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Oct 14 2009

Spinster aunt differentiates between “graphic violence” and “feminism”

Hey! Roger Ebert!

A Hollywood movie with a plot device involving a female assault victim “turning the tables in an extended sequence of graphic violence” is not a “feminist revenge picture.” It’s merely a revenge picture.

88 comments

  1. norbizness

    Take THAT, 2002!

  2. nails

    The first thing I read was this:

    “”Enough” is a nasty item masquerading as a feminist revenge picture.”

    He agrees with you then, doesn’t he?

  3. Felicity

    Anything which in a sane world would be ‘revenge’, gets called crazy feminists getting angry in the Patrix.

  4. enflared

    This makes me wonder what, exactly, a feminist revenge picture might look like. Within the slasher framework, the female target doesn’t have the luxury of, much less opportunity for, Bechdel-approved exchanges with other women (if one is to apply that criterion); being prey, she doesn’t have the agency to do anything but react to male violence. Does fighting back–and winning–make one fully human?

  5. Nolabelfits

    I really enjoyed watching her kick the shit out of him in that movie.

  6. slythwolf

    Don’t you know whenever a woman does anything in a movie it’s a feminist act? Sheesh.

  7. Sarah

    Gotta agree with @nails here–Ebert does state that “Enough” is *masquerading* as a feminist revenge flick.

  8. Ronni

    I loved this part:

    Slim gets discouraging advice from a lawyer (“There is nothing you can do. He will win.”). And then she gets training in self-defense from a martial arts instructor. Both of these characters are African-American, following the movie’s simplistic moral color-coding. The day when the evil husband is black and the self-defense instructor is white will not arrive in our lifetimes.

  9. Kelly

    Oh, those poor, misunderstood, beleaguered white males just can’t catch a break. Sheesh. Latino waitresses and black self defense instructors are conspiring! Good thing they have a champion in ol what’s his name. I noticed that he also gave “My Fair Lady” four stars and referred to it as “a romance” nuff said.

  10. Givesgoodemail

    “It’s merely a revenge picture.”

    Merely is not weak enough. Badly made, cheaply scripted, yucky.
    Is a multiple thumbs down rating possible?

  11. Violet Socks

    Don’t you know whenever a woman does anything in a movie it’s a feminist act? Sheesh.

    slythwolf, you’re getting really good at this.

  12. humanbein

    His racist crack about white men always being the bad guy puzzled me, because I know he’s seen the Tina Turner movie where Ike got his misogyny displayed as brightly as Hollywood ever dares to show.

    It’s always positive to see someone championing feminism I was telling myself the other day, but every time it’s mainstream, there are strippers or abusers involved. The most feminist thing I’ve seen lately was Bobcat Goldthwaite’s horrible “Sleeping Dogs Lie (aka Stay)” which was an intense examination into a ludicrous and unbelievable situation where a cute college girl performs oral sex on a dog, and how everyone reacts to it when she decides to confess to it years later. It was a metaphor for any female sexuality at all, but raised to this insane degree. It sounds horrible, but it made you think feminist things without any kind of feminist cant or rhetoric.

  13. K

    When he said that we’ll never see an abusive black man and a helpful self-defense-instructor white man in the same movie in our lifetimes, he was commenting on political correctness and how out-of-control it has gotten. And clutching his pearls.

  14. yttik

    It wasn’t revenge, it was self defense. She doesn’t retaliate and seek revenge for years of abuse, she trains to fight back because she knows he won’t leave her alone.

    It may be a crappy movie but I have to give it two thumbs up. One for not sending a scantily clad girl down into the basement armed with a nail file where she meets her inevitable doom, screaming helplessly. Second thumb up for not rendering a woman unconscious, raping her, and then referring to it as a romantic comedy.

  15. Aestas

    “The day when the evil husband is black and the self-defense instructor is white will not arrive in our lifetimes.”

    Those poor, misunderstood, cruelly stereotyped white men. Someone fetch me the world’s tiniest violin.

  16. Nolabelfits

    Teenage girls loved this movie. For young girls just beginning to realize that men can be violent abusive assholes to their romantic partners, J. LO was a hero.

  17. Felicity

    *plays violin*

    The first ones to complain about life being unfair are the first ones telling a PC brigade which isn’t about proud whitemaleship to relax. ‘I can say what I want but you can’t’. White males being abussive. How dare films present the reality? Probably to avoid a title like, ‘The Worst Feminists Gone Mad’.

  18. pheenobarbidoll

    “The husband’s swings of personality and mood are so sudden, and his motivation makes so little sense,”

    1)Are you for real (2) are you shitting me (3)facepalm

    My abusive ex would have second to second mood swings. He’d be eating his dinner, then get up and slap me in the head as he walked to the kitchen for more, then tell me how good dinner was.

  19. magriff

    “It’s surprising to see a director like Michael Apted and an actress like Jennifer Lopez associated with such tacky material.”

    This from the guy who brought us “Valley of the Dolls”? Oh, but was that ironic, and therefore Art?

