Monday, January 10, 2011

Split a Woman into Two

The sidewalks are clear, the snow has turned to mush and save for the cold that seems determined to dismember your body, joint by painful joint, little remains of the New York holiday snowstorm. I feel like the woman being sawed in half in those ubiquitous illusionist shows – which brings to mind the film The Black Swan which I saw in a Honolulu cinema house, one even slower Hawaii day, if that were at all possible. Talk about splitting a woman into two.

The movie left me ambivalent. I like Natalie Portman, since Star Wars and other films but I hated the story, was absolutely disgusted with its premise and kept thinking that perhaps viewed in another way, it could be an indictment of the masculinist narrative about passion and nice girls, and what it takes to be a great artist when you're female – i.e., from the male point of view, a woman had to be sexually “liberated” to be great. What a cliché, placing talent, dedication and discipline secondary to “losing control.” The end was expected: greatness kills nice girls.

That control came from the mother, rivalry from the female alternative dancer (another woman) and fate’s omen another dancer, aging and replaced by a younger one -- which together created a world of women extremely hostile to women, with women determined to do in one another for the chance to be the preferred “star” of a jerk of choreographer who had silver-haired into his function without judgment, his being a jerk excused because he was “brilliant,” his nature as a Svengali who destroys women masked.

The film left me distraught because of a recent encounter with another huge talent done in by the same social narrative and because I’d learned from reliable sources that a man’s wife had been saying I was trying to “sulot” (steal) her husband whom I hadn’t even seen in five years. The only response I could give was “if this were true, she’d be out in the cold by now.” 

Amazing how being a sexual outlaw is par for the course for a woman in the field of art – nay, it’s even encouraged – but a supposed death knell for a woman in politics. In the former, such a premise is a subject for discussion, the thorny issue of socially expected female role versus what is demanded by being an artist; in the latter, it’s only a bore. -- ##


The Spice Trade said...

My friend shared your blog with me after a recent conversation about my disappointment with Black Swan. Much of what you said about it resonated with me. I had similar thoughts before reading this, but you put it into words better than I did. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one appalled by the storyline.

Anonymous said...

and they reward this kind of movie?

Anonymous said...

My mother was so disappointed to find out a brilliant, female, scholar from Harvard chose a role that reifies the status quo.....