Saturday, July 22, 2006

More TV and films for feminists

Veronica Mars- Another TV show I love. Strong, funny, intelligent female lead who works as a private investigator with her father. She is confident and centered in her values. A great role model for young women watching the series, Veronica is a take-no-prisoners, fearless woman. Fave scene: Veronica walks up behind two boys who are making fun of an intoxicated girl at a party and says, “It's all fun and games till one of you gets my foot up your ass.”

Buffy the Vampire Slayer- I’ve actually composed an entire blog post to this show alone. Its strong female and male leads all embody feminism. Plus the show is funny, poignant, touching and gives us a lot of great life lessons regarding sexism, racism and the metaphoric good vs. evil battle. Fave scene: way too many to pick from-- seriously. Check out the other post but if I had to choose...ugh... it's impossible. Maybe I'd choose the episode "Once More with Feeling" just because it stands out so much as different-- it's the musical episode. But if you don't believe a show called Buffy could have an impact on feminism, check out the many academic books and college level courses some universities offer JUST on this show... one of my fave books, "Sex And The Slayer: A Gender Studies Primer For The Buffy Fan."

Sex and the City – at times, I’ll watch an episode and roll my eyes at the over-the-top bed hopping and promiscuity, especially from character, Samantha. But overall these women are strong, independent and yes, flawed—it only makes them more human. They forge strong female bonds of friendship and are there for each other in times of serious turbulence, failed relationships, marriages, infertility, miscarriage, unplanned pregnancy, heartbreak, death etc. I admire all of them, even Samantha. Fave scene: Unfair. Can’t choose. I’ll be lame and say the last scene of the finale when all the girls are walking downtown Manhattan together.

Saved –This movie is a must-see; it’s a great comedy with interesting religious commentary and feminist musings. The plot involves a cast of teenagers attending a Evangelical Christian School. There, Pastor Skip backflips onto the pep rally stage shouting, “Are we down with G-O-D? Let's get our Christ on! Let's kick it Jesus-style!" Yikes.

Main character Mary has the perfect life as one of the more popular girls at school. She has the perfect friends and the perfect Christian boyfriend, Dean. Except her friends turn out to be vapid and her boyfriend turns out to be gay. Mary is convinced she can help Dean be born again, trying everything to turn him straight, eventually offering her virginity to “save” him. Problem is, Dean’s gay porn stash is discovered and his parents cart him away to hospital for drug users, gays and unwed mothers *what a nice combo, huh?*

Mary, ends up pregnant. She discovers this not due to any help from her high school sex ed which showed pictures of human bodies sans private parts and only included the lesson “wait for marriage” but thanks to a show on TV about a woman who thought she was pregnant (due to a lack of her period) but ended up finding out it was cancer. Next scene you see Mary riding home with a pregnancy test chanting in fear, “Please let it be cancer” --alas, she is pregnant and forced to reevaluate her Christian morals and friends.

The outcasts from school take her in after figuring out her secret. A great line in the movie are where two kids are talking about Mary.
“There's only one reason Christian girls comes down to the Planned Parenthood.” ”She's planting a pipe bomb?”
“Okay, two reasons.”

Mary eventually comes to a new realization about sexuality and Christianity. This transformation is best exemplified when one of her former "friends" tries to “help” her:

Hilary Faye: Mary, turn away from Satan. Jesus, he loves you.
Mary: You don't know the first thing about love.
Hilary Faye: [throws a Bible at Mary] I am FILLED with Christ's love! You are just jealous of my success in the Lord.
Mary: [Mary holds up the Bible] This is not a weapon! You idiot.

A long description… can you tell I love the movie?

North Country – “What are you supposed to do when the ones with all the power are hurting those with none? Well for starters, you stand up. Stand up and tell the truth. You stand up for your friends. You stand up even when you're all alone. You stand up.”

A great movie to watch if you want to understand the history of sexual harassment in our country. Based on real events, this movie makes you so thankful that women and some men stood up back in the day against what was wrong. It was true that women living in the iron range and working in the mines were brutally harassed. Women were grabbed, groped, attacked, bullied, cornered and asked to “service” their male coworkers and much worse. Plus all the women applying for a job were forced to undergo a gynecological exam to prove they were not pregnant! Yikes. Charlize Theron gives a powerhouse performance even though at times, it seems that the director may be trying to hard to “move” us.

Any woman who complained of her treatment was threatened with losing her job, but the main character goes ahead and takes the company to court anyway. There is a fantastic courtroom scene where other female co-workers stand up in solidarity behind her. Some of the women standing in the courtroom are not actors, but real plaintiffs from the real courtroom drama that unfolded years before! Chills!

Little Women— Also a great book for feminists. Another tear-jerker and perhaps smacks a bit of the smaltzy-ness of Anne of Green Gables but again… I love it. Marmee (the mother played by Susan Sarandon) brings up her four girls to be strong, and take pride in their worth as human beings, not simply as women. I remember at a young age, watching this movie with my mother. There is a scene where two men sit next door watching the March women and one asks, “What do those girls do over there all day?” The answer, “Over the mysteries of female life there is drawn a veil, best left undisturbed.” My mom scoffed. I remember thinking then, how stupid it was that men made us out to be these incomprehensible creatures. Which, by the way, I still hear in many movies and in stand up comedian routines… like women are so tough to figure out. Really women on a general level want respect, as equals. They don’t want to be treated like second class citizens. As Jo says, “I find it poor logic to say that women should vote because they are good. Men do not vote because they are good; they vote because they are men, and women should vote, not because we are angels and men are animals, but because we are human beings and citizens of this country.” And Marmee teaches her daughters, to never think of themselves as mere objects of physical beauty for men; they are strong, not weak. “Feminine weaknesses and fainting spells are the direct result of our confining young girls to the house, bent over their needlework, and restrictive corsets.” Go Marmee!

The Buccaneers—“Can a woman never be free?” laments character Laura Testvalley in this BBC adaptation of the Edith Wharton novel. Laura works as a governess in the St. George home helping raise young Nan. Through Laura, Nan and her sister Virginia secure marriages to wealthy English landowners. The plot is much too complex to explain. It’s a 2 part miniseries running 212 minutes long but it’s well worth the time and it will keep you engaged. The four main characters are young American women who marry English Lords and Dukes and find that their lives as kept wives in oppressive English society are not what they had imagined. “They told us it all ended at the church door and we would live happily ever after!” one woman sobs.

The main story revolves around Nan and her daring escape from an abusive husband. Nan is aided by her governess, Laura in leaving her marriage for the love of her life, Guy Thwaite. But what happens along the way is a truly shocking revelation of what life was like for women and men in that type of society --when marriage was a business arrangement at best and at worst a living hell. At one point Nan’s husband Julius comes to London, under orders from his mother to, “Bring Nan back home by force if necessary.” When Nan asks Julius why he doesn’t do this, he breaks down screaming, “Because I’m not a monster!” Heartbreaking.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Little Women is my most favorite book of all time, I think I own at least seven copies. It's right up there on the list with Anne of Green Gables, actually.

Good choice on Saved! too. It's one of my most favorite movies ever - unfortunately I am having difficulty watching it these days, as the character Patrick is a little too close in resemblence to a former boyfriend who has a tendency to sometimes upset me.

Great list Tobes :)