    When I was lectured on Walter Benjamin back in college, my professor pronounced it “Ben-ya-min”. Anyone else want to weigh in?

    • As a professor I can state with certainty that you can’t trust everything we say – I had a sociology prof who pronounced our species as “HUMO SOPPEEANS” – I thought he had a speech impediment. I think the actual name “Benjamin” is English in derivation meaning “son of my right hand.” As such I suspect the “J” would be pronounced with the “je” rather than the “ye.” But, of course, I could be missing something 🙂

  7. Wonderful episode as always. I think I also sent an email but not sure it got through. Anyway, Joanna going back for her children reminded me of John Coffee in THE GREEN MILE saying Wild Bill killed the girls with their love for each other (he said if one screamed he’d kill the other -ugh!). Anyway, love creates hostages to fate as well as murderers. Love as a type of “beast” in that sense is worthy of reflection. My partner and I have 2 kids and the world became a scarier place after their birth. Also resonates with new Haunting of Hill House on Netflix – hope you cover that in future

  8. Paul Dann says:

    The Stepford Wives is part of a cycle of ’70s US horror based around older women (some of these women could even have been mothers to the final girls of the ’80s!)
    The women in these upmarket horror films, which were aimed at a general middle class audience and not just horror fans, were not defined by their relationship to physical violence like the heroines of the slashers, but through their interactions with family and friends.
    The cycle arguably begins in 1969 with Rosemary’s Baby (Mia Farrow) and includes:
    1971 The Mephisto Waltz (Jacqueline Bisset)
    1972 The Possession of Joel Delaney (Shirley MacLaine)
    1973 The Exorcist (Ellen Burstyn)
    1976 Burnt Offerings (Karen Black)
    1977 Audrey Rose (Marsha Mason)
    1977 Demon Seed (Julie Christie)
    1977 Full Circle (Mia Farrow, again)
    1977 The Sentinel (Cristina Raines)
    1978 Coma (Geneviève Bujold)
    1979 The Amityville Horror (the great Margot Kidder, who really deserves an episode of her own)
    It should be noted that a number of these films were based on novels which centred around the possession narrative from a female perspective (Rosemary’s Baby, The Mephisto Waltz, The Possession Of Joel Delaney, The Exorcist and Audrey Rose).
    I believe The Stepford Wives would really gain from being discussed in relation to this film cycle which gave a new prominence to women in US horror.
    I hope you will cover some of the titles in the above list in future episodes.

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