On September 27, 2018, Dr. Lindsey Decker, a Film & Television professor at Boston University’s College of Communication, presented her dissertation, Hybrid Horrors: Transnationalism, Film Culture, and British Horror Cinema of the 2000s, to the school’s faculty and students.
Decker was a BU Film & Television graduate student herself, with a passion for both horror and British films. For her research, she merged the two genres to produce a captivating analysis.
As part of her dissertation, Decker defined the concept of Transnational Genre Hybridity as “when a film combines particular formal and narrative tropes drawn from a specific foreign genre with those from domestic genre traditions.”
This hybridity, she said, is also positioned in regard to nation, and filmmakers can utilize this aspect as a way to give their films an additional layer of meaning or commentary.
Decker explained that Transnational Genre Hybridity actually helped to kick-start and sustain British film. The reframing of British and foreign films allows the British film industry to engage in the discourse around Americanization. Adding British flare to American genres and tropes allows new horror films to be identified as distinctly British.
One of the topics Decker examined in her presentation is the real horror story emerging within England and how the art of film is responding. She discussed the idea of the “hoodie,” a teenager seen as representing the attributes model citizens should avoid, as a pivotal stereotype in many British horror films. These hoodies are often seen as adolescent folk devils, with associations including rap music and the type of clothing for which they are named.
The hoodie developed from the moral panic around working-class teens. After analyzing this notorious British folk devil in relation to American culture, it was interesting to see the cultural characteristics the Americans celebrate but the English fear.
“Dr. Decker’s presentation was very thought provoking, in that she explained how the presence of hoodies in British film was inspired by the British fear of American gangster rap culture,” advertising student Nicole Toppino (COM ’19) said.
Hoodie teens, Decker explained, commit street and mall crimes, and they engage in public happy slapping (inflicting unmotivated violence on strangers). Their crimes are enhanced by their obsessive use of technology to spread viral videos of these crimes on internet platforms.
“This was an interesting comparison to American teens’ obsessive use of social media and smartphones,” Toppino said.
Dr. Decker also mentioned Jane Graham’s 2009 article in The Guardian, “Hoodies Strike Fear in British Cinema,” in which she writes, “These days, the scariest Brit-flick villain isn’t a flesh-eating zombie, or an East End Mr. Big with a sawn-off shooter and a tattooed sidekick. It is a teenage boy with a penchant for flammable casualwear.”
Yet, interestingly enough–to this reporter’s perspective–the hoodie image resembles a popular phenomenon of modern American fashion and culture.
Today, American girls and boys strive for the “hoodie” aesthetic in their fashion and lifestyle. Many social media influencers and celebrities celebrate and promote this “dangerous American gangster rap” and edgy athleisure wear, considered “streetwear.”
While the British hoodie stereotype represents working-class teens, American teens embrace this aesthetic as a symbol of wealth, culture, and taste. The most exclusive, reputable designers create this edgy streetwear to be worn as a status symbol.
“Recently in influencer-driven fashion, the ’90s phase has transformed to track shoes, track pants, baggy clothes, and gothic chain jewelry,” advertising student Lizzy Herzog (COM ’19) said.
Although hoodie-type crime is in no way celebrated in America, the persona of living on the wild side, documenting all actions on social media, and testing the limits in fashion have become trendy by many young Americans’ standards.
Shira Levin, Staff Writer
Shira Levin is a senior majoring in advertising. Born and raised in the City of Angeles, Shira is your typical West Coast native attempting to make it through another East Coast winter. Spot her around campus in oversized sunglasses, exercise leggings, and blacked-out Nikes.