tempestsarekind: (austen snark is the best snark)
I keep being tempted to come up with new headlines for this article, like, "Let's all celebrate a man's mediocrity!" or "Being male means never having to live up to your potential in order to still have people devote time and energy to you."

It's time to bring Branwell, the dark Brontë, into the light
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jun/26/its-time-to-bring-branwell-the-dark-bronte-into-the-light

I think this was the paragraph that really made my eyelid twitch:

Branwell’s imaginative terrain was vast and impressive. He had the ability to rework a variety of histories and literary genres, immersing himself in an imaginative world that showcases a sophisticated interpretation of the world around him. Yet, despite this engagement, his writings are often derivative and undisciplined, often degenerating into a rambling stream of consciousness. If nothing else, however, these early years saw Branwell as an instrumental figure that inspired his sisters to harness their own imaginations and opinions. Branwell’s contribution was influencing his sisters to become the perceptive, avant-garde writers we know. (my emphasis)


Ugh. So…he wasn't actually good at writing, is what you're telling me, but we should talk about him more anyway?

The thing is, I don't even really have any opinions about Branwell, ordinarily. It's just that every time I hear about him, it's usually someone trying to make him central to the successes of his sisters, or focusing on him and his antics rather than on the creativity and artistic discipline of, you know, the Brontes who actually had flourishing literary careers. (The recent TV costume drama about the Brontes, To Walk Invisible, was regrettably guilty of this, passing over the composition of whole novels in an eyeblink while spending whole scenes on Branwell's conning their father out of money to spend on liquor.) I'm not saying that we should never talk or think about Branwell; rather, I feel like he gets talked about all the time - and maybe out of proportion to his actual accomplishments. It's that same insidious desire we seem to be afflicted with, culturally: we rack our brains to figure out ways to make a man responsible for a woman's literary successes - whether it's spending ages trying to work out who the "Master" of Emily Dickinson's poems might be, or making whole movies devoted to the idea that Jane Austen only became a novelist because Tom Lefroy recommended Tom Jones to her and broke her heart, to this. Why is it so hard to give these women their due? It's just dressing up the Victorian idea that Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell could never really have been women in slightly more modern clothing: a man had to have had his hand in the thing, somewhere.
tempestsarekind: (austen snark is the best snark)
Apparently I really like The Toast except when they write about Jane Austen, because I feel like every piece I have read about Austen on the site has subtly irked me in some way. I read this piece a while ago (about the Jane Austen Centre in Bath), but this quotation has been going around Tumblr lately:

To see Jane Austen’s writing desk, you have to go to the British Library in London. It’s in a glass case in their Treasures of the British Library display, across from one of Shakespeare’s folios and a few cases away from some Beatles sheet music. It is a very small desk, and foldable, designed to be easily stowed away, which it must have been often; Austen wrote in her parlor and would hide her writing whenever callers stopped by. At the British Library it is open, with very small spectacles pinned to one corner and the tiny notebook that held the first draft of Persuasion lying on top of it, splayed flat so you can see Austen’s fine, precise handwriting. Under the shadow of that desk, the disciplined confinement of her novels acquires visceral force. This much space was she permitted, and no more.

In the display case next to Austen’s desk is Dickens’s first draft of Nicholas Nickelby, in a notebook that dwarfs Austen’s entire desk, with generous margins and looping, scrawly handwriting. It is impossible for me to imagine what Austen might have done with that kind of freedom, that kind of certainty of her own right to take up space.


http://the-toast.net/2016/01/07/the-real-mr-darcy-a-literary-pilgrimage/


And, like, I get it: women's oppression, whatever happened to Judith Shakespeare*, you have the right to take up space. It's a nice contrast, Dickens' rangy, striding freedom against Austen's miniature precision and reserve. Except Austen chose to write in the parlor and hide her writing when company came over, instead of staying in her room. This idea that Austen could have just done more, just have been bigger and so much better - if she'd had the wild freedom of a Bronte, if she'd written about the Napoleonic Wars, if she'd had a bigger desk and the mazy streets of London to roam, if we added zombies - is one of those unexamined, insulting sentiments that sets my teeth on edge and makes me want to run through the streets yelling things like "Emma is a nationalist project!" and "I will fight you over Fanny Price!" Austen described her style as working on a bit of ivory, and when people told her she ought to write Bigger Things (like the time the Prince Regent's librarian suggested that she ought to write a "historical romance" about the house of Saxe-Coburg), she said, "Thanks, but no thanks,"** because - here's the shocking thing that people don't seem to Get about Austen - she knew what she wanted to do. She didn't accidentally fall into her style of writing and subject matter because it was the best she could do given her limited freedoms, or because it was the best life had to offer her after being disappointed in love, or because she was just a mimic who wrote down conversations as they happened and couldn't think beyond her social world. (I know I always say this, but read Claire Tomalin on Jane Austen's social world. If she had wanted to write some grand Gothic romance, she had several neighbors she could have chosen for inspiration, to say nothing of her cousin who married a French aristocrat who got guillotined during the French Revolution.) Austen chose to write what she wanted to write, and it makes me so mad when people don't give her that credit - whether they dismiss her for feminist reasons or not.


*Woolf's Judith Shakespeare, not the historical one.
**Or, as she put it, "No, I must keep to my own style and go in my own way." I don't know why this idea is so hard for people to understand.
tempestsarekind: (austen snark is the best snark)
Joining the already-in-progress “Indian Summers” on Sunday are another “Masterpiece” series, the six-part World War II story “Home Fires,” and a three-part true-crime thriller, “The Widower.” It’s enough period drama to placate the most ardent “Downton Abbey” fan.

The influence of that PBS blockbuster can be seen in “Home Fires,” in which the disputatious relationship between rival women’s-club leaders played by Francesca Annis and Samantha Bond is similar to the pairing of Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton in “Downton,” though less entertaining."


PBS’s ‘Home Fires’ and ‘The Widower,’ Slaking a Period-Drama Thirst
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/02/arts/television/pbss-home-fires-and-the-widower-slaking-a-period-drama-thirst.html

Yes, because two women who disagree are of course exactly like two other women who disagree! All costume dramas are basically the same and people watch one costume drama for all the same reasons that they watch any other costume drama!

I swear, why do so many people say such stupid things about this genre? If you felt you had to make a Downton connection, you could have gone with the fact that Samantha Bond is actually on Downton Abbey, instead of this ridiculous "these two ladies are just like this other pair of ladies" remark.

Also, does The Widower even count as period drama, really? It's set in 1993!
tempestsarekind: (berowne [david tennant 2008])
An article from the Guardian with some potentially interesting quotes from Emma Rice (newly appointed artistic director at the Globe):

'One audience member tried to punch an actor': the battle to shake up Shakespeare
http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2015/sep/28/experimental-shakespeare-improbable-theatre-tempest-improv

For Kneehigh’s Emma Rice, soon to take over at the Globe, it’s all about storytelling. When she staged Cymbeline – “an impenetrable text” – they changed the script freely. Imogen’s alter-ego became Ian, not Fidele. “It’s not the text that’s leading,” says artistic director Emma Rice, “but it is the story.”

