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WST 398 final paper

WST 398 final paper - Sikiru Adesina WST 398 Prof Hesford...

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Sikiru Adesina WST 398 1/5/09 Prof. Hesford. The Water Melon Woman as Prosthetic Memory and Counter Memory This paper will examine the film “The watermelon woman” by Cheryl Dunye and discuss its elements with the consideration of prosthetic memory and counter memory. The essay “Found Footage: Feminism Lost in Time” by Dana Heller tackles the concept of found footage but more critical to this essay, prosthetic memory, “a term that describes the way American mass cultural technologies reconstruct the individual's relationship both to their own memories and to the archive of collective cultural memories” (Heller, 87). This, along with classroom discussions, will be my referent point for understanding prosthetic memory. I will also discuss the film through the lens of counter memory as I have it understood after reading chapter nine of George Lipsitz’s “Time Passages.” Heller explains that prosthetic memory “has no roots in any organic, individual experience, but rather works to mold subjectivity through simulation and reenactment” (Heller, 88). The watermelon woman as a film does a wonderful job of constructing a false reality in which Faye 'The Watermelon Woman' Richards exists as a functioning member of America’s film history. The watermelon woman never existed. She is a fabricated instrument of the Cheryl Dunye’s imagination yet I was fooled into believing that she lived as a lesbian trying to make a name for herself in the same world that I inhabit, at least until the last scenes of the movie. This is what makes this film a great example of prosthetic memory. The performance of Cheryl
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Dunye and her co-stars on their adventure was over the top, poorly acted and at times ridiculous that I was tricked into believing in Richards as a real person. One would think that all these negatives will remove from the quality of the movie but on the contrary it is a well calculated strategy by the director that is in one word, genius. The adventures of Cheryl (the character) juxtaposed with the acting of Faye Richards, highlighted the experience of Richards and made her appear as a more credible actor and a result, tangible person. I found myself thinking, “She has to be real or else her acting would be as bad as the others.” The dreadful acting was crucial to Faye Richards' story as prosthetic memory. Prosthetic memory is a relevant source of teaching for a major reason, although it is manually engineered and not a natural reality, it stimulates thought and provokes an intelligent questioning in an audience about very real circumstances. Heller states that prosthetic feminism has a “future influence on our concepts of culture and national belonging” (Heller, 88). This is an
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