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This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Friday, October 2, 2015


Damnit, it's like eating heroin-laced potato chips. I go in to make one lousy post and I'm sucked in again.

Noah Berlatsky contends that the film FOXY BROWN marginalizes womankind's historical experience with rape and racism because the narrative doesn't dwell overlong on the psychological consequences of her rape and forced drug-addiction. I posted:

There's a reading that I'm sure that neither you nor [Stephanie] Dunn are likely to favor: to wit, Foxy shrugs off the ordeals of rape and heroin addiction not as a means of some "disavowal of history" but because she's a super-tough heroine who can do such things. Male film-heroes rarely have to suffer rape, of course, but I'll bet there have been heroes who had to overcome forced drug addiction just through manfully gritting their teeth. And of course male heroes survive all sorts of elaborate tortures, a representative example being Conan being hung on a cross and left to die in the desert.
So if Conan recovers from his ordeal and apparently never has so much as a bad dream from the experience, is that too a disavowal of some aspect of "history?"

Noah also chose to judge the entire "spaghetti western" subgenre on the basis of two examples, so I wrote:

Is [your] point that--
(1) it's wrong to judge people as "types" based on superficial impressions ("such-and-such a woman is a bitch, therefore all women are bitches")
(2) but it's OK to judge a body of works based on looking at one or two works from that body?
No, Noah, nobody expects you to reserve comments until you've read every work in a given genre or subgenre. But if we're dealing with a body that has, say, a couple hundred films overall, a few more than three would be good before making any pronouncements.

We shall see what comes of this latest plunge into the depths...



As I half expected, NB didn't really engage with my idea that Foxy Brown was being a typical tough-ass hero by shrugging off her traumas. He even managed to make it seem like even an archetypal hardass like Conan was also participating in psychological erasure (or some damn thing) by not wallowing in his trauma.

Amusingly, though, while on one hand he thinks that fictional characters ought to be judged by the same terms than real people, he doesn't think he has to show to fictional genre-works the same deference that people ought to show to other people.

Yes, because stereotyping people is morally wrong, but talking about works of art is talking about works of art.

Somehow I suspect that NB's inconsistencies are not evidence that he "contains multitudes" a la Whitman...

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