Moderator: Dave Young
Here is a brief analysis of what could be considered a prototype: The Color Purple (Steven Spielberg, 1985), Though not necessarily the first of its kind, this movie can now be seen as a kind of cinematic watershed. It was a sign of the times but also of things to come: what was still unusual in 1985 would become commonplace by 1990. Since then, movies based on this mentality have become pervasive.
Purple as based on Alice Walkers critically acclaimed and best-selling novel of the same title. When it failed to win an academy award, critics were outraged. Here was a powerful movie about the ignored by the Hollywood establishment. Charges of racism were heard throughout the land. But those were not the only charges. Black men charged that the movie was sexist (for perpetuating negative stereotypes of black men) as well as racist (for pitting black men and women against each other instead of white society). And they did so right in the public square on talk shows such as Donahue. What caused their fury? In a nutshell, it was that every male character, without exception, is either a hopelessly stupid buffoon, a fiendishly evil tyrant, or both. And every female character, without exception, is a purely innocent victim, a quietly enduring hero, or both. In short, the world presented to viewers is one of an eternal struggle between “us” and “them.”
In Purple, this cinematic world – viewers know it only from what they actually see and hear in movie theaters or on television – consists ultimately of a battle between the forces of light represented by women and those of darkness represented by men. Unless viewers supply other information from their own world (and thus contradict what is “said” by the movie itself) or from Walker’s Novel (and thus add at least some depth of humanity to the male characters), they must reach the conclusion that men are inherently worthless. In fact, they might as well be aliens from some other world. Whether viewers are consciously aware of it or not, that is the inherent inner logic of this movie. “Men are gremlins of Celie’s world,” writes April Selley about the filmed version; “they are released to wreak havoc, but since they do not belong, they return to their own sphere, whatever that is. Spielberg’s skill in earlier films to bring alien creatures, whether evil or benign, into the ordinary world and then return them to their own universes backfires in The Color Purple. For men are not E.T or the other visitors in Close Encounters. Their disappearance cannot preserve or restore the status quo.”
What has made the male characters so worthless or evil is never shown; they just are the way that way. Was it because of the appalling conditions black people endured in the rural South of sixty years ago? Possibly. But if the situation was so destructive, why did only the female characters emerge with their dignity and humanity intact? From what viewers are shown, only one conclusion is possible: something innate in women allows them to rise above degradation, while something innate in men prevents them from doing so. Four women are triumphant and four men are defeated. Harpo, the oaf who keeps falling through the ceiling as if in a rerun of Amos ‘n Andy, is taken aback at the very end by his long suffering wife. No discernible change has taken place in him, while she has grown in wisdom and tolerance. Mister, a kind of black Simon Legree, eventually repents of his evil ways. But the last scene finds him so crushed by guilt that he cannot bring himself to even ask for Celie’s forgiveness. She meanwhile, has successfully transcended the past and can thus move on into the future. Even in contrition, then, the men are worthless. At their best, in other words, they are irrelevant anachronisms.
Given the dramatis personae, the only people who can identify themselves with the characters on-screen are women, whether black or white. No healthy man, black or white, could possibly do so, not only because all male characters are so unspeakably vile and so incredibly stupid but also because they are so uncinematically lifeless. Unlike the women, the men are not really people at all. They are wooden caricatures who represent crimes or pathologies, cardboard cutouts that exist in only one dimension, straw men set up to be knocked down – in short, not complex human beings in whom male and female viewers can see some of the god and evil in themselves. Never mind: this movie is not addressed to male viewers, not even to racist, white, male viewers. Apparently, the possible reaction of male viewers was considered irrelevant. The movie indicates that men are irrelevant once they stop persecuting women. In the final shot, the camera looks upward at the women, thus conferring visual monumentality and dignity on those who have escaped from their men and gone off to live together. Their pride and independence is thus emphasized in precisely the same way as the brutality and evil of the men, Celie’s father and husband, were at the beginning.
Like the “docudrama’s” on television, purple purports to be two very different, even opposing, things at the same time. On the one hand, there is an apparent link between the story and history. After the opening credits, viewers are informed that the story takes place in the 1920’s. This information is verified by the historically accurate use of sets, costumes, and other props. But even docudramas are never scientific descriptions of the world, sociological treatises in narrative form. The events and characters are clearly selected for some purpose, not thrown together at random as they allegedly are in cinema verite. They are not merely observed in the process of documentation, because raw data are always mediated by the senses and filtered through the mind as formed by culture. They have obviously been interpreted in the context of a particular worldview, whether that of the director, the author, or both. As feminists are so fond of asking when confronted with what they consider patriarchal cultural productions, What is wrong with this picture? What is left out, and why?
