Announcing the Misunderstood Blog-a-thon: May 16-20, 2007

(We have begun! Misunderstood Blog-a-thon Central is here!)

Gene Hackman: Forever 'Misunderstood'Have you ever read or heard a discussion of a movie that made you think, They just don’t get it? Have you ever wondered, Am I the only person who saw the movie that way?

Culture Snob is hosting a forum for essays, arguments, and provocations on misunderstood movies. The blog-a-thon will run Wednesday, May 16, through Sunday, May 20, although I won’t turn my nose up at contributions that arrive before then. All contributions are listed here.

The premise is that movies are marketed and evaluated coarsely and simplistically, and that they often contain a richness that’s never mined by critics and casual audiences. Films operate on many levels, and subtle motifs, buried symbols, and seemingly awkward filmmaking choices are sometimes the keys that unlock new meanings. Is E.T. really a sophisticated exploration of diaspora? If “Rosebud” is both a sled and a clitoris, what does Citizen Kane say about sexual development among boys? How does the story of Pinocchio inform The Fisher King?

Give me your rigorous readings, your idiosyncratic analysis, and your silly, half-baked ideas.

My vision is that contributions will generally avoid a critical reevaluation of the quality of a work; Jim Emerson’s Contrarianism Blog-a-thon and the Bleeding Tree’s Trashy Movie Celebration Blog-a-thon did excellent jobs in that arena. My interest is primarily in textual reading, but how you react to the prompt is out of my hands.

There are three ways to participate in the Misunderstood Blog-a-thon:

  • Write an offbeat interpretation of a movie.
  • Contribute links to previously published online essays (no matter who wrote them) that offer unconventional readings of movies.
  • Participate in the discussion in the comments.

Send links via e-mail to, through the feedback form, or in the comments to this post. If you don’t have an existing forum on which to publish your essay, e-mail it to me, and I’ll post it on Culture Snob.

Here are a few examples from Culture Snob and elsewhere that might prompt some ideas and get the juices flowing:

Eyes Wide Shut and mind-control experiments: “Many people unfamiliar with the subtleties of mind control will be utterly perplexed with the allegorical symbolism in Eyes Wide Shut.” (From; suggested by Doug Nelson.)

The gayness of The Departed: “Costello and Sullivan are closeted homosexuals.” (From Jim Emerson’s Scanners blog.)

The true desires of Donnie Darko: “He’s sexually fixated on his older sister and can’t admit it — even to himself.” (By Jim Emerson, from

The sexuality of Pan’s Labyrinth. (From the Culture Snob archives.)

Land of the Dead as a call for revolt. (From the Culture Snob archives.)

American Beauty as a teen’s fantasy. (From the Culture Snob archives.)

The roundabout way of Atom Egoyan’s Ararat. (From the Culture Snob archives.)

The sophisticated study of corruption in Batman Begins. (From the Culture Snob archives.)

Why Dogville isn’t anti-American. (From the Culture Snob archives.)

Thanks for the invite. I’m wracking my brain for something.
you should put the news up at


Thanks for the tip; it’s done. Hope to see you around these parts next month.

Sign me up! Sounds terrific.

Sign me up! I know what I’ll do, finally... So, Wednesday is it? Okay, okay. This is good.


We start Wednesday and run through Sunday. My plan is to have an introductory post up Tuesday, and contribute one short essay a day myself — you know, in case nobody else decides to participate.

I look forward to your offering.

Well, you won’t be completely alone here, CS. I’ve got something cooking on a “It’s Always Fair Weather.”


I look forward to reading your entry. And I’m glad I won’t be alone.

Great site you got, have a look at when you get time ;)!

Andy: While we appreciate (and indulge in) self-promotion as much as anybody, it’s a good idea to post comments that in some way relate to the content of the entry to which you’re responding. Some unsolicited advice, in lieu of deleting your comment.

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