by BLAINE STEVENS | February 21st, 2022
When my brother was in high school, he and his friends did salvia in his prep school dorm room. While tripping, he opened his closet door and found that his clothes had been replaced with a loop of Abraham Zapruder’s footage of JFK getting shot in the head in Dallas. Needless to say, you can imagine my delight when I took a look at the Spring 2022 course offerings and saw a course entitled “Recreating the Zapruder Film.” I was psyched. The description on Polaris was weirdly sparse, but given my brother’s experience, I was betting money that there must be some genetic link to the sole known footage of our 35th President being assassinated that would make this class an Easy A for me.
However, I’ve been in class for a good few weeks now and I don’t think my expectations for this course are lining up with what is actually expected from the Prof. I mean, either way, I knew the class was going to be pretty quirky, but I wasn’t expecting the syllabus to be written in Zodiac ciphers and I’m worried about falling behind on my assignments because I frankly have no clue what circle-dot, upside-down-V, pentagram means. I know I’m probably asking for too much and it’s probably my fault for making assumptions about what Prof. T. Cruz-Father would ask of us in the first place. I just thought that we were going to be studying the impacts of the film, yanno? Maybe we would delve into some conspiracy theory studies and how the footage contributed to that sort of stuff.
But Prof. Cruz-Father deffo has some very literal expectations for this class though because over March break, the entire class is flying down to Dallas to remake the Zapruder film. It’ll be great to see the city and relive history in the spot where JFK was killed but considering only 14 of the 16 of us will be returning from Dallas alive, I’m thinking the cons of taking the class are outweighing the pros as of now.
Again, “Recreating the Zapruder Film” really does match with my schedule well and I’ve been really interested in taking a Cinema Studies class before grad, but I’m not sure that I am comfortable with us having a lottery to determine which of the 16 of us will portray Lee Harvey Oswald. And I’m even less comfortable with the lottery winner (loser?) getting to pick which of us they want to be JFK. However, I guess it’ll cancel out because the guy portraying JFK gets to pick who portrays Jack Ruby. There’s some sort of full circle argument somewhere in there.
Considering she’s insistent on maintaining cinematic accuracy, she’s keeping the gender roles consistent with the actual Zapruder film which doesn’t seem like the wokest decision of all time. I’m not obsessed with maintaining the gender binary but I would say that the girls in class are overall relieved because none of us will die. It does suck that she’s making all of the girls in the class smoke two packs of Newports a day to master Jackie Kennedy’s smoker voice though, and while I can’t speak for the other women in my class, I personally am not crazy excited about the prospect of having one of my classmates’ brain matter splattered on a Chanel suit I would be wearing. Again, I really can’t speak to everyone else’s lived experience. I don’t want to speak for anyone else but I’m just not hyped about that idea. However, she’s casting the girl to play Jackie based on who has the weirdest eyes that are set the farthest apart and I like to think that my eyes are actually way too close together, so I think I should be safe.
And again, Prof. Cruz-Father has amazing reviews, but I also don’t think it’s entirely appropriate that she is making us each Venmo her $300 so that we can rent a 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible for us to kill one of our peers in. After taking the airfare costs to get us all down to Dallas into consideration, it’s just not the most considerate option, especially because she told us that we won’t be sleeping in a hotel or anything like that in order to decrease “evidence” of us being in the city. Again, just my opinion, but sleeping under a freeway ramp in Dallas for two weeks is not necessarily how I want to spend my March break.
Anyways, I’m going back and forth on the whole thing. Like on one hand, super cool idea, interesting professor, and the ability to get really close with a bunch of my classmates through trauma bonding. Plus, one of the guys in my class is super hot and I could totally slide in if I start talking to him at the three weekly “rehearsals” we have at the local gun range, but also, there is a significant chance that I could see him get murdered in cold blood while roleplaying the President. I don’t know, I’m gonna talk to the registrar and figure it out.