The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Have been working on WIP each day, but there hasn't been much to mull over about it. My brain is not working very well. It's just one of those times where real life puts a damper on your writing brain. I'm not going to fret about it, just keep working anyway, even if some days I don't get much done.

I was thinking about the movie The Other Boleyn Girl. I haven't read the book and don't want to, because I hated the movie. The main reason I hated it was that--well, there were two main reasons I hated it, and they were related. One was that the movie went far out of its way to present Mary Boleyn as the sweet, docile, modest (blonde) heroine to Anne's greedy, bossy, strident, power-hungry (brunette) bitch. This bugged me historically, because Mary has always been seen as somewhat of a slutty ho. If, in reality, she wasn't, I still don't know where they got the characterization they gave her in that movie. It looked to me like they made it up as a lesson.

Because the other main reason I hated it was that the movie played like a morality tale against women stepping outside their modest obedient background roles in life, and trying to make power grabs like the men did. To me, the movie even seemed to imply that you deserved to be raped if you were a woman who wasn't meek. If you were a nice quiet girl, your lovers would be gentle with you. I don't even want to get into how much that movie p*ssed me off.

No, the question is--this is what I've been thinking about--why does the movie come off this way (to me, at least)? Why does it not come off as a kind of horror story where we see how awful it was to be female back then? All the pieces are there to make the viewer cringe with sympathy for both women, rather than leaving with the lesson that the good girl got everything she wanted, while the bad girl got her head chopped off. What is missing that would have made this about women being controlled and suppressed, rather than about girls getting their just deserts from guys?

Was it simply that the control and suppression had to be remarked on at some point?

Hmm, I'm thinking of that scene in Titanic where Rose's mother is tightening her corset and says something about how women's choices suck, so get used to it. Could something that small have changed the subtext? No. There are other scenes in Titanic that add to that one to make the point, like the little girl being made to sit up and hold her napkin nicely on her lap, and Rose's fiance ordering her meal for her and throwing her cigarette away. And maybe Molly Brown's character was meant to point out to the reader that the status quo isn't what you're supposed to believe.

So maybe that's the deal. You have to have something to show that the movie's status quo isn't right, or isn't normal, or is harmful, or...something.

Or...maybe if you have a scene where the choices are laid out for the characters, and their reasoning, and goals. Like if Anne and Mary had each said what they wanted and what they were willing to do to get it--no, that wouldn't work. That would just play up the differences between them. It wouldn't set the world around them in a questionable light. In fact, I think the movie might have actually had a scene like that.

And now I'm thinking Kristen Scott Thomas might have had a scene that added context, but the scene was so early on and so short that I can't remember if she did or not. All I remember is that her character had depth but was only around for about two seconds.

Maybe the problem is that the movie had no sense of theme. At least, I hope the good/bad girl theme wasn't a deliberate one. Maybe this was a story that had characterization and plot, but without theme, those two aspects ended up imposing a theme that the filmmakers didn't intend.

Well, I dunno. I wish I could come to some stronger conclusions about it, because I think that'd help my former GN.

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