Categories: The Immense Gothic Cathedral of WTF

You must listen to this program from Ockhams Razor on RN. No, really, you must.

Mildred Studders lives in Brisbane. Concerned with what her grandchildren were being taught at their Christian schools, she sent them a series of questions by email… lots and lots of them. The answers are, frankly, scary and make it even more clear why we need to fight for secular public education for our children.

Mildred Studders: Do you know how old the earth is? Young Michael says it is a bit over 6,000 years. That’s what he was taught at school. He is the youngest of my eight grandchildren none of them say he is very wrong. Three went to his Christian College, five to other schools. All are involved with modern churches.
Their three sets of parents are not bothered by such dodgy science, so I stepped in. I hoped to encourage them to think for themselves without direct attack on their teachers. However, I did upset at least one for a while. I asked them questions by email. It took a year – not everyone answered every time. Here are things I found out.
Some thought everything started as much as 10,000 years ago, to three it doesn’t matter. Most thought the length of a creation day was 24 hours as we know it. They told me the earth appeared first, then water, land and plants. After that came sun, moon and stars.
I mentioned Galileo, they agreed he was right about the solar system In fact some wondered why there was such a basic question. So I asked ‘how could there be day and night before there was a sun, or any other star?” Nobody thought it was impossible.
They did know about continental drift, but most could not accept it pushed up the Himalayas.
They accepted our telescopes can see stars millions of light years away. So I argued the stars must have been there millions of years ago to send out their light. The 24 year old architect agreed, one was not sure and others, including Charles my newly minted Bachelor of Science said ‘No, nothing is that old’.

A Bachelor of Science.
We really are all doomed.
Read the whole thing, or better still, podcast it to hear Mildred tell the story in her own voice. Her attempts to make the grandkids explain the logistics of the Ark will have you in tears. Of laughter. Or perhaps not. We read about the woeful state of science education in some parts of the US, but will Australians be just like them in a generation or two?

If the victim is black: not much, apparently.

The recent chin-stroking by various people regarding Trayvon Martin’s death at the hands of a vigilante crank is shameful. I was reminded of Maia’s commentary on the victim-blaming attending the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case. (In an astonishing coincidence, both Martin and DSK’s victim, Nafissatou Diallo, were black.)

Here’s Maia:

Women with boyfriends in jail can be raped.
Women with multiple cell phones can be raped.
Women who need money can be raped.
Women who can’t read or write the language of the country they are in can be raped.
Sex workers can be raped.
Women who lie on their tax forms can be raped.
Women who’ve lied about rape in the past can be raped.
Women who launder money can be raped.
Women who have told that their actual oppression is not enough to get them asylum, and so have to learn a story that will can be raped.
Women who have many truths they cannot tell to authorities can be raped.

Let’s use Maia’s post as a template to follow the chin-stroking commenters’ logic to its logical conclusion:

Teenagers who wear hoodies can be killed.
Teenagers who fight back against creepy stalkers can be killed. (Zimmerman’s claim that Martin was on top of him and had bashed him are looking dubious.)
Teenagers who have been suspended from school can be killed.
Teenagers who have used marijuana can be killed. (Martin was found with an empty baggie which may have once contained marijuana. (Be very afraid, Melbourne elite grammar school children!)
Teenagers who walk through a gated community, “just looking at houses”, can be killed.

Disclaimer: Trayvon Martin is not necessarily “guilty” of any of the above – actions, anyway, which would earn a minor warning for a white boy from the upper middle class. These are from a smear campaign which has been mounted against Trayvon by right wing bloggers, allegedly helped along by leaks from the Sanford PD, under scrutiny for their non-handling of the case. More here (Via).

Renee Martin of Womanist Musings writes about the challenges faced by the mother of an African-American son. All parents worry that some accident or tragedy will befall their children. It’s obscene that some mothers have the bonus worry of wondering if or when their child will be randomly targeted by a killer or by law enforcement because of their skin colour. Here’s a wry commentary on a “safe” dress code for black teenagers.

