Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Dichotomy of Beautiful Creatures

I just finished watching Beautiful Creatures, and I must say: I did not enjoy it very much.  It was wonderful having a powerful female lead, Lena, and multiple strong female characters.  Emma Thompson is a force to be reckoned with.  At first you'd think the male, Ethan, is the lead, but it ends up shifting, creating two well-developed main characters.  My main concern, other than the "Magical Negro" stereotype (which reinforces slavery to privileged white folk as well), is the manner in which females are represented.  Do not read if you want to avoid any spoilers (though they are not considerable).

Firstly, there's slut-shaming from guys in the class: realistic, but no one seems to care.  No one defends her or even supports the guy.  It doesn't even phase anyone.  Then there's the misogynist witch-hunting from religious zealots.  And the women are the ones to throw blame.  (Thanks, Abigail Williams and Betty Parris.)  I would say the archnemesis females (the queen bee and the outcast, reinforcing stereotypical high school roles and female "cattiness" and nonsupport of other women), but the presence of Lena's family of Aunt Del and Gramma, as well as Amma (our resident Tituba) counteracts that as Lena's main supporters.

I think the biggest problem of all is that women have no control over themselves because of a "curse".  They're literally marked as crazy and when they can't control their emotions, bad things happen.  They're just so confused until they're 16, when they become evil or good BECAUSE THEIR VAGINAS DICTATE THEIR CHOICES!  People die because:

1. She has that tunnel vision thing that girls get.
2. She let their emotions get the best of her.
3. She cared too much.
4. She was thinking with her ladyparts.
5. She was walking, and there was something icky.
6. She thought there was going to be chocolate.
7. She doesn't even remember!
8. She was wearing a new bra, and it closes in the front.  So it popped open, and it threw her off
9. All she wants to do is have babies
10. "Are you single?"
11.  She's going through something right now.
12. She guesses when her life is incomplete, she just wants to shoot someone.
13. This would not happen if she had a penis.
14. Bitches be crazy.
15. She's good at tolerating pain.  She's bad at math, and she's stupid.

I had to post that.  It just felt right.

The women who have become evil in Lena's family are devoid of any ability to love.  There is only power.  This symbolism of the very thing that is thought of women: They have to choose career/power or motherhood/love.  There's even jealousy and competition between mother and daughter?  This is insinuated as fact!  Seraphine explains, "No mother does [love her daughter], really.  It's not easy, you know, pushing another female out of your body, a younger more perfect version of yourself with every option and no mistakes.  Anyhow, love's just a trick of the mind, you know.  It doesn't really exist.  There's no such thing in nature.  Love's a spell, created by mortals to give their females something to play with instead of power.  I want you to have power."  There just can't be both power and compassion.  Just ask Hillary Clinton, who dealt daily with it.  Ask Gloria Steinem.  In the end, though, it tries to rectify itself when Lena tells Seraphine: "It is a new world, Mama, and it ain't all dark, and it ain't all light, and it ain't all ours."  Is this her statement of equalizing these traditional ideals?

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