The response was, at times, vitriolic. Critics pooh-poohed it. They weren’t alone. “Late in the run, one audience member tried to punch an actor.” There is, she believes, a level of protectionism. (Witness, too, the recent fuss over moving “To be or not to be” in Hamlet at the Barbican.) “It’s guarded by the few people that have dedicated their lives to understanding it’s [sic] richness, but 99% of people who come and watch a play have not made that pact. If we’re to keep telling stories, we have to change them.”


As one of those people who has dedicated her life to understanding Shakespeare, I suppose (that sounds so silly), I don't think I'm protective of Shakespeare, as such - but it's sort of like historical drama about real people: most of the "innovations" made in the guise of "freshening up" the story are not as interesting or dramatically satisfying as the original, and often feel like they've just been pasted on top and don't spring naturally from the material. (grumble mutter Tilbury speech in Elizabeth: The Golden Age mutter grumble.)

(Just as an aside: haven't directors been moving "To be or not to be" around for ages? Did they put it someplace really weird at the Barbican? Like in a shoe or something?)

...Also, is the name "Fidele" particularly impenetrable? (I recognize that this is only a small example, and probably not one that Emma Rice actually gave.) I mean, I don't know what the name "Ian" means, either, but if you tell me that's a character's name, I will accept it and move on. I also don't know anyone named Posthumus Leonatus, either, so… At a certain point, Shakespeare is just not our contemporary - and that's okay, I think. It's okay that parts of Shakespeare are strange to us, as long as the company putting on the play creates a world for us in which they make sense. (This is actually why I think a lot of modernized Shakespeare doesn't quite work, even though there might be a lot of good things about the production; the director hasn't really given us a reason that cellphones and duels over honor exist in the same place - even though there's no reason that they couldn't; but you have to make it feel natural somehow.)

Then there's this bit:
It’s telling that these alternative companies are often shunted towards Shakespeare’s lighter, fanciful fare: the Tempest’s magic, Comedy of Errors’s anarchy, Cymbeline’s fairytale. It’s mostly a case of matchmaking – suit the play to the players – but it’s problematic too, a case of pigeonholing artists.

Why are Hamlet and Othello the preserve of big-name actors and mainstream directors? What might an alternative approach to the Histories look like? It’s almost patronising. Do what you will with Twelfth Night, but keep your hands off Titus Andronicus.

“Nick Hytner asked us to do A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the National,” remembers Simon McBurney. “I thought ‘Fuck that.’ Everybody wants to see Complicite’s fairies. I decided to take a really political play instead.” He ended up directing Measure for Measure and, shortly after 9/11, putting Paul Rhys’s Claudio into a high-security prison in an orange jumpsuit.


Shunted. Shakespeare's lighter, fanciful fare. Because comedies are just for lesser artists and chumps, of course. (Also, oooooh, an orange jumpsuit! Bring me my smelling salts!) And I would say this, but Twelfth Night is actually really hard to get right. I have seen a lot of dismal productions of this play, precisely because everyone thinks it's just an easy lark, and forgets that it's a play about a miracle. /the same Twelfth Night rant that I give all the time

(I have still never seen a live professional production of Midsummer, because my life makes no sense, but I think it has the same problems, based on the filmed versions I've seen: people think it's easy because it's got fairies and kids perform in it or get taken to see it, and they completely forget that it needs to have an actual heart to work properly. Playing all the lovers as actually interchangeable ciphers, or not letting us sympathize with what is for Hermia and Helena real pain, or playing Titania in love with Bottom so broadly that her love doesn't resemble any real emotion, just kills the play for me; I can't laugh at it when I don't care about it. I think people think that it should be the opposite - if the emotions are real, then they won't be funny - but for me, at least, comedy doesn't work when there aren't people involved. /shoddily disguised dissertation rant )
tempestsarekind: (peddlers of bombast)
I feel like the Guardian is just trolling me at this point. Does the paper actually employ anyone who likes historical fiction?

Why historical fiction needs daring and anachronism
http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/jun/22/historical-fiction-needs-daring-anachronism

I have nothing against anachronism per se - although what Mantel does in Wolf Hall, the thing that kept me from being able to read it, is to use modern attitudes as a reason for us to side with Cromwell and not the backward-looking More. (I ranted about this a while ago, so I won't do it again here.) I mean, one of my favorite movies is Shakespeare in Love, which is pretty much wall-to-wall anachronisms. And one of the novels the author of the piece mentions, Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre, was just coming out as I was in the UK last summer; I saw it for sale in several bookstores, and it looked like a fascinating experiment. (It was also a hardcover book, and I had no room in my suitcase.) But this whole piece is basically like, "people often try to faithfully recreate the past in historical novels, and that's boring" - as opposed to being a valid choice for a novel, even if it isn't the only possible choice. The article is not really making a neutral statement - "Here are some historical novels that involve anachronism, isn't that a cool choice?" Instead, it's claiming that historical fiction that doesn't include anachronism is lazy and formulaic. As the author ends the piece, "But, too often, unfortunately, the genre seems to be in stays as constricting and uncomfortable as those worn by its heroines."

…As a person who did a decent amount of reading about Renaissance clothing, back in the day, I think this attitude is itself evidence of why trying to faithfully recreate the past isn't just lazy and formulaic - because the idea that stays were "constricting and uncomfortable" is a modern assumption, not a fact. There is nothing natural about clothing - or rather, a corset would have seemed just as "natural" to the average, say, Elizabethan woman as the lack of one seems to the average modern woman. Today, we make all sorts of assumptions about the ridiculousness and uncomfortableness of the clothing of the past, but those assumptions would not have been shared by the people who actually wore those clothes. Philip Stubbes (writer of The Anatomy of Abuses) despised ruffs for many reasons - one of which was the accusation that all the starch necessary to stiffen the linen was a huge waste of food resources - but not just because they were inherently dumb. (Stubbes referred to starch as "the devil's liquor"; there's a huge moral and religious dimension to the denunciation of clothing in this period. It has very little to do with mere comfort.) And thinking yourself into the possibilities of that mindset (I'm under no misapprehensions that we can actually get the past 100% right) is really, really hard. Engaging in the process of trying to create a vivid and believable version of the past is a serious, deliberate, thoughtful undertaking. It doesn't deserve to be thrown aside and demeaned because it isn't "daring."
tempestsarekind: (ten and martha have three hearts between)
Oh, what are you doing, Sleepy Hollow? Like, how did you look at / listen to what people liked about your show last year, and think, "what we need to do is have Abbie and Ichabod together less often, people will totally enjoy that show"?

kind-of spoilers? maybe? )
tempestsarekind: (ofelia reading)
(Is the New Yorker's new stance "no one should like reading anything unless it is approved by us"? Didn't they just publish one of these finger-wagging pieces for adults? Did they feel like they weren't scolding enough readers with that last one? Thought they'd cast their net a little wider, did they?)

