Little Women and Bombshell– Proto-Feminism??

Little Women and Bombshell– Proto-Feminism?? January 21, 2020

Two recent films, both well worth watching, and both star-studded with impressive acting raise the issue forcefully of a woman’s place in society, in the business world, and elsewhere. The first of these which came out earlier is Bombshell, the retelling of the Roger Ailes scandal at Fox News when he was rightly accused of sexual harassment by several of his own employees, including Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly. With Charlize Theron as amazingly similar in looks to Megyn and Nicole Kidman playing Gretchen, not to mention an unrecognizable Mr. Lithgow as Roger Ailes, the sparks begin to fly. The movie very well presents the tensions involved, especially for women, in an overly sexualized workplace environment, and the events depicted in the movie, in no small measure led to the Me Too movement, which is still reverberating in trial after trial of men behaving badly towards such women (see e.g. the Harvey Weinstein etc. scandals).

The irony of course is that Gretchen Carlson, and most of these other women were socially conservative, some of them Christians, and hardly like Gloria Steinem at all. They were not radical feminists at all. The further irony is that while these harassment bombshells keep going off in the workplace creating a ‘hostile workplace’ which is one of the definitions of harassment, yet we can have someone run for President who was caught talking about grabbing women in the crotch and paying off porn stars and yet he still got elected to the highest office. What is wrong with this picture? Answer– lots, and some of it is caused by the over-sexualized and overly permissive character of our culture in general.

This movie gets most of the facts right about the Ailes scandal, and does a good job of showing the problem of these whole issues. These are primarily stories about men behaving badly, but they also involve in some cases women acting provocatively, and thinking that that will not produce inappropriate responses, or at least shouldn’t do so. This is not merely naive, it ignores the major burning fire in our culture called male lust. It is not an accident that more than 90% of all sexual misconduct and rape in our culture is perpetrated by males. And it is not helpful when popular culture, perhaps especially music demeans women and objectives them as ‘HOs’ etc. American we have a problem, and the answer to the problem is not more sexual diversity and more sexual freedom. It is actually more respect and reserve and modesty on all sides.

‘Little Women’ is of course a classic 19th novel by Louisa May Alcott about four sisters growing up together in a Concord Massachusetts in a culture which makes it very difficult for women to do anything but marry and make babies. Here again we have a star-studded cast, featuring Saoirse Ronan and Emma Watson, and I would say that this is probably the best adaptation for film of this book. Both of these movies last for a good two hours and change, and both are brilliantly filmed. The better of the two films is ‘Little Women’ and in some ways it does a better job of getting it’s message across. If one is not familiar with the novel and it’s plot the flashbacks and flash forwards in the movie can be a little disconcerting, but you readily fall in love with the central characters, and the story line is in turns both heart-warming and heart-rending. Meryl Streep as the aunt, and Laura Dern as Mother March are both excellent in their roles as well. The story is loosely based on Alcott’s own relationships with her sisters, and their ups and downs, and has been called a semi-autobiographical novel, indeed an originator of that type of fiction. What is especially affecting in this film is the probing of what a woman’s possibilities were in life, if she was not inclined to get married and be domestic. Jo March, the central character is such a person. It raises the right questions without trying to provide definitive one size fits all answers. I would recommend this film as a family film. It has no objectionable language or racy scenes or violence. Amazing, considering what one usually sees at the cinema. It is probably too adult for young children, but appropriate for young men and women who are school age and teen aged. Highly recommended.

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