Proxy Funerals, Vomitting Puppets and Misogyny in 20th Century Cinema
|My brain has been turned off today. It seems to be coming round now but I’m not going to push it. I hate no brain days. Hate ’em, hate ’em, hate ’em. I get ratty and frustrated, I do passive activities like watching films and listening to radio programmes but I can’t actually follow what the hell is going on. Even in comedies – I can’t follow a joke from the start to the punch-line, it’s so frustrating. Anyway, I wrote most of this last night and quite clearly my ability to string a sentence together now is a marked improvement on earlier today. Sorry to everyone to whom I owe e-mail.|
Yesterday afternoon I spent some time thinking about Jeff around the time I knew his body was being cremated. I think this was a very useful exercise. I listened to some music. I don’t really know what sort of music he was into so I downloaded some random folk then listened to If I laugh by Cat Stevens – the saddest piece of music ever written and The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams – the most beautiful piece of music ever written and one that never fails to move me. I want this played at my funeral, so somebody else better write it down.
I had a really good sob – something I would never have managed to do in a public place, especially given that they’d be people far closer to Jeff who would most likely have managed to hold themselves together. I need to cry sometimes. I don’t enjoy it and I’m not one of these people who pick a movie because it is a weepy. But sometimes, you just need to get the stuff out.
I ended up watching two films yesterday as I was to spend most of the day alone and my brain really wasn’t in gear [I thought, until today arrived and I remembered what that really felt like]. Team America: World Police is the funniest thing I have seen in probably about a year. I had been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to rent it since it’s release onto DVD a few months back, and it was well worth the wait. I know at least half the people reading this will despair of me, but I was on of the first Brits to discover South Park and I’m afraid I just dig that humour. I don’t generally go for adolescent-boy humour (although I love Mike Myers as well), but Matt Stone and Trey Parker really make me laugh. Even the vomiting puppet made me laugh. Yeah, I know.
The production was also something to marvel at – such detail, including lost of amusing make-dos like pawns for bollards and cheese-graters for incense burners. I love all that miniature stuff; I love the ambition of people trying to make films properly without blue screen and CGI – not that there’s anything wrong with that stuff, just that it’s great to see it done with love and attention and hands-on modelling.
The second film I watched I didn’t finish properly, which was Hitchcock’s Marnie. Most Hitchcocks I’m really into, my favourite probably being Shadow of a Doubt. I learnt the true power of suspense in that film when I first watched it, having recorded it and having the tape finish about fifteen minutes from the end. Aaaah!
However, Marnie I abandoned. I hated it! Well, it wasn’t bad, but it was ideologically troubling. I know what you’re thinking, for any woman of taste Sean Connery as a romantic hero is ideologically troubling. But he raped her. He blackmailed her into marrying him, and she had this major anxiety about being touched by men, begs the guy not to and although he holds back for a short white he goes ahead anyhow. And you just knew, you knew that he was going to somehow cure her of her ‘problems’ (as she says in the movie, “Men; you say no thanks to one of them and bingo! You’re a candidate for the funny farm.”)
Marnie (Tippi Hedren) was a bit of a loon. I mean, faced with a choice between marriage to Sean Connery and life imprisonment, what would you do? And she was a thief. But no actions on behalf of a woman justify her sexual exploitation, even under the eye for an eye rules – since she can never assault you in an equivalent way.
I did turn it off, but then I put it back on in the background just to make sure that the film didn’t redeem itself. As I predicted, she wound up falling in love with her assailant, her neuroses were all because of her mother, the female condition is a disease and male-constructed femininity is the cure yada, yada.
At one stage, Marnie says of some psychology texts that her husband has offered her, “I don’t need to read that filth to know that women are stupid and feeble and men are filthy pigs.”
And I don’t need to watch movies which present and promote this distorted picture of the humanity, even if they are from Alfred Hitchcock. Grrr!