"What if the strenuous accessibility of 'Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods' proves so alluring to young readers that it seduces them in the opposite direction from that which Gaiman’s words presuppose—away from an engagement with more immediately difficult incarnations of the classics, Greek and otherwise? What if instead of urging them on to more challenging adventures on other, potentially perilous literary shores, it makes young readers hungry only for more of the palatable same?"

"The Percy Jackson Problem," Rebecca Mead
http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/percy-jackson-problem

(link via Neil Gaiman's Tumblr.)

Won't somebody please think of the children??? (What if the books are so enjoyable that children can't help themselves? What if they're like drugs?)

…I sometimes wonder if people would be less odd and panicky about this if we didn't live in a culture that was so concerned with precocity and early development. Let's say children don't pick up difficult incarnations of the classics - let's say they don't read them until high school or even, god forbid, college. (I'm assuming for the sake of this argument that reading the classics is a good thing that we would like people to do at some point, but it is not the only way to build a life.) Is that so bad? And let's say - brazen thought, but humor me for a second - that when they do read those classics in high school or college or even (gasp) when they're not in school at all (because I hear tell that people do still develop interests once they graduate), they feel more comfortable with them because they remember some of the stories from reading Rick Riordan's books: where, exactly, is the problem?

I feel like these articles all seem to operate under the impression that if you're not reading it (whatever it is) by the time you're ten, it's all over for you, and you're intellectually stunted forever. But I can never take these handwringing pieces seriously, because my own experience was so different. I was a pretty precocious reader as a child, in some ways: I started reading when I was two, I read well above my grade level, and I had a pretty well-stocked vocabulary. And Rebecca Mead would probably have approved of me, because for some odd reason I was obsessed with Bullfinch's Mythology (I…appropriated my mother's copy without actually thinking about it, to the extent that she found it on one of my bookshelves a couple of years ago and commented, "I used to have this book…"), and my first encounters with a lot of Greek and Roman myths happened in that book (although I have a very strong memory of first reading the story of Pandora's box in Virginia Hamilton's collection In the Beginning). (I didn't really latch on to the D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths - mentioned in Mead's piece - but oh, how I loved their version of East of the Sun and West of the Moon. I wish it would come back into print.)

But I didn't "graduate" to reading "serious" adult fiction when I was a child, or even very much when I was a teen. I was quite happy in the children's section, for a long time. I read and loved Matilda, and thought wistfully about how nice it would be to have been a prodigy, to impress somebody like Miss Honey because I loved Dickens - but I never went out and tried to read any Dickens. Even in high school, I liked most of what we read in school, and I understood it pretty easily - but even after reading and loving Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion for class, I didn't run to seek out any other Austen novels. I was far too busy at the time reading Robin McKinley and Patricia McKillip and Josepha Sherman, and trying to find all the Gillian Bradshaw novels I could get my hands on. I knew Fortinbras as the Murry family's dog in A Wrinkle in Time well before I knew he was a character in Hamlet.

And you know, I think I turned out okay. I read the rest of Austen's novels in college, and fell as ardently in love as anyone could wish. It turns out that I really liked Bleak House, once I got around to reading it. Shakespeare pretty much knocked me over the head and dragged me off to grad school, where I don't seem to have done any worse because I didn't read all the plays when I was twelve. And if I still haven't read Tolstoy or a bunch of other things yet - well, I've still got time. Because I haven't stopped reading, and changing, and learning that things I heard about when I was younger actually come from other sources that I can choose to explore even though I didn't then. (Baby Me would not have been ready for Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, even though she had read a retelling of it. Baby Me was not ready for Twelfth Night, even though she could understand it perfectly well in her seventh-grade English class, because she hit backspace, appalled and embarrassed, at the first joke about venereal disease. Who knows what other riches Baby Me has left for Grownup Me to explore?)

The books that made me love reading - that turned me into the kind of person who could love Austen and Shakespeare as entirely as I do - were unabashedly children's books, populated with Moomins and dragons and children who ran away to hide in museums, and girls who traveled through time. The books that kept me in love with reading were the sorts of genre books that critics often sneer at (books that still have a purchase on my heart). Certainly the books that made me want to be a writer when I was younger, that made me think about how words worked together, were those kinds of books. (I literally started writing about writing because I wanted to figure out how McKillip's Riddlemaster books worked.) My reading abilities didn't atrophy and desiccate just because it took me a little longer to get around to the kinds of books that Rebecca Mead would consider important. So I bet those kids reading the Percy Jackson series are going to be fine.
tempestsarekind: (freema reading is sexy)
Only slightly related thoughts about literary enjoyment:

- Yesterday, one of my students remarked after class that although she could see that Hemingway was really good at what he was doing, and there was a lot to uncover about his writing, she still hadn't found a way to like him. I have not yet found a way to like Hemingway, either, but I think I would have said the same thing to her even if I had: that it's okay not to like things, because if we didn't like some things and dislike others, we wouldn't have taste. And that as long as she was taking the material seriously and not just dismissing it without thinking about it, then she was doing all I could ask from her as a student. I think this made her feel better, although perhaps she really wanted an actual way to like Hemingway instead.

- Maybe it's because I'm suffering from stuffy cold-brain right now, but I can't seem to make sense of this piece in the New Yorker by Christopher Beha about reading Henry James and (not) reading YA:
http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/henry-james-great-ya-debate

Beha writes at the very end: "Putting down 'Harry Potter' for Henry James is not one of adulthood’s obligations, like flossing and mortgage payments; it’s one of its rewards, like autonomy and sex. It seems to me not embarrassing or shameful but just self-defeating and a little sad to forego such pleasures in favor of reading a book that might just as easily be enjoyed by a child."

The one thing I genuinely never understand about these silly debates is the idea that reading is some sort of zero-sum game. By Beha's terms, I am a person who doesn't exist in the universe: if I have read Harry Potter as an adult, then I cannot also be a person who has read Henry James for fun. Now, admittedly I haven't gone through his collected works like Beha has, and I'm still waiting for my brain to work well enough to be able to deal with later-Jamesian syntax (seriously, what was anyone even talking about in those first fifty pages of The Ambassadors that I read while studying for the generals?), but I liked "In the Cage" and "The Aspern Papers" and The Europeans, and I've got a copy of What Maisie Knew waiting for me (though it has been waiting for a couple of years; my book purchases are often more ambitious than the amount of free time I have, and James is not a quick read). But the fact that I sometimes - even often - read books with teenage protagonists and magic in them has not prevented me from also spending some of my reading time on other things. Strange, huh? It's almost like what someone is reading at the moment you see him or her doesn't actually tell you anything about that person except what he or she happens to be reading at that moment.

Then there's this bit:
the [YA] label is sometimes wielded to make a real literary distinction. It is obviously possible to give a subject a treatment that is more appropriate for a young audience. For the most part, this involves simplifying things—first the diction and syntax, but finally the whole picture of life. There is nothing dishonorable about this simplification—it is a way to make material accessible to children. Nor does it strike me as shameful for adults to spend a lot of time reading these simplified treatments. But it does strike me as strange. If someone told you that he was an American-history buff and that his favorite work of American history was “Johnny Tremain,” you might not think this a cause for embarrassment but you would probably suspect that he didn’t know as much about history as he thought he did, and you would wonder why his interest in the subject had not led him to adult treatments of it. In some sense, you might even think he was missing out, that the simplified treatments of history that we give to children are not just less true but less interesting because of their lack of complexity.


