20 Feb 2007, Comments Off on Little Kidults

Little Kidults

Author: Helen

Sorry possums. This blog should be renamed the Bludger on the Cast Iron Balcony, as we lie about in pools of our own sweat, panting and riding out the heat wave. Shoutout to people who have newborns or are just about to go— I hope you can keep cool.

The bad news I have for you is that the gender politics in popular culture, especially as relates to being a parent, they are still stuffed.

On Sunday, we decided an afternoon movie was a good way to survive the heat. We were aiming for Notes on a Scandal, but we got the session time wrong and ended up seeing Little Children (Dir. Todd Field). How much did I hate it? Let me count the ways.

Here are some of the messages you’ll get from this movie:

Women at home with children are all neurotic, Martha Stewart-esque bitches.
There are occasional exceptions to this- the nice mums are the ones who put out.
Women who are the primary breadwinner are ballbreakers. They’re reversing the natural order!
Women who are primary breadwinners, therefore ballbreakers, can only expect to be cheated on.
Men who are the primary caregiver must be losers, because they would never choose to do such a thing of their own volition.
Men who are the primary caregiver can make statements to perfect strangers like “Aren’t you going to ask me who wears the pants in our marriage?” and that is no way sexist or neurotic or passive agressive, not at all.
If a woman’s husband turns out to be a complete dickhead, that gives her permission to bonk another woman’s husband. Because the solution to pain is just to pass it on to others, right?
Reading Madame Bovary proves that infidelity is admirable. And feminist! Because feminism is, like, er…
People who disagree with the last point must be one of those neurotic, Martha Stewart-esqe beyotches (see above).
Child molesters are instantly recognisable in a Gollum type of way. They do not look like normal people.
Child molesters get that way because of their bad, smothering mums. (I remember this handy theory being used for all kinds of villains in the old black and white Hollywood movies. Pop Freud, I guess.)
Actually, all older mums are crones and bad and evil. Actually, all mums are smothering and evil except for the one who puts out.

Oh, and we’re supposed to believe that Kate Winslet’s a Plain Jane character. Please.

Avoid.

The presence of so many objectionable memes in one movie irritated what Twisty would call my obstreperal lobe severely, so while I was physically cooler at the end of the experience, my collar was considerably hotter. I felt as if I’d stepped into a Tardis and returned to the 60s.

If you want an escape-the-heat movie, I recommend staying home with a fan and a straight-to-DVD 2005 release, The Big White (Dir. Mark Mylod), which is set in Alaska, so there’s plenty of snow. This movie has been variously described as ‘the funniest release of 2005’ and ‘Coenesque‘. I can vouch for the Coenesque, as the plot is based on the guy who wants to pull off just one Insurance scam which will set him up for life and everything goes pearshaped from there… you know, that plot. Of course, a frozen dead body is involved… naturally, the film’s a bit derivative of Fargo and A Simple Plan. But it’s a romp, and at least you won’t be throwing things at the TV, and the setting is extremely chilly. Watch out as Holly Hunter makes a meal of a hilarious supporting role.

Comments (0)

  • GoAwayPlease says:

    I think the AIR-CON is the reason movies are so big in California – it’s stinking hot there every damn day.
    Sorry you had a bad movie – I was drawn to Notes On A Scandal by the presence of darling Bill Nighy (who deserved an OSCAR for his Ozzie Osbourne-type role in Still Crazy).
    It was a rivetting film – perfect cast of familiar and seasoned faces who could have played the whole thing on a stage.
    Tiny highlight was the Dench character deriding the Nighy/Blanchett trendys for having a real Leonardo Da Vinci on their wall – later acknowledged in the credits as a loan from the Royal Windsor family.
    I was, of course, alone in the theatre reading the credits – why is this so?

  • Gianna says:

    Gawd. And I liked Winslet so much in Eternal Sunshine…oh well. Happy to avoid. Me, I just finished watching Morvern Callar – have you seen it?

  • Helen says:

    Yes, I sit and read the credits too, Brownie. I’m always curious as to just who that actor was who I didn’t recognise.