  20. Kelly

    Hehe, and what about Ms. Lopez’s “Monster-in-Law?

  21. Tupe

    @yttik

    “It may be a crappy movie but I have to give it two thumbs up. One for not sending a scantily clad girl down into the basement armed with a nail file where she meets her inevitable doom, screaming helplessly. Second thumb up for not rendering a woman unconscious, raping her, and then referring to it as a romantic comedy.”

    I see what you’re saying but forgive me, I can’t help but comment on what our standards have been reduced to. In this case, if two thumbs up means “Great Movie” then “Great” actually means “Slightly Less Shitty.”

    Let’s just remember it’s all crumbs from the table.

  22. Hattie

    Me, I just like stuff where the woman gets her revenge. I am such a simple person.

  23. Aunty Christ

    Pheenobarbidoll: I imagine R. Ebe might prefer a movie wherein the otherwise-humane husband were given a logical reason to abuse his wife–such as coming home late, being inadequately appreciative of him, or being a woman who is there and made the awful mistake of marrying him.

    Now that would make sense!

  24. thebewilderness

    I think it is the doormat quote phenomenon. Rebecca West.

    “I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat, or a prostitute.”

  25. TwissB

    It’s nice to be around people for whom one does not have to scissor the word “prostitute” from the Rebecca West quotation lest they confuse prostitute required to act as slut with prostitute as slut.

  26. vinoveritas

    @Magriff
    Dude, no, it was “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.” Serious Art.

  27. Denise

    Pheeno & Auntie – Having watched the first 30 minutes or so of this movie when it came on Oxygen tonight, I can tell you, Ebert is dead-on about the husband’s believability. In real life, abusers usually work up to the point where they can go Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and get away with it. In this movie, their world is idyllic until one day she discovers he’s cheating on her, and upon being confronted he tells her, in the course of about 45 seconds, that he’s going to continue cheating on her, and he will begin beating her, because he’s the man and he makes the money and that’s just how it is and she’ll have to live with it or he’ll kill her. And as the review says, this is after they’ve been together for years.

    Abuse usually starts much, much smaller then that, with a long series of “accidents” and increasingly controlling behavior so the asshole can wear the victim down and convince her that it’s really all her fault and she’s just getting what she deserves.

  28. Aunty Christ

    Denise: Just for clarity, while I have absolutely no problem believing that a Hollywood movie is less than realistic, the idea that abusive behavior stems from rational motivation is absurd. That’s all I was trying to say.

  29. humanbein

    If the dude’s behavior was realistic in his abuse, then it might look a little too close for comfort to the vast majority of men and women out there in abusive relationships, which might interfere with their enjoyment of the movie, which is predicated on the idea that the ideal viewer might have it bad enough to enjoy a revenge fantasy but not so bad that she might want to actually change things. Because everyone knows that being yelled at, belittled, degraded and used is normal, but this guy is over the top, and only guys who step over the line really deserve any punishment, so leave the rest of us alone and consider yourself lucky we aren’t all like that. It’s as anti-feminist a message as any misogynist hollywood hack would ever want.

  30. Jill

    “‘Enough’ is a nasty item masquerading as a feminist revenge picture.”

    He agrees with you then, doesn’t he?”

    Even without the larger context of Ebert’s habitual use of the word “feminist” to connote something lousy, I aver that revenge can never be a feminist act, so no, he doesn’t agree with me on the subject of feminism.

    On the subject of the crappiness of “Enough,” however, I am certain that we are two hearts that beat as one.

    Why am I so intimate with Roger Ebert all of a sudden? In the bunkhouse john there is a copy of his current book, Your Movie Sucks, a collection of his reviews since 2000. It was pure coincidence that I read the “Enough” review the day before it aired on Oxygen.

    I watched about 2 minutes of it. J-Lo, a waitress in an archetypal diner, is telling some mackin’ nerd customer that she’s been reading Finnegan’s Wake for 6 years. Then her coworker tells her she should really go out with the guy because she’s not that good-looking and she can’t be picky.

  31. Laughingrat

    I aver that revenge can never be a feminist act

    About seven billion MRAs’ and feminist-hatas’ brains just melted out of their ears from the shock of hearing that, because everyone knows that all feminists wanna do is run around chopping off dudes’ teenie peenies. But have no fear, misogynists cannot long countenance any information that does not tally with their perceptions of women and/or feminism, so they’ll be right as rain and back to their happy delusions in but a moment.

  32. yttik

    The problem with deciding that revenge is never a feminist act is that there is no agreement on the definition of “revenge” or even of “violence”. At least under the patriarchy, when a woman defends herself, that is pretty much always viewed as violent revenge. And of course when you are oppressed, an act of self defense can involve washing someone’s white shorts with a red sweater. Revenge perhaps, or maybe simply trying to defend yourself from the expectation that you do the laundry.

    In a feminist world there would be no need for revenge because there would be no unequal power structure. In the meantime, I think defending yourself really is a feminist act.

