“So do we get to watch Steel Magnolias?” That was my long-suffering girlfriend’s response when I told her about this particular writing gig. This is an ongoing joke between us. Every so often, she’ll ask if I suddenly like Steel Magnolias and I’ll tell her that I still don’t like it and she’ll mutter something like “the estrogen isn’t working.” My take on that film is similar to Manhola Dargis’s take on Nora Ephron in an interview she gave to Jezebel earlier this year:
“Sometimes I think women should do what various black and gay audiences have done, which is support women making movies for women. So does that mean I have to go support Nora Ephron? Fuck no. That’s just like, blech.“
One of the things that most annoyed me about Steel Magnolias was the Julia Roberts character, who contracts one of those diseases whose main symptom seems to be a tendency for the character to get more beautiful. In film circles, it’s known as Ali McGraw’s Syndrome and dying beautifully is a hallmark of weepies. Women are never asked to go all Robert De Niro when it comes to looking bad on screen, and it’s particularly egregious here. The only time I can remember actually seeing a major actress get anywhere near what dying from an incurable disease might really be like was in Mike Nichols’s Wit, in which Emma Thompson’s prickly English professor is confronted by the unpleasant facts of the end of her life. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a legitimately great movie and you SHOULD see it, but I’ll never, ever watch it again myself. It looks too much like my mom’s slow death from breast cancer, and I imagine it looks like what my own death might be like at some nebulous time in the future.
Which brings me in a roundabout circle to what’s on my mind today...
So begins my inaugural post over at The Second Awakening, in which I talk about boobs, estrogen, Sex and the City, and Please Give. Read the rest of it there. It's a good blog, though not a movie blog by any means.