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October 04, 2012 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 3B

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 3R

Like in the salons of 17th
and 18th century France,
this weekly installment
will feature two Daily Arts
writers discussing the finer
points of arts mediums
from at least 10 years ago.
When the elusive and erratic
Ghostface asks Sidney Prescott
(Neve Campbell) - the protago-
nist of the iconic "Scream" fran-
chise - if she likes scary movies,
she replies: "What's the point?"
"They're all the same. Some
stupid killer stalking some big-
breasted girl who can't act, who
is always running up the stairs
when she should be running out
the front door. It's insulting."
She has a point. Once upon a
time, feminist heroines in horror
films weren't all that uncommon
("Alien" 's Lt. Ellen Ripley, "The
Silence of the Lambs" 's Special
Agent Clarice Starling, etc). But
most horror films in the past two
decades - particularly of the
slasher nature - are notoriously
misogynistic and stereotype-
ridden. They glorify virginity and
mix sexually suggestive imagery
with spurting blood and severed
"Scream" is the anti-horror
film. Unpacking almost every
trope in the genre, Kevin Wil-
liamson's ingenious script holds
up a mirror to teen-slasher cin-
ema and fingers the formulaic
nature of it all: "The police are
always off-track with this shit! If
they'd watch 'Prom Night,' they'd
save time! There's a formula to it.
Avery simple formula!"
Williamson's love for the genre
emanates through the film's dia-
logue (with references to "Hal-
loween," "Psycho," "Silence of the
Lambs," "The Exorcist," "Car-
rie" and dozens more). And his
partner is quite the horror aficio-
nado himself: Wes Craven, who
sired serial killer legend Freddie
Kreuger. Between Williamson's
From Page 1B
spirit: "What does the library
become when you get rid of books
and you just have terminals?" he
asked with hands turned up when
we spoke last month. Yet the battle
has also touched off his anger and
Inside his bookshop, a warm
pool of bookshelves that some-
how feel homemade, Alloway
flashed that ferocity when I
asked him about the future of
books, a game of educated guess-
work that he clearly felt the
library and other booksellers
have given up too early.
"I am fully prepared to retire,
drop dead right there, selling
books," he said, pointing to his
" cluttered desk in defiance. "A lot
of people talk about digital books
and the threat that digital books
pose to them."
His voice dimmed and his

hands, which had darted here
and there throughout the con-
versation, dropped to his sides.
"And I think it's more of some-
body saying, 'Digital books are
a threat to you,' and them say-
ing, 'They are? Oh my,' instead of
actually thinking about it."
Alloway, it soon became evi-
dent, has thought about it. He
has done so at a level far deeper
than the booksellers who he said
have retreated from the menace
of Amazon. He does not sense
much threat from the Internet
retailer, digital books or even the
advent of general online book-
selling. In this capricious age
of bookselling and occasional
alarm-raising, he has been lucky
enough to stay the course and
advise other booksellers, as if
dispensing common sense, that
"if you keep doing what you do,
you'll be okay."
When I asked Alloway where
that self-assuredness comes
from - that is, why he has such
robust faith in a technology that,
to some, seems to be plunging
into the drain right behind the
print newspaper - he slipped
into his professorial robes again.
After tracing the history of read-
ing media from stone to elec-
tronic tablet, he concluded that
the printed book has not yet been

