Links:

Black Queer & Intersectional Collective– “Black Queer & Intersectional Collective is a grassroots community organization that works towards the liberation of Black queer, trans, and intersex people from all walks of life through direct action, community organizing, education on our issues, and creating spaces to uplift our voices.

We focus on uplifting the needs, narratives, and passions of Black LGBTQIA+ people within and outside of our collective to achieve a world where all Black LGBTQIA+ folks are free from oppression.

We dream of a world where police, prisons, and detention centers do not exist, where Black LGBTQIA+ people have equitable access to free/affordable and affirming healthcare and housing, and where we can get the support we need from within our own communities.”

 

Central Ohio Freedom Fund– “Central Ohio Freedom Fund is a Black-led, Black-centered organization which exists to work toward elimination of cash bail and pretrial detention. We serve communities in Central Ohio by using a revolving fund for bailouts, providing public education, and advocating for radical systemic transformations which create conditions for a sustainable future.”

 

Shit’s Totally Fucked! What Can We Do?: a Mutual Aid Explainer– 8 minute video on the basics and values of mutual aid

 

Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)– “SURJ’s role as part of a multi-racial movement is to undermine white support for white supremacy and to help build a racially just society.

That work cannot be done in isolation from or disconnected from the powerful leadership of communities of color. It is one part of a multi-racial, cross-class movement centering people of color leadership.

Therefore, SURJ believes in resourcing organizing led by people of color, and maintaining strong accountability relationships with organizers and communities of color as [a] central part of our theory of change.”

 

5 Ways White People Can Take Action in Response to White and State-Sanctioned Violence– article from May 2020

 

Episode description:

This week Nikki and Kate watched The Blair Witch Project and decided that Heather is unfairly maligned. #hellyeahheather 

Tune in for discussions on tropes, viral marketing, and the finer points of leading with teeth vs clocking the teeth. Grab a plate of spaghetti, this is a meaty episode. 

If you like what we’re doing, rate and review us on Apple Podcasts- it really does help! 

You could also stop by our Patreon and check out ways to support! 

Special thanks and credit to Anthony Rocazella, who composed our intro and outro music. You can find him on instagram at puffthemagicbassist.   



Episode content:

Rotten Tomatoes- Found video footage tells the tale of three film students (Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, Michael C. Williams) who’ve traveled to a small town to collect documentary footage about the Blair Witch, a legendary local murderer. Over the course of several days, the students interview townspeople and gather clues to support the tale’s veracity. But the project takes a frightening turn when the students lose their way in the woods and begin hearing horrific noises.

 

Nerd Corner:

Viral marketing, Blair Witch Project mockumentary stunt, Paranormal Activity viral marketing 

Ur Example, Trop Maker, Trope Codifier

 

General conversation:

the people that tell more specific stories are shot in the black and white style. Everyone else is more joking and laughing and in color. 

 

Everyone has different stories of the witch. I love how they clearly have better things to be doing but they’re like sure while I’m messing with this fishing line I’ll tell you about some child death.

 

Child trying to cover her mouth- this is the secret you’re not supposed to share. Ingrid yelling no and covering her mom’s mouth. 

 

Ingrid as harbinger. I am Ingrid’s caretaker. I believe enough not to fuck with it.

 

Invocation of an Indian burial ground. Classic white person move. 

 

Mysterious sounds- the unpredictability and the ambiguity.

 

Is 3 am the witching hour?? 

 

Three piles of rocks outside the tent, graves. Foreshadowing. 

 

It’s not quite reality. The camera- a filtered reality. Whoa that’s meta. It’s like you can pretend everything’s not quite the way it is. 

 

It’s definitely a psychological horror with supernatural stuff motivating and prodding.

 

Callback to Wizard of Oz, taking refuge in a childhood memory to deal with something unimaginable. 

 

This movie relishes the unseen. 



Tropes:

20 Minutes into the Past– recent past, often used for nostalgia or to avoid technology that will complicate things

Ambiguous Ending– we know at the beginning they’re missing, but we never know for sure if Mike and Heather were killed

Apocalyptic Log“You can expect that whoever made this log will have recorded events up until their last breath. If the heroes (and thus the audience) choose to read this log from the beginning, the log will no doubt start and progress the same way, with hopeful characters recording the casual details of their lives and work, until things start going sideways and the entries shift towards concern, disbelief, desperation and/or (ultimately) insanity. The final — and usually the most important — entry may range from incoherent gibberish as the remaining character tries to warn the world of what happened to them, to a final cogent statement warning the reader not to repeat their mistake (or how to otherwise clean up after them).”

