Media Assignment Final Reflection

I watched The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018) earlier this year after it was released to DVD and was unsure why I walked away with mixed feelings about the film. In order to better understand my own interpretations of the film’s success, I analyzed other audience and critic reactions across various platforms. When researching, I tried to find diverse opinions on the film that would offer a different perspective than my own. Each review offered a new perspective that I did not consider in my original viewing of Miseducation while also reflecting some of my own observations on the stronger or weaker aspects of the film. Often, I found that reviews varied in their praise or criticism when discussing the same elements of the film. This suggests to me that Miseducation does not fall cleanly into a hit or miss with audiences and critics.

When reading the reviews of the critics and general viewers that I chose I began to consider a question: was Miseducation made for a queer audience or a non-queer audience? Of the seven reviews I considered for my analysis, one viewer clearly identified themselves as queer and another was implied as such through their membership in the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics’ Association (GLECA). Christina, known by her username @ladybiird on Letterboxd, praises director Desiree Akhaven for her queer influence in the writing and directing of the film. She claims Miseducation’s depiction of queer unity mirrors the reality of queer youth finding one another to cope with the homophobia they face. From her analysis, it appears that the film was written for a queer audience. Alistair Ryder, a critic for Gay Essential, neither confirms nor denies this observation, as his review focuses on the underdevelopment of the other characters in the film and is irrelevant regarding who the film’s intended audience is. However, critics David Ehrlich and Tim Grierson both claim that Miseducation has appeals for broader audiences because it resides within the coming-of-age genre. Since they do not elaborate their relation to the queer community, their shared observation puts pressure on the idea that this film was made for queer audiences. With the assumption that Christina’s and the two critics’ observations represent opposite ends of the viewer spectrum, I conclude that Miseducation attempts to straddle the line between the two different audience types.

On one hand, I believe that Akhaven set out to inform non-queer audiences of the trauma LGBTQ youth endured in conversion camps during the 1990s. Jordan Hoffman notes how the film considers the perspective of all its characters, whether they support or disagree with the conversion camp’s message, which suggests that Akhaven considered a broader audience. Grierson extends this observation of Miseducation reaching a larger audience with his claim that the film achieves a greater appeal for non-queer audiences by using familiar tropes from other genres. Nonetheless, Peter Travers identifies this strategy as a weakness that detracts from the message of the film. On the other hand, I also believe that Akhaven represents queer experiences through the community Cameron, Jane, and Adam built out of necessity from the homophobia they face within the conversion camp. Queer audiences can identify with what Christina describes as the queer unity in the film and relate to the characters use of humor as a coping mechanism. However, I think this aspect is overshadowed by a larger flaw in the film: the underdevelopment of its characters.

There is less time dedicated to how the characters react to the experiences they have at the camp due to the emphasis Akhaven gave to educating non-queer audiences on the trauma the teenagers faced at God’s Promise. Ryder identifies the underdevelopment of the characters in his review as a flaw of the film and blogger Jordan Michael Johnson supports his observation with her claim that this was a consequence of the conversion camp as a central focus. I agree with both reviewers as I thought there was much to be said about the experiences of the two queer teenagers of color, Jane and Adam, that was not explored in the film.

Through my analysis of critic and audience reviews on The Miseducation of Cameron Post I have reached a better understanding of why I did not love nor hate the film. The mixed feelings I experienced was because Akhaven catered to both the non-queer and queer audiences. While I do not think this was an incorrect choice on Akhaven’s part, I do believe it created weaknesses for the film as it struggled to achieve a balance.

 

 

 

Works Cited:

Ehrlich, David. “’The Miseducation of Cameron Post’ Review: This Beautiful Coming-of-Age Story Is Mike Pence’s Worst Nightmare – Sundance 2018.” IndieWire, 29 Jan. 2018, https://www.indiewire.com/2018/01/the-miseducation-of-cameron-post-review-desiree-akhavan-chloe-grace-moretz-sundance-2018-1201920629/.