Well, no: actually I'd just wonder why this person doesn't understand the difference between fiction and nonfiction. But mostly, [citation needed]. Seriously, can you find me one of these YA books that so greatly simplifies life? Or are you just talking about a bunch of books you haven't in fact read? And let's say you do find a book that simplifies life - like The Goldfinch, apparently, which Beha mentions in his piece because of that review that said it was basically a YA novel or whatever - does that mean that it's simplified because it's for teens? The fact that The Goldfinch can be criticized as simplified means that books for adults can be simplified too. In fact, it looks to me like a simplified book is a sign of a bad book, not an inherent quality belonging to YA novels exclusively. In order to make this comparison work, both Beha and John Wood (the original reviewer) have to set up a syllogism that relies on an unproven assertion:
a) The Goldfinch presents a simplified view of the world.
b) Young adult novels present simplified views of the world.
c) Therefore, The Goldfinch is basically a YA novel.

But neither Wood nor Beha actually proves the second part of the syllogism - they just take it for granted, because YA novels are for teens, right? They're obviously simplified; how could they not be? I feel like this argument is being had more and more often because a small handful of YA novels have gotten splashy, successful big-screen treatments, so we're probably going to keep seeing it with more frequency, but I always find it curious that the argument always seems to be about whether or not it's okay to read these "lesser" forms of entertainment, without the suggestion that maybe a lot of really talented writers are working in YA because the genre (if you can even call it that, really) is more flexible and lets you get away with more than the traditional literary fiction genre?

There's sort of a companion piece on the Tor blog (or at least a companion to another NYT piece that seems to have inspired Beha's) about what this "lack of adulthood" looks like in the SF world (look at all these grownups collecting Pokemon!), but this line really stood out to me: "adults are seeing fewer and fewer compelling reasons why they should live out their lives consuming media only produced for adults" (emphasis in original).

(piece here: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/09/the-death-of-adulthood-in-american-culture-nerd-culture-edition )

That's what strikes me, most of all: if good, compelling stories are being told in YA fiction, by writers who care about their craft (I don't understand the assumption that YA writers don't, just because they don't write prose like Henry James. Newsflash: nobody writes prose like Henry James. And plenty of qualified, all-dues-paid-up adults really hate his prose), why should I not read those stories? What is an actual good reason that I shouldn't? And why do columnists seem so concerned about what other people are going to get a chance to read, anyway? Because if I actually want to make time to read the works of Henry James, all the YA fiction in the world won't stop me from doing it - and if I don't, then taking away all the YA fiction and giving me a house full of James isn't going to make a dent in my desire not to.

tl;dr. Basically, I am still waiting for one of these pieces to boil down to something other than, "But whyyyyyy are you guys having so much fuuuuuuuuuuun?" or "But whyyyyyyy aren't you guys more like meeeeeee?" Christopher Beha, I'm happy that you seem to have found so much fun reading all of Henry James, but that is not actually a mark of adulthood. That just means you like Henry James.
tempestsarekind: (where is my romeo)
I wrote this a while ago, and then couldn't get LJ to let me post it; I just found it again in my files:


I'd more or less forgotten that I took notes on that ASC production of Romeo and Juliet, in a cafe in Staunton between conference panels. So I'd completely forgotten that I wrote this: "I want to find a way, someday, to really stress the stakes for Juliet especially. I think we have a stubborn cultural amnesia about the fact that Romeo and Juliet aren't just boyfriend and girlfriend; they are husband and wife."

Because we do have an annoying tendency to talk about the leads as though they were just going to "break up" in a few weeks if they hadn't died - and that completely belittles the actual commitment they've made to each other. And Juliet, especially, is placing that tie above her old kinship ties: when the Nurse is appalled that she can speak well of Romeo, who killed her cousin, her immediate reply - and it's so important that this is a moment of isocolon, that the lines echo each other almost exactly - is "Shall I speak ill of him that is my husband?" She takes that absolutely seriously, her chosen duty as a wife. Which is the whole *problem*, I don't really understand why people are so quick to be dismissive about this - the whole problem is that Juliet is already married when her father decides she should marry Paris; Juliet is desperate, in her own words, to "live an unstained wife" to her new husband. This isn't just some fit of teenage overreaction; she's trying not to forswear herself. And Shakespeare pretty much punches us in the face with the word "husband" after Tybalt's death, but somehow people just act like this doesn't matter, because she's just a stupid melodramatic teenager, right?

And, like, what are Juliet's options after Romeo kills himself? The Friar wants to hide her away in a convent, and she's already learned that her parents are ready to throw her out onto the streets the moment she does anything to displease them, so apparently their love and care are conditional - but she's already married the son of her family's greatest enemy, she can't take that back even though he's dead, and they were ready to disown her for less; is it any wonder that she doesn't exactly feel like she's got a future to live for?

And Romeo...he's *killed* someone (the ASC made this great decision to have Romeo flinch bodily away from the Friar, weeping, every time the Friar said the name "Tybalt": he was completely unable to cope, to face what he'd done, and there's the Friar telling him to be a man, when the awful, wrenching *point* is that he's a child), and his best friend is fatally wounded in his arms, because of him, and he's banished from the only home he's ever known -so basically the only thing he has left is Juliet, and the possibility that they might be together in the future (that bit where he says that all their woes "shall serve for sweet discourses in our time to come" just shatters my heart, when it's done right - because he's still imagining that future, the one that might turn all of this nightmare into something good) - and then, nope, sorry, Juliet's dead, as far as he knows. So he gives up - and that's terrible, but it isn't *stupid*.

[Oh, this play. It's not my favorite Shakespeare play - probably fourth or fifth - but it's the one I love that I most constantly want/need to defend. Even if people personally don't like Hamlet, they're usually like, "eh, I hear it's pretty good, though." (And most people I meet have no opinion about Twelfth Night.) But people think R&J is a bad play, often because they've had such bad experiences with it, and partly because culturally we now think rhetoric is bad (one of the things I loved about the ASC production I just saw was that they *got* it, how that rhetoric is often the vibrant play and one-upsmanship of teens - although the couple seated next to me was of the opinion that this was all wrong, that Benvolio's name meant "good will" and he should be serious, "the Horatio to Romeo's Hamlet," and I *may* have thought uncharitably that it's the fault of people like you two that people don't like this play?), but also because we as a culture habitually dismiss the actions and emotions of teenagers as stupid and unimportant.

