Interview with MA Film Studies Thesis student, Jordan Parish "/>

With host Stephanie MacDonell

Stephanie: Hey Jordan

Jordan: Hi Stephanie

Stephanie: How are you?

Jordan: I’m fine, how are you?

Stephanie: So tell me about your work, what are you working on right now?

Jordan: I’m doing my thesis on Japanese Horror films made at the turn of the 21st century. I’m looking at what’s called the “undead subject”, it deals with the undead figures in Japanese horror films. There’s this distinction between two different modes of being, two different relations to a lost object. I’m trying to incorporate that into what this undead subject is and what these different films portray the undead subject as, in figures. I’m looking at the popular J-horror movies, like Ringu, Ju-on:Grudge, films by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, he did Pulse and Cure. Lot’s of writing and rewriting, researching but it’s good. Coming out of it it’s a nice feeling, being really learned in a certain topic.

Stephanie: So I know you are taking a language course as well: Japanese. How’s that going? Are you finding connections between what you are doing in your thesis right now and studying the language?

Jordan: It’s going alright. You do notice some things within the films. There’s the move by Kurosawa, Pulse, throughout the movie he frames characters in this way that looks like a certain kanji within a box. The movie is about being unable to get out of this box, all about entrapment. So learning what the kanji means, as a symbol or a picture in a sense…

Stephanie: So what are some of the films that you are teaching in your class: 21st Century Cinematic Fantasies?

Jordan: Well those movies, the J-horror films. We are looking at 21st Century films that involve fantasy figures like a ghost or imaginary figure. For instance, in Fight Club the character Tyler Durden is a figure of the masculine ideal. These are psychoanalytic ideals of the figural representation of subjectivity. In the summer I’m teaching films in the 2010s, we are going to focus on the gaze and performance. I tried to pick films that focus on some type of performance, like Black Swan for example. Then there’s La La Land, a musical, but also about different types of performances. What else… Abbas Kiarostami’s movies…and Holy Motors. That movie is like Holy Motors, it involves some sort of relation to God and religion but then at the same time it’s about a guy who’s an actor and he’s able to perform and change his performance, he’s able to change his self.

Stephanie: What’s been your overall experience in teaching here? Like coming up with courses and teaching your own solo classes.

Jordan: It’s been great, great that OU lets you teach your own class. That’s awesome, I don’t know if you can find that in the larger schools, that make you just TA once in your whole grad career…I don’t know if they actually make you do that… but there’s a lot of opportunity for that at OU and it’s great. It gives you a lot of experience.

Stephanie: Are you plugging the school? (Laughs)

Jordan: (Laughs) Hey! Yeah!

Stephanie: So you took some Film Studies courses in your undergrad, what was your main focus in your undergrad?

Jordan: European cinema really. That’s was set me on course with psychoanalysis. My teacher started us off with Jung. So I started with Carl Jung but then I talked with people and read more and discovered he was…bullshit (laughs)…so I switched.

Stephanie: That’s funny, which psychoanalytic theorists do you work with now?

Jordan: I’ve been working with Joan Copjec or Todd McGowan.

Stephanie: Oh yeah! And you got a chance to meet Copjec last semester when she was visiting!

Jordan: Yeah, her work and what she’s talking about is really interesting with Iranian cinema. She looks at how Iranian cinema contrasts with Western cinema, the cinema that’s total exposure and then Iranian cinema that she calls a “modesty culture”. She doesn’t say one’s better than the other but digs into both and how they can be looked at together. It’s really interesting.

Stephanie: She works Kiarostami’s films, which you are teaching over the summer.

Jordan: I’m trying to, if you’ve ever seen his movies, they’re weird: half documentary, half fiction.

Stephanie: Yeah like 10 or Taste of Cherry.

Jordan: Yeah!

Stephanie: So tell me about the papers have you written, or seminar papers while you have been here?

Jordan: Hmm…I’ve written like a hundred pages on The Grudge for different classes.

Stephanie: That’s one of your thesis films too….cheater!

Jordan: Hey! No I want it on the record that I say different things in every one… (laughs)….leave me alone!


Stephanie: Well that’s totally going in the interview.

Jordan: I’ve written on New German Cinema, I’ve written a lot on Far From Heaven. That movie has connections to Fassbinder and he’s another director that I’m a freak about. And he has those connections to Douglas Sirk that I write about. The World was another, which is also all about performance.

Stephanie: So you’re planning on continuing psychoanalysis after you graduate and maybe enter a PhD program?

Jordan: Probably, if, well who knows, but I’d like to if possible. I also am working with Deleuze, that’s something that I’ve picked up here. I had never heard of Deleuze. Those Cinema books are just ridiculous. You can just read like two sentences and use it for an entire paper. That was my European cinemas paper on New German Cinema. I have a lot of different interests and like a lot of different films. I could just sit here and talk about old movies. I saw La La Land, I thought that was nice, not just for the musical thing but its own take on the musical I thought was nice. I’ve mostly been watching older movies on my own time (leans into the recorder) like Shock Corridor (laughs) that needs to be advertised, that movie’s ridiculous. It’s about people from the 1950s who have…this guy is a news reporter and he’s trying to do a report on a man who was murdered in an asylum, so he’s going to do this by going undercover as an inmate in an asylum and he’s going to do this without going crazy…somehow. He goes in there and he talks to the other inmates, like on who was the first black student to be in an all white integrated school and he’s gone insane from all the things that had happened to him and there’s other people who he talks to. It’s a big social commentary on 1950s culture.

I mean, if you just see these movies that Deleuze talks about in his books, they’re all awesome, even the really old ones. Like Johnny Guitar! You guys watched that one in Louis’ Settler Colonialism & Western course. That movie was ridiculous, holy shit. The scene when the two main characters get back together, it’s just…gorgeous…There’s a lot of old silent movies that are awesome. They just don’t get a lot of credit unfortunately.