Claire is a horrible human being for many, many reasons–but her abortions aren’t included in those reasons. The show makes that clear.
These women are complex, if not likable, and that’s a good thing.
I said that I had hoped this year would be different. However, when the Academy announced its nominations, I was not surprised.
For example, in 1840–just one year after photography was invented in France–Jules Lion (an African American man) opened a daguerrotype studio in New Orleans. Ten years later, Louis Agassiz, a scientist from Harvard, worked with a daguerreian in South Carolina to capture images of slaves. The contrast of a free Black photographer and the “specimen”-like treatment of the slaves (and the fact that both were largely forgotten or lost) is, at its core, the contrast–the double consciousness–of the imagery of Black America.
Chinua Achebe said, “There is that great proverb — that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”
Reading Fanon, listening to Malcolm X, watching ‘Concerning Violence’–these are just a few ways to hear the lions. When the hunter listens, though, he sees a lion roaring, jaws open wide to bite and kill. The fear sets in. Oppressive control digs its heels back in.
At the end of season 6, Gemma violently clashes the spheres of power. She’s in the kitchen. She’s using an iron, and a carving fork. Using tools of the feminine sphere, she brutally murders Tara, because she fears that Tara is about to take control and dismantle the club—the life, the style of mothering and living—that she brought home with her so many years ago.
Rural poverty and urban poverty are not the same. Individual racism and institutional racism are not the same. However, these forces are woven together as they are fiercely kept separate in our common mythologies of what America means. We avoid difficult stories that disrupt the narratives we’ve come to understand.
Horror films hold a mirror up to these ideals, distorting the images and terrifying viewers in the process. The terror that society feels while looking at these little girls echoes the terror it feels when confronted with changing gender norms and female power.
While the virgin-in-chains turned abortion-activist was my favorite image in the film, the most emotional moment was during an email exchange with a woman from Nairobi. She kisses the pills when she gets them, and a raw, personal email exchange follows as she goes through the process.
It is absolutely clear that throughout ‘Private Violence,’ Hill allowed Gruelle to take her into a world that she felt compelled to share with the public. That trust, that “wide-eyed curiosity” (as Gruelle said of Hill’s directing technique), created a documentary that not only pays homage to the strength and tragedy of women whose lives are torn apart by male partner violence, but also serves as a wake-up call that the system–law enforcement, news media, medical professionals, local and federal court systems–are not serving victims the way they should. ‘Private Violence’ is a public testament to the horror of domestic assault.
Twenty years later, we need more of what My So-Called Life gave us a taste of. We need teenage girl protagonists to be sexual, not sexy. We need honest portrayals of what it is to be a teenager–not only for teenagers who need to see themselves in faithful mirrors, but also for adults who are still trying to figure themselves out.
Zeffirelli’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is one told by the older generation. Luhrmann’s ‘Romeo + Juliet’ is one told by “unfaded” youth. When Des’ree was singing “Kissing You” as Romeo and Juliet kiss (and oh, how they kiss), she is singing with deep longing and pain. When Glen Weston sings “What is a Youth?” he sings at Romeo and Juliet, about how youth–and female virginity–fades.