How Wolf Girl Speaks to the Communal Experience of Marginalization
Melissa Lozada-Oliva in Conversation with Mychal Denzel Smith on Open Form
Welcome to Open Form, a weekly film podcast hosted by award-winning writer Mychal Denzel Smith. Each week, a different author chooses a movie: a movie they love, a movie they hate, a movie they hate to love. Something nostalgic from their childhood. A brand-new obsession. Something they’ve been dying to talk about for ages and their friends are constantly annoyed by them bringing it up.
In this episode of Open Form, Mychal talks to Melissa Lozada-Oliva (Dreaming of You: A Novel in Verse) about the 2001 film Wolf Girl, directed by Thom Fitzgerald and starring Tim Curry, Victoria Sanchez, Grace Jones, and Lesley Ann Warren.
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From the episode:
Mychal Denzel Smith: Tim Curry’s character is very much exploiting all of these people who have been cast aside, right? I don’t expect this film to explore that necessarily, but in exploiting them, it teases out this vague relationship that all of us who are otherwise exploited eventually come to feel—that in that experience, there is community. Like, all of them are dining together and eating together. Athena, the fat lady, does become a mother figure to Tara. In this pressure cooker of exploitation and discrimination, we find one another. And even as we are existing through the exploitation, we have to form the community for our survival.
Melissa Lozada-Oliva: Wow, that’s really beautiful. Those are really sweet scenes where they’re all just dining and laughing and gossiping together, and they’re like a found family. When your existence and your appearance are making you money because of your marginalized identity, then you don’t know how to exist outside of that. I’m the wolf girl, and that’s all I’ve ever been. Sometimes, in this literary world, I think that can happen to “marginalized authors.” Or sometimes when you only date other white people, you only understand yourself in an exoticized way.
Melissa Lozada-Oliva is the child of Guatemalan and Colombian immigrants. She co-hosts the podcast Say More and is a member of the band Meli and the Specs. She holds an MFA in poetry from NYU and her writing has been featured in Remezcla, PAPER, the Guardian, The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 4, Wirecutter, Vulture, Bustle, Glamour, The Huffington Post, Muzzle Magazine, The Poetry Project, Audible, and BBC Mundo. She is from Massachusetts and lives in New York City.