Jun 22 2011

Spinster aunt watches another Turner Classic Movie, picks chunks of blown lobe off ceiling

Last night Turner Classic Movies — it’s horrible, yet I can’t look away — ran the crappy so-called noir classic Angel Face (1953), starring Jean Simmons and Robert Mitchum. Playing the titular character in a tight sweater, Jean Simmons, whose only motivation appears to be that she’s just a manipulative psycho bitch malignant narcissist femme fatale, becomes obsessed with Robert Mitchum, kills her father and not-particularly-evil step-mother by tampering with their car, beats the murder rap in a goofy trial sequence, and then kills herself and Mitchum by backing her two-seater off a cliff. As the camera lovingly follows the car crashing down the rocks, you get to see the stunt-double dummies flap around unconvincingly. This is the best part of the film.

I mention all this because during the trial scene, the district attorney, played by Thurston Howell the Third, questions an expert witness to determine the level of skill required to rig the death car.

“Could it have been done by anyone?” he asks, functioning as the vox populi. “Even a woman?

That’s when my lobe blew, but don’t worry; I’m used to it by now.

Anyway, that’s why everybody loves mid-20th-century Hollywood noir films. They are so unapologetic about their blatant misogyny, so unencumbered by the annoying feminism that plagues the modern world. Back then, men were men and girls were toilets girls.

The female leads in noir films are always manipulative psycho bitch malignant narcissist femmes fatales. In one of the opening scenes of “Angel Face,” Robert Mitchum smacks Jean Simmons right in the face. She smacks him back, to demonstrate her psycho bitch attributes, but then, to restore the natural order, the script makes her apologize to Mitchum and act all grateful for the original slap. Also, Jean Simmons is obviously hurt by her slap, but Robert Mitchum doesn’t even flinch when Simmons pops him. Girl is weak, man is strong.

Once again I complain that, sure, it was 1953 then, but TCM is running this shit now, in 2011. Without any kind of accompanying critical analysis, it is difficult to see this as anything other than hate speech. The host, Robert Osborne, did make a few introductory remarks about “Angel Face.” He explained that Jean Simmons was wearing a wig in the movie because the producer didn’t like girls with short hair. Good to know, Osborne!

Photo: still from “Angel Face” trailer.


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  1. Comrade PhysioProf

    Anyway, that’s why everybody loves Hollywood noir films. They are so unapologetic about their blatant misogyny, so unencumbered by the annoying feminism that plagues the modern world.

    While I’ve never seen “Mad Men”–some fucken teevee show about some fucken advertising agency in the 1950s-1960s–this is the exact same impression I get from what I read on the blogosphere. The contortions that feminists like Amanda Marcotte go through to justify their love of the show–it’s ironic, it’s transgressive, look how miserable the d00ds are, the women have subversive power, etc–are remarkable.

  2. Summerspeaker

    Hate speech indeed, though it doesn’t sound terribly different from modern popular culture. I don’t have too much experience current mainstream movies or television, but I’ve seen plenty to make me cringe.

  3. Rachel

    The contortions that feminists like Amanda Marcotte go through to justify their love of the show–it’s ironic, it’s transgressive, look how miserable the d00ds are, the women have subversive power, etc–are remarkable.

    If I like it = nothing to do with it can possibly be wrong. Funfeminists, oy vey. Did you see their pathetic defense of Weiner? Sure, he responded to young women trying to get involved in politics by sending them pictures of his dick but OMG no its SO UNFAIR to speculate that means anything about how he views women, or that one should take his professed feminism with even a grain of salt. Because he’s a democrat. Gaaah.

  4. Yardshark

    Hmm. I don’t get this vibe from Mad Men, nor can I see any “empowerment” going on in it. I’ve seen 3 or 4 seasons of it (and I was born in 1964, so I can compare what they’re doing with what I remember) and what I get is that it they’re exposing some of the misogyny of the 60s (and judging it). They aren’t celebrating it, normalizing it, or covering it up. Any proto-feminism in it is likely to be meant to portray the growing recognition by some women at the time that the way they were being treated was wrong, paving the way for future activists. They are not doing what Angel Face is – propagandizing without critical thought. Mad Men does observe the historical facts of misogyny it portrays with a critical eye. I don’t know how much better it could be done.

