Film Professor Celebrates Death of FilmStruck; Claims Film History “Doesn't Need Seeing" Because of “Male Gaze"



Katherine Groo, a professor of film and media studies at Lafayette College, wrote an -- *ahem*, shall we say problematic -- assessment of FilmStruck's demise (titled "FilmStruck wasn’t that good for movies. Don’t mourn its demise"). She believes it to be a good thing that the Criterion streaming service shut down last week. Her reasoning for the anti-FilmStruck analysis stems from the first 100 years of cinema being too patriarchal for her tastes. 

Groo argues that the two-year-old, for-profit streaming platform reinforced outdated ideas about what films are most significant: "Many lauded the service for the diversity of its curatorial staff and its efforts to highlight films by women, people of color and queer artists — and the attention it paid to non-Anglophone film traditions. All to the good." But wait, it gets better, Groo goes on to add that "feature-length narrative cinema made by mostly white male auteurs dominated the collection. These are not the films that need seeing or saving. They may not circulate widely in popular culture, but they account for almost our entire institutional and disciplinary canon."

Yup. This is a film professor and she wants to erase the canon of film history because of its male-gazing. The history of cinema is full of white males, she claims, and it must, eventually, be destroyed.  She continues her tirade against film history by slamming the auteur theory which, she says, has led to many students of hers playing into "the powers of patriarchy and colonialism." Yikes.

Her academic expression eventually leads Groo to vent about her desire to set film history on fire; after all, she claims, film is highly flammable, so might as well just blaze it all to oblivion: "If film can be said to have a “natural” disposition, it is one that inclines toward deterioration and self-destruction. Film is, in fact, a medium that dies — that is dying," she says. 

Groo actually goes on to explain how the destruction of film can scientifically occur. She says that "film stock decays into an explosive gas," and that there's "an environmental argument against film preservation" because "it takes a lot of fossil fuels to keep film intact and servers running."

It's not quite clear why Groo comes off as such a bitter avenger -- but if this is the sort of thing that is thought at the "film and media studies program" at Lafayette College, I'd suggest film majors not waste their hard-earned money on tuition at that school. Any film professor who literally states, "Actually, it's good that these films are forgotten," when talking about Ozu, Renoir and company should be stripped of their teaching credentials.