  33. nails

    What? Even if there isn’t a power structure people will have personal conflicts that can result in revenge. Maybe in a feminist utopia revenge wouldn’t exist, but other than that I can see it being around forever basically.

  34. yttik

    The more equal the relationship, the less need for revenge. A personal conflict doesn’t lead to revenge when there is basic respect and your concerns are heard, your grievances addressed.

    When slavery was abolished, when civil rights were passed, some people were worried that if blacks were granted rights they would rise up and seek revenge against their oppressors, retaliate by turning the tables, and dishing out the same. In fact, the opposite is true, the more freedom and equality you have, the less acts of revenge you have to engage in.

  35. Nolabelfits

    J.Lo seems to be in a lot of movies where her “freak alarm” just doesn’t go off. “Angel Eyes” comes to mind. She meets this totally freaky dude and within minutes he’s invited into her apartment. Weird.

  36. sam

    humanbein, that’s a very astute observation, thanks.

  37. Saurs

    Both of these characters are African-American, following the movie’s simplistic moral color-coding. The day when the evil husband is black and the self-defense instructor is white will not arrive in our lifetimes.

    Whinge and Ebert shall receive:

    Last year’s “Lakeview Terrace,” in which bland Will Arnett look-alike all-round-nice-guy professional dude and his black wife are New in the Neighborhood. Rather than inviting the couple to his next barbecue, neighbor Samuel L. Jackson, the blue-collar black dude who lives next door and hates whiteys and the black women who marry ‘em, decides to… destroy Nice White Dude with sarcasm! Shine bright lights on the couple’s pool when they’re having underwater sex! Film stripper while she “attacks” Nice White Dude with her breasts at a stag party! Oh, and tries to have the couple killed.

    Directed by Friend of Women Neil LaBute, and given *four* stars by Ebert, who calls the film a “challenging journey” and praises the director’s ability to “creat[e] painful situations that challenge a character’s sense of decency” (which is basically the bread and butter of all exploitation, anyway, cf the parents’ “dilemma” in Last House on the Left). This is Ebert trying to pretend Terrace is a realistic picture, while conveniently forgetting that LaBute, whoops, forgot to give Jackson, the stubborn, aggressive, obnoxious, territorial, misogynist, unrelenting, pathological racist, an ounce of motivation for his attacks on his neighbors. No, it’s Nice White Dude who gets to experience those pleasant moral dilemmas that crop up when somebody is trying to kill you. He’s a sensitive dude, after all. He did marry a black woman. So, no, he just wants us all to get along, and he can’t for the life of him figure out what’s up Jackson’s butt.

    Ebert thinks the whole “race thing” is refreshing, and (apparently forgetting his review in 2002 for “Enough”) whines:

    But take a step back. What if all the races were switched? If the neighbor were white, the husband next door black, his wife white? Same script. It would be the story of a sociopathic white racist. It might be interesting, but it would have trouble getting made.

    Mind you, every black character, apart from Nice White Dude’s wife (who is pretty and vulnerable, Ebert reminds us, salivating as he always does over actresses who don’t do anything in a picture but turn up to look scared when dudes clash), is basically an unrepentant racist or colludes with racists to kill whitey. Nice White Dude’s wife’s dad hates Nice White Dude, for example, and doesn’t want the couple to have a kid because it’ll be an interracial freak, or sommat.

    Anyhow, Ebert is an idiot. It’s sort of peculiar how white men like Ebert desperately need to have black villains in the cinema in order to feel that we have achieved Total Political Correctness. Would Sidney Poitier approve?

    Oh, and re the “feminist exploitation revenge” line by Ebert, it’s always amusing to watch die-hard exploitation horror fans cringe whenever a discussion of the genre veers towards “I Spit on Your Grave,” “Ms. 45,” or “Witch Who Came from the Sea.” Within the genre it’s perfectly acceptable for women’s bodies to be mutilated, for women to gang-raped and murdered, but when a woman survives and, within the twisted value system of the film itself, expects her just desserts, deciding to torture, sexually humiliate and murder men, whoo doggies, watch the poor men’s testicles shrivel up as they squeak about how “dirty” and “disgusting” and value-less such pictures are. Why, rhetorically speaking, aren’t women allowed to be as amoral and violent as men in such pictures, why must they be given such dubious motivation, unless it’s because the audience is expecting rape and needs to be able to see it and glorify in it before a woman in such a picture is allowed to act. Because women are so naturally sweet and vulnerable and submissive that only a freaked-up monster, according the genre’s rules, can act “like a man.” Gah!

  38. Saurs

    I will note, although I should imagine people who know of the film are already aware of this fact, that, in Lakeview Terrace, the ostensible reasons why Jackson’s character is allowed to victimize and threaten his neighbors are because he’s a cop and he has loyal cop buddies who know their friend is a little testy, but think it’s cute how angry he gets at white people. I imagine if he were just some black dude with a ‘chip on his shoulder,’ his clean-cut neighbors could call the police and have him stop being so uppity. Such are the implications of LaBute’s deeply complex masterpiece.