ring for
gift for writing mind-melting
meta - without crossing over into
hokey territory - and Craven's
experienced eye for capturing
all the right shadows to make us
positively petrified, together they
created a holy masterpiece for any
devout horror lover.
And when we love something
so much, we must also recog-
nize its downfalls, as "Scream"
does. Sidney Prescott flies in the
face of the conventional Damsel
in Distress, Final Girl or Dead
Whore. She's a true heroine who
outmatches Ghostface with her
general badassery, smarts and
strength (and I'm not just talk-
ing about her physical prowess
- Sidney is brave, unflinching
even in the most terrifying of
situations). Ghostface K
GaleWeathers (CourteneyCox)
similarly takes a knife to slasher filmed in A
stereotypes. She's aggressive and Courteney
perceptive, piecing together the bell sighti:
mystery faster than any of Wood- East Quad.
sboro's policemen can. As bril- abominatit
liant and well executed as the rest had follow
of the story is, it's Gale and Sidney the countr'
that make "Scream" an unfading There a
sensation. philes who
Today, we've been given a false its couragt
sense that women are reclaiming cliche, da:
the horror genre. New releases itself. "It's
like "Jennifer's Body," "I Spit on self-consci
Your Grave" and "Tamara" tout nature of t
female protagonists exacting might say.
revenge on the men who oppress when Rant
them - namely by seducing and one's a su
subsequently killing them. informed v
Suggesting that women are so great bigm
powerless that their only way of In my 1
fighting patriarchy is to use their son's scrip
sexuality isn't feminism. It'd a Saturda
be nice to not have to wait until that takes
"Scream 5" to get another glimpse - a serial
of some Gale Weathers and Sid- who've se
ney Prescotts in today's horror and joking]
cinema - though, if "Scream 4" the movie',
was any indication, both ladies ceit quickl
have still got it. acting, if y
-KAYLA UPADHYAYA as such, is


illah ain't got nothing on me.
nn Arbor. Murmurs of
Cox and Neve Camp-
ngs filled the halls of
I couldn't escape: The
on of a horror franchise
ed me halfway across
:re certain scream-o-
will laud "Scream" for
e in facing the slasher
ring to make fun of
a horror movie that
ously comments on the
he horror genre," they
Yeah. It is. I got that
dy told us that, "Every-
spect." Or when Billy
iewers that "It's all one
book, Kevin William-
t is nothing more than
y Night Live sketch
itself way too seriously
killer and his targets
en too many movies
ly predict the killer and
s next steps. The con-
y grows tired and the
ou can even refer to it
overdone to the point

When I came to University
orientation three summers ago,
I received some news that made
me groan: "Scream 4" was being
beaten as a medium.
"We are not there yet," he
summed up, referring to a pos-
sible era of reading commanded
by digital technology. Without
even a murmur of self-doubt, he
added, "We are not even close to
being there yet."
But as much as he reveres the
printed book as an artifact and
criticizes the e-book as an alter-
native technology, Alloway's
confidence about staying the
course and keeling over behind
his desk does not seem to stem
from his thoughts about the best
technology. It derives instead
from his style of bookselling.
While other storeowners are
following Borders down the way
of shortsightedness or otherwise
trying to completely overhaul
their shops, Alloway is return-
ing to the classical principles of
bookselling that buoyed his pre-
decessors through even the Great
He is stocking his shop with
more benches and chairs than any
other store in town to attract read-
ers, afactheboastedtometheway
a marathoner would announce his
best time. He is experimenting
with new selections and added
a literature section between the
time I first met him in April and
our interview last month.
And he is poring over old book-
seller memoirs, taking stock of
even the smallest tips. Where
other booksellers might find a
chapter about the shipping of
books stale, Alloway scraped it
clean, taking stock of even the
most miniscule tips.
Above all, though, in an era
when used and rare booksellers
may be losing customers to the
Internet, he is cultivating lasting
relationships with customers on
the premise of putting the right
book in their hands. After 12 years
in the bookshop, Alloway is devel-
oping the ability to look at a book
and instinctively know which cus-
tomer to give it to.
"That's the purpose of the book-
store in a lotof ways," Murphy told
me when we met at a restaurant in
the shadow of a behemoth Barnes
& Noble. "Yeah, it's about making
money to a degree. But that's not
the overriding concern. It's more
about passing on an intellectual

