Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Equal-Opportunity Asshattery

Because I think equal opportunity ought to apply to asshattery as well as getting jobs and scholarships, I anxiously awaited’s trashing of Nora Ephron, the 71-year-old writer/director who passed away of pneumonia brought on by leukemia over the weekend.

I hold no animosity towards Ephron. I’ve watched some of her movies, and enjoyed some of her movies. But with’s trashing of individuals such as John Christopher and Stan and Jan Berenstain, I figured that the site would have someone on staff ready to pour out some vitriol on the maker of the modern rom-com.

So far, I got nothin’.

And there’s lots of rich fodder in the Ephron canon, if I put on hats typically worn by Slate’s they’re-dead-so-let’s-trash-them crowd.

Michael, the Ephron film I probably enjoy the most, is at the foundation of it all, sexist. Every woman who falls within the circle of influence of Michael the angel – played by John Travolta – is in thrall to him, from the idiots who think he smells like cookies to the bar wenches who dance with him merely because he exudes some angelic quality that only they (and that weenie who has the dog) can determine.

Any male who tried to foist such a storyline upon the cynical feminist public would have his harbls handed to him in a jar. But not a whisper of condemnation for Ephron’s mawkishness on Slate. Maybe they’ve learned their lesson. Then again, probably not.

And that’s not the end of it. You’ve Got Mail brings us not only dated product placement with AOL’s signature line but also a tale of a successful businesswoman – played by Meg Ryan – who falls head over heels for her competitor even after all the disgust in knowing that he’s mercilessly putting her out of business – leaving the fate of her business unresolved at the end, concentrating more on the relationship. I don’t see either caving in, but I do see one caving in to the realities of business – and a relationship borne of anonymous email snogging falling to pieces as the male business model triumphs once again over that of the inept, weepy female.

Probably there are feminists who could put this in better light at, but since this was a woman writing it all, perhaps my faith in their cynicism is misplaced. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, etc., etc.

Then there’s Sleepless in Seattle. Here we have the weepy, inept female basically unable to run her life because she’s lost in this magical, puffy world of finding her soul mate and traveling all the way to Seattle so she can find this one guy whose ten=-year-old son called in to a national weep-fest radio show about.

Okay, so the male character, played by Tom Hanks, is just as emasculated and weepy as Ryan’s character is (if a female can be emasculated; I suppose I should say efeminated), so I guess Ephron can get a bye on this one.

Then there’s this scene (my favorite) from the film, in which Ephron basically says it’s okay for men to run roughshod over female feelings as long as it’s done in a comical way:

From a man, this kind of thing would be sniffed at by’s feminists. But there’s nothing but praise for Ephron there.

Maybe they’ve learned their Jan Berenstain lesson: Detreat as you might, but there are those in the internet universe who will come to the defense of their cherished idols. Or they could just be saying, “Hey, everyone loves Nora Ephron, despite what we have to gloss over when it comes to how she portrays women as weepy and men-dependent. Besides, she wrote about New York City! The Big Wahoonie! We have to give her a pass.”

Given these are hard-bitten journalists (well, as hard-bitten as you can be writing feminism online) I guess I know which direction they were heading.

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