We can’t sit back smugly and tell ourselves this just a US issue. This is very much an Australian issue, too.

21 Feb 2012, Comments (8)

Another poke at the steaming pile

Author: Helen

…Or steaming bile, as Jo Tamar accurately called it.

Yes, not content with reading Bettina Arndt’s latest so you don’t have to, I went back to the steaming pile of bile and poked it with a stick to examine some suspicious-looking critters I’d seen lurking in there. I have to say some of these spokescreatures were quite creepy and crawly. Others simply failed to impress me with their compelling evidence for her, ahem, thesis.

Most of the people quoted in the first few paragraphs are the latter type – mostly harmless but annoying retailers of Arndt’s straw-woman theories – but Catherine Deveny has already done a good job on them. I’d like to pick up where Deveny left off. First, though, I’d like to mention one of Agony’s “real life stories”, the scuttlebutt about somebody’s workplace. If this anecdote isn’t invented, it’s a notable example of unprofessional conduct – on the part of the storyteller, that is.

A mid-40s woman tells me about a naive 22-year-old work colleague who recently had a breast enlargement.
”She is a tiny thing, quite pretty but socially inept and ready to settle for anything that comes along….”

Could anything be so unprofessional? This is Arndt’s scholarly evidence, her peer-reviewed source. This nasty piece of gossip has no value at all except to flag to the CEO of that company that they need to counsel their staff about acceptable workplace behaviour. Personal boundary violations and verbal bullying, I mean, not bra cup size. This isn’t evidence, it’s abuse.

After a “men’s advocate” from Perth, about whom the internet has nothing much to say, we’re treated to the thoughts of a thing called Giovanni Dannato writing on the group blog In Mala Fide. He’s the “assault on men” dude. I’m not linking to this blog, and if you decide to google it, here’s a prior warning for racism, antisemitism, white supremacist ideology and of course, bottomless misogyny sung from the whole sorry MRA/MGTOW/paleocon songbook. Some article headings: “How to stop masturbating”, “Modern Rape laws protect Harems”, “To be anti-Jewish is not to be racist”. The tagline: “The blog that shouted love at the heart of the world.” They’re joking, obviously. This is where I start saying HEY, SERIOUSLY, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING BETTINA.

How did Arndt come to include a quotation from this guy, on this blog? What wiki-walk or recommendation drew her to it? Is it a regular read? There’s a link to a neo-nazi bookshop, purveyors of young Eastern European women (or pictures of, anyway), and as well as the misogyny there are numerous references to “Race and IQ”, whites-as-a-disposessed-minority, and approving references to Steve Sailer, Roissy, John Derbyshire and many other slimy creatures who I recognise as belonging to the far right-o-sphere.

In case you think this is an aberration and that Arndt is just a naive and undiscerning web surfer, next up is F. Roger Devlin, who she describes as “a political philosopher who writes challenging material on gender issues for The Occidental Quarterly”. If your finely-tuned bullshit meter is hearing “challenging” as a word from the same playbook as “refreshingly un-PC!” and “heresy”, you’d be right.

This challenging material is… Oh, dear god. (Peers through fingers). No link for the Occidental Quarterly, either. TOQ is the mouthpiece of the Charles Martel Society, which Sourcewatch links to William Regnery (a US “White Nationalist”) and other white supremacist individuals and organisations such as Stormfront. Yes, that Stormfront. This stuff isn’t conservative. It’s white supremacist and male supremacist wingnuttery, to the extreme. Devlin also writes for VDARE, another anti-immigration, white supremacist website. He’s the author of such wholesome titles as “Sexual liberation and Racial Suicide”.

My recommendation: Back away, slowly. Disinfect computer after reading.

*Dishonourable mention: The Dad from Family Guy. You do, er, realise he’s a fictitious character, don’t you, Bettina? And

*Hugo Schwyzer. No comment.

Poking into the steaming heap of an Arndt article is not only unspeakably depressing, it shows the very, very dubious provenance of her antifeminist thinkpieces. Bettina Arndt comes across as the voice of reason, the dimple-cheeked smiling disarmer of male interviewers and defender against “extreme feminists”. In fact, I think she is somewhat extreme herself.