Also, Juliet is the best, okay. Still upset that Mariah Gale wasn't in a better production, because I'd love to see a really good Juliet in a production that could match her.]
tempestsarekind: (excuse me what)
Sigh. I watched Leap Year the other day, and I knew, I just *knew* that it was going to be bad, but I thought that maybe at least an actor that I like, Matthew Goode, would get the chance to be charming in it. But of course, it turned out to be one of those romantic comedies where the male lead is a jerk for no reason, for basically the first hour of the film, and for some reason filmmakers are under the misapprehension that this is a good basis for a film whose outcome is supposed to be that the leads fall in love with each other.

And people always cite Austen, like these films are just part of a long lineage of jerk heroes who are irresistible to women, but that's actually what doesn't happen in Austen. Darcy is kind of a jerk, and Elizabeth is totally not having it, and then Darcy goes, "whoa, maybe I should stop being a jerk" (or, more properly, "maybe I should behave in a more gentleman-like manner"), and *then* Elizabeth starts to be interested in him. Emma and Mr. Knightley disagree archly about things, but it's always clear that they like and respect each other. (Don't mind me; I'm just perpetually over in a corner, clutching my face and wailing about "Your father will not be easy; why do not you go?") Henry Tilney is a total sass-face, but he's always kind to Catherine, even after she basically accuses his dad of murdering his mom. Edward Ferrars is an awkward little teapot who's engaged to another woman, but not a jerk, and Edmund Bertram trips over his own earnestness at regular intervals, but even when he's in love with someone else, he always loves and values and praises Fanny Price. I guess Wentworth is occasionally a tiny bit of a jerk to Anne, at first, but you know, there's a *reason* for it, since she broke his heart - which I'm not saying should give a guy the right to be a jerk, just that he's not being horrible to strangers for no reason, which is what seems to happen so often in romcoms. (And of course Wentworth actually does several nice things for Anne as the novel progresses, so.) It's like the people who make these movies once heard a garbled version of P&P and decided that the takeaway was "Step 1: insult a girl. Step 2: profit." And watching that, over and over again, just makes me feel frustrated and kind of deflated, like, *this* is the vision of romance we're supposed to aspire to? This is it? Because the underlying problem with this isn't *just* that I don't see how I'm supposed to root for a couple when I can't stand the male lead; it's that it gives us such an impoverished view of what romance and love are supposed to be. I've said this a million times, and I'll go on saying it; the most romantic line in P&P is "For herself she was humbled; but she was proud of him." It's not about some supposedly overwhelming "passion" or "attraction" that means that it doesn't matter what kind of guy he is or how he treats you or other people, because you can't *help* it, you're just *drawn* to him. It's about respect and esteem and all those words that romantic Marianne shudders at in S&S - all the stuff that is the basis of something so much more interesting than hitting the halfway point in your script and suddenly flipping the switch that says it's time for these characters who couldn't stand each other to suddenly have feelings for each other, because they *argued*, right, that must mean that they're secretly into each other! Look at all that passion! That's what romance is! Forget the kind but bland fiance; everyone knows there's gotta be a *spark*! We don't need common interests or civil conversations, just that *feeling*!

There's a scene in this movie, as there often is, where the leads have to pretend like they're married. And the film doesn't do *anything* with this premise, except to stage an excuse for someone to badger the "newlyweds" into kissing (because passion! Sparks! If you wanna know if he loves you so, it's in his kiss!). And I just thought, what a *waste*. Can you imagine what this would be like, if this were between two characters who had been forced into an awkward situation but who seemed to like each other? Who picked up the pretense and both decided to *play* with it, and with each other? Who tried on the roles of husband and wife and thereby learned something about each other and themselves and their fledgling relationship? Who, I don't know, crazy thought, had *fun* in each other's company? It could have been *awesome*. And instead it was just nothing, because all they did was kiss, and suddenly all the rancor between them was supposed to have just gone away. And by the end of the movie, when you're supposed to feel like they're a couple, all they could do was parrot little catchphrases from their car trip at each other, because they didn't have anything else in common. And it just makes me so *mad*, because I love romantic comedy (when you tell people you want to write a dissertation on Shakespeare's comedies, they think you're interested in capital-C Comedy, and want to know why you're not writing about city comedies or The Merry Wives of Windsor - but the thing is, it's the romantic comedies, the ones that are about interpersonal relationships, fathers and daughters, and cousins as close as sisters, as well as soon-to-be husbands and wives, that I care about). And I would like to watch some good ones, because the genre *does* actually have great roots; recent romcoms are NOT bad because the genre is stupid or full of repeated conventions. (Action movies are also full of conventions. Westerns are full of conventions. Bond films are full of conventions. Horror movies are full of conventions. That's what genre *is* - a sensibility, a set of concerns, and repeated conventions.) But they seem, persistently, to get made by lazy people who just don't care about the format.
tempestsarekind: (wtf?)
Is this the worst article, or THE WORST article?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/9446816/If-Maeve-Binchy-had-been-a-mother-....html

This is male privilege: not having people speculate about whether, no matter the height of your intellectual and literary achievements, you wouldn't *really* have been a better writer (and human) if you'd had children - if your work would have been less limited, your experience of life deeper and richer. Because everyone knows that a woman can't be fulfilled as a human without having children. And they can't write *real* books without this experience:

" Binchy, whose first novel was about a 20-year friendship between two women, didn’t need the experience of motherhood to write about love and friendship in a way that charmed millions. But she might have dug deeper, charming less but enlightening more, had she done so."

Take note, ladies. Without the experience of childbirth and child-rearing, all you can do as a writer is *charm*. And if you *want* to write charming books, well. You just don't know any better yet, because you're not a real, self-possessed writer and person, who takes stock of what she wants her literary subject to be. You see, you're still unfinished, not quite a grown-up. You'll never be a grown-up, not until you start "putting yourself last" and take care of your kids.
tempestsarekind: (no party like a tudor party)
I get why they're doing it, and it makes more sense than most if not all comparisons to Harry Potter these days (50 Shades for Grey is "Harry Potter for adults"? Why would you even???), but I still find it deeply irritating when people compare a book or film to Downton Abbey. I mean, I guess if you're a fan who is *actually* only looking for a handy marker of other things set in the Edwardian period, that comparison might be useful, but it's like saying "fans of Jane Austen will love this!" just because it's a romance set in the Regency; the two things might share a couple of generic markers, but will likely be nothing alike in larger elements like tone and character, which are much more important to one's enjoyment of something. And again, it's a "genre" problem that literary fiction doesn't have. People don't compare one tedious novel about middle-class ennui and adultery to another one, at least not with nearly the same sloppy ubiquity, because each literary novel about middle-class adultery is assumed to be unique and special; because they are supposedly about "real" life, what matters is the writing, the characters, the author's point of view on the world. But historical fiction - or fantasy, or mystery, etc. - is assumed to be cookie-cutter, and the only thing that matters is the setting, so if you liked Downton Abbey you will love The Uninvited Guests. And, you know, you very well might; I'm completely sympathetic to the fact that there *are* certain elements of setting or subject or theme that contribute to enjoyment, which is why novels about time travel and changelings are going to get a look-in from me that other novels aren't automatically granted. But I love the Doctor Who episode "Silence in the Library," and yet want to thwack all the characters in The Time Traveller's Wife about the head with spoons, so genre doesn't mean that stories are interchangeable just because they have some similar elements. And I understand that there is only so much you can fit on a book jacket, so the comparison is meant to do a lot of work very quickly, in terms of "here, associate this book with that *other* thing you liked!" But it bugs me nonetheless, because it chimes so neatly with what people have to say about the genre (and other genres) in longer formats: all costume drama is the same, it's all soapy distraction from real life, there aren't any standards worth applying to it, because you either like it all or hate it all indiscriminately. (For example, Jenny Diski's recent article in - I think - the LRB about Downton Abbey. It began with that dreaded acknowledgment of assumed superiority: "well, I don't actually ever enjoy costume drama." Then why are you wasting my time writing about it for the LRB? Where are the reviewers beginning their reviews with, "well, I don't actually ever enjoy novels about suburban melancholy"? What I want is for someone who respects a genre to write reviews for it, because the mere presence of gorgeous costumes is not enough to make me enjoy something.)

