". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Monday, December 10, 2018

Killing Eve: Villainous Villain Villanelle Is Not Orphan Black's Helena BBC / BBC America 2018

     . . . . Killing Eve was a US - British critics' favorite 2018 television series - perhaps even more favorite than Body Guard, centering Robb Stark Richard Madden, which is all about a guy.

Commonly these are the words used by the critics to describe Killing Eve:

Stylish, Snappy, Sharp, Snazzy, Sophisticated, Sexy, Smart.

Also: Light-hearted, Urbane, Cosmopolitan, Entertaining.  

 Myself, I would add Short (Thank Goodness!).  Preposterous (O! so Preposterous -- see: Short, Thank Goodness!). 

Killing Eve has been billed as the #MeToo Moment thriller, original, different, centering women. 

But it seems to me that it owes most to the very old (by now) Kill Bill, Vols. 1 & 2, 2003 and 2004, in which there are several extremely gruesome set piece fights to the grisley, ghastly finish. In Vol. 1 these take place between Uma Thurman's The Bride's character, and two different Asian killers, and an African American killer.  

Uma Thurman's Bride fights Gogo Yubari as O-Ren Ishii aka Cottonmouth, in Kill Bill Vol. I; totally male-gazey.
The killer antagonists here are played by Lucy Liu and Chiaki Kuriyama, and by Vivica Fox as the African American mom in suburban home complete with small daughter.

Uma Thurman, Kill Bill, Vol. I

Jodie Comer, Villanelle, Killing Eve.

The difference between these and Killing Eve is the reversal that the antagonist is the blonde Uma Thurman look-alike, Jodie Comer's Villanelle, and it is the Asian Sandra Oh's Eve, who is the protagonist. 

Helena, Orphan Black 2013-2017 -- if  you have not yet watched the 5 seasons of Orphan Black, do it now! played as are all the female clones by Tatiana Maslany; definitely not male-gazey.

It also seems that another big influence has been another BBC America series, the truly brilliant and original, most definitely not male-gazey, Orphan Black. Villanelle is another super beautiful feral Russian young woman, super trained to be another super assassin-killer without basic human emotions, except what captures her attention. In Orphan Black's Helena, it is is her clone family 'seestras'; in Killing Eve it is Villanelle's obsession with Eve Polastri. The 'Russian-inflected' English both Helena and Villanelle speak provides a smoke screen, which conceals from the no-where near as intelligent and talented beholder, their feral, joyeous ammorality in wreaking death. 

the French detective of The Tunnel; 3 seasons 2013-2018; not male-gazey, or hardly at all.
French detective, Elise Wasssman, played by Clémence Poésey, in The Tunnel; not male-gazey, or hardly at all.

This might also be owed something from the more recent fixation of other hyper violent television series like the BBC's 3-season The Tunnel (2013-2018) to center other female hyper intelligent and effective characters who are asperger-direct, socially dysfunctional, incapable of concealing or veiling their wants and desires, speaking their opinions of one and all to their faces.

Daryl Hannah as Priscilla in Blade Runner (1982), doing what she does so well; definitely male-gazey.

There also might be a bit in Villanelle too, of Daryl Hannah's Replicant character, Priscilla, from the first Blade Runner film. 

These characters all speak their minds without polite or politic directness, which, of course, women are never supposed to do. Thus viewers' delight, presumably. 

My own sense of Killing Eve is that the sum of its parts amounts to very little. It's only these two women, Secret Service Eve, and assassin-for-hire run by Russians, Villanelle, the series is interested in. We are not even sure by the end if Villanelle ultimately works for the Russian government, a Russian mafia family or our criminal global consortium of big business and government. Nobody seems to be concerned about that. It's Eve's and Villanelle's hunt for each other is the plot. The other characters matter only as far as they aid, abet or interfere with the hunt. 

However, it is effortless entertainment-distraction (see: Amoral,  Light-hearted), without the on-screen Kill Bills' wallow in gore. The worst stuff is all, thank goodness, performed off screen. There's really no nudity or overt sex either, i.e. lack of male-gaze priorities, though there are a variety of male characters . 

There will be will be a season 2 of Killing Eve.

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