28 January 2008

Bullet point update

  • a bird shat on my shoulder this morning. gross. ill boding for the semester that started today? hm.

  • the bird we ate last night (a chicken) fell apart like it had done yoga all its life. may it be reborn as a calm asana guru. or perhaps the bird this morning was karma for the bird last night. hm.

  • 5 workouts a week. not 6. 6 too hard. me lazy. 5 plenty.

  • gave in to Peets promotion for Yemeni village coffee. was it the 1,001 nights Orientalism? or the cute village-y pic? or the fact that they called them 'micro-lots'? I'll never know.

  • books: Winterson's Written on the Body in-progress.

  • books: Martin Amis is a bit (lot?) of an arse and it kinda shows in his prose. not a huge fan after House of Meetings.

  • film: Waitress: should be cute and yet its cuteness makes light of rape within marriage. I think: not okay. not okay. not okay.

here endeth the list.


sageblue said...

Re: Waitress. Hmm. What about ending? Does that mitigate rape during marriage? OK, probably not. I still liked the movie. Sorry.

tenaciousmcd said...

Are there just some things you can't put in a comedy, even a fairly dark one? We just saw that movie two nights ago, and I'm with sageblue: liked it. I also respected it. It was a rare romantic comedy that didn't condescend.

Marital rape is problematic subject matter. But there was no doubt how the film depicted the husband: pure creepy malevolence. And it was clear that Keri Russell suffered for it. Does that mean they have to go Lifetime movie of the week? I'm guessing that the way she dealt with that rape was how a lot of women do: bide, channel, joke, cheat, escape. Although I found the subject uncomfortable and tense, the film's treatment seemed neither casual nor cheap. This is a strongly feminist movie: the girl gets to be happy in the end WITHOUT a man. How often does that happen in a commercial film?

If anybody's got a moral gripe here, it's the conservatives, since Waitress celebrates extramarital affairs. The central one is clearly benevolent (and necessary) on one side, but not both. The doctor is a problem character--only right that he loses the girl, although he still comes away looking sympathetic. Aside from the affair, how could she have sex with her ObGyn? Anyway, I don't expect movies, especially comedies, to reflect a strict moral code (or my moral code) as long as they're honest about their characters. I'd add "humanity" or something like that, but I can't say I expect that either.

OK, so a technical question: what do we call movies like waitress and Amelie, and shows like Pushing Daisies? Twee (sur)realism? Not quite right. I'm at a loss for terminology. Any suggestions?

fronesis said...

I agree with both tekne and tmcd. How? Well, I think that the husband WAS 'pure creepy malevolence', but I think that THIS was the problem of the movie. It's not so much that it 'made light' of rape within marriage, but that it suggested that he was a believable character. I found him (despite loving Jeremy Sisto) absolutely unbelievable in all respects, and it was this that ruined the movie for me. He was so narrowly one-dimensional and unbelievable that it undermined her character for me. I wanted to like her, but I couldn't believe that the likable her would stay in the house with that sub-human for more than 5 seconds.

But I also agree about the ending. And I agree that the Doctor's adultery is a bit problematic: but that's because I'm a lot more conservative at heart than tmcd probably imagines me to be. :)

tenaciousmcd said...

Fro, I thought the husband's character was better acted than he was written. I think there are guys like that, and especially in a small town I can see how she would have married him and then gotten stuck. But they needed to show a bit more of his external charm to balance his domestic menace.

The more I think about this movie, though, in light of Tekne's comment, the more I wonder: Was that really "marital rape"? As I think about it, I think the answer is clearly no. Yes, he was abusive, and yes they had sex when she didn't really want to. But as creepy and wrong as it was, it doesn't qualify as "rape."

Why? She acquiesced. She didn't like it, but she didn't really try to stop it. I also suspect that this kind of sex--where the wife isn't really interested and doesn't really love her husband anymore but goes along anyway--happens ALL THE TIME. To label this as "rape" would subject a huge percentage of men to the "rapist" category. And rather than taking rape seriously, this would trivialize it by applying a word we should use only for the most intrusive acts to fairly mundane ones. Like it or not, marital sex is different than stranger sex and marriage implies some minimal level of consent that is not present in stranger or date rape cases. Not that men can have sex with their wives whenever or wherever or however, but that they have to get the benefit of the doubt in borderline cases of immediate consent. Her not wanting to but not resisting is not good enough here. Doesn't vindicate the guy, but doesn't make it "rape" either.

fronesis said...

tmcd - On your first point, I agree completely. That type of guy is the small town guy that EVERYONE thinks is so charming, so suave, and so hot, that all the women want him. Then, the one woman that gets him discovers he's an insecure, immature, abusive asshole. But the movie only showed us the second half.

As for 'marital rape', I don't think tekne was claiming that 'rape' actually occurs in the movie. But, speaking for myself, I'm not sure that's the point. I found something very disturbing about having issues of spousal abuse and marital rape (it may not have happened, but it was always very close to happening, since he was willing to beat her, to threaten her, and to force himself on her [he says it in words, even if he doesn't do it, in that one scene in bed])...I found it disturbing to have these issues dealt within within the context of 'Twee Surrealism'.

There was something about the tone of the movie that meant everything was all right, even the serious stuff wasn't anything to worry about. And that tone made the scenes that dealt with abuse, MORE disturbing and worrysome than if it was a movie about spousal abuse. In other words, twee surrealism served to legitimate the husband's actions, in a way, even if the overt message of the movie was that she needed to and would leave him. Somehow, it was almost 'cute' that he was this pathetic excuse for a human, but he was also very very dangerous - yet the danger was somehow blunted by the twee surrealism.

At least that's the closest I can come to articulating what it was about the movie that I most disliked.

tenaciousmcd said...

Fro, I take your point about the "rape" issue--one could reasonably argue for implication here, although I'm not sure that's necessary. What he actually does to her is even more common and still wrong (if less so); had they made it actual rape, the movie premise would have been untenable.

But let me take up the bigger point about spousal abuse and the twee surreal. For me, that film would have been hard to watch without its hard edge. The style of magical cuteness that has recently taken off on TV and film can easily become an overly sugary dessert. Picking up on the movie's pie metaphors, the format needs some bitterness to balance the flavors. Pushing Daisies does something similar by giving us goth twee, obsessed as it is by death (and, again, pie). Without that darkness, it becomes insufferable pop pap. That effect works both ways: you can broach a difficult subject (spousal abuse) for a wide audience if you frame it sweetly. Would it help if I made a Lucretius reference here too?

You may know that Adrienne Shelly (who wrote, directed, and co-starred as the mousy-girl waitress) was brutally murdered just after the movie was finished. That's no reason to like a movie if it is a bad movie. But for me, it added to its poignance since that fear of explosive male rage was so central to the film itself.

On a happier note, however, I thought Andy Griffith stole every scene. He can't have too many great roles left, but I was glad to see him here.