Frock Flicks FAQ
Questions About Us:
What is this whole Frock Flicks thing about?
We are a blog and a podcast that reviews movies and TV shows set in mostly pre-1960s eras, primarily looking at the costume angle, but also taking into account history and design in general. We’re also on Facebook and Twitter.
Who are you specifically?
Check out our bios. We may not make our living off this blog (yet!), but we are professional academics and journalists who’ve been studying historical costume for decades.
Where can I watch that historical costume movie/TV you reviewed?
Have you reviewed ______ historical costume movie/TV show yet?
Before emailing or commenting, try searching our website! There’s a search bar on the upper-right of every page. You can also use the navigation menus to search by historical era or theme. And yes, we’ve reviewed Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries already (it’s great, thanks!).
Will you review ______ historical costume movie/TV show please?
If you’ve searched our site and found we haven’t already reviewed your favorite frock flick, there’s a chance we’ll take your suggestion. First, read these tips on how to recommend a movie/TV show for us to review.
Can you help me research ______ historical period?
Sorry, no, we have our hands full with this website. But here’s some tips on how to tell if a costume is authentic or from a movie (since people ask us that).
When you say ‘historical costume movies,’ what do you mean?
We review and discuss movies and TV shows that are consciously set in a time previous to their production — so a flick filmed in the 1930s but set in the 1860s. We tend to enjoy pre-WWII periods, and we don’t review sci-fi/fantasy costuming.
Did you know there’s a typo in ______ post?
It happens. While our Editor-in-Chief has worked as a professional copy-editor and written several style guides, she’s also doing this site late at night after her paying job. Have pity!
What happened to your podcast?
It’s still around, but we’ve never produced it on a very regular schedule, sorry! Find out why we podcast when we do.
Questions About Our Opinions:
Do you realize that costume designers aren’t always the ones calling the shots in terms of costume designs?
One thing we try to be very careful about around here (although we may slip up occasionally) is not to assume that the costume designer is calling all the shots about the overall costume design. The director sets the vision for any film/television production and is the person who works with lead individuals to decide what the film is trying to achieve — scriptwriters, costume designers, set designers, etc. And, of course, we’ve all heard the stories of producers and studios getting involved in the vision and either proactively, or during filming, influencing how a production is shaped. So costume designers are not all on their own in an ivory tower, doing exactly what and how they want. Read more: Should Designers Mess With Historical Costume?
Do you realize that a costume designer’s job is to interpret history, and bring their own (and the filmmakers’) ideas to the project?
I think all of us here at Frock Flicks will defend filmmakers’ right to tweak historical costume until the cows come home! And if you listen to our podcasts, you’ll hear some very nuanced discussions of this about specific films. However, your average movie viewer doesn’t know much about history, let alone the specifics of clothing. For those who enjoy history and/or historical costume, or want to learn more, we’re simply pointing out the deviations and mistakes. Read more: Should Designers Mess With Historical Costume?
Do you realize that the designer’s/filmmakers’ goal may not actually be historical accuracy?
Historical accuracy is not the Number One goal of making movies and TV shows… What is the goal of making a movie or TV show? Usually, it’s some combination of a) entertaining a specific audience, b) making money, and c) fulfilling the artistic vision of a director and/or a producer. There can be other factors, of course, but those three tend to be the big drivers at work. For major productions, issues (a) and (b) work together and may overpower (c) — a film or TV show trying to make money by entertaining a specific audience demographic may sacrifice artistic vision, for example, and along with that goes any pretense at historical accuracy. But thems the breaks. Read more: Movies Playing Fast and Lose With History Part II: Why Does It Happen?
What do you mean when you say something is historically inaccurate?
It’s historically inaccurate.
So, when we point out inaccuracies, we’re just discussing the facts. I’m sorry if it hurts feelings, but it’s not a judgement call. There are probably 5 million people who love that design element, and we’re the 0.0001% who aren’t necessarily saying we don’t like it, we’re just saying that it’s not accurate to the period. That’s all. It’s a fact that gold lamé wasn’t invented in Cleopatra’s time. I’m not saying that to be mean or to be a spoilsport. Read more: Just the Facts, Ma’am
Aren’t you implying that therefore it’s bad/ugly/wrong/making baby jesus cry?
Also, historically accurate isn’t necessarily ugly, or un-interesting, or not-serving-the-character-and-plot! There are many goals in costume design for media, and we do talk about and appreciate those. So, saying that something is “inaccurate” doesn’t mean we’re saying we don’t like it. Liking is an emotional response. Whether something is accurate is (within a range of interpretation) a fact. Read more: Just the Facts, Ma’am
Are you big meanies?
Trystan would say yes, but really, we’re critics. What critics do is critique. That means pointing out what, in our opinion, works and does not work, what is and is not accurate, what is and is not entertaining. We’re here to promote the films and TV shows we think are great, and warn viewers away from those that are horrible, and talk about history and historical fashion for those who are interested.
That said, criticism is part of show biz … We should still be allowed to talk about the dumbing down of history as entertainment, and I argue that we should also be ok with the fact that as a predominately female demographic, discussion is going to be at times sardonically witty, scathing, and even outright bitchy. And I’m not so sure that that’s a bad thing. Read more: A Defense of Snark
Why should you be allowed to critique movies/TV — you’re not movie/TV costume designers!
Famed American film critic Roger Ebert didn’t direct movies, and the few film screenplays he wrote were terrible (Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, 1970, is not cult classic for stellar dialog). Conversely, you don’t see hugely successful movie director Steven Spielberg twiddling away his time writing movie reviews. That’s not how it works.
It’s kind of a stretch to say that because we are not professionally paid as theatrical costumers that we have “no right” to “criticize” the costumes in film and television. Let’s be honest … You feel entitled to critique the food you eat at a restaurant without being a professional chef, right? Well, media is another type of product, that, like food, is subject to critique by those who consume it. Read more: POV: Opinions (A Story in Gifs)
Each of us has spent years studying and making historical costumes, including professional and academic work. We’re also trained researchers, in a mix of academic and journalistic disciplines. While we don’t know everything (who does?), we do know a hell of a lot more than the average random reporter when we compare what’s in a movie/TV show to the current research on what was worn in a certain period. Frock Flicks fills a big fat journalistic void, thankyouverymuch. Read more: How We Are Different From Other Movie/TV Reviews
Don’t you realize that you’re just talking about entertainment?
There’s a reason we use words like movies, cinema, television, media, and entertainment repeatedly. Because this whole shebang — blog, podcast, Facebook, Twitter, etc. — is about Historical. Costume. In. The. MOVIES. (and TV). So, thanks for pointing out that what we are discussing here is JUST entertainment. And here we thought we were discussing the finer points of cricket. Damn. We totally screwed that one up.
Read more: It’s Just Entertainment
We hope this helps clear up some questions! Please check out our linked posts for more information.