Grierson, Tim. “’The Miseducation of Cameron Post’: Sundance Review.” Screen, 23 Jan. 2018. https://www.screendaily.com/reviews/the-miseducation-of-cameron-post-sundance-review/5125844.article.

Hoffman, Jordan. “The Miseducation of Cameron Post Review – Prayers Answered with Conversion Therapy Drama.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 23 Jan. 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/jan/23/the-miseducation-of-cameron-post-review-sundance-2018-chloe-grace-moretz.

Johnson, Jordan Michael. “Coming-Of-Age Without Any Change: A Movie Review of The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018).” WordPress, 25 September 2019. https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/4036690/posts/1243.

@ladybiird [Christina]. “Review by Christina: The Miseducation of Cameron Post.” Letterboxd, 18 August 2018. https://letterboxd.com/christinas/film/the-miseducation-of-cameron-post/.

Ryder, Alistair. “Gay Essential Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post.” Gay Essential, 7 Nov. 2018. https://gay-themed-films.com/review-the-miseducation-of-cameron-post/.

Travers, Peter. “’The Miseducation of Cameron Post’ Review: Gay-Conversion Drama Is Timely, Too Timid.” Rolling Stone, 8 Aug. 2018. https://www.rollingstone.com/movies/movie-reviews/miseducation-of-cameron-post-movie-review-705155/.

Media Assignment Response 7: Jordan Michael Johnson from WordPress

Jordan Michael Johnson published her review of The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018) on the blog site WordPress. As an audience member who read the book prior to viewing the film, Johnson offers insight into how the two mediums represent Cameron’s story differently. Johnson discusses how she likes that the film starts off further into the book but how this also leads to new problems: the audience does not get a sense of who Cameron is. This reflects David Ehrlich’s point that the film includes the important aspects of the book but contradicts his argument to state that it takes away from Cameron as a character by not providing her with a sense of conflict. Since I have only watched the film, I found Johnson’s argument compelling as the evidence she provided for her claim made me curious about what was left out about Cameron in the adaptation because of the heavy focus on the conversion camp. I agree with her point that Cameron did not transform in the film’s narrative and that the other characters had more noticeable conflicts. However, I think the film did not go as in-depth with any of their characters as it could have, even when in comparison to Cameron’s, and thus had room for improvement overall.

 

Works Cited:

Johnson, Jordan Michael. “Coming-Of-Age Without Any Change: A Movie Review of The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018).” WordPress, 25 September 2019. https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/4036690/posts/1243.

Media Assignment Response 6: Jordan Hoffman

Jordan Hoffman, a film critic for The Guardian, praises The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018) in his review. Hoffman notes how each character is treated with “equal compassion” to demonstrate that everyone has multiple facets to their motivations and personality (“The Miseducation”). His observation reflects other critics opinions about characters in the film that would otherwise be known as one-sided antagonists. Most importantly, Hoffman’s review comments on something other critics have not: that Jane and Adam are the only characters of color in the film. This is something that I noticed when watching and I thought it would be pointed out more by the film’s critics and viewers since the director, Desiree Akhaven, is a queer woman of color herself. However, Hoffman does not include the information about Akhaven in his analysis and thus does not provide commentary on how this impacts the film. Consequently, I think Hoffman’s review of the film hints at a more analytical eye but ultimately fails to contribute to the larger discussion outside of the consensus of critic praise for the film. Nonetheless, Hoffman does highlight the significance of Miseducation for LGBTQ youth and how, unlike other films designated as “important,” the film represents something through its work.

 

Works Cited:

Hoffman, Jordan. “The Miseducation of Cameron Post Review – Prayers Answered with Conversion Therapy Drama.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 23 Jan. 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/jan/23/the-miseducation-of-cameron-post-review-sundance-2018-chloe-grace-moretz.