Today it was reported that police are searching near Cann River for the body of a teenage girl who was abducted in 1992. One of the “persons of interest” in that case is Craig Minogue, one of the nasties responsible for the Russell St Bombing.

Months before the bombing, one of the key planners, Craig Minogue, warned that if anyone spoke to the police he would kill them and their families, pointedly telling Hetzel’s de facto wife, Julie: ”It would be a shame if anything happened to your sweet little Prue, wouldn’t it?”
The girl was eight at the time.
Police say Minogue made a similar threat on at least one other occasion.

In 1988 Minogue was sentenced to life with a minimum of 27 years for the murder of Angela Taylor [the policewoman killed in the bomb attack]. And…

OK, are you sitting down? You’d better swallow that coffee before you read any further:

…he is now completing his PhD in applied ethics and moral philosophy inside prison.

I’m sorry about your keyboard, but I did warn you.

Now I don’t mean to come all Heraldsuntele on your arse, complaining about people furthering their education in prison and implying that they should be picking oakum for most of the time they aren’t being flogged on triangles, but there is a point at which an occupation and the person engaged in it appear to be, let’s say, an unlikely fit.

I’m fascinated to know what his thesis topic might be. “Abduction: a Comparison of Satisfaction levels from Ransom Collection versus Just Killing ’em”? “Persuasion: the Efficacy of large Explosions in protesting the Failure of the Justice system”. “Shame: What the F**’s that?”

Perhaps some people need to complete a PhD in ethics and moral philosophy before they’re able to make basic ethical decisions of the kind most of us master in kindergarten. Not killing people, for instance.

And recent online discussions suggest that some people might think the completion of a PhD is punishment enough.

Ha, ha, joking – the world hasn’t gone to shit noticeably more in one week, and it was fairly unsurprising that Martin Ferguson and (presumably) other members of the Labor right would be spying on their own electorate. Anyone who was active in the 60s and 70s has a file on them as thick as a Stephen King novel. Yet the details were especially sickening in a creepy, Peter Hoeg-type way – a bland suburban residential development housing a not very Top Secret cubicle farm, NOSIC. (Got to love that acronym!) There, the cubicle jockeys, presumably sad, underemployed students and recent graduates, trawl through the Facebook and Twitter accounts of anyone who’s been active in environmental protest…

…OH HI Cubicle jockey who is reading this over at NOSIC, brought hither by various keywords! How good do you feel about yourself, working for Marn’s Stasi Lite? I was once underemployed and desperate myself, but yeah but no. This is a disgrace. I was so angry I went out today and participated in a demonstration covert surveillance operation on Ferguson’s office with these excellent chaps.

Sorry about the picture quality, snapped clandestinely with the shoe phone:

Facebook group at Keep an Eye on Martin Ferguson protest at Marn's Preston office, 10 January 2012

One of the spooks pictured above is the author of this opinion piece in today’s AGE.

Anti-coal activists pose a political threat. That’s why we’re being spied on.

I’d like to know how the government can justify employing a private company to spy on me. As an anti-coal activist, and member of one of three main community groups in Australia campaigning against the coal industry, I was alarmed by revelations in The Saturday Age that the Australian Federal Police has singled us out as a potential threat and is employing a private company to spy on us.

The AFP were there before we were, natch, because the other spooks at NOSIC had read the Facebook group. Of course. This is your taxes at work: Pimply postgrads being paid to spy on your nephew’s facebook page; Police missing their lunch to stand outside Martin Ferguson’s mostly empty office protecting it against a piece of harmless theatre. It’d be hilarious if it wasn’t so bloody depressing.