Purple was made in 1985. Whatever it says about life among rural blacks in the 1920’s, it says at least as much about life among urban blacks and whites in the 1980’s. Otherwise, only historians or anthropologists would but tickets. Thus, the evaluation of this movie should have less to do with its historical veracity than with what Walker calls its “womanist” perspective. By that, she means its ability to satisfy the psychological needs and serve the political interests not only of contemporary black women and feminists but also, by extension, those of potential “converts” among other women who identify themselves with female victims. Feminists often argue that there is no such thing as an “innocent” movie, that every movie promotes a subjective or “biased” point of view designed to legitimate class or gender power. It is very ironic, therefore, that they have legitimated this one on the grounds that it does present an objective point of view, accurately describing “the way it was.” A double standard is clearly operating here. Many believe that the whole notion of unbiased truth, whether in terms of historical accuracy or scientific objectivity, is preposterous and must be “deconstructed.” They might ridicule this notion as a naïve illusion resulting from “the male model” of linear thinking. Or they might condemn it is a sinister attempt by men to define truth and scholarship in a way that denies equality to the “alternative logic” or “lateral thinking” of women. But when it comes to “feminist knowledge” about the “oppression” of women by men, they seldom hesitate to claim historical accuracy and scientific objectivity.
On the other hand, there is an apparent link between the story and art. The narrative structure, for example, corresponds perfectly to established conventions for fiction. It has a plot, heroic characters, villainous ones, and so forth. But does it correspond at a deeper level to the avant-garde notion of art? Consider the criteria usually used to evaluate art according to that definition, which now prevails in Western societies. Art explores complex problems without presenting simple explanations or proposing easy solutions. In other words, art revels the paradoxical and ambiguous nature of human existence. To achieve this, artists must try to stand apart from society and challenge conventional wisdom, attack the status quo, undermine normal perceptions of reality, and so on. Is Purple art in that sense? Hardly. It challenges, attacks, and undermines, to be sure, but only in order to replace older forms of smugness, self-righteousness, and complacency with new ones. It proposes a very simple solution to the problem of hostility between the sexes. Women need to escape from suffering. Their suffering is due primarily or even solely to the evil of men. Ergo, women need to escape from men. Sure enough, four innocent and heroic women escape from four evil and stupid men.
But Purple cannot be considered good art even in purely aesthetic terms. According to film critics and theorists, cinematic artistry is indicated by innovation rather than cliché and subtlety rather than blatancy. This movie is anything but innovative or subtle. It is more like a black version of Cinderella. Think of the scenes from the first half hour: Celie having her baby torn out of her arms and sold by her own incestuous father; Celie being sold to Mister; Celie being slugged by Mister; Celie’s stepson throwing a rock at her; Celie on her hands and knees scrubbing the floor while the others continue wallowing in their own slop and filth…Narrative subtlety never rears its head. This is art?
Spreading Misandry P. 13-16
uhhhhh, Akil, what is your fighting style?
Ceremonies commemorate Dec. 6 attack on women
Last Updated Tue, 06 Dec 2005 12:34:07 EST
Ceremonies are being held across Canada on Tuesday, the 16th anniversary of the Montreal massacre, a day of remembrance of violence against women.
The day was established to commemorate the Dec. 6, 1989, shooting deaths of 14 young women at the École Polytechnique de Montréal.
All 14 women were killed because of their gender.
Tuesday in Montreal, there will be several ceremonies to mark the day, including one at the city's Place-du-6-décembre.
The day will also be observed in other locations across the country.
In the 1989 attack, gunman Marc Lepine stormed an engineering class at the École Polytechnique. It was the last day of term before the Christmas break.
Lepine, 25, proclaimed he was getting even because feminists had ruined his life.
Anger is an emotion. Hatred is a worldview. Anger is a response to either individuals or groups. Hatred is a response to groups. Anger is transient, because the experience of every day life, even if only on a purely psychological level, soon provokes other emotional responses. Hatred is enduring (and this is important) because it is sustained and promoted by culture, primarily as beliefs passed from one generation to the next. In modern societies, these beliefs - prejudicial beliefs, or negative stereotypes – are transmitted through both popular and elite culture. It is true that anger can lead to hatred, but then it is no longer anger but has become something else. A way of feeling has become a way of thinking. Besides, the origin of hatred does not excuse it. As a psychological mechanism, anger itself is often a perfectly healthy response to people. No one could survive a lifetime of psychological and physical threats without being able to experience anger. As a cultural mechanism, on the other hand, hatred, we include here both forms of sexism, misandry and misogyny – is a highly inappropriate response to people. When enough people deliberately perpetuate their anger, whether originally due to malice or fear, it is institutionalized as hatred. What had been morally neutral, because emotions involve no choices and can thus be neither good nor bad, is no longer morally neutral. It is evil.