    The show also explores the existential tradeoffs experienced by Company Men that were later recognized in the wider culture. Their misery was due to many factors, and if one of them is the truth that keeping women down also hurts men, even when men believe it benefits them, shouldn’t that be demonstrated?

    I don’t know how funfeminists defend Mad Men, but if they’re doing it in the usual funfeminist ways then they’re probably majorly missing the point. In any case it is definitely not (at least as far as I’ve watched) anything like Angel Face in its treatment of women.

    @Rachel re: Weiner…YES, I’ve seen a lot of the funfeminist defense of both him and Larry Flynt. For F’s fing sake! The FF’s really don’t get it.

  5. Judi

    Speaking of blatant misogyny: that phrase “even a woman” is a very useful marker. Anytime you hear that phrase, no matter the context or distractions, you know what it is you’ve bumped up against. Like the time the Dalai Lama, a person who is generally regarded as a maximally enlightened oozer of nothing but universal compassion toward all sentient beings, was questioned in an interview by Newsweek about who he thought the next Dalai Lama might be. He said it might be anyone, anyone at all. Even a non-Bhuddist, even a non-Tibetan, EVEN A WOMAN !!!!

  6. cabochon

    “The female leads in noir films are always manipulative psycho bitch malignant narcissist femmes fatales.”

    Yes, this is very true. But at least these female characters had agency–even if it was scary, scary agency.

  7. Hattie

    Don’t forget, even in the 50’s there were plenty of women calling B.S. on the patriarchy. Millions of women ignored the crap in the air and went about their business. You all would not be here otherwise. So don’t patronize the past.

  8. speedbudget

    . . .its SO UNFAIR to speculate that means anything about how he views women, or that one should take his professed feminism with even a grain of salt.

    Sounds like how the President and the Democratic party is selling the election to us ladies again. “I know I am totally screwing you guys over on the War on Women and I know I threw you under the bus in order to get my crap Health Insurance Hand Up passed, and I know I lied through my teeth about the whole gay marriage thing, BUT IT WILL SUCK WORSE if you vote for the other guys cause they’re not even feminists.”

    Yeah. Right.

  9. Rachel

    BUT IT WILL SUCK WORSE if you vote for the other guys

    This is really all the Democrats have had left for a while, but it’s amazing how many people are still eager to be convinced by it. Personally, if our government is nothing but a corrupted shell run by the same band of military-industrial complex billionaires no matter who or what party is in power, I’d prefer that its figurehead be a ludicrous moron. It’s more fitting.

    Sarah 2012!

  10. A Ginva

    Mad men might be critical of some aspects of sexism in the 50′, but certainly is uncritical of the knowadays sexism it puts into it, and also uncritical about the effects the series has in a nowadays sexist world. The women are still fuck objects to the spectator, completely male gazed by the camera and the way they’re dressed, make-uped, etc.

    The series also conveniently make people believe that sexism is oh so passé, today we’re all free and yeah.

    Plus, if you’re feminist, why on earth would you try to glamourize sexism? It’s the LAST thing I would do.

  11. humanbein

    TCM shows the misogyny of post-war America clearly, and it would be especially sweet if they did it with critical commentary, especially feminist commentary. As is usual in this culture, they have made the token attempts to add critical commentary to the blatantly racist movies they show, employing Richard Harland Smith to provide some perspective.

    But many of their movies from before the war pass the Bechdel test. For the novices among us, here’s a quick Jill description of this test:

    To pass the test, a film… has to have at least two female characters, the characters have to have names, and they have to have a conversation about something other than dudes.

    There’s a large collection of movies from before the war that pass this test, because Hollywood was created by women screenwriters in the silent days. The box office clout of women was understood by the early moguls of Hollywood, as a larger percentage of women went to movies back then; far more women than men. I’m not saying they weren’t steeped in misogyny and sexism. But they were fun and slightly less offensive than the postwar product of Hollywood, which nosedived straight into the lowest and most vile period of he-man woman hating ever seen up until then.

    I pick my battles with TCM. But I watched the Patriarchal Primer that is “Life With Father” the other day and was pretty disgusted by William Powell, who I have a great fondness for. They forgot to show exactly how toxic a character like that would actually be in real life for some strange reason.