3 Sep 2011, Comments (5)

…Now I’m on a horse

Author: Helen

I apologise in advance for adding to the pixels devoted to Tony Abbott. Sometimes the urge to vent overcomes the need not to add to the noise machine. I was complaining in various places, before the election of Kevin in 07, about having to listen to the excruciating, grating sound of JHo’s voice droning out of the radio at every news bulletin and often in between. It reduced my quality of life measurably. I rejoiced at the thought of those times being over. Little did I know we were entering into a new paradigm where the bloody Leader of the Opposition got his voice – “nasal, high-pitched, hectoring, aggressive, negative, bludgeoning” – on the radio 24/7. Death or New Zealand are equally beginning to beckon.

For those who do not reside in Australia and therefore aren’t exposed to this excrescence day in and day out, Tony Abbott is a man who (1) can’t resist a photo opportunity and (2) has a pretty florid Action Man complex. Every day he’s in a hard hat, fluoro vest, or some other macho uniform pretending to take part in some salt-of-the-earth toil – I haven’t seen him in a flight suit yet, but give him time. So it was that when he was out on the range in Rockhampton with some horsey dudes, of course nothing would do but he must get on a horse too and have a Bonanza photo opportunity. Tones’ Action Man shots are always embarrassing, but this plumbed new depths of toe-curling awfulness. I’m not sure if this low-res Youtube vid does justice to just how bad it was.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILjFcexBvIM

You can get on a bike and kind of pootle off and give the impression you know what you’re doing. Sitting on a fast trotting horse – I’ll say it again (yes, I’m repeating myself, I said this about Ian Campbell’s equestrian heroics) is an action which thousands of ten year old girls perform faultlessly every Saturday at pony club, but you need to have put in the requisite hours to learn how to do it without looking like a panicking rag doll. Action Man, having failed to do this, looks a right doofus. You’ll know next time, Tones: horse: bicycle: Not the same thing!

A day or two later, you could hear exasperated noises coming from our kitchen as I was doing pre-work sandwich making and listening to Abbott deploy his unique, circular logic on AM. “Well, it’s very important that this matter be resolved and that this boil for the Government be lanced, [Erk! Do you mind? I’m buttering bread here!] because while the Government is completely distracted by the Craig Thomson matter it’s not able to properly attend to the pressing problems that our country faces…[False – The minority Gillard government is actually getting on with the job of passing legislation and, well, governing, despite the constant Dog and Pony show distractions thrown up by the Coalition.] …Now the reason why the Prime Minister has to deal with this matter and resolve it is because that there are more important things that the Government should be focused on. [Absolutely! So why aren’t you talking about these very important things? …Oh.] But the Prime Minister’s incapacity to deal with the matter of the Member for Dobell means that these other problems just get worse…Blah blah Integrity… Let the sun shine in blah.” He thinks we’re so stupid we won’t even notice that if people are distracted – not completely distracted as he puts it – he’s the one doing his best to do the distracting with his energiser-bunny childish ping-ponging all over the place, both physically and verbally. So disingenuous, and so lacking in the dignity and intelligence we’d want in a leading politician, but of course it’s Gillard who’s always copping the scrutiny and being found wanting.

It was nice to see, the next day, that someone else noticed. “Yesterday, opposition leader Tony Abbott veered close to over-reach…He told the ABC in the morning that ”while the government is completely distracted by the Craig Thomson matter it’s not properly able to attend to the pressing problems the country faces”. He made the same claim later in the day while arguing that normal parliamentary business cease in order for Gillard to make a statement about the matter. The ”distraction” has been generated all along by Abbott.”

Yeah.

James Ramage released from Beechworth prison: Source, the AGE

James Ramage was released from prison last Friday, after only eight years following his conviction for strangling and bashing his wife, Julie, to death in their house and burying her in a shallow grave. The details of the case reveal a textbook case of a controlling, abusive spouse who killed his wife rather than let her leave.

One reason the Ramage case has been in the news so much is that it was the last time the defence of “provocation” was used in a court case in Victoria. That was the reason for the derisory sentence, and since the case exposed the enormous injustices flowing from that defence, the law was changed. The law moves slowly, but social mores change more slowly still.