of parody (and not the kind the
movie wants, either).
Director Wes Craven routinely
receives credit for reviving the
long-stagnant horror genre. And
yet, "Scream" is anything but
scary. Ghostface chases his vic-
Documenting the past
Among the intellectual heritages
that Alloway has been most eager
to pass on is the history of Ann
Arbor's booksellers; a past that, to
him, records one of the most fas-
cinating chapters of the history of
books in the country. It is a heritage
Alloway has been chasing for the
last few years, atleast informally, in
the hopes of writing a book that will
commemorate an era of this town's
history when bookselling was a
tourist attraction.
In the early 1970s, Alloway
explained to me when we first
met, bookshops like Centicore
Books, Bob Marshall's and Wahr's
- shops that had thrived in Ann
Arbor since the early twentieth
century - all shuttered their doors
within a few years of one another.
Whether their collapses were due
to the economy at the time, the old
age of their owners or another set
of factors, Alloway is not sure.
Yet the shops that replaced them
inaugurated a new, thrilling era of
bookselling in Ann Arbor. Com-
munity News Center, which had
one of its two shops on the corner
of South University Avenue and
South Forest Avenue, became the
go-to shop for magazines. Shaman
Drum Bookshop, which closed in
2009, was a destination for books
on history and poetry. Even Bor-
ders, famed for its great selection
before it grew into a behemoth,
had its own niche in scholarly and
computer science books.
Thoseyearsbetween 1979,when
Centicore Books became the last
of the old generation to close, and
1992, when Borders was sold to
Kmart, marked the golden age of
booksellinginAnnArbor's history.
ers coexisted here and the town
was so reputed for its books that
outsiders from across the country
would devote entire visits to survey
Ann Arbor bookstores.
"That was really the age of inde-
pendence," Alloway said. "There
was just a lot of diversity in the new
book trade. It was a very vibrant
and fruitful period ... Everybody
had a different take."
Alloway told me that his book
will attempt to chronicle the sto-
ries of the bookshops of that era
for future generations of booksell-
ers, in the same fashion that older

tims through their homes, knife
in hand. After the initial moment
of suspense (leaping out at his
victims after a game of cat and
mouse played over the phone)
what ensues becomes comical as
Ghostface slips and slides over
his gown, a demented attempt at
shock horror that always fails to
hit its mark.
Moreover, while I'm not
bothered if people wish to say
"Scream" made slasher flicks
mainstream again, I'm bereaved
by anyone who hints that it's the
most memorable of the '90s hor-
ror canon. Before there was Sid-
ney there was Clarice Starling.
And before there was Ghostface
there was a psychopath named
Hannibal Lecter. While "Scream"
may be entertaining in a post-
modern, play-with-its-own-
premise sort of way, its pleasure
is fleeting, superficial, going no
deeper than the scream carved on
Ghostface's mouth.
Yet even lemons have their
perks. And in the case of this
dud the perk's name is Deputy
Dewey (David Arquette, "Cougar
Town"). Where the rest of the
cast's pretty faces ooze nothing
more than pretention, Arquette
creates a character who will
remain imprinted in our collec-
See SCREAM, Page 4B
memoirs guided him. He has been
interviewing the owners of shops
and their relatives and soon he will
launch a website where customers
of that time can share their memo-
Alloway said he wanted to pre-
serve an era of the history of the
book and of Ann Arbor that would
otherwise be lost. Part of his moti-
vation, he said, is that the owners
of bookstores such as Centicore
Books and Bob Marshall's, now
in their late '80s, will soon no lon-
ger be able to tell their stories. But
more than that, the project is based
on a hope that people here will
remember how spirited the book
culture once was and "value what's
left even more."
"It can remind a town like Ann
Arbor, which seems to be being
taken over by chain stores, that
each town is different," he said.
"Ann Arbor is not Royal Oak; Ann
Arbor is not Lansing; Ann Arbor
is not Kalamazoo or any of those
other places."
"The old days," today
During my visit with Alloway
last month, I asked him to recount
how he had become a bookseller.
He began by recalling his child-
hood in Kansas, the freedom of
living in a small town whose resi-
dents all knew one another. He
remembered how he could stay
at the library, or out and about in
town, until late and his parents
never wondered where he was or
worried about his safety.
"It was one of those things
where you could get on a bike at
eleven o'clock, go out to eat with
your friends, hang out all day in
town or in the woods, and then
come back for dinner," he said
wistfully. "And your mom didn't
worry about you," he went on.
"You were all right."
As we were talking, a regu-
lar customer who looked to be of
retirement age approached his
desk with a book she intended to