  12. Yardshark

    I don’t think it’s the show’s fault if people think we don’t have sexism anymore. If people are jumping to that conclusion just because they learn about sexism that happened in the past, they’re morons. Anyone who believes that sexism is over is an idiot, but they’re getting it from somewhere and it isn’t one TV show.

    I never said it was a feminist show either – it wants things both ways, for sure. It comments on overt sexism while continuing with visual sexism especially. But then, pretty much ALL portrayals of women are “completely male gazed” on TV and in the movies (the latest X-Men was PARTICULARLY insulting in this way). I’m not letting the show off the sexist hook, but it still isn’t the same kind of full-on hate speech that Jill was making note of.

  13. Kea

    Heh, whenever all women can get away with murder, because they are obviously incapable of it, there probably are actually a few coiffured psycho bitches around. And of course, those are the attractive women. What real man would want a dainty white swan?

  14. minervaK

    I admit being entertained by films of the “noir classic” genre, in the same way that I’m entertained by cave paintings, fossils, and historic artifacts: as something from a Bygone Era that illustrates How Far We’ve Come. Sadly, though, the difference between “classic” noir and the shit that is called noir these days is that the new shit is much, much worse.

  15. minervaK

    Judi — Just because I love me some Dalai Lama, I feel compelled to point out that his remark was addressed to the cultural expectations of who the next Lama might be, not necessarily to the unfitness of women for the role.

  16. Saurs

    today we’re all free and yeah

    That’s basically the thrust (oo-er) of every funfem argument. Whenever some dude fucks up or some widespread dude-driven oppression is revealed for the evil bullshit that it is, the answer is always the same: we’re all free now so shuddup (before the boys get mad).

  17. ivyleaves

    “Mad Men does observe the historical facts of misogyny it portrays with a critical eye. I don’t know how much better it could be done.”

    All I could think of after this sentence was “Why do it at all?” If we want to raise consciousness, we need to see what is happening right now that is awful, not portray the past. I was a teenager in the ’60s and I can say the P is not all that much different today in so many ways, and in some ways it’s worse.

    I haven’t seen the show itself, so I have no comment on anything specifically portrayed by it.

  18. Saurs

    I’m not a big fan of deeming seemingly fair-minded and good-intentioned folk funfems (as I did two posts above), but what the self-styled sex-positive folk, the loyal democrat feminist folk, and the BDSM feminist folk don’t seem to realize is that we’ve always been free to appease dudes and their fantasy-driven vanity, and, more to the point, freedom to appease is no substitute for liberation (in which what dudes think and want would not, out of necessity and survival, form our foremost considerations when making individual choices about how to live, when understanding our own political viewpoints, when voicing our opinions or tastes).

  19. Sarah

    Rachel: You’re right, it is not only more fitting, but more fun, to have a total moron for a president if the show’s going to continue to be run by the same ol’ same ol’ MIC.

    But just as an aside (and your comment reminded me of this) let’s all stop calling Sarah Palin “Sarah,” OK? It’s overly familiar – no one calls John McCain “John,” the Obama campaign was just that – the Obama campaign, not the Barack campaign. All male politicians get ID’d by last or full names, but the women get first names — Hillary, Sarah, etc. There is definitely something wrong with that.

    PS – I’m totally not just saying that because my name is Sarah. But it was weird to hear my name echo through train stations and airports via TV news every day during the run-up to the election.

  20. Sarah

    Also! Ditto Hattie’s comment: There were lots o’ feminists in the 50s, not just of the sort “just beginning to realize they were being mistreated,” there were advanced blamers, too. There were feminists way back in the 1800s even. Probably before. Someone needs to write a comprehensive history of feminism. Maybe someone already has – anyone know of a book we young’uns could read?

  21. thebewilderness

    V for Vendetta (2006) where we are reminded yet again that if a man imprisons and tortures a woman she is sure to fall in love with him.

  22. Lidon

    A Ginva: The women are still fuck objects to the spectator, completely male gazed by the camera and the way they’re dressed, make-uped, etc.