  39. TwissB

    @ Saurs: “Because women are so naturally sweet and vulnerable and submissive that only a freaked-up monster, according the genre’s rules, can act “like a man.”

    Very consistent with the title and POV of the film “Monster” about serial killer of men Aileen Wuornos.

  40. sonia

    has anyone seen Deathproof? that movie whupsass. It’s the only Tarantino movie we should keep after the Twistolution…

  41. sam

    Don’t remember where I read it, but someone pointed out that violent women in films always have a reason for their actions where violent men are violent just because. I think the movie that spurred the thought was Natural Born Killers and how Mickey’s violence was sort of hereditary whereas a lot of screen time is spent showing how Mallory’s abusive family.

    The formula seems to fit Enough, and I can’t think of an example of a cause-less violent women like I can’t think of a reason Hannibal Lector kills and eats people.

  42. Hedgepig

    It turns out Hannibal Lector was persecuted by Nazis as a child. Which reminds me, we really should contact the Hollywood Polanski cheersquad and suggest they petition to excuse Lector for killing and eating people.

  43. Jill

    “It turns out Hannibal Lector was persecuted by Nazis as a child.”

    This convenient plot development doesn’t materialize until the 2nd sequel, though. Silence of the Lambs doesn’t contain a single Nazi persecution.

  44. Larkspur

    I don’t think Ebert is an idiot, which is not to say I always agree with him, or that I consider him to be the Messiah (hell, he hasn’t even run for office).

    Also, I have not seen Enough.

    Also too, I have read and/or seen an instance or instances in which Ebert has thoroughly trashed I Spit On Your Grave.

    So I went looking for his review, as well as his review of an altogether different, yet thematically linked Dutch film from 1983 called A Question of Silence.

    While attempting to research this at the exact same time as I am drinking a charming, supple little Sauvignon Blanc, I came across a blog discussing both films. It is a blog I intend to revisit. I think it may be a good blog.

    Anyway, part of this particular entry at Ferdy On Films http://ferdyonfilms.com/ reads thusly:

    “Ebert’s review of I Spit on Your Grave is extremely negative but very astute about the film’s reflection of cultural norms of the time. He writes:

    “A vile bag of garbage named I Spit on Your Grave is playing in Chicago theaters this week. It is a movie so sick, reprehensible and contemptible that I can hardly believe it’s playing in respectable theaters…

    “How did the audience react to all of this? Those who were vocal seemed to be eating it up. The middle-aged, white-haired man two seats down from me, for example, talked aloud. After the first rape: ‘That was a good one!’ After the second: ‘That’ll show her!’ After the third: ‘I’ve seen some good ones, but this is the best.’ When the tables turned and the woman started her killing spree, a woman in the back row shouted: ‘Cut him up, sister!’ In several scenes, the other three men tried to force the retarded man to attack the girl. This inspired a lot of laughter and encouragement from the audience.

    “I wanted to turn to the man next to me and tell him his remarks were disgusting, but I did not. To hold his opinions at his age, he must already have suffered a fundamental loss of decent human feelings. I would have liked to talk with the woman in the back row, the one with the feminist solidarity for the movie’s heroine. I wanted to ask if she’d been appalled by the movie’s hour of rape scenes. As it was, at the film’s end I walked out of the theater quickly, feeling unclean, ashamed and depressed.”

    http://ferdyonfilms.com/2008/08/gender-attitudes-in-two-reveng.phpRoger

    Ferdy and her commenters discuss this further. They also discuss A Question of Silence, and it’s really worth reading. She discusses Janet Maslin’s flat dismissal of the film (AQoS), saying that perhaps Maslin believes “the old saw that feminists hate men. Hers is a thoughtless, careless appraisal.”

    I saw “A Question of Silence” when it first came out, and I remember leaving the theater and feeling a bunch of stuff all at once, like “Whoa! Right on. OMG. I could never…. But what do they expect? Holy crap. I could ever…or could I?”

    I wish I could preview this comment. But I can’t. Okay. Time to woman up and say “I am Larkspur, and I approved this message.” But truly, check out Ferdy.

  45. Saurs

    I always thought it was funny how appreciative white dudes were of the specialist blaxploitation and woman-as-scorned-rape-victim exploitation films, and how involved they are in the making of those films, given how masochistic one must be to consciously acknowledge oneself as the baddy of oppressed peoples and the victim of such enormous ire, but it really seems to be a coping device.

    On the one hand, the impetus for writing such a picture might be a small but persistent rumbling of the consciousness of privilege—that, in fact, there might be very good and pertinent reasons why a black dude might want to persecute a white dude, or why a victim of sexual assault might desire to use an assailant’s weapons against him. On the other hand, this awakening is stunted because such plots are filtered through patriarchal media (the aforementioned exploitation films, the Lovely Lawless Ladies sensationalist television “documentary specials” about famous female murderers or hebephiles, the White Woman Syndrome, the maniacal glee newsdudes project when they report black-on-white crimes) ensuring that everyone looks a clown, and that white men’s fear that they are the perpetually put-upon targets of reverse racism and reverse sexism by politically correct fascists of propriety and feminazis is justified while magically skipping the bit where ‘unreversed’ racism and ‘unreversed’ sexism (read: acceptable racism and sexism) actually exist and ought to thwarted.

