Tuesday, January 12, 2010

From the sublime to the ridiculous

Having never seen the movie A Streetcar Named Desire, when I discovered it was available on television last night, I leapt at the chance to watch it.

Partway through, my son entered the room and asked what I was watching. "You look disturbed," he said.

I was.

Endless drinking and ongoing violence tends to do that to me. Knowing of Vivien Leigh's bi-polar disorder made watching her portray a character with mental illness that much more poignant.

Of course, it was brilliantly acted. The setting was perfect. The movie deserves every accolade it has received.

And yet it disturbed me on many levels -- as it is meant to.

The brutality of Stanley, his and Stella's tacit understanding that it was acceptable for him to knock her around; the belief of Mitch that Blanche is "dirty" and can therefore be treated however he chooses to treat her; and Stanley's rape of a mentally unstable Blanche is all horrifying.

As the movie came to a close and I turned off On Demand, The Bachelor appeared before me. Women were discussing the apparent fling of one of these wedding contestants with one of the show's producers. One said something to the effect that she couldn't believe how this woman could fool around with one guy while professing to be vying for the affections of The Bachelor.

Hello? Hello? Earth to moron.

What is The Bachelor doing to every one of you every single day?

And why is the producer not in the same "slut" boat as the dallying contestant?

I realize that I've gone from the sublime (Streetcar) to the ridiculous (The Bachelor) and yet catching a glimpse of the later on the tail end of the former did make a strange connection for me as I wondered why it is that we continue to find ways to vilify women's sexuality on one hand while taking advantage of and subjugating it on the other.

I can't help but wonder if we really have "...come a long way, baby."


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