Friday, June 30, 2006

Devil Wears Prada & Superman - Girls to the left / Boys to the Right

(Pictured at right-- Ruth Chatterton, star of 1933's FEMALE, a predecessor to Devil Wears Prada)

One can virtually guarantee what sort of crowds will be in which of the two big movies opening today, Streep & Co. in the Devil Wears Prada for the women by themselves or in groups and the women with compliant submissive men as dates, and for Superman, disturbed loners too left-brained for Marvel.

The ideology for each film is, of course, totally fascist.

Superman, in his deluded disguise as protectorate for truth, justice and the American way, is nothing but a pawn for big business, for the amok patriarchy. At least Lex Luthor wants to have fun, wants to shake things up. Superman wont let a single domino fall, as if we have some shortage of people in the world. And meanwhile there's little investment in a hero who can literally do anything and has as a weakness only some ultra rare alien element. I know there are comic book fans who prefer DC to Marvel, I just never hung out with them. And neither should you.

What Superman needs to do is stop being so namby pamby and go to war against the real forces of evil. Can you imagine him in Iraq? How would he tangle with terrorists? Would he be pro or anti torture of prisoners? He would either be totally worthless in the field (except that he could sniff out suicide bombers and throw them deep into the ocean) or he would be killing people right and left. Either way, it wouldn't be fair to either side. As Patton would say, there's no glory, there's nothing affirmed.

As it is, in these delusional popcorn fantasies, a white guy in tights is all the world needs to dispel evil... I haven't seen it yet, but I understand the concept is that Superman has "been away" and is coming back to set things right. "Sigh" -- Supe, unless you're going to sever the corrupt ties between big oil and the govt., don't bother.

Same goes for DEVIL WEARS PRADA, which somehow posits the obnoxious editor of a fashion magazine as someone who has "earned" everyone's fear and hatred, ala Martha Stewart. Here we perpetuate the stereotype of high powered NYC executives as total bitches... but wait, played by Meryl Streep, we are assured that there's some good there deep in her soul and that all the yelling and bitchiness is a front to keep the illusion that this shit is important, that fashion means anything besides $$$ filched from the pockets of professional working women and gay men.

SUPERMAN seems just typical white boy foolishness but PRADA seems genuinely harmful in advocating the idea which a lot of girls have already gleaned from shows like SEX IN THE CITY and JUST SHOOT ME, that women who work high powered jobs in NYC are expected to be total bitches at work and total sluts outside of it. The third wave feminists "take back" the right to be bitchy, as if bitchiness isn't in itself a sign of weakness. When I worked in the high end art world I could always tell the truly rich and successful people from their hangers-on, they were nice to everyone, respectful and regular, they earned our loyalty automatically and intrinsically. Bitchiness is a sign you feel inferior to the people you're being rude to and have to compensate by making a big fuss, unaware in your flummoxed state that insecurity self-perpetuates through bitchiness. A woman who shall be nameless but she's a well known British art dealer who dated my old boss used to scream at me for hours, right in front of clients, leaving me only amused and vaguely turned on. I felt sorry for her because I knew she was losing the sale and scaring the client and showing what a nervous mess she was. The (rich and very cool) client and I rolled our eyes at each other in sympathy.

Is this the message girls should be absorbing as they prepare to enter the workplace? Of course until I see the movie (which I doubt I will) I can't really judge, but this is certainly the message of the PREVIEWS which I have seen ad nauseum. If you are a girl, bitchiness = professionalism. And if you're a guy with bad social skills, settle yourself in the dark with your popcorn and soda armor and don't worry about it. Superman cometh.
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