    The white man’s natural superiority, therefore, is vindicated; his enemies (whether their stories are told on film or on nightly news reports) are slightly comical, inept, and dangerous and their motivations are misplaced, imperfect, and fatuous. There is no real bite to these hypothetical acts of vindication; the world isn’t turned upside down and black is not white, because, as was said above, the black man and woman have no agency and can only react to racist and sexist abuse with more of the same. Thus, when a white dude can eagerly admit that he likes a good revenge flick now and then, he feels comforted knowing that the worm never really turns, and that he’s meant to be briefly enjoying a particularly violent fantasy of his own making rather than someone else’s unfulfilled wish.

    Dudes, and white dudes in particular, love to be reminded that people who resent their privilege are Jus’ Jellus, and should be ignored in real life and made into monsters in fiction. The Unmotivated White Male Killer, meanwhile, thrives in broad daylight and in fiction is a kind of cool anti-hero and groovy demolisher of female body parts and wussified young virgin men. Even his backstory is never too involved and his standard misogyny is easily explained by a little dab of child abuse at the hand of his mother. Meanwhile, Candyman has got to have this stupid Technicolor slave history, and black violence is always, in the parlance of crap journalism, an “urban phenomenon” or the result of “gang violence.” Give us a white mass murderer or serial killer, and, apart from mommy issues, he’s pissed off because women and darkies stole his job, he has to pay alimony, or he ate one too many twinkies.

  46. Saurs

    (Jill: Sorry for being so long-winded on the subject, but it busts my chops that, while I was a devoted fan to horror films as a kid, I can’t for the life of me stomach them these days, such is the enormous baggage attached to them.)

  47. ivyleaves

    I was always disgusted by the way Roger Ebert would overrate films that had nubile young women in them like Nastassja Kinski. More recently, I found out that his wife was a black woman. Did not compute, but may account for his tendency to inject some racial analysis into his reviews – being an expert on it and all.

  48. Marilyn

    Please leave Roger alone. I love him, and he’s a very decent man. Is he a product of patriarchy? Yes, but he strives to be a better human being, not just a better man. Has he said some stupid things? Yes, but who hasn’t? Not every film in which a woman is treated badly is made specifically to treat women badly, and Roger’s take on some of these films understands this. Calling something a feminist revenge film is a misuse of the word “feminist” but not necessarily meant to be a slur. I prefer the term female revenge film, which connotes a female viewpoint on revenge. The films of Neil LaBute are nasty, no question, but In the Company of Men, for example, is a blatant indictment of the men who think they’re sensitive and good to women. In fact, the scariest man in the film is not Aaron Eckhart’s Chad, but his friend Howard, who nearly rapes the deaf woman for not seeing that he’s better for her than Chad. Chad’s a shit, but Howard’s a shit, a hypocrite, and a violence-prone man.

    Jill – I suggest you take your objection up with Roger himself instead of just grousing about him. Believe me, he’ll listen to what you say.

  49. norbizness

    This is like the worst airing of grievances since Festivus ’98.

  50. pheenobarbidoll

    Pheeno & Auntie – Having watched the first 30 minutes or so of this movie when it came on Oxygen tonight, I can tell you, Ebert is dead-on about the husband’s believability. In real life, abusers usually work up to the point where they can go Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and get away with it.”

    Denise- Do not explain to me how abusers act in real life. I know quite well how they act in real life and mine did not work up to one goddamned thing. He was fine until I got pregnant and then he turned into the fucking anti christ. I know what all the psych papers say. And I know what I lived, thankyouverymuch.

    Just because you and Ebert are unaware of out of the blue unexpected abusive behavior does not mean it doesn’t exist. And I’m not some rare exception, either.

  51. Kelly

    So Marylin, what you’re trying to say is that the critic is above criticism or critique? That’s rich. Another reason why art is dead.

  52. Marilyn

    Kelly – Is that a rhetorical question? Because I think you don’t really want to know the answer. You just want to feel superior to any criticism of your criticism. Is art dead? That’s news to a lot of artists I know.

  53. ivyleaves

    Please leave Roger Ebert aloooooone! Sob.

  54. Marilyn

    I’m enjoying this intelligent discussion so much. Sorry it offends you that I actually feel like defending someone who has said and done so many more intelligent, compassionate things in his life than Kelly, ivyleaves, or others like them can seem to muster. Mustn’t let any gray areas slip into our blaming now, must we? Jill couldn’t possibly be wrong or overreacting, could she? And I’m just a wuss, right? Thanks to those who take my writing seriously and have visited my site.

  55. Marilyn

    PS – Remember the “leave Britney alone” video that Ivy is mimicking? Remember people dumping all over Britney Spears for what? For having a mental illness. Good blaming, gals.

  56. Kelly

    Wow Marylin, presume much?

