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12:44 p.m. - 2011-04-03
I thought I'd review 'Dreamgirls'

Mostly movies.

Goodness knows I've said this often enough. (Blog for over a decade and see how seldom you can keep from repeating yourself about some things.) Movies are my brain candy, my favorite escape, touchstones in an uncertain universe. Perhaps that's an odd thing for someone who writes as much as I do to say, perhaps not. Venus Williams is a tennis superstar but her passion is fashion. Paul Newman drove race cars and was a philanthropic gourmet. Being an Academy award winning actor was his job. (No, trolls, so far no Pulitzers or Bookers for me. Hell, I hardly make any damn money let alone win prizes for my prose.) Just the same though, if words are my brick and mortar then movies are my millwork and squashy oversized furniture. Don't need either to make a house, yet are damn nice to have. The obvious solution would be to write scripts and screenplays but I know too little and too much about it. Too little to be competent at crafting a story and dialog for the screen and far too aware of the torturous twisting and bending the words go through in the process of becoming a movie. An amusing wacky original story about a hippie commune that lives on a boat somehow becomes a slasher pic about diabetic pirates. Couldn't do it even if I could do it, if you ken my meaning here. I've no puffed up notions about my art, but damn, diabetic pirates??? No thanks. I can't even share a kitchen with another cook let alone have my stuff be mangled by committees of marketing reps, agents, studio bean counters, and dimwits who believe a brief glimpse of Sandra Bullock's naked tits will fix everything.

The second obvious choice would be to become a movie critic. Hello? Dream job!!!! But just like every other fricken position of power, film criticism is dominated by smug white guys. Truly, aside from Manohla Dargis at the NYT and Claudia Puig at USA Today being a female movie critic is like being a mute trapped in a well, you can shout all you want but ain't nobody gonna hear you. I have, on occasion, entertained fantasies of partnering up with Roger Ebert. He cannot speak anymore and I talk enough for two, even three people, and wouldn't it be cool to have a He saw/She saw approach to reviewing movies? But newspapers, other assorted media outlets, filmmakers and the studios (even cruddy little indie ones) couldn't give a warm handful of bile about what WOMEN think about movies. They know that we'll accompany our guys to any schlocky piece of crap with explosions and grunty moronic man-speak dialog like the docile obedient beasties we've been socialized to be and that only a guy who's bent on getting laid will go to a movie with a real story and emotions and plot, so a film about/for/that engages women is considered a loser from the get-go, so why bother reviewing it? Who cares what women think? Not Hollywood, Sundance, Cannes, and SXSW, that's for sure.

Yet for all of that, I love movies. Surely it requires patient sifting and trying my best to ignore the male-centric bent of 99% of what's offered. Honestly? Rom-coms are the worst offenders in this category. 'Knocked Up', 'What Women Want', 'You've Got Mail', '27 Dresses'????? Barf! GAAAAAAH!!!! Disgusting. In those and most every other rom-com the female lead is betrayed, duped, given a shiv in the ribs by some idiotic man-child with the moral code of your average sewer rat and oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! She luuurves him for it! "Thank you, sir! Have me fired/evicted/ publicly humiliated/abandoned on a road in the middle of nowhere again! Puh-leeeeeze??? While we're at it, please sleep with my best friend and/or my mother! Insist I gave up my career/home/dignity and give you blowjobs endlessly forever! It's soooooo romantic!"


Believe it or not, films from the B&W era are actually less sexist. With a few notable exceptions ('Jezebel' in particular) Bette Davis didn't take anyone's shit. Carole Lombard? She might have played a daffy dope, but she always got what she wanted without changing herself a whit. Lauren Bacall led Bogie around by the…nose. Myrna Loy matched William Powell drink for drink, snappy comeback for snappy comeback, even gunshot for gunshot in every single 'Thin Man' movie.

It's no accident with the rise of the Women's Movement that movies became more abusive toward women. The higher we rose in our self-awareness and our goals, the more movies pushed back by making females in film watered down, victimized, hapless orifices to be used without consequence by the wonderful 'hero'. Patient, always-forgiving helpmeets who if ever dared to voice an opinion or have needs of her own was slapped down for it and punished by losing her children/livelihood/marriage. Or worse (and more commonly) her character is twisted into an absolute bitch who deserves her comeuppance for having a brain or heart or feelings of her own. A comeuppance, which of course, the male lead supplies most 'admirably' with a slap, a rape or outright abandonment. That'll teach her.

In a microcosmic parallel women in film represent the utterly destroyed, fucked over and vanquished middle-class in the USA (thank you, Ronald Reagan-worshipping, GOP voting, Tea Bagging morons!), art absolutely reflects real life. Hopes, dreams, the reality of what we once were and could and would have been has been usurped. Pounded down by a gang of selfish, ME! ME! ME! 'Only MY view counts!' white guys with money.

Off to watch My Man Godfrey for the zillionth time. ~LA the Cinematic Social Commentator

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