When she overheard Alloway
discussing his childhood, she
said, "Oh, yeah, those were the old
Alloway rang her up, bid her
farewell, and then watched her
disappear into the crowd on the

Romance -
done right
hen it comes to what intensity that he would neve.
makes a "classic" dream of takingadvantage of hes
film, you can always because he is an Indian boy who
count on people to disagree knows how to respect an Indian'
with superb consistency. Yet, girl. Seeing those values pre..
there remain served outside of India comforts:
a select few those who fear losing Indian cul
films that are ture while abroad.
incontest-, Then there's the lead couple
ably beloved themselves, played to perfec -
across demo- tion by Shah Rukh Khan and'
graphics; Kajol. Raj is a textbook rom-
the films com hero: arrogant, charming
that strike PROMA and, apparently, a hit with all
at the right KHOSA the ladies. He's the kind of male
moment character set up to be equally:
and define charismatic and annoying, pre--
a generation of moviegoers. In sented with flaws only to have
Bollywood, that film is "Dilwale them erased by the wonder of
Dulhania Le Jayenge." true love. Every quality Simran, -
Translated, the title tells us hates about him vanishes when'
that "he who has heart shall take he realizes his love and places
the bride." DDLJ, as it shall be it above everything else in his -
referred to henceforth, remains life. It's that quality that makes
a quintessential part of India's him irresistible to those of us
cinematic history. The story who fall in love with him every
is almost laughably basic: Raj viewing.
(Shah Rukh Khan) and Simran It's also worth noting that
(Kajol) meet on a trip from the Raj Malhotra became the defin-
U.K. to mainland Europe with ing performance of Shah Rukh
their friends, and though they Khan's film career. It rocketed
start out with their differen- him from promising young
es, they inevitably fall in love. actor to bona fide superstar, and
Unfortunately, Simran's mar- has been unable to shake the
riage has been arranged to a mischievous-but-loving per-
stranger, so Raj crashes the wed- sona in every romantic movie-
ding party to win over the family since.
and take his bride. Simran, meanwhile, despite
rocking a unibrow, is a typical
Bollywood heroine of the time.
DDLJ has She's quiet and reserved, but
dreams about love, and does so.
ingredients for with the kind of romantic aban
don that we in "real life" could.
a classic, never get away with. In a heart-
breaking scene, Simran's mother
essentially tells her that women
are supposed to quietly endure
The love triangle is Bollywood injustices thrown their way. Yet,
bread-and-butter, but DDLJ is Simran cannot help but perse-
somehow immune to the trite- vere and believe in her dreams'
ness of that convention. of with such conviction that they
course Raj and Simran will end all come true.
up together, but why is it always At the same time, Simran
so stressful to see how they pull stands up for herself: She's the
it off? Why do the songs always only person willing to put Raj
tug at our heartstrings? How is in his place and the only woman,
it that 17 years since the film's able to resist his preliminary
release, it's still playing in the- flirtations. What attracts her to
aters to sold-out crowds? him is the respect he shows for
Despite the plot's classic Bol- herself and her family, one of
lywood simplicity, DDLJ proves the most overlooked but crucial
brilliant when broken down into aspects of a relationship.
separate narrative components. Most impressively, DDLJ
For starters, it's the first Indian withstands the test of time. It
film whose protagonists are sec- has none of the abysmal act-
ond-generation Indians - born ing and excessive goofiness of
or moved overseas with immi- most popular Bollywood films
grant parents. of the '90s, and a story as rele-
Raj and Simran grew up in vant today as it was 17 years ago.
London, but the most ingenious Maybe nowadays Raj would just
aspect is that they still consider call Simran's cellphone when
themselves fundamentally Indi- she moves to India instead of
an. When the couple spends a tracking her down in the fields
night in the same bed (scandal!), of Punjab, but the gesture is as
Raj tells Simran with shocking See KHOSLA, Page 4B


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