Media Assignment Response 5: Tim Grierson

Tim Grierson is a Senior US Critic of the ScreenDaily and listed among IMDB’s critic reviews for The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018). Grierson concurs with past critical reviews of the film to say that Miseducation has a sense of humor that carries it through the more serious aspects of the film. He claims that the film will be “embraced by LGBTQ audiences,” but also notes how the film appeals to a broader audience (Grierson, “The Miseducation”). Grierson elaborates on his claim to state that the less risqué, “crowd-pleasing tone” the film utilizes and borrowing from familiar genres helps it achieve a universal coming-of-age appeal. Even though I see the argument Grierson makes for the universality of the film, I believe the film does not have the same appeal to larger audiences. Miseducation deals with heavy topics involving queer identities, and while it combats it with humor, it may isolate viewers due to the gravity of the film’s content. Due to the discrepancy between our interpretations of the film, it is interesting to question if Miseducation was made for a queer audience, a non-queer audience, or both. If it is both, then it may explain the universality that Grierson claims it to have, while also explaining the issues I have with it not going as far into depth as I would have preferred with its characters.

 

Works Cited:

Grierson, Tim. “’The Miseducation of Cameron Post’: Sundance Review.” Screen, 23 Jan. 2018. https://www.screendaily.com/reviews/the-miseducation-of-cameron-post-sundance-review/5125844.article.

Media Assignment Response 4: Peter Travers

Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone gives a 3-star rating in his review of The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018). Travers claims that the film “lacks the teeth to make its points stick” despite the Grand Jury Prize it won at the Sundance Film Festival (“The Miseducation”). He bases his argument in what he describes as the pitfalls of the Young Adult (YA) genre: unrequited love and unexpected tragedy. I agree with Travers in that the tragedy in the film feels forced despite the rest of the care the film has for the story it tells. Since the film does not spend time developing the other campers at God’s Promise, the tragedy befalling the camper in question does not carry the same weight for the audience as it only acts as a catalyst for the film’s conclusion. However, I do think the unrequited love between Cameron and her lover, Coley, was more nuanced than Travers made it seem. Based on the scenes between the two of them in the film, Cameron and Coley seemed to have a relationship that was reciprocal until other parties got involved. Nevertheless, the film does not expand upon this nuance in detail to explain Coley’s reasons for turning Cameron in to her aunt and how she was affected after the fact.

 

Works Cited:

Travers, Peter. “’The Miseducation of Cameron Post’ Review: Gay-Conversion Drama Is Timely, Too Timid.” Rolling Stone, 8 Aug. 2018. https://www.rollingstone.com/movies/movie-reviews/miseducation-of-cameron-post-movie-review-705155/.

Media Assignment Response 3: Alistair Ryder

Alistair Ryder is a member of the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics’ Association (GLECA) and currently writes for the Gay Essential, a magazine dedicated to cataloging and reviewing LGBTQ films. In his review for The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018), Ryder identifies the film’s lighthearted moments as a natural part of Cameron’s subjectivity, but notes how this also contributes to the film not addressing the emotional trauma faced by the characters until the end of the film. Ryder notes that the book was able to handle Cameron’s subjectivity in that respect, explaining why the traumas of other characters are not explored, and how the film missed an opportunity to expand upon this in its adaptation. While I have not read the book, I agree with Ryder that the film could have done more for developing the other characters in the story. The brief snapshots of the other campers when Cameron reads their icebergs did not offer further insight on how the other teens were handling the difficulties they faced within God’s Promise. A moment in the film that almost comments on the serious effects of the conversion camp and rejection of the campers’ families only acts as a catalyst for Cameron and her friends to run away at the film’s conclusion. In short, I agree with Ryder’s observation that the film may have benefitted from an extended run-time in order to accommodate more character building from campers other than Cameron.

 

Works Cited:

Ryder, Alistair. “Gay Essential Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post.” Gay Essential, 7 Nov. 2018. https://gay-themed-films.com/review-the-miseducation-of-cameron-post/.