Be Careful What You Wish For– now when we think wish granting there’s the jackass genie, the literal genie, and the genie that wants to teach you a lesson. In this case, Heather and the rest want to get documentary footage of the Blair Witch. This comes at the cost of their lives, possibly. 

Bloody Handprint“In some cases this is combined with Gory Discretion Shot; we, the audience, are told there is a corpse in the room, but all we are allowed to see is the blood. This can be worse than a clear sight of the victim, since imagination is left to supply the details. If the protagonists are following a trail of handprints they’ll be gripped by apprehension too, thinking of what must be waiting for them at the end of it.”

Break the Haughty– Heather is confident and in-control. So she has to be taught a lesson. 

Breaking Speech– Josh and the “what’s your motivation?” speech

Butt-Monkey– Josh, he gets the worst shit for a while after knocking over a cairn on accident 

Call-back– brings back something relevant, more than just a running gag. So in this case it’s the call back to what Rustin Parr did to the children when you see Mike standing with his face in the corner. 

Captain Obvious– self-evident statements

Chewing the Scenery– acting with emphasis, very extreme emotions. Can be  so bad it’s good, memeable, or just actually good. In this case Heather’s videotaped apology is chewing the scenery. Apparently it was memed to death. And then there’s the parodies. Apparently this scene is why some people believed it to be true. 

Cluster F-Bomb– they use the word fuck a lot- unscripted movie

Developing Doomed Characters

Don’t Go in the Woods

Eldritch Location (podcast version is TANIS)

Foreshadowing– vs fauxshadowing vs plot point

Going in Circles (that damn log) but you realize it’s an unnaturally looping location

Improv (The actors were given no more than a 35-page outline of the mythology behind the plot before shooting began. When filming began, they were for the most part only given deliberately vague instructions on what to; such as trying to track down the other actors that had been planted amongst the Burkittsville citizens. All lines were improvised and nearly all the events in the film were unknown to the three actors beforehand, and were often on-camera surprises to them all.)

Mood whiplash– used here to show their descent into madness

Nostril shot– (she didn’t realize she wasn’t getting her entire face in the shot)

Nothing is scarier“This is a Horror trope where fear isn’t induced by a traumatic visual element or by a physical threat, but by the sole lack of event. When properly done, it can result in terrifying moments. It does so for one simple reason: the creator refuses to show us what’s causing this horror, but we desperately wish to know, so imagination fills in the blanks and our minds provide the content, using what the individual considers scary.”

Tempting Fate “when a character says something that dares the universe into making things miserable for them, and the universe takes them up on the challenge. Oftentimes, the character is commenting on how they’ve hit Rock Bottom and how things couldn’t possibly get any worse — right before things do turn From Bad to Worse. Conversely, they may talk about how things are absolutely perfect, only for their world to come crashing down five seconds later.”

Unseen evil

Unwitting Instigator of Doom- bc Josh kicked over a cairn

 

Boissoneault, Lorraine. (2017, October 31). The Hair-Raising Gimmicks of the Abominable Showman. Smithsonian Magazine.  https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/hair-raising-gimmicks-abominable-showman-180967014/ 

 

Gleiberman, Owen. (2009, October 7). ‘Paranormal Activity’: A marketing campaign so ingenious it’s scary. Entertainment Weekly. https://ew.com/article/2009/10/07/paranormal-activity-marketing-campaign/

 

Marthe, Emalie. (2016, September 14). ‘They Wished I Was Dead’: How ‘The Blair Witch Project’ Still Haunts Its Cast. Vice. https://www.vice.com/en/article/gyxxg3/they-wished-i-was-dead-how-the-blair-witch-project-still-haunts-its-cast

 

Steward, Rebecca. (2016, September 23). How the original Blair Witch Project ushered in a new era of viral movie marketing. The Drum. https://www.thedrum.com/news/2016/09/23/how-the-original-blair-witch-project-ushered-new-era-viral-movie-marketing