    Jackie Earle Haley, as the Gollumesque paedophile, was the star of Little Children and the only one nominated for an Academy award.

    G, I haven’t even seen a trailer for Morvern Callar – must go and have a look in Google. I’d make a terrible film critic, as I don’t often get to the cine-ma and usually end up watching DVDs instead.

  • Gianna says:

    don’t worry, i NEVER got to the cinema at all. i’m just finally catching up on hundreds of DVDs now that i’ve recently finally joined a video library. it’s amazing how many new releases i never saw that are in the weekly section now and can be borrowed for $1! and then we pass it around the family and so the cost whilttles down to about 25c per movie. mwwwwhaaaaaarrr..

  • Cristy says:

    Shall avoid that one. Thank you.

    Having been planning to go and see Stranger than Fiction for a couple of weeks now, but keep feeling too lazy. We are lucky enough to have air-con at home – which may explain my behaviour somewhat…

  • jenny says:

    heh. you’ve confirmed what I thought after seeing the shorts. specifically Madame Bovary. she wasn’t admirable, she was pitiable.
    the stay-at-home-Mum world has a lot more going on than trying to pinch each other’s husbands, that’s for sure.
    have to forgive Kate for this because of Eternal Sunshine; and fwiw I personally found Morven Callar (sp?) a bit annoying, but if you sympathise with the character I can see why some might like it.
    Notes looks great – again from the shorts – I believe I have an uncanny ability to tell if a movie’s any good from seeing 5 seconds of footage, am I alone in this?

  • Helen says:

    Oh, I love Kate anyway. Staring at her wonderful facial stucture made up for the badness of the script somewhat. I loved the hair colour in Eternal Sunshine.

  • GoAwayPlease says:

    yes ‘jennie’ – Notes was excellent in every way – not a happy neat ending though.
    Blanchett deserves some kind of prize for doing the sex-on-the-railway tracks scene; and be ready for the funniest line … after Cate screams at her
    “I could get 10 months for this!”
    from Dench: “oh they’ll just FLY by”

  • jenny says:

    wait for the youtube version, dubbed to say: “I could get an Oscar for this…”

  • Sean says:

    Well you have the advantage on me in that I haven’t seen the film, and as an ex house dad I suppose I could choose to be offended, but are you certain that all the characters must be read as generalised types?

    For eg, Dolly Dunn was very innocuous looking, but there was that bloke in Qld who all the current affairs types were chasing around upon his release a couple of years back, who looked and moved as much like Smeagol as is possible for an actual living homo sapien.

    Given that you haven’t said that “Notes” is espousing an “all attractive art teachers are pedos and old lesbians are evil” meme, I’m just askin’.

  • Pavlov's Cat says:

    Actually, Sean, I thought Notes on a Scandal actually was espousing the ‘old lesbians are evil’ meme. The art teacher thingy maybe not so much, but then that was nowhere near as much of a powerful stereotype to start with, which is the real point of this kind of reading, surely? It’s not about generalising from one example; it’s more to do with the way a movie colludes with the pre-existing prejudices/inclinations/beliefs/whatever that are already swirling around in the culture — not least because it’s very difficult, even these days, for ‘old lesbians’ to be anything but a bit bitter and twisted, considering the general social opinion of them that is reinforced by movies like this.

    (Anti-disclaimer — I’m a middle-aged straight with a chequered past, myself. But I’ve had a bit of practice doing cultural analysis of representations of women in popular, and high, culture.)

    As far as its blind hatred of unattached women (and its agenda of reinforcing that blind hatred in movie audiences) went, I thought Notes on a Scandal was right up there with Fatal Attraction. The Dench character was saved only by the skills of Dench herself from being a grotesque caricature, and the film annoyed the bejesus out of me for that reason, despite the predictable brilliance of the performances themselves.

  • Sean says:

    Feline One, I very strongly dislike that sort of looking-to-spread-the-offence reading. Anyone who came out of Silence of the Lambs thinking “wow, transexuals tend to skin people” was just a cretin. If I tell a story about WW2 and someone goes out and beats up a German, am I to blame? Not all of life’s baddies/flawed humans are white hetero middle class or higher males.

