August
12th 2009
Oh, Daddy!

Posted under: American history, art, Gender, unhappy endings, women's history

This is hillarious, and more than a little disturbing (via Shakesville.)

My family! My daughter! My wife! (Kind of reminds me of this scene from Chinatown–scroll up to 2:30 for the dramatic revelation.)

Contrary to my post about the new movie Julie & Julia, which I subtitled “mastering the art of feminist filmmaking,” the movie clips here are more typical of the ways in which women are served up in Hollywood movies: victims of violence and predation whose experiences serve as the pretext for a masculine avenger to take action, and to take over the narrative. It’s not that Julie & Julia has an overtly feminist message, aside from the shared experience of taking charge of their lives through cuisine. It’s that it showed women as real, complex characters whose predicaments were the central dramatic tension, instead of a pretext for a man to swing into action.

Sadly, that small fact makes it a feminist film. Whereas it’s no longer true (as it once was) in History that a woman’s biography or a book or article about women’s history is essentially feminist, Hollywood crawled back into its cave sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s, and it hasn’t returned. For those of you who have seen the movie: wasn’t it remarkable that all of the women remained fully clothed and (especially in the 1940s and 1950s scenes) fabulously turned out throughout the movie? This is perhaps another fact that makes it a feminist movie.

6 Comments »

6 Responses to “Oh, Daddy!”

  1. Erica on 12 Aug 2009 at 7:50 pm #

    Well, Ford didn’t bring up family, wife, or children in Star Wars… however, the franchise is hardly a shining example of strong female characters!

  2. Historiann on 12 Aug 2009 at 7:55 pm #

    Erica–you’re right. The two roles for which he’s most famous–Han Solo and Indiana Jones–are characters who were famously unattached. So, why the transformation? My sense is that it’s a combination of the kinds of roles available to him in the 1980s to the present, as well as his age from that point on.

  3. Erica on 12 Aug 2009 at 8:45 pm #

    It might be worth noting that Indiana Jones managed to acquire both a wife and an Indiana Jr. in the latest movie — quite the departure from the pulp-fiction hero of the earlier films. (Of course, he’s old and now feels the need to settle down…)

  4. Historiann on 12 Aug 2009 at 8:51 pm #

    Whaaaaa??? Well, serves me right. I haven’t seen an Indyana Jones movie since 1989. And, in reality, I think Harrison Ford is closer to 70 than to any other round number, am I right?

  5. Erica on 12 Aug 2009 at 9:04 pm #

    Ah, don’t bother with the latest one, it’s horrible. Dreadful. Really bad. Marion may be back in it, but that doesn’t make up for the terrible plot and worse computer graphics. Watching an almost-septuagenarian fight Evil Communists and aliens with a whip is only a very small part of what made it a bad film.

    [sorry for the spoilers -- he does get married in the end... and had had a son with Marion years ago, who helps him fight the Crazy Russian Woman...]

  6. Shaz on 13 Aug 2009 at 2:52 am #

    Speaking of action heroes settling down: Remember Sigourney Weaver in Alien? Total kick-ass hero. Well, by the 2nd movie, she gets the guy, saves a little girl, and even has a quasi-dog (loyal robot) to bring back to earth with her. Of course, in the 3rd Aliens, she does a Jesus/Resurrection thing, and I didn’t even see the final one, so I’m not quite sure where that fits in…

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply