It is with total confidence in the author’s policy never to reveal publicly the majority of her flaws that the blamer can enjoy I Blame the Patriarchy. Yet, lest there emerge dangerous misapprehensions concerning my perfection of character or untarnished mental competence, I’ve made no secret of my insane Turner Classic Movie channel compulsion.
If you are one of those rare persons for whom my TV viewing habits remain a blessed mystery: it began last summer, when I was laid up for two months with nothing to do but wait for a surgically-reconstructed extremity to start looking like a foot again. Like absolutely all television, TCM is pretty much wall-to-wall misogyny, so at first I tuned in only because it is the lone commercial-free cable channel. This is my sole prerequisite for convalescent TV entertainment: I have no interest, if I happen to doze off, in being abruptly reawakened by the revolting xtreme-tits-n-ass-monster-truck pandemonium expectorated ceaselessly by commercials made to appeal to what is apparently the only demographic for which TV is produced: pornsick young knobs who say “dude.”
But eventually the black & white Hollywood Honky Parade of Patriarchy began to fascinate me, in an it’s-horrible-yet-I-can’t-look-away way. Since my days as a pathetic invalid, I’ve witnessed the birth of a thousand clichés. I’ve analyzed a thousand camera angles. I’ve developed a thousand celebrity crushes (on Charles Chaplin, Bette Davis, and — I can’t believe I’m admitting this and if you tell anyone it’ll be your word against mine — Rita Hayworth). I’ve cringed a thousand cringes as all the female sex symbols aged out of the system while ossified Cary Grants and Gene Kellys and Clark Gables continued to score taut young booty hookups.
And I’ve experienced about a million whole-body, mega-visceral gross-out shudders. These are inevitable whenever the radical feminist encounters the canon of any artsy pursuit — as the blamer is aware, all art throughout the ages has been by men, for men, to glorify men — but the sheer ostentation of mainstream cinematic misogyny is almost mesmerizing in its unabating horror.
I offer this meandering preamble to introduce what is essentially the plot summary of a spine-tinglingly men-hate-you — even for TCM — film called The Interns. The Interns was released in 1962 and stars that guy Bookem Dan-o from Hawaii Five-O as one of the up-and-coming young (white and male, of course) docs. This movie, in addition to its just being crummy, gave me one of the worst whole-body, mega-visceral gross-out shudders I’ve ever experienced watching a G-rated film, and I’ve just got to get it off my chest.
So it falls upon Bookem Dan-o, a surgery intern with whom the audience sympathizes and identifies, to deliver his first baby all by himself, assisted only by two seasoned nurses and an experienced anesthesiologist (!). In one of the truly creepiest (though it is clearly intended to be merely sentimental) scenes ever filmed, Bookem Dan-o repeatedly addresses his patient, who he only just met like 2 minutes ago, as “dear,” and constantly leans in intimately to stroke her hair.
If any of my doctors ever stroked even one of my hairs I’d have a platoon of lawyers blocking all the exits in about 6 minutes.
The movie gets even more repulsive: the patient character prattles about all the fluffy pink dresses she’s going to buy for her kid, emits a few adorable squeals, apologizes for making so much noise (although, as the script makes clear without actually using the dirty word, she has been given an episiotomy without any anaesthesia), and pops out a kid which is immediately taken away from her. Exit the
Cut to Bookem Dan-o; the handsome young genius is slouched in spotless scrubs, utterly exhausted from the enormous mental exertions required of a dude to say “Push! Push!” a couple of times. He stares in wonderment at his hands, his skilled, miraculous hands . A motherly nurse appears celestially at his side. “You gave life,” she confirms adoringly. Whereupon Bookem Dan-o decides to forgo his future as a surgeon to become that most noble and nearly divine of all AMA-anointed superhuman medical men, an obstetrician. And here’s the punchline: Bookem Dan-o’s character is named — I’m not even kidding — “Dr. Worship”!
Although I have developed, over the years, an iron stomach when it comes to this sort of crap, I swear I have been haunted for two days by the relentless image of Dr Worship stroking that parturient woman’s hair. Obviously the moviegoer is supposed to interpret this seemingly innocent gesture as indicative of Dr Worship’s exemplary bedside manner, but when viewed through the angst-colored glasses of patriarchy-blaming, a hair-stroking, paternalistic male obstetrician can be seen as nothing but positively sinister. I’d almost rather have watched a Porn Gone Wild commercial; at least that brand of male entitlement isn’t trying to be invisible.
Now, back to blaming.