So Deborah Kampmeier’s cornpone Southern gothic Hounddog — which rather outrageously has its wanly sketched Mystical Negro character advance the novel concept that, “It’s how people treat you that makes you a nigger!” — is banking on a rather unusual advertising strategy, after the whole Dakota-Fanning-rape-movie buzz didn’t really catch on the first go-round. Print ads this past weekend now feature an exhortation from no less than Gloria Steinem, reading, “Women especially should see this important, unforgettable film.”
Why, precisely? Because in its 98-minute running time there is a 20-second rape scene? Or because the writer-director is female? Hounddog is neither important nor unforgettable — except as the latter relates to David Morse’s portrayal of a drooling simpleton who cuts his own bangs after he gets struck by lightning. The fuzzy logic of this direct gender appeal is somewhat lost on me, but maybe it’s a post-Sarah Palin thing, I don’t know. It’d be interesting to know when it was hatched. And can the diehard P.U.M.A. folks really be pried off the Internet and cattle-rustled to arthouses?