The silencing argument that women of the Anglophone “Western Civilisation”, or whatever you would like to call it, are completely liberated, done and dusted, and have no business complaining about anything, has continued unabated lately. In such a cultural climate, a few people were rocked back on their heels when Phil Cleary and Julie Ramage’s sister Jane described her murder as an “honour” killing. But you know what? They’re right.

A couple of years ago I heard Germaine Greer reply to a question from the late Pamela Bone, as to why we (meaning anglophone “western” feminists) weren’t doing more to liberate our sisters in the Muslim world. Her answer was in two parts, and the first part was about our absence of standing in that world. The second part was that we haven’t yet cleaned up our own back yard. There is a pervasive myth in our “western” society that harsh and primitive crimes of misogyny only happen There, perpetrated by Them, those Others. Therefore, Western feminism is a hobby for genteel and well-off middle class women who enjoy perfect equality in their world. It’s false. Let’s not let them get away with it.

If Julie Ramage’s killing had been some kind of rare aberration it would still have spoken volumes about gender related violence in our society, but in fact it was just a very high-profile instance of a common and repeating pattern. Here’s the thing: Women are most at risk of being killed by an intimate partner when they have just left the relationship, or when they are planning to leave and the partner becomes aware of it. Think of the number of times you read “estranged husband / boyfriend / de facto husband” when you read about murder cases in the news.

Sure, there’s cultural differences aplenty between our anglocentric killings and the honour killings in other countries which we, rightly, deplore when we read about them. But they’re still about “honour”, a notion of honour which has been twisted and deformed by patriarchy until it looks like its opposite. Sure, the manifestations differ. Here in our more individualistic society we don’t have “but she can never get married now!” or “Shame on our family!” excuse. Instead, we have the “He just loved her too much!” “If I can’t have her, no-one can!” or some shit. But it’s the same thing, different continents; Control of women under patriarchal norms, whether it’s out and proud – as they are in the countries we finger-wag at – or flying below the radar, as in Australia, UK and US.

Instead of a ritualised, family mandated killing involving brothers or cousins or fathers – and how painful that betrayal must be to the victims – we have more individualised, but still family centred, killings where the betrayer is the person who has promised to love and cherish the woman; not the same in every detail, but still a horrible betrayal, the killing of a woman for a warped notion of “honour”. Not, here, the family-based “honour” but something more modern, the man’s ego or self worth. It’s the same thing, dressed in modern, individualistic clothes. Also, it hardly needs to be said, it involves the concept of the woman as property, which we’ve supposed to have left behind but which seems to just be thinly buried. As with everything else – our remotely controlled weapons, our Guantanamos and detention centres – we really excel, in the West, at disguising the aggressive impulses of our society to make our harms look more civilised or justified. In this case, we pretend that wife-killings are random acts of aggression rather than a repeating pattern.

This affects women of all classes, indigenous women, transwomen, up to and including women at the top of the income and status tree, like Julie Ramage. Privilege won’t save you here.

If Australians want to be smug about the fundamentalist fringes of Islam, we should take a harder look at the rising fundamentalism in the Christian churches in our society. Around the time the Victorian justice system was getting ready to release Ramage, it was jailing John McDonald for the murder of his wife, Marlene McDonald. Again, power and control was front and centre. Marlene had left the abusive relationship and was working at a truck stop north of Melbourne, where her husband believed she’d formed a new relationship with one of the customers. But it went further than that. “Ms Ritchie told the hearing McDonald had confided in her that she had been attacked by two masked men in her home one night but she knew they were her father and brother. “They both started punching and kicking her. The father was very religious and was saying over and over that she had sinned, that she had committed adultery … whilst her brother was calling her a slut and a whore,” she said in a statement tendered to the court. They continued dragging her by the hair to the laneway … when they got outside, her brother started using a baseball bat … She thought they were going to kill her.” She was right.

So, commenters on “western” blogs and news sites, let’s not pat ourselves smugly on the back and vilify feminists on the grounds that we’ve achieved absolute equality (I wish!), while they, over there, commit atrocities in the name of honour and therefore have to bear all the opprobrium. Our honour killings may appear different in detail from the ones those Others perpetrate, but in the end, the women are just as dead.
 