    Despite all the praise I’ve heard for this show, that is exactly why I will never watch it. “But it’s just a little bit of sexism!” If a brownie has just a *little bit* of shit in it, I still won’t eat it.

  23. minervaK

    OK, I’ve got a genuine question for you blamers-at-large. I honestly don’t find myself offended by the sexism in these old films, perhaps because I do see them as artifacts, in the same way that I read the N-word in “Huckleberry Finn” as a relic of its era. What do y’all see as the difference between these so-called ‘classic’ films and other art forms that are celebrated despite unexamined sexism / racism / classism, etc.?

  24. madeleine

    Marilyn French, “Beyond Power”. Hammurabi’s mysogynist laws, Greek, Roman, Middle Ages repression and opposition by women, all the way up to the 20th century. It made me feel better about myself, but much worse about humanity and the future.

  25. A Ginva

    Haha, Lidon, I laughed out loud reading your brownie analogy!

  26. angie

    Is my (admittedly lurker) blamer status in jeopardy if I loved Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity? I realize the movie is melodramatic, misogynistic, etc, but I can’t help it — I think Stanwyck is awesome.

  27. A Ginva

    @Minerva: I’m not sure I understood the question (do you mean by this if there’s any difference in degrees of sexism between the different celebrated sexist artforms? Or that the way they’re celebrated makes their sexism different?)

    Well, I’d say old sexist art celebrated today equals in sexism of contemporary sexist art celebrated today. I don’t see any difference at all, and I’m equally pissed off by both – both are celebrated uncritically and justified for the same reasons by the same people, they only differ in form. What has changed today is the ever-increasing inability of detecting oppression, thanks the neoliberal strategy of renaming everything (prostitution becomes a freely chosen work, oppression becomes agency, exploitation becomes salaried work, etc etc).

    I don’t think the film described by Twisty is outdated. Pornography is watched by almost every dude, and tells the women-blaming story over and over again, everywhere.

  28. allhellsloose

    I still hear the phrase ‘even a woman’ but it does raise eyebrows though is countered by the phrase – can’t you take a joke? Several weeks ago the prime minister of the UK told a female member of parliament in the opposition to ‘Calm down dear’ – can you imagine any republican saying that to Hilary Clinton?

    I think these films serve us well in these present times. They are foils to the steps, albeit baby steps, that we have achieved so far since then and they provide apt warnings as to how things can revert, ever so quickly, if we don’t keep up our guard.

    Thanks for this Twisty. Lest we forget we need reminders.

  29. Cara

    I think Mad Men works on a double-level where feministically-inclined people watch the really blatant sexism portrayed in it and think that it is a clever critique of sexism (and this is clearly what the writers have in mind at least some of the time)… and yet other, more sexist viewers watch the same episode and simply think ‘this is awesome’ and feel marvelously pandered to.

  30. Treefinger

    “While I’ve never seen “Mad Men”–some fucken teevee show about some fucken advertising agency in the 1950s-1960s–this is the exact same impression I get from what I read on the blogosphere. The contortions that feminists like Amanda Marcotte go through to justify their love of the show–it’s ironic, it’s transgressive, look how miserable the d00ds are, the women have subversive power, etc–are remarkable.”

    Yes. I mean, since I’ve never seen it, there could be some redeeming feminist value to it, but I’m not willing to sit through hours of looking at suited-up douchebags degrade women in uncomfortable clothes to access that. People who are willing, I commend the stomach of. People who obviously get a thrill out of the roles and costumes are simply creepy.

  31. Citizen Jane

    @Cara, that right there. When I first watched Mad Men, I thought it was a nice deconstruction of misogyny. Then my head exploded when I saw how some fans reacted to this scene (warning for triggers and scary stuff). Don finger rapes a woman to intimidate her so that she will convince her husband not to pursue his legal rights. Excellent exposure of misogyny and the power structures it creates, right? But then all the Youtube comments are about how awesome Don is with his Awesome Manly Badass Raping that he does. Watching Mad Men was just too scary after that.

    I was curious to see how Mad Men would go once The Feminine Mystique came out, but I couldn’t stick with it long enough to find out.

    Also, if you want some serious TCM lobeblowing, take a look at Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. With guaranteed 46% more lobeblowiness, because it presents itself as a very progressive, pro-equality movie.

