Aviva Briefel. "Monster Pains: Masochism, Menstruation, and Identification in the Horror Film. " Film Quarterly 58.3 (2005): 16-27. Alumni - Research Library. ProQuest. 1 Dec. 2008 <http://www.proquest.com/>
In Monster Pains: Masochism, Menstruation, and Identification in the Horror Film, Briefel discusses the role of masochism and menstruation in the audience’s identification with the film’s monster in classic horror films, such as Dracula (1931) and Frankenstein (1931). He analyzes the way different monsters appeal to the audience. He proposes a theory of the gendering of the pain felt by the monster and how it can elicit the audience’s identification with it or sympathy for it. He posits that the symbolically menstrual elements of Dracula would have drawn audiences to the film.
Henderson, Schuyler W. “Disregarding the Suffering of Others: Narrative, Comedy and Torture.” Literature and Medicine. 2005. University of
Pennsylvania. April 2008 <http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/literature_and_medicine/v024/24.2henderson.html>.
Henderson analyzes torture beginning with a photograph from Abu Ghraib that shows a man naked and in an uncomfortable position with underwear on his head. What is torture? To classify an act as torture, there must be long-term sufferings. It is a method to extract information from, punish, or intimidate a victim. The word torture draws a red flag, and the government and media have worked out ways to tone a situation down using narrative. For example, Henderson points out that Abu Ghraib occurrences have been described as abuse instead of torture, which renders the act unofficial, and therefore politically uninvolved. As far as the act itself, torturers smile during it. The purpose is to make it seem more acceptable and to “retain their humanity” by incorporating the smile – a universal understanding of being human.
In Animal House, the Omega house tortures its pledges as a ceremony of induction. Neidermeyer literally spanks the pledges, who are bent over and clad in only underwear, in a room ominously lit by candles. The pledges must respond every time with, “Thank you sir, may I have another?” All the while, Neidermeyer has a sadistic smile on his face. Can this be considered torture, for there is a loose form of consent. Though the pledges have no say in what happens to them, they choose to join the fraternity. However, from the look on Kevin Bacon’s face, it is not a case of masochism. From the definition of torture, which makes Henderson question, “who exactly is evaluating the victims’ pain and psychological suffering,” this scene does not exhibit torture. However it does have the characteristics of a smile, secrecy and intimidation. The victims do not smile because they “are less than human…animals.” Animal House makes men into animals in the form of debauchery and tomfoolery, in addition to torture. However, the film plays down the frightening issue of torture by rendering it humourous. In reality, as politics uses the word abuse instead of torture, fraternities use the term hazing. Henderson notes that someone described the actual torture as “Animal House on the night shift.” This in turn minimizes the seriousness of actual torture.