Adaptation as Salvage – Retrieving the Past’s Cultural Values in a Post-Feminist Present
Imelda Whelehan writes that, when we adapt, we frequently remake the story in our own image, rather than with reference to the values of the past. By this, she means that when we encounter ideas from the past that are unpalatable to our contemporary sensibilities – such as historic ideas about race or gender – we rewrite them to align with our more contemporary egalitarian ideals. This paper argues that, while this is true, there are also instances where we celebrate the values of the past and where adapters can be said to be contributing to a project that attempts to rewrite the present with reference to the cultural values of the past. I suggest that this celebration of the past is not always about looking back with rose tinted glasses or being nostalgic: it can also be about retrieving something that is missing from or there is a lack of representation of in contemporary culture. I particularly want to argue that Victorian ideals about female friendship, female community, and mother-daughter relationships are a strong focus of adaptations: novels and stories that feature these themes have been selected for adaptation by writers interested in exploring these relationships in a contemporary culture where there is a dearth of depictions of such relationships between women. I will suggest that these representations of female homosocial relationships are important in the post-feminist climate in which we currently exist, where feminism is seen as obsolete: such representations can work to offer examples of female affection and solidarity in a culture where these ideas are not often explored.
Rohan Harry Swamy
The co-dependency conundrum: Understanding the dynamics of the Superhero-Supervillian relationship through the Batman and Joker
In the summer of 1939, the May issue of Detective Comics, (#27) artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger introduced, what was to become a legendary icon of sorts, the Bat-Man. Almost a year later, in April 1940, both, Kane and Finger collaborated once again along with artist Kerry Robinson to introduce another iconic character, and the arch-nemesis of the Bat-Man, the Joker.
Seven and a half decades later, the comic characters, which have spawned a series of animated and live action film franchises, and television series, merchandise, fan films amongst others, have gone on to cement their statuses as pop-culture icons the world over. The Joker, infact, holds the distinction of being one of the very few super-villians whose popularity if not exceeding, is equal to that of his arch nemisis, and has only strengthened over time.
Through this paper we aim to research and read into the psyche of the two characters, their continuing co-dependent relationship, and how over the decades, trying to tamper with the core essence of that relationship has almost sounded the death knell for the superhero franchise.
To understand the nature of the relation that these two characters have, one needs to go deep into the roots of the creation of both of them individually and understand what makes or breaks them. For instance in the case of the Batman, or his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, his grief over the events of one bad day, vis-a-vis the mugging and shooting of his parents in Crime Alley, transforms his life inexplicably, pulling him away from a life of normalcy to that of battling crime and criminals, who have been instrumental for rot setting in, in Gotham city’s cultural fabric.