Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cultural riptide

Steve Sailer reviews Anna Karenina:
[M]ost remarkably, Wright’s film may be the first of the numerous Anna Karenina adaptations whose sympathies lie firmly with her cuckolded husband, the unsexy bureaucrat Karenin.  For example, in Vivien Leigh’s 1948 Anna, Ralph Richardson played the husband as a stuffed shirt. But Jude Law (who is transitioning gracefully from not-quite-a-leading-man into a major character actor) gets to portray Karenin as a hero. Law’s Karenin is the type of competent public servant who has been all too rare in Russia’s unfortunate history.
It is far too soon to tell; this may simply be an outlier.  And yet, it is rather remarkable to see Hollywood move away from the "woman as victim" model it has been relentlessly pushing on audiences for decades.  If one reads Flaubert and Tolstoy, it's clear that they see the adulterous wife as the villain, while the filmmakers often preferred to see the villains as anti-heroes.  Now that so many young men have grown up in homes where their mother left their father, or they've never even had a father, it is arguably going to become harder and harder to sell the idea of women being intrinsically pedestal-worthy by virtue of their sex.

22 comments:

swiftfoxmark2 said...

If this is the case, it is a nice change. I've seen two movies in the past couple of years that have treated adulterous women with little to no disdain, namely Cedar Rapids and Up in the Air.

The only other film that I can think which treated the ex-wife as a problem was Swordfish. Despite being a mediocre movie, it did highlight the problems with our family court system where an ex-con (whose crime was computer-related and not violent) is unable to get custody of his daughter from his ex-wife who has married a pornographer (and quite possibly participates in some of his films).

Martel said...

I'm waiting for a quality rendition of "Vanity Fair". In the book, although Becky Sharp's a bit of a victim, she's also a cutthroat and an absolutely awful mother. In movies, she's simply a feminist hero.

The relationship between Amelia and Dobbin is one of literature's great descriptions of oneitis (although Thackeray is probably a bit too sympathetic to Dobbin), but in the movie, glossed over entirely.

Martel said...

But a movie with game insights everyone definitely should see is "The Last American Virgin", but I never see mention of it. If I had an older male role model watch that movie with me and then tell me "Son, that's how it really is" it would have save me year after year of heartache.

RedPillWifey said...

Oooo. I wanted to see this, that review makes me want to see it even more.

Though I'm not sure I can get past the British accents. Could they have at least tried for Russian?

rycamor said...

I'm wondering if we'll finally see the death of those tiresome wild-girl/dork-guy movies like "Something Wild" or "Forces of Nature", where some boring (inexperienced) conventional beta male meets a crazy (slutty) chick who turns his life upside down--essentially acting as the leader in the relationship and makes him finally learn to throw caution to the wind and live life "to the fullest".

Hollywood has so convincingly worked this role reversal ever since the late 70s that we don't even think it strange now.

Also, I note that the story always implies that the guy is a political conservative and she is a leftie.

Anacaona said...

I always though that Tolstoy had Anna as an idiot, leaving her good life to chase some cock that ended up destroying her. Not necessarily a villainess more like too dumb to live http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TooDumbToLive like Mrs Bovary another yet idiot victim of her vagina...but I might be biased I regard as very stupid the women that leave a good man to chase "excitement"

Michael Maier said...

The preview for this one left me cold. The framing of it makes her look like an unsympathetic bitch. I can't imagine anyone rushing to see it.

"If this is the case, it is a nice change. I've seen two movies in the past couple of years that have treated adulterous women with little to no disdain, namely Cedar Rapids and Up in the Air.

I would have to disagree on "Up In The Air". That woman came off as a cold-hearted liar. I thought the betrayal on the face of the naive Clooney character was well-done. And I thought it was pretty clear that he didn't sign on to be "the other man" in their fling.

Johnny Caustic said...

Martel, did you think Becky Sharp was portrayed as a feminist hero in the BBC/A&E version? I thought it was a very true and evenhanded adaptation of the book, in which Becky shows no interest in her son and comes across as a manipulative bitch pretty much all the way through, excepting her moment of partial redemption near the end.

Overall, I think the BBC/A&E rendition is fantastic.

kh123 said...

Can't recall if Karenin was written as being inept in his civil duties, but he did come across as stuffed-shirt. Tolsoi was however (if I remember correctly) careful to portray his uptightness as his attempt to maintain the marriage, or the result of his ineptness to maintain authority over his wife, whom he seemed to genuinely love. Whether or not which is the chicken or the egg - I'd want to say Tolstoi took the Chekhov tact and left that up for the reader to decide, but I can't recall.

kh123 said...

"...whom he seemed to genuinely love."

And again, I want to say that even in this, Karenin was portrayed as weighing Annichka against his job and status. Impression I got was that his love for her was weighed insofar as how well it made him look when she was proper; that he hadn't an ability to love her beyond the superficial or status; and how angry and totally inept he'd be whenever she just f*cked around with what's-his-name. Karenin had a penchant for coming across as a scolding schoolmaster without authority, and this in all likelihood was why Tolstoi wrote her as he did: Obstinate, emotional, and ultimately disregarding anything Karenin said or wanted for the first - what - three quarters of the book.

Anonymous said...

For a film with the abandoning (ex)wife as a highly unsympathetic character: Kramer vs Kramer. This movie made a HUGE stir when it came out (1979) because it followed a decade of feminist tidal wave, and because it showed the single dad, while having to go through a learning curve, was not just a terrific parent but, in this case, a better parent than his wife had been, and thus deserving of custody of his son. Very, very countercultural ... then, and now.

venckman said...

I'm more familiar with the Garbo version than any other, and I have to say I was always sympathetic to Karenin in that one too. He obviously has some manner of feelings toward her in his cold-fish way, and is rather adult about what she's doing to their marriage -- he's willing to meet her halfway, but she forces him to draw the line. In that version, too, Anna seems like a spoiled idiot whose destruction is entirely self-inflicted.

Anonymous said...

Well, women just don't get the starring role that often wether they be hero, anti-hero or villian. I like a good female villian. Sure beats the idiot, shallow bubble head side kicks that we see in so many movies and television today.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that last line. Way to blame women for single parent households. Do you blame male single parents for their single status?

VD said...

I can't believe that last line. Way to blame women for single parent households. Do you blame male single parents for their single status?

Of course women are to blame for most single-parent households. Women are responsible for more than two-thirds of all divorces, and in an age where birth control and abortion are both widely available, women are responsible for 100 percent of illegitimate childbirths. Who else could possibly be to blame?

And no, most male single parents are not to blame for their single status, because in order for a man to become a male single parent, the mother of his children either has to die, be imprisoned, or get severely addicted to drugs.

Martel said...

JohnnyCaustic: Haven't seen that version. Will do now. Thanks.

DADvocate said...

Now that so many young men have grown up in homes where their mother left their father, or they've never even had a father, it is arguably going to become harder and harder to sell the idea of women being intrinsically pedestal-worthy by virtue of their sex.

I can tell you with certainty that my 19 year old, college student son fits into the above statement quite closely. He wonders out loud, as recently as today, if women are worth pursuing. The other day he proposed the idea of having a surrogate mother carry a child for him, no mother.

The Political Hat said...

If Anne Karenina were real and alive today, she's be testifying in front of Congress to demand free contraceptives.

PacRim Jim said...

At their peak of power, the Soviets never dreamed that America could be brought so low, so fast.
It seems that American democracy's is moribund.

Fûz said...

is a merger developing between the men's rights movement and PUAs? Cool!

Pepper said...

This is a test.

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