And I forget what review I recently read of Bring Up the Bodies, but it was almost parodic in its unaware adoption of the other side of this coin, the "if it's good, it isn't genre" defense. Unlike, you know, *all* the other historical novels, because *they're* all the same, Mantel's novel was modern and interesting and could have been written about the halls of power today. (This is its own weird species of historical fiction bias: the idea that a novel that presents a specific period *as* specific is somehow less worthy than one that makes the sixteenth century seem just like the twenty-first. I haven't read either of Mantel's novels yet , so I don't know whether that claim is accurate, but it's certainly something the reviewer prized.) As I was writing this, I kept wanting to use Mantel's novels as a parallel situation - "If you liked The Tudors, you'll love Wolf Hall!" - but I can't remember if that line was taken with that novel. It's certainly taken with other Tudor-set fiction, but maybe if you win fancy literary prizes, you can escape that particular gravity.

As a person who wants to read more historical fiction, I find this practically frustrating as well as philosophically, because "If you liked The Tudors" is completely useless for me. If it were "if you liked the sexiness of The Tudors, you'll like this," or "actually, if you hated The Tudors for its clunky foreshadowing, narrative murkiness, and failure to make any of its female characters come to life, try this instead," then the comparisons would be helpful, but comparisons that amount to "people wear doublets and farthingales in this, too!" don't actually convey any information that I'm not already getting from the cover illustration. And I'm not automatically going to enjoy something just because I have enjoyed something set in a similar time period.
tempestsarekind: (austen snark is the best snark)
(Yes, I know there is a proper term for the period before the Regency. I just didn't like the phrase "Georgian mansplaining" as much.)

So, I have done it. Against my will and possibly against my better judgment, I have watched Becoming Jane. (It looks like my tutorial may be going ahead, in which case the first time I see the film probably shouldn't be in a screening with whatever students I may have. But I also got Bright Star and Last Chance Harvey from the library to soothe the pain afterward, and because I always watch British movies on July 4th.) I remain utterly perplexed as to why someone would choose to make a biopic of an author by sticking her novels into a blender, putting the resulting pulp up onto the screen, and then passing it off as the genuine article, but the members of the production team doubtless had their reasons.

I was about as infuriated as you'd expect me to be, particularly by the scene in which Tom Lefroy suggests that in order to be the equal of any male writer, little Jane really needs to widen her horizons and gain experience. (If you would be so obliging as to presume my meaning, and I think you will.) I can only assume Jane falls in love with him because he's willing to read her passages about avian sexytimes out of a nature book and recommend Tom Jones--which, just by the way, the actual, historical Jane Austen had already read when she met Tom Lefroy, which is why they were able to have conversations about it. I had to pause the DVD to vent--not the first time, nor the last--because it's a particularly insidious kind of male patronizing, the kind that pretends to be in the name of female liberation. I suspect I'm supposed to have come out of this scene thinking that "Tom Lefroy" really values Jane's mind, when all I can think about is how annoyed I am that he thinks he has to school her, and that the only way to be "equal" to a man is to write like one.

I also don't think I was supposed to come out of the movie comparing the insipid "trials" of their Jane with the real suffering of her sister Cassandra; or lamenting the doe-eyed blankness of Anne Hathaway when there is the perfectly lovely Anna Maxwell Martin right there being wasted in the same film; or wishing that--if they were going to invent this ridiculous palpitating romance pretty much out of whole cloth--they could have at least done it with a Tom Lefroy more like Laurence Fox's character (a figure totally invented, I can only assume, to have an overbearing aunt so that poor unimaginative Jane could have a model for Lady Catherine) than like James McAvoy's, whom I constantly wanted to flick between the eyes, no matter how nice he looks in a waistcoat. (And anyway, the real Tom Lefroy is supposed to have been fair-haired and tall.) Yet another of the problems with this film, you see, is that it fails as a romance as well as a biopic of Jane Austen. Granted, I tend to go for the serious and shy ones anyway, but the film's Tom Lefroy is basically just a grab-bag of rakish traits--ooh, he boxes; he has such a zest for life! he doesn't want to be a lawyer; he's such a free spirit!--and the film falls back on the old, old cliche by allowing Jane's apparent dislike of him stand in for the idea that secretly, she's really attracted to him because he "challenges" her, so that the actual falling-in-love process, if it happened, was not seen by me. I saw them maybe flirt a little, and then suddenly they were hiding in the shrubbery while Tom was declaring that he belonged to her heart and soul. (His heart and soul are apparently quite cheaply bought.)

And, perhaps strangest of all, the film forgets for whole scenes at a time that the reason one would make a biopic of Jane Austen at all is that she was a writer. I suppose this makes sense, actually, for the "romance" they want to tell--one in which dabbling, dreaming Jane writes things that are only suitable for family consumption, which Tom Lefroy dismisses as mere "feminine accomplishment," until she is inspired--or molded and fired, like clay in a kiln--by her passionate love for Tom Lefroy, which would go on to shape all the novels she would write. Of course, the generally proposed chronology of Austen's life suggests that she had already written the juvenilia, Lady Susan, and a draft of Elinor and Marianne by the time she spent that month in 1796 flirting with Tom Lefroy, but she can't possibly have written a draft of the novel that would go on to become Sense and Sensibility until she fell in love with him, so there's no hint of that. Similarly, there's no real suggestion that she reads anything until Tom Lefroy recommends Tom Jones, so the bit where they visit Ann Radcliffe comes out of absolutely nowhere (especially as I can only assume that a majority of the target audience may not know who that is). It could have been a useful move for the screenplay to have a previous scene where Jane reads, or admires, or heck, even knows about Ann Radcliffe...but I suppose that would be too much like saying that she didn't need some dude to come along and inspire her reading and writing. And we can't have that. Jane Austen was inspired by love, you guys! She wrote all her novels about the one who got away! The film makes the incredibly disagreeable move to "explain" why a "spinster" would choose to write about love and marriage--because she can give her characters the happy ending she never had.

