Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Antonella Mascio | Università di Bologna | Italy 


September 16th 2022 | 15.00 – 16.30
Panel #10 | “Mediatizations
Room G.126 | Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore Milan, Largo Gemelli 1

Dystopia in TV series between entertainment and politics. The example of The Handmaid's Tale

In my presentation I would like to focus on The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu, 2017 -), a Tv series based on a novel by Margaret Atwood. It is set in “the near future”, where a totalitarian theocracy movement has overthrown the US government. The Handmaid's Tale, usually included in the category of feminist dystopia, explores the subjugation of women as well as the various means that politics employs to enslave the female body and its reproductive functions (Cfr. Shi, 2017). Here my focus is to investigate the uses that have been made of The Handmaid's Tale, starting from its airing in spring 2017, which was coinciding with many of the events organized by the #MeToo movement. Red costumes used in the TV Series have in fact quickly become the symbol of a female resistance, spreading throughout the world. With respect to the storytelling project, The Handmaid's Tale teaches us how this kind of narrative should had been observed as a continuously evolving storytelling process, in which audiences increasingly participate. The political reading of that text has influenced lots of online discussions (forums, Facebook groups, ..) and collective actions. We can talk about demonstrative effects, like occupied streets and squares, participation in public discussion and municipal councils groups. In particular, I am referring to some peculiar situations related to the scenes, in which the symbolic clothing of The Handmaid's Tale was worn by women, as a female protest against new motions related to the abortion law.

Antonella Mascio is Associale Professor in Sociology of Cultural and Communication Processes at University of Bologna. In recent years she focused her researches on online social relations and on relationships between the Internet, Tv Drama and Fashion. She has published several articles related to the activities of online audiences, and some books (The Size Effect: A Journey into Design, Fashion and Media, with R. Menarini et alii, Mimesis International 2019; Fashion Games, 2012, Virtuali Comunità, 2008).