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Hear The Murmur Get Wicked
Tall, blonde, still stunning in her 40s and now a lauded filmmaker, ‘mumblecore’ maven Lynn Shelton explains how a difficult adolescence moulded her as an artist...
Roe McDermott, 10 Jul 2012
“Something about adolescence just crushed it out of me, all my agency, and it took me a long time to regain it. I started making features when I was 40, and once I was on set, I realised that this was always what I was meant to do. But I don’t think I would have been ready for it before. I had to grow and mature and trust myself and try win back my confidence.”
This notion of the female experience is a very important theme in Lynn Shelton’s work, particularly her debut, We Go Way Back, which the director says was “emotionally autobiographical.” In it, a 23-year-old actress is confronted by and speaks to the spectre of her 13-year-old self. A beautifully original and emotional film, Shelton’s aim was not only to confront her own demons, but the experience of many confident young women who become beaten down by the damaging messages society sends them.
“I grew up in a very feminist household, was always told I could do whatever I wanted. But something happens to young women in adolescence, and for me it was that dawning realisation that I was becoming a sexual object against my will and having this bizarre relationship with that sudden sexualisation and objectification; this, ‘Don’t look at me/Look at me’ dynamic that affects all of your relationships with your male peers. And I was a total tomboy growing up, so when that happened I felt somehow betrayed by my body for becoming an object that was for men to look at, not for me to utilise.”
The director admits that she fell prey to t0 the notion that a woman’s worth lies in her beauty, not in her voice, and it affected her career path for many years. “When I was very young, I used to be confident in my ability as a writer and photographer. But after adolescence, I went into acting, because it seemed easier to just become a mouthpiece for someone else’s words than to fight for my own work, which I think is common. Really, in terms of the ramifications of this pyscho-emotionally, I’m still trying to hash it all out!”