 
 
Crossposted at Hoyden About Town

4 May 2011, Comments (6)

What The…?

Author: Helen

In the Victorian State budget brought down today, the Baillieu government was keen to tell us that we were in for austerity in education spending – they’re aiming for over $300 million in cuts in the next 4 years “in a bid to reign in costs” (sic) (dear oh dear, it’s having an effect already). And they reneged on the election promise to improve public school teachers’ pay. But despite this solemn need for belt-tightening, somehow they still managed to keep their promise to give $240 million over that time to private and Catholic schools.

Who is going to defend the public system? Not the Federal government.

Oh, we got $24m for maths and science specialists in Primary – that’s less than half the amount the Vic government spent this year running the frigging Grand Prix.

The rest of this post was cancelled due to excessive swearing.

23 Mar 2011, Comments (6)

Take a good look

Author: Helen

If the Liberals should win the next federal election, these are the nongs who will be “governing” you.

More here and here.

Aust Opposition leader Tony Abbott standing with Lib MPs Bronwyn Bishop and Sophie Mirabella in front of a placard painted with flames and "JuLIAR Bob Browns BITCH"

To quote James Bradley of City of Tongues on Twitter, “The level of casual misogyny directed at the PM is truly appalling, and says a lot about those who endorse it.”

18 Jan 2011, Comments (15)

A 1950s Alternative Universe

Author: Helen

I’m taking some weeks off work courtesy of the wonderful 48/52 , and having an at-home holiday with a rare respite from early mornings and reasonable bedtimes. So it was that on Saturday night I found myself watching a late-night 1950s black and white movie – something I haven’t done much of since the demise of Bill Collins and Ivan Hutchinson’s shows. Oh, how I used to love those old black and white movies (cue massive eyeroll from the kids). Some of the interest lies in a mixture of plot points which appear to have been written while dropping acid combined with gender and class expectations which are all too real.

This one was No Sad Songs For Me, starring Margaret Sullavan, who was quite a hoyden in her youth, with Natalie Wood as her abnormally well-adjusted daughter. According to Answers.com,

…Sentimental melodrama about a ridiculously self-sacrificing wife based on the book by Ruth Southard and starring a 12-year-old Natalie Wood. Mary Scott (Margaret Sullavan) is pregnant when she finds out that she has terminal cancer with only a few months left to live. She keeps this information a secret from her husband, Brad Scott (Wendell Corey), who is carrying on an affair with his assistant, Chris Radna (Viveca Lindfors). Mary encourages her husband to pursue Chris as a replacement wife and mother after she dies.

Heavy stuff, eh, especially as I was in Natalie Wood’s shoes in 1968, except that I was a year younger and not nearly as adorable, co-operative or conscientious with my piano practice. So the movie should have had me wallowing in memories and grief, except for that other marvellous feature of the 1950s B&W: the LOLWUT!? factor.

Consider the events which the writer of this weepie considered believable in 1950.

The movie opens with the happy family at breakfast discussing a new pregnancy. Mary says she’s off to the doctor that day to confirm. When she does, the doctor tells her sternly that she’s not pregnant and is never likely to be again. We’re given to understand that the doctor’s an old family friend, but this is all he tells her. Oh, and the hilarity – Doctor lights up a cig while giving her the bad news! In the surgery. Oh, the ’50s, those were the days.

Dr. Bedside Manner obviously has no intention of telling her anything at this point. He only tells her about her terminal cancer when she leaves the surgery, walks out to the car, is overcome by an unseemly attack of patient curiosity and walks back into his office to ask him for more details. We are asked to believe that the doctor has diagnosed the cancer some weeks ago yet hasn’t seen fit to tell the patient, who, remember, is also an old family friend. RIGHT.

Mary then says “I remember you’ve been taking dozens of X rays for the last few weeks!”