  32. Lovepug

    @allhellsloose: If he did say that to Secretary Clinton, dang, I’d pay money to see her response!

    @angie: Yeah, Barbara Stanwyck is cool. It’s amazing what some of those actresses managed to do with those scripts.

    @minervaK: My daughter and I watch a lot of old movies and spend most of film making a Mystery Science Theater 3000 experience out of it. It’s great fun, and I’m nurturing her critical eye.

    On a general note, I am so over the Democratic party. Any party for that matter. The political system at large is so corrupt and bloated that anyone who steps into it – no matter how ethical they began – will become Insta-Idiot.

    Regarding Mad Men, I observe that it’s not the show itself but the audience response and media hype that turns exploitive. No photo shoot of the cast is complete without major cleavage, and any men’s magazine critique will completely miss each and every feminist subplot.

  33. Jill

    1. The Dalai Lama is no feminist.

    2. I’m not sure why this post has become an “In Defense of Mad Men” forum, but if the show had any actual feminist proclivities (as opposed to those imagined by feminists in denial), there would be no cleavage to exploit in photo shoots in the first place, and nobody would watch it. Because feminist shows do not exist. “Mad Men”s intended audience (like the intended audience of all commercial entertainment)is prurient dudes and women interested in appeasing prurient dudes. That’s why it’s about prurient dudes and the hotsy totsies they screw.

    Hello: all commercial television reinforces patriarchal mores. That’s what it is for.

  34. Jill

    “I realize the movie is melodramatic, misogynistic, etc, but I can’t help it — I think Stanwyck is awesome.”

    Stanwyck is awesome. Her awesomeness transcends Hollywood misogyny. This is true of many classic film stars. A lot of those women had mad skillz quite apart from the shit roles they were made to play. Bette Davis? Nobody can touch her. My current fave rave is Ida Lupino.

  35. buttercup

    Bette Davis in “All About Eve” was a revelation. A movie that also passes the Bechdel test, repeatedly.

  36. Laughingrat

    The “agency” argument in favor of femme fatales is a tricky one. We can get a kick out of it when some lady guns down a sniveling creep, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that in the eyes of the filmmakers, the audiences of the time, and probably most of the audience now, the film’s message is not one about how awesome it is when the chicks get liberated.

    That said, old movies are a hell of a lot less painful for me to watch than new ones. The misogyny is the same in both, but at least sometimes an older film’s age gives me the illusion of distance. So much more pleasant to analyze the gender stuff in “Shadow of a Doubt” than in something made this year, even though it all boils down to the same old oppression. If I want fresh and current patriarchy, all I have to do is leave the house.

  37. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Old misogynistic movies are more entertaining because newer movies are tailored to 15-yr-old boys (quintessential prurient dudes). My interest in watching comicbook heroes, crappy remakes of 70’s tv shows, street racers and inelegant drunken louts could be multiplied by 1,000 and it would still fit in the corner of a Stinkhorn’s eye.

  38. tinfoil hattie

    Citizen Jane, I waded into the comments of that YouTube video – the charming Don Draper sexually assaulting a woman. I have never watched Mad Men, so I guess I’m not a feminist:

    “I thought this was brilliant. maybe Because I hated this gold-digging painted whore from the moment she came onto set thinking she still had any sex appeal.

    “My friends know? I’m a feminist and they ask me how I can like how he handled this, but this isn’t about a woman being dominated by a man, it’s business handled in a very visceral way. Frankly, Bobbie Barker does more damage to women’s image than Don Draper ever could.”

    I need to take to my bed with a cold towel and a margarita. Maybe not in that order. Maybe simultaneously.

  39. A Ginva

    The scene where Don rapes the women is in itself sexualised: his domination is eroticised, it’s some kind of soft porn, just as everything on tv is. The problem isn’t that the wrong dudes comment the scene, the scene is made from these dudes’ point of view, and is for them. There’s no gap.

    The way the scene is shot and set makes it hard to identify to the women’s feelings, the spectator is not invited to feel the fear and humiliation of the rape, the intimidation and blackmail. Rather, the camera invites the spectator to see the women from Don’s point of view, as a sex object, and to feel pleasure from this domination, which is the narrative of all patriarcal material.

