There’s something else, though, that I can’t not notice about the NYT article: In the entire 1,187-word article, only about 200 words (3 paragraphs) were devoted to one of the highest honors and most controversial moments of the night: Oprah Winfrey winning the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. She’s the first Black woman to win the award (Quincy Jones won in 1995, the only Black man to win it), yet her win has been called “boneheaded” and “a shameless bid for a ratings boost,” largely because her contributions to the film industry are seen by insiders as lacking.
It was a short week due to the holiday, but here’s a recap of last week’s posts. Don’t miss the Animated Children’s Films series, which begins tomorrow (Monday)!
The controversy surrounding the film may have superseded the film itself–which is beautifully shot, heartbreaking, and even darkly comedic at times. Fire contains so many elements that I love in film: strong female characters, an exploration of complex issues that is never oversimplified and that never leads to individuals being labeled good or evil (although they certainly behave in good and/or evil ways), and immersion into a culture that isn’t entirely familiar to me. Speaking to a Western audience, Mehta has stated that one of her goals in filmmaking is to “demystify India,” its culture and its traditions. Fire complicates our understanding of a traditional patriarchal culture, and throws into sharp relief the ways these traditions impact women in particular.
Maybe I’m not old-fashioned; maybe I’m stupid for continuing to tune in to programming that doesn’t give a damn whether I watch or not. Or, even worse, maybe they’re just assuming they have “female viewers” (because we’re a silly monolith) because, you know, OMG Pretty Dresses.
At the very least, it’s important to discuss Twilight because it’s the First Franchise Film Series Ever to directly target teen girls, and we should probably look at what that means for the future of films made for young women, especially since the Twilight Saga has been overwhelmingly successful at the box office. Luckily, I found an amazing interview with Dr. Natalie Wilson, who points out some major problems with the Twilight Saga, and who blogs for one of my favorite sites, Professor, What If …?
In this post-feminist world, where there is definitely no concern about the emotional health of teenage girls and bullying is not a problem and misogyny is FOR SURE a thing of the past, where no one uses “girl” or “schoolgirl” as an insult, where no one accuses anyone of throwing like a girl or crying like a schoolgirl, and companies would never do something like conflate a teenage girl with mayhem, where teenage girls are all totally secure in their worth as full and equal beings and their humanity is never diminished by objectification or exploitation or marginalization or myriad narratives that daily communicate you are less than, in this amazing new world where feminism has been rendered moot, this is obviously a perfect show that is super funny.
The beauty of Ron’s character is that he’s manly enough to go for powerful women, as has been clearly established in previous episodes. And his interest in the women’s studies professor (who was talking about the oppressive nature of society) is completely believable given his libertarian beliefs. It doesn’t hurt that the actor who plays Swanson is unabashedly manly himself (read the interview with Nick Offerman) and that he’s married to Megan Mullaly, who is hella funny. I love that the character, the writing, and the directing came together so organically to create such greatness.