Spreading Misandry P. 230
Both men and women often fail to see misandry as a problem, because sexism has been defined exclusively in terms of misogyny. They find what they are looking for. And they do not find what they are not looking for. Everyone would admit to seeing examples of misandry now and then but man or most people fail to see the pattern. After decades of relentless searching for every vestige of misogyny, it can be very difficult to even accept the possibility of misandry as a significant counterpart to misogyny. Even when it appears in its most blatant forms, in fact, misandry is often mistaken for misogyny.
Consider In the company of men (Neil Labute, 1996). Because the main character and his sidekick victimize a woman, many viewers have complained that this movie is misogynistic. Because the main character truly hates everyone, on the other hand, it could be described more appropriately as misanthropic. Just because a movie is about misogyny, after all, does not mean that it is misogynistic. At the moment, in fact, depicting misogyny is far more likely to be an indictment of it than a justification of it. In this movie, one male character is evil and the other inadequate. The main female character is a virtuous victim and heroine. According to the criteria outlined in Chapter 1, therefore, Company is described more appropriately as misandric. The mere fact that so many women react to it with anger – and to the world of men supposedly represented by its male characters – indicates that its primary effect (as distinct, at least in theory, from its aim) was to incite misandry rather than misogyny. Male viewers are expected to identify themselves with characters presented as the villains. Female viewers are expected to identify themselves with a character eulogized as movie’s victim and heroine.
Spreading Misandry P. 237
But even though Company itself is neither misandric nor misogynistic, many of its critics and viewers really do succumb to misandry. Critics often fail to see the misanthropy, blinded by the possibility that women might find doing so offensive. Or they see nothing wrong with misandry in view of the assumption that men somehow deserve prejudice. The implication is that Chad and Howie represent men in general and Christine women in general. Richard Corliss noted that “the most interesting part of the film comes after it is over. That’s when the real knives come out. At the Sundance Film Festival, where this pitch-black comedy was an award winner, [director Neil] LaBute was widely rebuked by the sensitivity patrol. After a Manhattan screening, a male publicist was punched. Well, he was a guy. Probably deserved it.” Corliss reports that the star playing Chad, Aaron Eckhart, had mentioned the desire of some women to slap or punch him. Controversy began even before the release of Company. “Quite simply,” writes Colin Brown, “distributors was scared of offending the female audience with such a naked exhibition of male piggery.”
Forgotten or ignored, though, was what should have been obvious to everyone not blinded by feminist politics. By implying that all men are evil and all women their innocent victims – who nevertheless get even in the end! – the critics, unlike those responsible for the movie, really are misandric. Controversy increased, not surprisingly, once the movie was released. Tom Bernard puts it this way: “women love the movie. It shows men behaving badly, and women feel like a fly on the wall watching the things men do.” Corliss points out that “[W]omen can take a peek at – and, if they wish, confirm their suspicions of – that dangerous and perplexing house pest, the modern middle class male.”
Spreading Misandry PP. 239-40
I would be very much interested in hearing your views. What you think...not so much quotes from other people, but what you believe is the problem and perhaps, what can be done to fix it?
I don't personally think that violence boils down to just one sex....male against female. I know better - I also know that it's not just female violence only against males. I've known women who have suffered abuse at the hands of men, I've known men who have suffered abuse at the hands of women. My point, and my only point, is that it is wrong no matter who applies the abuse.
and Ian has to make rules for his own threaqd that proclude the use of personal attacks as he claims "I passed nicely into freefloating psychosis." .......passed nicely into freefloating psychosis.
No, I didn't discuss female msulim leadership. At all.
I proved that islamic nations have serious problems with sexism, devaluation of women, and violence against them.
All I propose is that you take a valium or do some deep breathing, and then do what I do every day:
Work with whites, blacks, asians, indians, men, women, straights, gays + lesbians, old people, young people, veterans, civilians, christians, jews, muslims, atheists, the spare wiccan, plus lefties, righties, moderates, the rich, the poor, and, by following the golden rule, and believing that everyone is responsible for the lives they lead, and trying to leave the world better each day than when I woke up, opposing injustice against ANYONE, and trying to heal the sick or help the less fortunate: just believe that we can all get along even when we disagree and that the world is a magical and special place.
if you were proportionately excited about all the injustices in the world, such as the injustice wrought by islamic people on women, you'd self combust!
I mean, if i cant attack you for your own words, what can I attack you for.........
if there is going to be a system whereby women and men are going to get along, it must be a system in which men have some say....or else we will feel like we had no power in the decision making and we will be pissed.......
ATH, you raised the issue of a pervasive characterization in the media of men as villains and buffoons. You mentioned the Color Purple as an example. Well... what about:
Saving Private Ryan, Shawshank Redemption, Schindler's List, and many other such films that celebrate the sacrifices, perseverance, compassion and complexity of leading men?
(nearly the entire porn industry is designed by and for men, for example).
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