    The first shot is typical of all age-old patriarchal pictures of women: a women watching herself being watched, that is, internalising the male gaze while being male-gazed at. The women is visually pornified, which sends the message that she’s not human, she wants and deserves rape.

  40. Bushfire

    A Ginva: That last comment of yours was brilliant! Brava!

  41. Roving Thundercloud

    I’m with Antoinette and Laughingrat; I love movies but since most are full of P, I’d way rather watch old movies full of P than new movies full of P. Everything about classic films, from the quality of the actors to the lighting and scores, is more enjoyable than today’s crop of blaring remakes and teen-boy orgsplosions. Everything has to be done to death, with music that bombards us with What To Feel and plenty of 3D sadism.

    Also, watching the films of past decades has a higher wheat-to-chaff ratio. Pass the popcorn.

  42. Rachel

    Sarah – Good point and duly noted!

  43. Liz

    I find older films easier to watch simply because many of them had more female actors, who in many cases actually look like real humans; not emaciated and pumped through the “perfecting” machine, rendering them virtually indiscernible from one another like hollywood dictates today. They also got to say more, I suppose because it was assumed that, with so few rights, a woman calling bullshit was less of a real threat.

    Madmen is vile. Yeah, we get to see the female characters’ feelings about their oppression but Don, the star, as hollow and fucked-up as he is, is still a hero for making wads of cash and nailing copious numbers of hot babes. The lip-service to recognizing the extreme sexism is only there to “modernize” the show.

  44. tessa

    this is the first time i’ve commented! (although i’ve been reading and learning and enjoying this blog for a while now.)

    i was wondering why jill said the dalai lama was not a feminist? (so emphatically.) i don’t know much about him, but have always thought of buddhism as the most sane of all religions/ways of life. could jill – or someone else – enlighten me??

  45. tinfoil hattie

    Mad Men is by, for, and about dudes. As is everything else on television. Each week a new show starring nothing but dudes, watched by dudes, debuts on cable: Ax Men, Dude, What Would Happen?, Ice Road Truckers (there is one token woman, and this season another is joining – hopefully there will be a catfight! Yeah!), Deadliest Catch, Pawn Stars, American Restoration, Some Stupid Gun & Shooting Show, American Chopper, American Pickers, and on ad infinitum.

    We broads get Extreme Couponing. ‘Cause, you know, buying shit is our job. And it takes a full work week to do couponing (aka hoarding) the right way.

  46. Laughingrat

    A Ginva, that analysis was really kickass. *admires*

  47. allhellsloose

    Second Ida Lupino. Barbara and Bette too.

  48. Heather

    As it looks like a lot of us enjoy older movies, just wanted to share a very well put together tribute to film noir I came across on YouTube titled “The Endless Night: A Valentine to Film Noir”.


    Also, Love Love Love this blog! It is a daily dose of sanity.

  49. cootie twoshoes

    If there’s any doubt about what goes on *behind* the scenes of Mad Men, try searching “Mad Men producers tell January Jones to gain weight.”

    But, OMG, isn’t it so enlightened that they want her to *gain* weight?? Never mind the requirements of femininity are ever-shifting according to what d00ds want.

  50. GMM


    Buddhism is very misogynistic. Here are some choice quotes from the gentle Buddha:

    “One would sooner chat with demons and murderers with drawn swords, sooner touch poisonous snakes even when their bite is deadly, than chat with a woman alone”

    “It were better, simpleton, that your sex enter the mouth of a poisonous snake than that it enter a woman. It were better, simpleton, that your sex enter an oven than that it enter a woman”

    “Those are not wise

    Act like animals

    Racing toward female forms

    Like hogs toward mud


    Because of their ignorance

    They re bewildered by women, who

    Like profit seekers in the marketplace

    Deceive those who come near.”