    You just want to feel superior to any criticism of your criticism.

    Huh? Did you provide criticism because I just saw apologetics. ‘Leave Roger alone, I love him’ isn’t really a very strong thesis. Sounds like the beginning of a monologue not a dialogue.

    Is art dead? That’s news to a lot of artists I know.

    No, it’s not. Anyone whose been an artist for any period of time knows this is the case.

  57. Kelly

    PS – Remember the “leave Britney alone” video that Ivy is mimicking? Remember people dumping all over Britney Spears for what? For having a mental illness. Good blaming, gals.

    Good shaming, gal. Do we have bingo, yet?

  58. ivyleaves

    “Sorry it offends you that I actually feel like defending someone who has said and done so many more intelligent, compassionate things in his life than Kelly, ivyleaves, or others like them can seem to muster.”
    I guess Mr. Ebert need not manifest all of this wonderfulness to us, but Kelly, myself, and others like us have to give out a resumé and biography to Marilyn in order to be taken seriously. In fact, it makes no difference what he has done or who he is, he expressed the ideas under discussion, and the discussion is about them, not about who is more perfect in all aspects of life.

    Britney did deserve some respite from criticism, but was mocked even more by Chris Crocker’s YouTube performance. Roger Ebert, however, is a movie critic who advises people about movies and needs no such special handling – especially when discussing his writings about movies.

  59. yttik

    Was this a thread about Ebert? If so, we’ve strayed way off topic. Most of the blaming seems directed at Hollywood, bad movies, racism, art, revenge.

    Art really does need to die:

    http://news.yahoo.com/nphotos/Most-Emailed-Photos/ss/1756/im:/091006/482/d00785f4ff5243838a1aef61f037b478/

  60. Felicity

    Criticism of Britney is completely different to criticising this dousche. Have you heard of this thing called a patriarchy Marilyn?

  61. Gayle

    I knew fetish shoes would end up on the runway.

    How long to do think they’ll take to go mainstream?

  62. Jill

    “This is like the worst airing of grievances since Festivus ‘98.”

    I spit on your grave!

  63. birkwearingblamer

    Film critics are as shallow as the film makers? Who knew?

  64. Kelly

    Film critic sycophants are just as bad.

  65. Larkspur

    Kelly
    October 16, 2009 at 11:35 am

    So Marylin, what you’re trying to say is that the critic is above criticism or critique? That’s rich. Another reason why art is dead.

    Oh, Kelly, come on. This sort of response is straight out of the wingnut playbook. It’s like when we observe that the election of a black president has lit up some festering racial issues, and the response we get is, “Oh, so criticizing the president about anything is racist. Ooh, okay, I’ll just put my freedom of speech on ice for the duration.”

    Marilyn isn’t saying that, nor do I think that you really mean your hyperbolic response.

    I think (but do not know for sure) that Marilyn is objecting to any tacit assumption that Ebert is toxic and thus we don’t have to discuss whether his criticisms are valuable or not, we just have to discuss exactly how wrong he is. I’m not on board with that, and apparently neither is Marilyn. So what. How on earth that derails the discussion is beyond me. (Although snarking on how much more of a contribution Ebert has made than any of the commenters here is pushing it.)

    Anyway, did anyone see A Question of Silence? Maybe I should just search the archives, because I think it may have come up before.

  66. Ann

    I remember that movie. There was nothing feminist about it.

  67. Kelly

    So Marylin, what you’re trying to say is that the critic is above criticism or critique? That’s rich. Another reason why art is dead.

    Oh, Kelly, come on. This sort of response is straight out of the wingnut playbook.

    No, it’s actually straight out of the art world playbook and it represents an important facet in the long and troubled history of the marginalization and exploitation of many arts/artists (especially women and poc). Critics are the self appointed arbiters of taste, the gate keepers of culture and the bestowers of titles like ‘genius’. They believe their opinions to be beyond reproach. All of this combined with a complete lack of accountability has contributed greatly to the death of art. When someone comments or disagrees with a critic instead of initiating a dialogue, more often than not their dissent, even if it is sound, is met with a “Please leave Roger alone”. Indeed.

  68. Larkspur

    Okay, Kelly. You know more about the art and the art criticism world than I do.

    But none of us has actually shut up about Ebert, or left him alone, despite the attempted dissent-stifling. We are here at IBTP. We can do whatever we want, including continuing a dialog that might, in other venues, be shut down by a Leave Roger Alone decree.

    In fact, I’d be curious to know where Roger Ebert falls along the contemporary critical spectrum, in the opinion of various blamers (whose opinions I value highly). Worst of the worst? Not so bad, with exceptions? Just good enough so that when he misses, it makes ya really really mad? Mediocre? Redeemable? Not worth the keystrokes? I admit that I have never perceived him as someone who felt his opinions were beyond reproach, but I also admit I may be wrong.