    If “it’s very difficult, even these days, for ‘old lesbians’ to be anything but a bit bitter and twisted”, it’s valid for a story teller to explore how that might affect those around those particular old lesbians. There have been numerous factual cases of love affairs between female high school teachers and their male students over the last few years and, lets face it, were the genders reversed it’s impossible to think that the portayal would be as sympathetic.

    And Fatal Attraction was just a pretty bloody dopey thriller. OK, it played on the theme of a man with a history of impulse control problems (Douglas’ character was an ex coke-head if I remember) being unable to think straight in the presence of a very hot chick with a bad nature. It was a simplistic treatment but you can’t say that it’s claiming all hot chicks have a bad nature.

    Most people I’ve known people in the following categories were great: career women, gays and lesbians, older ladies. And I’ve met reasonably successful business women who were head cases and made their employees miserable to the point of actual depression. Gay people who were habitually nasty. Objectionable, officious old ladies. Manipulative, self absorbed hot chicks.

    Both popular and “high” culture would be very anodine indeed if you had your way.

    To conclude, when I were in London and Braveheart came out, one of my posh clients objected to the fact that all the baddies in movies at that time seemed to be Englishmen. Because of Braveheart and Diehard, I think. I told him that you can’t go about killing people and knicking all their shit for 800 years without some minor backlash, so suck it up. I also yock it up at stories about male Aussie drongos like myself, and wouldn’t say that the more serious Evil Angels or The Boys should not have been produced because they contain persons with demographic similarities to me behaving badly.

    My mum got all huffy about Kath and Kim, though. She doesn’t say “I can feel it in me waters” anymore.

  • Thanks Sean,

    A bit of sanity.

  • Pavlov's Cat says:

    “Both popular and “high” culture would be very anodine indeed if you had your way.”

    Really? I don’t recall saying what ‘my way’ was at any point, and I don’t think Helen did either. But you are blaming me for a position I don’t actually hold; my objection is to the reinforcement of existing stereotypes (of ANY kind), a point you seem to have ignored. The defensiveness about hetero white males is also telling; nobody mentioned them either, except you.

    As for ‘a bit of sanity’ — no, I might leave that one alone.

  • Helen says:

    I wasn’t going to bother, but Sean, if I had said those things about movies in general, then perhaps you might have a point, but I made the points about one movie, and I am not generally known for coming out with across the board complaints about all entertainment. However, Little Children purports to be an incisive satire on modern society, unlike Spiderman and many other productions. It does present its characters in a very cookie cutter manner. The housewives in the park are as individually realised as the giant with three heads in Monty Python.

  • Sean says:

    As I specifically said Pavlov, I’m NOT defensive of people who share race/gender/age/sexual orientation with me being depicted as less than perfect. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Indeed, a hyper-sensitive lawyer would quickly commit suicide.

    I mentioned that I haven’t seen the film, which is why I asked the question about characters vs types as a question. Quote “I’m just askin'”. There’s no need to be so quick to take or give offence (“I wasn’t going to bother”, well aren’t you just the hoi poloi?). I was interested to hear why you felt that way about the film when others have seen it as being about certain flawed characters, eg:

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/film-reviews/little-children/2007/02/09/1170524285812.html

  • Helen says:

    Line edited out of the previous comment as being superflous. Yes, the movie was about flawed characters, but it did it in a very clunky and tiresome way, IMO.

  • kate says:

    there’s nothing wrong with presenting queer or transsexual characters as agressors/loonies/name a flaw – the problem is that all mainstream movies present queer characters (if they have any at all) as aggressors/inevitably suicidal/mass-murderers. Never just the happy couple or singleton next door. Never ordinary. Which is a pretty strong message to send to the yoof about what’s normal, and who lives happily ever after in this world.

  • sooz says:

    Thankfully I missed yet another exploration of parenthood bound to incite. Instead I’m home doing it for real. Thanks for the good wishes Helen 🙂

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.