    And it gets even worse. For an analysis on Buddhism’s misogyny: http://www.trimondi.de/SDLE/Part-1-01.htm

    From the article:
    “If the thought of enlightenment awakens in a female being and she follows the Dharma (the Buddhist doctrine), then she can gather such great merit that she will be allowed to be reborn as a man in her next life. If she then, in male form, continues to lead an impeccable existence in the service of the “teachings”, then she will, after “her” second death, experience the joy of awakening in the paradise of Buddha, Amitabha, which is exclusively populated by men. Thus, albeit in a sublime and more “humane” form, the destruction of the feminine is a precondition for enlightenment in Mahayana Buddhism too. Achieving the advanced stages of spiritual development and being born a female are mutually exclusive.”

  51. Roving Thundercloud

    Good point Liz–I often find myself thinking, “This actor [male or female] is awesome but could never get cast in a film today” because of their looks–a big nose or crooked teeth, or just being average-looking, or idiosyncratic in some way. Considering how pumped-up they are, modern movies are pretty bland fare.

  52. laxsoppa

    In my part of the coast, a paradise exclusively populate by dudes is a contradiction in terms.

  53. paper doll

    50’s movies were the worst…woman as monster at every turn…..and the mother as monster is all over the era’s movies, books, you name. It never went away of course , but was in shake your grove thing mode then

  54. angie

    Jill wrote: “Stanwyck is awesome. Her awesomeness transcends Hollywood misogyny. This is true of many classic film stars. A lot of those women had mad skillz quite apart from the shit roles they were made to play. Bette Davis? Nobody can touch her. My current fave rave is Ida Lupino.”

    Ah, thank you, sincerely. You hit the nail on the head (as usual) in a way I was unable to do — Barbara Stanwyck, Bette Davis, Ida Lupino *transcend* the Hollywood misogyny. I’d add Joan Crawford to that list as well. Even though most of the plot lines are cringe inducing (Bette Davis not being a “real woman” without a husband in “All About Eve” for just one example), these awesome women and their awesome talent are what *make* these movies endlessly enjoyable for me. These women outshone their male counterparts and made the movies they were in completely their own. No one refers to “Double Indemnity” as a Fred MacMurray movie — it is a Barbara Stanwyck movie. Heck, I can’t even think of the male lead’s name in “All About Eve” (a movie I’ve seen at least 10 times) because it is so totally a Bette Davis movie.

    I find myself agreeing with those who prefer the classic movies to current ones. The Hollywood misogyny is rampant in both, but I agree that at least the classics have women in roles other than “sexy girlfriend” with about 5 lines & an explicit sex scene.

  55. Katy

    @Sarah: May I recommend Gerda Lerner’s “The Creation of Patriarchy” and “The Creation of Feminist Consciousness”?

  56. minervaK

    Hello: all commercial television reinforces patriarchal mores. That’s what it is for.

    Word. This is precisely why I refuse to buy TV. If it comes into my house for free, fine; I’ll happily watch, point and laugh, but I’m not spending any of my hard-earned dough on the shit.

    On the buddhism thing: I’m not an expert by any means, but I was raised by an adherent of tibetan buddhism, so I’ve been exposed to it perhaps more than the average American white woman. The thing that always struck me about it (as well as about a lot of other philosophies), is how fucked up good basic ideas can get by turning them into religions. I mean, the buddha’s basic idea was genderless, ageless and classless — human beings suffer because they crave, and a lot of that suffering can be alleviated by understanding and attacking the roof causes of one’s cravings. Only a bunch of dudes could take something that benign and turn it into the pointless, plodding heirarchy that modern buddhism has become.

  57. Ruby Lou

    See, that’s why I keep coming back here. Because although in my brash and fearless youth I enjoyed a reputation as a mouthy difficult female always causing trouble criticizing the wrongness of patriarchal practices, after a while, it wore me down. Numb repulsion took over, the grim monotony of just getting through the day. I started reading this blog because of the incomparably fabulous writing of Twisty, and the other voices here, which are enormously gratifying to read and have granted me many marvelous guffaws. But I’m starting to notice a healing effect. I was deeply wilted from decades of numb shock, and the reminders of yes, it’s a crock, a crime, a cruel injustice, are bringing me back to life. I had gotten to the point where the tiny daily rapes of life seemed normal, no big deal. That’s just the way they are, whatever. The scene in the movie where the woman gets hit by a guy and *thanks* him for it? is a weapon discharged by a huge enemy homing right for my most precious treasures, and I ain’t havin it. With the keen serendipity so favored by the tricksters of cosmic justice, some close friends of mine, female mavens of noir who fancy themselves feministical, strongly recommended this very movie to me as an outstanding example of a lost noir gem. And now I find out it’s got scenes straight out of the rancid imagination of the male script writers purveying the deluded dude myth of the ‘femme fatale.’ When I read that, I felt something stirring in my mouth. It was my fangs. They’re back. So kudos to y’all for helping me remember. Because you’re right, we have to bite like hell just to keep from sliding backwards. Fortunately, I’ve always enjoyed the crunch of patriarchal lies between my jaws.

