Wednesday, July 03, 2002

Just a Quote, Ma'am

"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and God help the devil if that woman is a cross-dresser. "

--Janis Ian, "Harlow"

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

Cinematic Mediocrity

Or, when do women get to be average on film?

I was expostulating on the film "The Peacemaker" on the way back from lunch yesterday and realized after I sat down at my desk that I hadn't actually gotten to my Big Final Point before we got out of the car. This happens a lot, by the way.

The Film -- Nicole Kidman plays a nuclear specialist in charge of something governmental, George Clooney plays her military liaison who's fond of breaking rules now and then. Mostly now. They have to work together to find and disarm a terrorist. As thrillers go, it was okay. Nothing to write home to mom about. I spent the first part of it thinking that it was a buddy flick between the Military Hero and the Driven Thinker, and that after Clooney's character had its chance to shine, Kidman's character would, too. I mean, sure, they save the world together by the end [oh, did I ruin it for you? So sorry], but the woman in charge [Dr. Kelly, Kidman's character] is pretty consistently being put in her place as an ivory-tower intellectual, and it's Clooney's character that is the real star. Well, okay, I guess, I just thought it was a more equitable partnership between the two, based on the advertising when the film came out. And, well, okay, again, at least it's getting put in her place as an ivory tower intellectual, and not As A Woman(tm).

So, around about the middle of the film, I figured it was potentially a good thing that the ivory-tower intellectual was a woman, because in terms of the story, there was no reason for it to be that way. No reason for that character to be female at all! yaaaaay! This *is* a good thing.

And I realized that as a feminist, when we get more girl schlemiels on film [not that this character was one], I'm going to be pissed off because of having grown up in a world with so few female cinematic role models I feel we can't really afford to have images buttress the idea of female inferiority in any way -- well, at some point I'm just going to have to suck it up and deal. But, then, I'm pissed off when all the imagery of women is either SuperGirl or a prostitute, too. So, whatever.

Now, by the end of the movie I realized what I really wanted to see: I want the president in the movie to be female, 75% of the joint chiefs to be women, the Military Hero to be female, the Driven Thinker to be female, the terrorists to be women, the strike force that goes after them to be women, the doctor who survives the drop off the side of the bridge to be female, the soldiers on the border, the Russian Mafia to be female, the German with the broken nose to be female, the cops, the cabbies, the traitorous officer who gets stabbed, the one doing the stabbing -- all of them, dammit, I want all of them to be women.

Monday, July 01, 2002


The ashes of Alexandre Dumas ["The Three Musekeeters", "The Count of Monte Cristo", "The Man In the Iron Mask"] are being moved from Villers-Cotterets, where Dumas requested he be buried, to the Pantheon, which houses the remains of many of France's great figures -- Voltaire, Curie.

On the one hand, a great honor, on the other, direct defiance of a last wish. Who should win arguments like that, the state or the individual?
DNA, RNA, Everybody Rhumba!

OH, this is just neat. America's not the only melting pot, y'know. A recent BBC news story presents information supporting the theory that the indigenous Britons are the Welsh, after comparing genetic markers between Friesian and Norse populations, and UK volunteers.

What's with the Frisians? Well, that's probably a topic for another Today's Geography Lesson, but Friesland is an identifiable cultural/geo/linguistic region now part of The Netherlands, and part of an area where Anglo-Saxons are thought to have originated.

So, the English and the Friesians matched up great, and the English and the Welsh were noticeably different, thus supporting the idea that a large-scale Anglo-Saxon invasion, though destroying much of the Celtic population, did not reach Wales.

Research released last year has drawn strong connections between the Welsh and Irish Celts and the Basque populations of Northern Spain and Southern France. [Ah, the Basques, probably another Today's Geography Lesson.]