    Because I am not a critic, nor do I have any expertise in analyzing and studying art history, I see the phrase “the death of art” almost exclusively as a civilian would. I suspect it is a term with a lot of meaning beyond the plain words. So I admit that I am not able to conceptualize “the death of art”, because how can art die, and anyway, doesn’t it always spring up again eventually? And so I guess the question is what, currently, is creating the conditions that are making art incompatible with life? The stranglehold of critics and the critical industry? Is this – including marginalization – a cyclical thing, or have we put a new oppressive spin on it? Is there a great artistic upheaval coming? Or is there one that’s being ruthlessly repressed?

    And now my brain hurts. Also? I’m just throwing stuff out there. I’m not ordering you to answer my questions or else, Kelly. You get that, right?

  69. Jill

    I wouldn’t worry about Roger. Odds are he’ll survive the massive shitstorm that is this my 3-sentence post to carry on with his brilliant career as a cog in the megatheocorporatocratic machine; he’s a plucky l’il dude. He’s been dealt way worse than some Internet feminist suggesting that he doesn’t know from feminism. Like, one time a dude actually put a hex on him! The dude had made a crummy movie, and Ebert said so, so the dude hexed him, and then Ebert got cancer! I’m not making this up.

    Also, he gets free tickets to movies; perhaps that’ll help assuage the pain of the grievous smackdown he’s suffered here on this blog.

  70. Larkspur

    Oh, Jill? In the hubbub, I forgot to say that this:

    “A Hollywood movie with a plot device involving a female assault victim “turning the tables in an extended sequence of graphic violence” is not a “feminist revenge picture.” It’s merely a revenge picture.”

    is exactly, precisely right.

    Sometimes the tangents just hit you with a stick and all of a sudden you’re miles from home. I will get them tangents, just see if I won’t, and I’ll make them take their medicine, too. And there won’t be nothin feminist about it. It’ll just be a tangent smackdownapalooza.

  71. Jonathan

    And then, when Ebert reviews The Brave One, he never even mentions feminists.

    Where’s the consistency? Does he even read his own reviews?

  72. Marilyn

    Critics are the self appointed arbiters of taste, the gate keepers of culture and the bestowers of titles like ‘genius’. They believe their opinions to be beyond reproach.

    This was perhaps true when there was no way to get an opinion out other than through the “publications of record,” but now it is simply bullshit. There are critics like Armond White who knows his stuff but chooses to play the “bloggers are illegitimate scum” game so people will talk about him and he can retain a relevance he feels slipping away. Other critics, including Roger Ebert, are more than willing to entertain opposing views and engage with them. Ebert’s pan of The Brown Bunny did indeed rain down a curse of cancer on Ebert (unknown to the unfortunate director, Ebert already had been battling cancer; unfortunately, he is not the first critic to be wished dead; a death threat actually was issued to newspaper critic Hedy Weiss by a San Francisco playwright), but he recut the movie anyway. Ebert saw the new version and gave it a positive review. No, Ebert didn’t tamper with an artist’s vision. The artist chose to do that. If it had still been shit, I’m sure Ebert would have given it another thumbs down.

    By the way, I’ll assume art is dead on your say-so Kelly. I’ll be sure to let all the directors whose wonderful films I saw at the Chicago International Film Festival know that they have been robbed of their vision by we nasty critics.

    I still think, Jill, you should raise your criticisms with Roger directly. Having a bunch of overheated feminists grousing in a corner of the blogosphere isn’t going to help raise his consciousness. A direct query could.

    And, yes, I do love Roger Ebert and won’t apologize for it. He has done a lot for film and filmmakers, including a female documentarian who made a superb film whom Women Make Films refused to support. I know Jill gets lobesmacked by language misuse and an overabundance of ellipses, so the criticism was certainly emotional and possibly not as on target a blame as it could have been.

  73. Jill

    “I still think, Jill, you should raise your criticisms with Roger directly.”

    It is not the mission of this blog to do the heavy lifting with regard to men’s education on the finer points of radical feminism. I’m certainly not preventing old Rodge from educating himself, though; the feminist curriculum is freely accessible to anyone capable of Googling.

  74. Kelly

    Hehe Marilyn, do you feel better now? Good, since that’s all you’re about.

  75. Larkspur

    Oh, Kelly, darn it, now I have to go away for a while and be quiet and do yoga or whatever. Thanks a lot.

  76. Marilyn

    Then, Jill, you are about the rant and so are a lot of your readers. Fine, but then what’s the point? Giving women a chance to vent is fine, but where does it really get us? I’m telling you that consciousness raising is an ongoing process, and our culture as a whole, not just the female side of it, needs to engage with it. I’ve taken some of the things I’ve learned here and actually gotten some men I like to think about the issues and what they really mean to women. You’ve obviously washed your hands of the male half of the species. While I really enjoy your writing and think you get it right way more than not, ultimately this is a personal blog of women talking to women.

  77. jezebella

    Indeed, yes, this IS a personal blog. This is not brand new information. So?

  78. Cathy

    Pheeno, you aren’t a rare exception at all. Some people seem to think men are so rational that they couldn’t possibly just out of the blue be an asshole. There must be some reason, and she must have done something to deserve it!