  58. Chantelle

    tessa –

    Furthermore (adding to GMM), according to the Dalai Lama, the only sex permissible under Buddhism is PIV sex. Even putting aside the problems of PIV (which is hardly the most feminist act), it excludes masturbation, same-sex relationships, oral sex; basically, anything but a cis-woman getting pronged by a dude in her vagina.

  59. GMM

    Minerva, I disagree. I might be misinterpreting what you meant, but the Buddha didn’t get his original ‘pure’ message distorted by other men. He was a misogyinist himself. I hear the same thing said about Christianity, that it got distorted from it’s original good message. Which isn’t exactly true either.

  60. Lovepug

    Slow day at work again, which can only mean trouble (like posting a comment twice in the same thread).

    Bored at work means reading a review of the new movie “Bad Teacher” and seeing how much movies have not changed. Cameron Diaz plays a teacher who is described as a gold digger who tries to raise money for a boob job so she can land herself a rich guy. Yeah, that story really needed to be told. I could have also done without the photo of Diaz in her Daisy Dukes.

    Bored at work also means being fucking dumbfounded by a blog post from Dilbert creator Scott Adams waxing poetic on how it’s society’s fault men rape because society is not set up to accommodate men’s natural urges (wish I knew what planet he’s living on – seems to me society is nothign but set up to accommodate men). To further cement his membership in the Tool Hall of Fame, the online petition site against his blog post features him posting a series of personal attacks against people who rightly called shenanigans on that crap of a blog post.


  61. Lovepug

    Oh and how could I resist clicking on the story about the guy who decided to punish his ex-girlfriend by buying a billboard (yes, BILLBOARD!) to shame her over her alleged abortion.


    And a third comment means I really need to get back to work.

  62. buttercup

    Buddhism, huh? I had no idea. Thanks for the enlightenment, blamers.

  63. buttercup

    And Lovepug, Adams really is pathetic. It’s cringe inducing reading his comments on that petition.

  64. minervaK

    GMM — Oh, I’m not arguing that the buddha wasn’t a misogynist. I’m just saying that his central idea didn’t contain the overt misogyny of so many other ‘messiahs.’ I didn’t know the guy personally, but my guess is that he was just like all the other dudes in his culture when it came to women.

  65. Piana

    Sorry blamers, but I fear I must induce a lobe-blowage epidemic most horrid.


    Oh and by the way hi all. You guys keep me (relatively) sane and functioning in a fucked up world.

  66. Stella

    Can we talk about Cat on a Hot Tin Roof?

  67. A Ginva

    Links to the Dalai Lama – not quite the image we get in the Western world

  68. yttik

    For a real horror, the Disney channel and some of the sitcoms and movies targeted to preteen girls are absolutely atrocious. Forget the Bechdel test, that doesn’t even begin to cover it anymore. These modern shows convince you that women and girls have no redeeming qualities at all and should be quickly exterminated based on the annoyance factor alone.

    If the female characters on these shows ever encountered a good 1950’s psycho femme fatale, their lobes would be blown. What’s being presented today is like a type of blackface and young girls are being force fed a charicature as a role model. A psycho femme fatale may never have had full agency, but at least she was capable of more than a 30 minute show that revolves around her learning how to pick cookie crumbs out of her cleavage.

    To add insult to injury, the press asks little boys like Justin Bieber how he feels about world affairs and issues like abortion. If you ever wonder what your status as a girl is in this culture, remind yourself that Justin Bieber is your intellectual superior.

  69. Stella

    Sorry to post again so soon, but you all have to see this.


    Strong Female Characters

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