Wouldn’t you think a woman who thought she was pregnant, instead of harbouring a fatal illness, would question having “dozens of X rays” taken in the (presumed) early stages of the pregnancy? But these were the days of smoking in the doctor’s surgery. They didn’t have those namby-pamby, politically correct safety procedures.

In 1950, it appears, cancer was universally a death sentence. Mary asks Mr People Skills if operations or radiotherapy will do anything, and he replies that the treatment’s still in the experimental stage. Well, perhaps IF HE HAD TOLD HER EARLIER she might have had a chance to get a second opinion, or something.

Instead of going straight to a solicitor to file a medical malpractice suit – seeing as he’s a family friend, I guess – Mary swears the doctor to secrecy so that she can conceal her condition from her family. The doctor readily agrees with this, since obviously he’s given to withholding information anyway. Incredibly, although he can’t do anything at all about Mary’s cancer, he is able to give the most detailed prognosis: Nine months to live, six months of which will be “on her feet”. Modern oncologists would be amazed at the ability of cigarette-smokin’ 50s doctors to pinpoint the exact course of the illness.

The rest of the movie pretty much consists of Mary becoming more and more saintly. Her terminal cancer appears to involve no painkillers, curtailment of social activities or even symptoms, apart from the occasional frown and clutch of the hand to the abdomen, or a brief lie down on the couch. We are not told where this cancer is. One imagines that the ending will be Mary lying on lacy pillows becoming ever more beautiful and radiant as death approaches. However, it’s even more hokey than that.

After participating in a batty, and saintly, ruse to make sure her husband’s affair partner/girlfriend, Chris, is around to replace her(!) (LOLWUT!), Mary spills the beans. Husband, suitably devastated, breaks his philandering and working routine to take her on a second honeymoon to Mexico, where they dance together to a mariarchi band, after which Mary obligingly drops dead, thus eliminating the need for the sad bedridden final phase, and making the handover to Chris more seamless.

Although Chris is an exasperating entitled little shit, one can have some sympathy for her as she enters the movie in the guise of a professional draughtsperson working on a dam project with the husband, Brad / Wendell Cory. Thus we have the classic 1950s/1960s scene where the new worker turns out to be a WOMAN! Oh the HILARITY! The world turned upside down! The exchange between Brad, the hirer, and Chris, the prospective employee, illustrates perfectly the complete disdain for female employees and her need to plead and supplicate to convince him to give her the job despite her manifest inferiority. He demurs because the job’ll require her to go outside and it might rain! A woman might… melt, or something.

The plot then requires them to fall in lurve, but this is just predictable, because she’s a member of the sex class. That’s why we can’t have them on the job! They’ll distract the men!

In the final scene, the LOLWUT!? factor goes off the charts. Chris, the replacement mother, and the child Polly are sitting together at the piano playing a tragic musical piece. At this point, as far as Polly knows, Chris is the family friend/babysitter and Mum and Dad are just away on a nice holiday. The phone rings and Chris answers. It is terrible news from Mexico! Well, terrible for Mary, anyway. Chris makes some cryptic remark and they keep playing. Are they ever going to tell this kid anything? She never knew her mum was even sick. When are they going to actually let her know she’s DIED? The Wikipedia article on Margaret Sullavan says that her family life was fairly tortured and marked by suicide and institutionalisation. If this was the way 1950s families were supposed to handle family crises, I’m really not surprised. “Here’s your school lunch, dear. By the way, your mum’s not coming back from Mexico. She’s dead. I’m your new mum now. I’m sure Dad will explain everything when he gets back, but he’ll be a while because of organising the cold storage for the coffin ‘n all…”

Ah, those old black and white movies. If you’re ever tempted to join the conservatives in yearning for the Good old Days before the counterculture and modern medicine changed the world, when a man could still light up a satisfying fag in his doctor’s surgery and women knew their place, watch one of these and marvel. On the other hand, there’s no room for complacency yet; Judd Apatow and Charlie Sheen still churn out stuff which future generations will watch and…LOLWUT?!
 
 
 
Crossposted at Hoyden About Town