  79. Jonathan

    @Marilyn:

    Then, Jill, you are about the rant and so are a lot of your readers. … ultimately this is a personal blog of women talking to women.

    Was The Feminine Mystique just a rant? After all, it was just women talking to women too.

    I’ve taken some of the things I’ve learned here and actually gotten some men I like to think about the issues and what they really mean to women. You’ve obviously washed your hands of the male half of the species.

    That’s Derailing For Dummies number two by proxy, and it’s rude.

  80. nails

    Regarding Natural Born Killers- Mickey was abused too, and he saw his dad commit suicide with a gun. The whole movie blames the media to a certain extent. Which is very dudely, indeed.

  81. Felicity

    Ranting works fine for me, importantly, since this is the one place in the universe sanity is allowed in some measure. I think community is the thing we’re going for first, you know, before the flight to Saudi Arabia. Talking without being silenced in some way is the first step to anything. Something you people forget.

  82. ivyleaves

    Yeah, because women talking to women, and raising their own consciousness is completely a waste of time. After all, we are not human, we are not running the world, we have no agency, we have no power, we do not count.

    The only way feminism will be doing anything important is if it gets to work right now on all the humans running things – men. It is up to us to change the world, and to do that we are responsible for changing men. Otherwise, we are just doing some gossipy, back fence ranting about our masters that won’t change a thing. Women can’t change anything. Teaching women won’t have any effect on the real world.

    We need to take our agenda to the menz in charge, plead with them to see our viewpoint and hope that they finally agree with us and then use their power, the only power that exists, to do it on our behalf. Solely because of their altruism in wanting to do the right thing for women, because they won’t get a thing out of it for themselves. That is why we need to work on them to get it done.

    Thanks, Marilyn, we all get it now.

  83. jezebella

    ivyleaves: thank you. Nicely done.

  84. agasaya

    Teaching women won’t have any effect on the real world.

    Really? How else do we learn to take our beefs to the menz and the womenz? That’s my term for women of some influence, amidst the complicity, who need education about how to alter the patriarchy, allowing a few more of us live to fight another day. Teaching is time-honored role in every viable society and can only happen when there are ‘schools’ in session. Women risk their lives to set up schools in Afghanistan to teach other women basic skills. Why not just accept the mission statements – and boundaries – that people set for themselves.

    Not that Jill requires validation from anyone but herself in establishing those boundaries.

  85. agasaya

    One final but important point:

    …plead with them to see our viewpoint…

    Men make the laws, interpret the laws and enforce the laws to work in their favor. The term ‘plead’ should be used in the legal sense rather than in an emotional sense. The patriarchy has never granted women anything because they decided it was the fair thing to do.

    Men have been forced (inconsistently) to do certain things in order to comply with law. This was an impediment in Afghanistan so secular law was altered to uphold religious law. The power to enforce wasn’t yet sufficient for husbands in matters of dictating sexual compliance and physical confinement of their wives. In some countries where Female Genital Mutilation is performed, laws have yet to be passed against it. Where such laws exist, statistics for the practice decline significantly. Some two billion women were crippled by a thousand years of foot-binding in China. The practice was eradicated in only two decades, once laws were passed against it and enforced. The purposes behind each practice was identical and the motive to eradicate them, largely economic.

    Our case can only be pleaded before a legal system which enforces non-discriminatory laws in an unbiased manner. This is why we need to be in positions of authority and educate one another from the cradle as to what ‘unbiased’ really means in gender discrimination. Only then can we gain a foothold in the system to alter behavior. You can’t plead with irrational mindsets but you can legislate against them and change them after the right to live is granted you.

    This is why pleading with ‘dudes’ for kindness and understanding is not the best use of time and energy. This is not to be confused with negotiating with dudes for survival purposes until rights are won and become habit.

  86. agasaya

    Ivyleaves:

    Apologies for taking your posts literally instead of applying them to the thread. A function of brain damage, courtesy of the patriarchy.

    Jill – please delete my comments from the thread.

  87. ivyleaves

    No need to apologize. I hoped using “menz” would make it so I didn’t need a sarcasm disclaimer, but, sadly, that was not the case. It is important, I think, that your remarks allow us to recognize that all of the horribly absurd things I said are common beliefs.

  88. Beth

    Ranting is good for us. And it does have an impact on culture and on humans who participate in the culture. Blamers know that women and men can be tools of the patriarchy (internalized sexism and the like) and we all need to read and think a lot more.

    That said, Marilyn: I think it’s revealing that you say Jill’s “criticism was certainly emotional.” What does this mean? Are you saying no logic or critical thinking was involved? Dismissing criticism this way sounds very patriarchal to me.

    Also: I think it is significant to note that in Enough the female protagonist, in the last scene where she eventually kills her abuser, hesitates to kill him and then, profoundly, gets an image of her child in her head and only then is she able to kill the abuser. So in other words, her female protective nurturing instinct is what allows her to kill him, not any kind of self interest or self-preservation.

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