Blech.
tempestsarekind: (austen snark is the best snark)
(Yes, I know there is a proper term for the period before the Regency. I just didn't like the phrase "Georgian mansplaining" as much.)

So, I have done it. Against my will and possibly against my better judgment, I have watched Becoming Jane. (It looks like my tutorial may be going ahead, in which case the first time I see the film probably shouldn't be in a screening with whatever students I may have. But I also got Bright Star and Last Chance Harvey from the library to soothe the pain afterward, and because I always watch British movies on July 4th.) I remain utterly perplexed as to why someone would choose to make a biopic of an author by sticking her novels into a blender, putting the resulting pulp up onto the screen, and then passing it off as the genuine article, but the members of the production team doubtless had their reasons.

I was about as infuriated as you'd expect me to be, particularly by the scene in which Tom Lefroy suggests that in order to be the equal of any male writer, little Jane really needs to widen her horizons and gain experience. (If you would be so obliging as to presume my meaning, and I think you will.) I can only assume Jane falls in love with him because he's willing to read her passages about avian sexytimes out of a nature book and recommend Tom Jones--which, just by the way, the actual, historical Jane Austen had already read when she met Tom Lefroy, which is why they were able to have conversations about it. I had to pause the DVD to vent--not the first time, nor the last--because it's a particularly insidious kind of male patronizing, the kind that pretends to be in the name of female liberation. I suspect I'm supposed to have come out of this scene thinking that "Tom Lefroy" really values Jane's mind, when all I can think about is how annoyed I am that he thinks he has to school her, and that the only way to be "equal" to a man is to write like one.

I also don't think I was supposed to come out of the movie comparing the insipid "trials" of their Jane with the real suffering of her sister Cassandra; or lamenting the doe-eyed blankness of Anne Hathaway when there is the perfectly lovely Anna Maxwell Martin right there being wasted in the same film; or wishing that--if they were going to invent this ridiculous palpitating romance pretty much out of whole cloth--they could have at least done it with a Tom Lefroy more like Laurence Fox's character (a figure totally invented, I can only assume, to have an overbearing aunt so that poor unimaginative Jane could have a model for Lady Catherine) than like James McAvoy's, whom I constantly wanted to flick between the eyes, no matter how nice he looks in a waistcoat. (And anyway, the real Tom Lefroy is supposed to have been fair-haired and tall.) Yet another of the problems with this film, you see, is that it fails as a romance as well as a biopic of Jane Austen. Granted, I tend to go for the serious and shy ones anyway, but the film's Tom Lefroy is basically just a grab-bag of rakish traits--ooh, he boxes; he has such a zest for life! he doesn't want to be a lawyer; he's such a free spirit!--and the film falls back on the old, old cliche by allowing Jane's apparent dislike of him stand in for the idea that secretly, she's really attracted to him because he "challenges" her, so that the actual falling-in-love process, if it happened, was not seen by me. I saw them maybe flirt a little, and then suddenly they were hiding in the shrubbery while Tom was declaring that he belonged to her heart and soul. (His heart and soul are apparently quite cheaply bought.)

And, perhaps strangest of all, the film forgets for whole scenes at a time that the reason one would make a biopic of Jane Austen at all is that she was a writer. I suppose this makes sense, actually, for the "romance" they want to tell--one in which dabbling, dreaming Jane writes things that are only suitable for family consumption, which Tom Lefroy dismisses as mere "feminine accomplishment," until she is inspired--or molded and fired, like clay in a kiln--by her passionate love for Tom Lefroy, which would go on to shape all the novels she would write. Of course, the generally proposed chronology of Austen's life suggests that she had already written the juvenilia, Lady Susan, and a draft of Elinor and Marianne by the time she spent that month in 1796 flirting with Tom Lefroy, but she can't possibly have written a draft of the novel that would go on to become Sense and Sensibility until she fell in love with him, so there's no hint of that. Similarly, there's no real suggestion that she reads anything until Tom Lefroy recommends Tom Jones, so the bit where they visit Ann Radcliffe comes out of absolutely nowhere (especially as I can only assume that a majority of the target audience may not know who that is). It could have been a useful move for the screenplay to have a previous scene where Jane reads, or admires, or heck, even knows about Ann Radcliffe...but I suppose that would be too much like saying that she didn't need some dude to come along and inspire her reading and writing. And we can't have that. Jane Austen was inspired by love, you guys! She wrote all her novels about the one who got away! The film makes the incredibly disagreeable move to "explain" why a "spinster" would choose to write about love and marriage--because she can give her characters the happy ending she never had.

Blech.
tempestsarekind: (hamlet/horatio OTP)
I simply CANNOT STAND Freudian readings of Hamlet. I recognize that this is probably irrational of me, but I have absolutely no patience for them. I'll deal with them, if I must, in performance, but as critical takes or in the classroom? No, thank you. Which makes it really hard to read student papers or have classroom discussions, because I want to squash that take as so much nonsense, but of course I do not and cannot do such a thing--so I wind up trying to ignore it and pass over such comments in silence, or redirect them in some way.

It is all very frustrating. Especially because so often, I see it because it's just one of those things that "everybody knows" about Hamlet, along with the fact that he's totally irresolute and should just get on with it already. Because, you know, murder should be done with the same care and attention you'd give to putting together a grocery list.

I mean, if Hamlet genuinely thinks that his mother is committing incest--and historical signs seem to point to yes on that one, plus there's that little part where he actually calls it incestuous--then it doesn't seem particularly odd that he might be horrified by that. Plus his dad just died; he may or may not have the right to be appalled by how quickly his mother's remarried, but he doesn't have to want to sleep with her to be a little bit upset about the whole thing. And he doesn't seem to be at all worried about his mother's having been married to his father, you know? "Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed, / And batten on this moor?" suggests that he's fine with the concept of his parents' having had sex; it's still appetite in the first image, but it's not diseased appetite. The act isn't the issue; it's the difference between feeding and battening, between Hamlet senior and Claudius, between the "fair mountain" and the "moor." His problem isn't really that his mother is having sex; it's that she's having sex with someone who isn't his father (and specifically his uncle). I'm not saying that Hamlet is necessarily the most well-adjusted young man, and he certainly has some issues with Ophelia (though there, too, it's not *just* about women, but about the fact that everyone is doomed to be sinful--"Why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners?"). But there's more going on there than just "can't come to terms with his mother's sexuality" or "really wants to sleep with her himself." If anything, his biggest problem seems to be a fervent wish that he'd never been born, which comes up all the time: "O that this too too solid flesh"; "O cursed spite! That ever I was born to set it right"; "it were better that my mother had not borne me."
tempestsarekind: (hamlet/horatio OTP)
I simply CANNOT STAND Freudian readings of Hamlet. I recognize that this is probably irrational of me, but I have absolutely no patience for them. I'll deal with them, if I must, in performance, but as critical takes or in the classroom? No, thank you. Which makes it really hard to read student papers or have classroom discussions, because I want to squash that take as so much nonsense, but of course I do not and cannot do such a thing--so I wind up trying to ignore it and pass over such comments in silence, or redirect them in some way.

