Episode 1.6: Hocus Pocus

Happy harvest moon! In this episode, we dance all night to the classic Halloween flick Hocus Pocus (1993).

Our theme song is “Moon and Spruce” by Sarah Littledrum.

Here’s a listening guide for the episode. (For a description of our segments, go here.)

Introduction (0:00 – 3:10)

Which Craft? (3:15 – 15:06)

  • Our nostalgia for the 1990s
  • Characteristics of 90s movies: likable anti-heroes, high-stakes comedy, frame story
  • CGI and practical effects
  • Faux 17th-century accents, time travel, and funny anachronisms
  • Comedic subversion of horror tropes
  • Parallels to other stories/ films

“Are You a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?” (15:13 – 29:20)

  • Lots of awesome, dynamic female characters and only one (or two?) male protagonists
  • Max’s non-toxic performance of masculinity (especially after the girls teach him to be better)
  • Sibling relationship as the main focus; trio of heroes working as a team
  • Max’s transitions as a character
  • Portrayals of sexuality: Max as virgin/ ingénue, girls are more knowledgeable/ comfortable in their bodies, Sarah’s relationship with her sexuality
  • Portrayal of the children’s parents

“Bald Heads and Queer Noses” (29:25 – 48:30)

  • The witches’ bodies as the source for the film’s plot/ conflict and their feelings about their physical appearance
  • Significance of Billy the Zombie (man silenced by a woman, no blame assigned to Sarah for Billy’s infidelity)
  • Male characters lose their clothes (or they get torn) while the girls’ clothing remains intact and functional
  • Bodies as text: the spell book made from human skin (with an eye, possibly sentient);  marking your identity on your body or through your clothing
  • Mary’s sense of smell

Related Links

“What if We Cultivated Our Ugliness? or: The Monstrous Beauty of Medusa”

“‘Toddler Grandma Style,’ The Fashion Approach That Will Set You Free”

“Round About the Cauldron Go” (48:35 – 1:14:42)

  • Importance of the New England setting (maple leaves and fall)
  • Origins of Halloween and the intersection with Salem and colonialism
  • Binx the cat
  • The witches’ relationship with nature (plus speculation about the witches’ origins, their mother, and their relationship to immortal figures like Hecate and the devil)
  • Discussion of symbols and how the meaning of signs is dependent on context
  • The film’s portrayal of the afterlife and the soul
  • The witches’ psychosomatic pain
  • Clash of belief systems: science and technology  vs. magic and nature
  • Max’s witchcraft and Alison’s witchcraft
  • The preservation of the Sanderson house as a museum

Related Links

History of Halloween

Final Spells ( 1:14:46 – 1:20:00)

  • The title of the film
  • The witches’ adaptability

Episode 1.4: Equal Rites

Happy full moon–and lunar eclipse! For our fourth episode, we’re throwing it back to a classic: Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett.

Our theme song is “Moon and Spruce” by Sarah Littledrum.

Here’s a listening guide for the episode. (For a description of our segments, go here.)

Introduction (0:00 – 3:20)

Which Craft? (3:20 – 29:35)

“Are You a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?” (29:35 – 47:46)

  • Reading magic through gender identity
  • Reading magic as socially assigned labor

Related Links

Traditional Gender Hierarchy*

Male as Norm

Gender Master List: A Glossary of Gender Identities

“Bald Heads and Queer Noses” (47:47 – 1:00:15)

  • Decoding bodies through visual cues, especially clothing (#robegate)
  • Racebending and the benefits and drawbacks of foregoing racial signals

“Round About the Cauldron Go” (1:00:15 – 1:18:00)

  • Connection between magic and the natural world (bees!)
  • Real world magic (headology and the power of will)
  • More bees!

Final Spells (1:18:10 – 1:24:00)

Blooper Reel (1:25:00 – 1:26:50)

*Relevant quote from source above: “Women have traditionally been associated with the senses in Western culture, and in particular, with the ‘lower’ senses. Women are the forbidden taste, the mysterious smell, the dangerous touch. Men, by contrast, have been associated with reason, as opposed to the senses, or else with sight and hearing as the most ‘rational’ of the senses” (Constance Classen, The Color of Angels: Cosmology, Gender, and the Aesthetic Imagination, 1-2).

Next month (Sep. 6) we’ll be discussing Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. See you then!