I’m interrupting my previously scheduled book series (on A Sand County Almanac) to bring to your attention an upsetting day I had this week. Spoiler Alert: I talk about the movie, The Favourite, as well as Episode 9, North of the Border, of the series, Atlanta.
As most of us are aware, the #MeToo movement has ignited some changes, particularly within the world of media. On Thursday, my husband and I went to see The Favourite before it left the theaters as it has 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.
And, while the acting was brilliant, particularly by the rightfully-nominated Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone, we still left the theater absolutely appalled. Why? Because not one of those characters had any redeeming qualities whatsoever.
Queen Anne, Lady Sarah, and Abigail were portrayed as Narcissistically selfish and petty. Because Queen Anne has lost 17 children from miscarriage, still birth and early childhood death, one should feel pity for her travails, at least. But she is used mercilessly by her childhood friend, Lady Sarah. And eventually she pays that abuse back in kind. Lady Sarah isn’t just mean to the queen, she is mean to everyone around her. And Abigail goes about securing a place of safety for herself, which, while understandable to a point, is still over-the-top selfish. When she goes beyond that point, though, I lose all sympathy for her. By the end of the movie, I felt they deserved what they got.
And that’s all well and good for fictionalized characters (the movie isn’t supposed to be historically 100% accurate), but what does it say about women in general? While the men, from Lord Marlborough to Harley to Masham, are trying to save England in their various ways (and don’t get me wrong, Harley is definitely a jerk in the movie), they aren’t doing what they are doing for completely selfish reasons.
So why? The screenplay was co-written by a woman. Why have you portrayed women in such an unflattering way?
Once home from the movie, and after bitching about it for a while, we decided to watch an episode of the series Atlanta because we hadn’t been able to watch it the previous night as Hulu always does this weird thing–not letting us back in if we’ve exited it. First World problems.
Needless to say, that was a bad decision. The episode is called “North of the Border”. I am assuming that’s supposed to be metaphorical because Paper Boi, Earn, Darius, and Tracy head to Statesboro (where Georgia Southern University, from which I was graduated, is located) to play a Pajama Jam for free. Once again needless to say: chaos reigns as it does on most episodes of this series.
And, once again, we were thoroughly upset by the end of the episode. Why? Because once again we had to watch women (in this case, just one) being portrayed as incredibly selfish and petty. In this episode, the woman in question is portrayed as being not quite sane. Fair enough–a lot of people are. Her insanity is related directly to Paper Boi and she freaks out when he is talking to another woman (a fan) during the Pajama Jam.
She dumps a drink on Paper Boi’s head, Tracy pushes her down the stairs, Earn catches her, she punches Earn in the face, and the next thing you know they are running for their lives. Fair enough–things weren’t handled well but that should have been the end of it.
Instead, Paper Boi really needs some weed so they sniff their way to the KA House (okay, that’s not what they call it, but what other fraternity is borderline white supremacist in South Georgia?) where Al smokes weed on a sofa beneath a Confederate flag. And I’m not even going to mention the naked pledges whose heads are covered with burlap bags. Things are already weird enough.
Let’s cut to the next morning when the guys arrive back at the apartment where they were supposed to spend the night (one of residents is the crazy girl), and find their car broken into and all their gear tossed out on the lawn. And this is the point where I got upset again. Why? Because Crazy Violet didn’t just shred Paper Boi’s clothing, but she cut all their clothing to shreds, including shoes. And she stole Earn’s laptop and Al’s weed.
You know, I would have bought her trashing Paper Boi’s things because that is who she felt she had a connection with, and he disappointed her. Crazy, yes, but I can see it. But everyone else’s stuff too? She wasn’t that crazy and I’m sorry that really doesn’t speak well for women. The message is: watch how you treat women or you will come to deeply regret it. How about: do unto others as you would have them do unto you?
By this point, it’s beginning to look like women have no redeeming value. At all. Ever. So, why not watch a female comedian? That should help, right?
We decided to watch a female comedian from New Zealand who turned out to be from South Africa but that didn’t matter. And she was funny. Until.
Until she started a bit about women knowing how to argue better than men because they can hold onto and will bring up things that upset them in the past. It basically came down to women terrorizing men over past mistakes. And after the day we’d had, that was too much.
I won’t deny that that is a style of argument. What I will argue is that that type of argument is not gender-related. How people argue is based on a number of different things and can vary from the conflict avoidant to the physical. But both men and women can be conflict avoidant (I’m in that camp) and both men and women can get physical when they argue. The whole point of the gender equality movement is that we are all the same and we are all different but it has nothing to do with whether we are male or female.
So why in the era of #MeToo are we portraying women in the worst light possible?
And now, before I step down off my soap box, I just want to give a nod to another problem that needs to be tossed in the garbage can–movies in which men of a certain age (past 40) are coupled with women half their age or worse.
A prime example of this is a movie now in the theaters–The Mule. Clint Eastwood both directs and stars in this, which is why the 88-year-old (whose character is 90) has not one, but two, threesomes with 20-somethings during the movie. Seriously? They are old enough to be his great granddaughters. That is sick. And he was okay with that.
Here is an excellent article on the phenomenon of the self-loving actor/director: You’re so Vain
Next week: Back to humankind’s attempt to destroy the earth and Aldo Leopold’s attempt to give us a glimpse of how much we have to lose if we do so.