Tag Archives: subversion

RIP Agnès Varda (1928 – 2019)

Agnès Varda was a Belgian-born French film director.

Her films were popular among critics and directors, giving her the status of a cult director.

This is perhaps not the best of times to rid the world of a minor misconception regarding the work of Varda, but it is what I must do after researching her oeuvre following her death.

Agnès Varda made one film about the Black Panther Party, just one. That film was Black Panthers (1968), a color film which can be viewed in its entirety at Archive.org[1].

Another film from that same year is called Huey! and is directed by a certain Sally Pugh. It can be seen in full on YouTube [below] and has nothing to do with Varda, although the general subject matter as well as some scenes overlap.

RIP William Hamling (1921 – 2017)

Some people don’t make the news when they die. Among them this gentleman.

William Hamling was an American publisher of pulp and erotica, in a time when publishing books could still be dangerous (it has not been dangerous for the last fifty years of so, at least in the west). His financial backing for the case Redrup v. New York against Robert Redrup, a book seller who sold Hamling’s risqué paperbacks was instrumental in abolishing obscenity censorship in the United States.

Page 26 and 27 of the 'Illustrated President's Commission on Obscenity and Pornography'
Page 26: From left to right, advertisements for A History of the Blue MovieThe DamnedAnn and EveMoveThreesome and Eugenie.
Page 27: “Excerpt: Thus, the actual nationwide percentage accounted for by “G” and “GP” films is probably significantly greater than the projection, and “R,” “X,” and unrated sexually oriented hybrid films probably account for less of the national market than indicate.”

Most amusingly Hamling published an illustrated edition of the President’s Commission on Obscenity and Pornography in 1970 [sample page, above].

Both its editor Earl Kemp and Hamling himself were sentenced to one year in prison for “conspiracy to mail obscene material,” but both served only the federal minimum of three months and one day. Incredible if you come to think of it (and strange also, considering that the Redrup case supposedly abolished obscenity censorship).

I would have thought a complete version of this grand example of détournement to have been available by now, disappointingly so, this is not the case.

A milestone in the history of subversion

Discovering Amos Vogel‘s Film as a Subversive Art (1974) was a blast and leafing through the book today still is a thrill (see for example a still I posted on my new NSFW tumblr blog). The book is a milestone in the history of subversion.

Now online is Film as a Subversive Art: Amos Vogel and Cinema 16 (UK, 2003) , a documentary about Amos Vogel (1921 – 2012) and the film society Cinema 16.