Earlier this week at South by Southwest, there was a surprise screening of Todd Haynes’s legendary and brilliant film Superstar. The film has become notorious for its use of dolls to narrate the tragic life of the singer Karen Carpenter, and for its legal problems— the film was withdrawn from circulation following a legal battle with Karen’s brother Richard Carpenter.
However the film can be shown for academic purposes and has made it to youtube and google video (see below). Perfectly coinciding with the film’s showing at SXSW is Glyn Davis’s new study of the film, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, which is part of the Cultographies series.
Davis details the film’s fascinating history: its production and initial reception, its journey through the courts, and its bootleg circulation among fans. It also explores Superstar’s rich, provocative, and moving content, paying close attention to the film’s aesthetics, generic form, and cultural position as a hybrid text.