An “old movie” thread has been requested. Ask and ye shall receive.
Longtime blamers are well aware that, while recuperating from gory ankle reconstruction surgery a couple years ago — remember? Bert dug a hole, and I fell in it? — I became strangely fascinated by the Turner Classic Movie channel.
The Turner Classic Movie channel, in case you never heard of it, runs old movies 24 hours a day. Talkies, silents, the odd foreign film. The movies are given shallow introductions by an avuncular presenter who focuses primarily on the personalities of the film’s personnel, rather than offering any really useful critique. Initially I started watching TCM while I lay imprisoned on the living room couch because it is more or less commercial-free. It is more commercial-free than PBS, which, in addition to shilling for the megatheocorporatocracy, tends to run really long, tiresome commercials for itself featuring handsome, well-groomed children of all colors leaping through the air in slow-motion waving “PBS” signs, showing public broadcasting’s affluent honky audience how diverse they are. TCM, though not even remotely patriarchy-free, at least refrains from overt messages that purport to demonstrate Exxon-Mobil’s deep concern for the environment.
When I say that TCM is not even remotely patriarchy-free, I am not fucking kidding. I have yet to see a single film in their catalog that doesn’t throw a yacht party celebrating the mores of the culture of oppression. War movies, romantic comedies, films noir — even the iconoclastic films and the beloved classics — revolve around either a) the White Dude Experience or (somewhat less often), b) women who fail to conform to the mandates of White Dude Experience and get an educational smackdown. Turner Classic Movies is a great repository of stylized, idealized, heroifized patriarchy in action.
Recently on Kubrick night I watched (for the millionth time) “Dr Strangelove,” a gorgeous and funny film it is impossible not to admire despite the fact that the only woman in the whole thing is a Playboy centerfold. There are many reasons to admire it, such as the the opening sequence where war planes refuel in midair to a cheesy soundtrack, Peter Sellers in 3 roles, the verite-style battle sequence, and the fact that it is one of the few non-indie films ever made which does not contain the line “I don’t know what to believe anymore!” But it’s also one of the most phallo-centric things going, and at the end — after Slim Pickens has ridden the giant nuclear bomb penis that will destroy the earth — when Dr Strangelove describes a post-apocalyptic paradise involving a shit-ton of hot babes at the ready to service the survivors through the nuclear winter, I was primed to throw a boot at the movie delivery device.
My thesis is this: that the entire canon of 20th century cinema is misogynist, classist, racist, and is therefore impossible for the radical feminist to appreciate without cringing, throwing stuff, and blowing a lobe.
Here’s my favorite beef: the scene where a dude and a woman are running, running, and the virile dude is yanking the woman’s hand, dragging her pathetic terrified person along, and she falls because she’s wearing fucking high heels, and he picks her up and they continue running, running, him dragging her along like a wagonload of screaming mimis.
I also can’t stand it when actors yank horses’ mouths, which they all, without exception, do.
What chaps your hide, cinematically speaking?