Media Assignment Response 2: Christina [@ladybiird] from Letterboxd

On Letterboxd, a social media for film lovers, user Christina shares her experience when watching The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018). In her review, Christina establishes her credibility as a queer viewer in order to praise Desiree Akhavan for the balance she manages between the lighter and darker moments of the film. I agree with Christina’s observations that Akhaven utilizes an occasional comedic tone to contrast the heavier aspects of the reality the characters are facing. Christina claims that Akhavan’s queerness contributed to her success in this endeavor and is evident in the film itself as it handles the characters’ emotional journeys. This leads into her final point about queer unity, the bond between Cameron, Jane, and Adam, which Christina claims is one of the film’s most powerful aspects. To expand upon her claim, I argue that the queer unity Christina observes promotes the balance Akhaven has between the film’s tones. During scenes focusing on the trio while alone, Cameron, Jane, and Adam demonstrate solidarity and the shared processing of their experiences when in the safe spaces they create for themselves. Christina relates this queer unity to the experiences of queer youth in real life. Thus, I propose that this positively impacts Akhaven’s ability to successfully establish a balance with the film’s serious and more light-hearted tones.

 

Works Cited:

@ladybiird [Christina]. “Review by Christina: The Miseducation of Cameron Post.” Letterboxd, 18 August 2018. https://letterboxd.com/christinas/film/the-miseducation-of-cameron-post/.

Media Assignment Response 1: David Ehrlich

David Ehrlich, a senior critic at Indiewire, claims that the film adaptation of The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018) focuses on the important aspects of the book by the same name, is relatable to non-queer teenage audiences, and compels audiences to consider the point of view from the film’s antagonists despite their harmful actions. Ehrlich was included in the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) critic scoring based on the data provided from a film critic consensus site called Metacritic. Ehrlich writes with a comical tone that alternates between summarizing the film and providing commentary.

I agree with Ehrlich’s point that this film relates itself to more than just queer teens, although I believe this a latent function of Desiree Akhavan humanizing her characters to combat the message of the film’s conversion camp, God’s Promise. As Ehrlich notes, this humanization extends to councilors as well to put pressure on the idea that all people involved in conversion camps due so with bad intentions. Instead, the film demonstrates that good intentions can be horribly misguided. Thus, I think Ehrlich points out an important aspect of the film: the care it places in addressing conversion camps holistically without excusing the effects of its actions. Ehrlich praises the long-takes of the film for creating space for the characters’ emotions. I cannot decide if I agree with this praise or not, as I feel torn between the beauty of what is left unsaid in the film and where it could have expanded more explicitly upon its characters’ growth.

 

Works Cited:

Ehrlich, David. “’The Miseducation of Cameron Post’ Review: This Beautiful Coming-of-Age Story Is Mike Pence’s Worst Nightmare – Sundance 2018.” IndieWire, 29 Jan. 2018, https://www.indiewire.com/2018/01/the-miseducation-of-cameron-post-review-desiree-akhavan-chloe-grace-moretz-sundance-2018-1201920629/.

Back in action 

It’s been over two years since I’ve last posted but I want to start this blog up again, so here I am! It’s been an amazing year for movies and I can’t believe I missed on out talking about them on here. 
Here’s to hoping I’ll be better this time around! 

Guardians of the Galaxy

I was able to see Guardians of the Galaxy by Marvel Studios, and let me tell you, it was a blast. I had so much fun watching it. One thing I personally was happy with was that there wasn’t a lot of romance happening along with the action. It was subtle, and not forced or full throttle like a lot of action movies with a love interest. That, for me, made it more enjoyable.

I love it when the whole theater laughs together, and you defiantly get that with Guardians. A friend of mine, who hasn’t seen any of the other marvel films, said she really enjoyed the movie. So even if you aren’t a die hard comic book fan, it’s possible to still enjoy the film as a stand alone.

The characters were built up gradually and their individual stories were easy to follow and not overly focused on. You got to learn about each character in turn without taking time away from the movie. They told you what you needed to know and nothing more. It was great. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t wish I knew more.
Like Rocket Racoon! I want to know how he came to be where he is, and how he met Groot. I loved the relationship they had and I would love to see where it all started with them.

I could seriously go on all day about this movie, but I’m afraid I’d start completely rambling and repeating myself. So let me make this review short: if you haven’t seen it, I suggest you should. It was enjoyable, funny, and action filled. I didn’t know how they would end it and I was very happy with the way it did and I’m excited to see what they bring in the next one!