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‘Femcel Filmcast’ mixes film analysis and feminist theory

Kristin Haegelin (left) and Bella Garcia (right) stand back-to-back in front of film posters. The students co-host “Femcel Filmcast,” a podcast that blends feminism and film theory. (Neha Krishnakumar/Daily Bruin staff)

By Jaden Weinstein

Nov. 8, 2023 12:13 p.m.

This post was updated Nov. 12 at 8:16 p.m.

Film analysis and gender theory cling together in “Femcel Filmcast.”

Kristin Haegelin, a third-year English student, and Bella Garcia, a fourth-year communication and sociology student, are writers for FEM Newsmagazine who host a weekly podcast comprising meditations on film framed through feminist viewpoints. The title “Femcel Filmcast” is intended to be an ironic play on the current status quo of alienated feminine voices in film study, Haegelin said.

“I think my relationship with being a femcel has changed to the point where it’s just constant reflecting on gender performance, and just being alive,” Haegelin said. “It’s just a way of life, I’d say.”

[Related: Alumni-founded production company Highball Media offers members artistic freedom]

Garcia said the podcast was born from an overall unhappiness with the representation of feminist perspectives on entertainment in the media. Considering similar podcasts directed towards feminist interpretations of film, Haegelin said these other shows often lack focus on historical trends or honed themes across episodes. Taking this issue into account, Haegelin said the duo researches and plans out an overarching theme for each season.

“One of the things I really wanted to do going into this was spend a lot of time talking about history, theory and reading JSTOR articles,” Haegelin said. “We could have this social-historical foundation to build off of.”

Through this lens, Garcia said the hosts have completed two seasons revolving around two distinct themes, and they are currently in the middle of their third. The first season, entitled “We Live In A Society,” aimed to take a stab at the overall ideas that would be present in their series, from the differences between the female and male gazes to why certain films can be canonized into incel rhetoric, Haegelin said. Haegelin and Garcia tackle these subjects as they recant the plot of each episode’s film of focus, peppering in their commentaries and contexts from start to finish, Garcia said.

Garcia said the podcast is currently making its way through its horror season, where they take a look at both films and books in the genre and discuss certain motifs that are implicit within these types of media. Making the case for genre inclusion, Garcia said that the podcast has the potential to grapple with any genre because of its historical lens.

(Neha Krishnakumar/Daily Bruin staff)
Kristin Haegelin (left) and Bella Garcia (right) record a conversation together. Their podcast, “Femcel Filmcast,” is currently in the middle of its third season. (Neha Krishnakumar/Daily Bruin staff)

The podcast, centered around concepts that were created in online communities across different facets of the internet, also contends with the role the internet plays in socialization for young people, Haegelin said. Considering the role of the internet in their show, Garcia said each episode is inherently tied to the current internet landscape when they come out, since both hosts use sources such as social media to inspire and engage their ideas.

“We’re here to challenge the feeling that the internet is just corroding our minds,” Haegelin said. “We’re saying it’s enriching our minds – as long as we are aware that it has the potential to harm us.”

Although they approach topics from a marginalized perspective, Garcia said that the show can appeal to listeners of varying ages and backgrounds. When discussing the audience, Garcia said the pair really enjoys when those who already operate with a feminist mindset are able to interact with the show. However, a specific level of joy is derived when they are able to break through to those who may not have initially gone to the same places with their understanding, Garcia added.

In their journey to bring marginalized ideas to the forefront, “Femcel Filmcast” has derived its own dedicated group of fans, including fourth-year environmental science student Angel More. More listens to the podcast frequently, which allows her to expand her understanding of film, she said.

“I like to be well-read, and I like to know a lot about the arts, but sometimes I just can’t watch a movie.” More said. “So it’s nice to feel like I’ve seen the movie, and by reputable sources, I get to know the analysis of the movie.”

[Related: Q&A: Author Larry Duplechan on Hollywood history in memoir ‘Movies That Made Me Gay’]

On the subject of their favorite femcels across media, Garcia said they and Haegelin agree that the protagonist of “Fleabag” is the ultimate representation of a femcel they admire on screen. Her representation of anxieties experienced in modern dating and being true to her identity regardless of others’ comfort touches on a feeling that is all too relatable, she added.

Despite completing nearly three seasons, Haegelin said she feels as though there is much more to cover in this space, from multiple genres to widely covered feminist theory regarding “manic pixie dream girls,” for instance. As they feel like these trends are ubiquitous in the films they watch, Garcia said they see no end in sight for their insightful discussions and are eager to address even more history and social context in the future of the podcast. As Garcia and Haegelin have made immense progress through the podcast, Haegelin said they hope their audience can gain the same deepened perspective.

“I’ve always felt partially excluded from film and … that film is not created for me as a spectator.” Haegelin said. “But, I feel like this podcast was created so that people could see film through our eyes and see how we grow from it.”

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