It is all very frustrating. Especially because so often, I see it because it's just one of those things that "everybody knows" about Hamlet, along with the fact that he's totally irresolute and should just get on with it already. Because, you know, murder should be done with the same care and attention you'd give to putting together a grocery list.

I mean, if Hamlet genuinely thinks that his mother is committing incest--and historical signs seem to point to yes on that one, plus there's that little part where he actually calls it incestuous--then it doesn't seem particularly odd that he might be horrified by that. Plus his dad just died; he may or may not have the right to be appalled by how quickly his mother's remarried, but he doesn't have to want to sleep with her to be a little bit wtf? about the whole thing. And he doesn't seem to be at all worried about his mother's having been married to his father, you know? "Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed, / And batten on this moor?" suggests that he's fine with the concept of his parents' having had sex; it's still appetite in the first image, but it's not diseased appetite. The act isn't the issue; it's the difference between Hamlet senior and Claudius, between the "fair mountain" and the "moor." His problem isn't really that his mother is having sex; it's that she's having sex with someone who isn't his father (and specifically his uncle). I'm not saying that Hamlet is necessarily the most well-adjusted young man, and he certainly has some issues with Ophelia (though there, too, it's not *just* about women, but about the fact that everyone is doomed to be sinful--"Why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners?"). But there's more going on there than just "can't come to terms with his mother's sexuality" or "really wants to sleep with her himself." If anything, his biggest problem seems to be a fervent wish that he'd never been born, which comes up all the time: "O that this too too solid flesh"; "O cursed spite! That ever I was born to set it right"; "it were better that my mother had not borne me."
tempestsarekind: (keep calm and rock on)
One oft-repeated fandom comment that will instantly bring out the claws and the stabbing eye-pain: "Martha should have been so cool, I thought she was going to be so cool and intelligent and everything, and then she just fell in love with the Doctor."

Do I really have to say it? Being in love with someone does not make you unintelligent. It does not make you less cool or less "kick-ass," unless of course the only definition of "kick-ass" we are willing to entertain is one that involves feeling no emotions. Because that's what soppy girls do. I mean, you don't have to have wanted Martha to fall in love with the Doctor, or be happy about the way that plotline played out. That's fine. But to say that a character is somehow less because she loves? What is THAT?

...Well, it's crap, is what it is. And seriously, what part of "saving the world every bloody week" is not "cool"? The fact that Martha loves the Doctor but isn't blinded by him, puts that aside to do what needs doing? Only makes me love her even more. This meme of "Martha never did anything but moon about over the Doctor" is pure and total crap from beginning to end, and it makes me so mad, because it's not even just about Martha--it's about what we allow in and expect from our heroines, and that is so, so limiting, to suggest that love is weak and worthless and makes it impossible for someone to be amazing.
tempestsarekind: (keep calm and rock on)
One oft-repeated fandom comment that will instantly bring out the claws and the stabbing eye-pain: "Martha should have been so cool, I thought she was going to be so cool and intelligent and everything, and then she just fell in love with the Doctor."

Do I really have to say it? Being in love with someone does not make you unintelligent. It does not make you less cool or less "kick-ass," unless of course the only definition of "kick-ass" we are willing to entertain is one that involves feeling no emotions. Because that's what soppy girls do. I mean, you don't have to have wanted Martha to fall in love with the Doctor, or be happy about the way that plotline played out. That's fine. But to say that a character is somehow less because she loves? What is THAT?

...Well, it's crap, is what it is. And seriously, what part of "saving the world every bloody week" is not "cool"? The fact that Martha loves the Doctor but isn't blinded by him, puts that aside to do what needs doing? Only makes me love her even more. This meme of "Martha never did anything but moon about over the Doctor" is pure and total crap from beginning to end, and it makes me so mad, because it's not even just about Martha--it's about what we allow in and expect from our heroines, and that is so, so limiting, to suggest that love is weak and worthless and makes it impossible for someone to be amazing.
tempestsarekind: (regency house party [s&s])
I don't think that was the reaction I was *supposed* to have to Marie Antoinette, which I finally saw last night because it was finally in at the library. But that's how I felt. It was a shame that such a beautiful movie was so lacking in anything like narrative or even interest, but there we are. Setting costume-drama visuals to '80s tunes does not a story make, no matter how inspired by the New Romantics one obviously was. I was very disappointed, as I think the juxtaposition of historical and modern could have been quite interesting--but instead it was just shots of pretty people wearing pretty clothes in no framework at all. Just because one's characters are bored does not mean that the viewer should be.

The really peculiar thing about the film, to me, was the fact that at no point was it ever made the least bit clear *why* we should care about this Marie Antoinette person (not even because she's, you know, a person, with an interesting and individual life), or why she should be so hated by the populace. Possibly that was meant to evoke "Marie Antoinette's" point of view (quotation marks because I don't know enough about the historical person, but the film character certainly seemed to be clueless about everything), but there must have been other ways to convey confusion without just leaving everything that looked like an event out of the film. Basically, she strolled around at Versailles for a while, tried on lots of pastel clothes, went to the countryside and strolled around in a perfume commercial for another while, went back to Versailles and drank a lot of champagne--and then there was a revolution! Out of nowhere! The end.

And, just as an aside, if we could drop that meme about how all costume dramas are stiff and mannered and boring--except for the one currently being made, of course, because it's so modern--I would be really, really happy.
tempestsarekind: (regency house party [s&s])
I don't think that was the reaction I was *supposed* to have to Marie Antoinette, which I finally saw last night because it was finally in at the library. But that's how I felt. It was a shame that such a beautiful movie was so lacking in anything like narrative or even interest, but there we are. Setting costume-drama visuals to '80s tunes does not a story make, no matter how inspired by the New Romantics one obviously was. I was very disappointed, as I think the juxtaposition of historical and modern could have been quite interesting--but instead it was just shots of pretty people wearing pretty clothes in no framework at all. Just because one's characters are bored does not mean that the viewer should be.

The really peculiar thing about the film, to me, was the fact that at no point was it ever made the least bit clear *why* we should care about this Marie Antoinette person (not even because she's, you know, a person, with an interesting and individual life), or why she should be so hated by the populace. Possibly that was meant to evoke "Marie Antoinette's" point of view (quotation marks because I don't know enough about the historical person, but the film character certainly seemed to be clueless about everything), but there must have been other ways to convey confusion without just leaving everything that looked like an event out of the film. Basically, she strolled around at Versailles for a while, tried on lots of pastel clothes, went to the countryside and strolled around in a perfume commercial for another while, went back to Versailles and drank a lot of champagne--and then there was a revolution! Out of nowhere! The end.

And, just as an aside, if we could drop that meme about how all costume dramas are stiff and mannered and boring--except for the one currently being made, of course, because it's so modern--I would be really, really happy.

Profile

tempestsarekind: (Default)
tempestsarekind

July 2017

S M T W T F S
      1
2345678
91011 12 13 1415
16171819 202122
23 242526272829
3031     

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 27th, 2017 04:48 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios