Welcome to the first installment of The Mailbag, a (hopefully) weekly column featuring interesting tidbits visitors have emailed to me.
Patricia Mathews had this to say about Rome:
I just wanted to rant about the way that miniseries “Rome” treated Cleopatra like an outtake from “Desperate Housewives.” No survivor of Egyptian politics would have chirped “Of COURSE he’s to be trusted” about Octavian, she’d have researched him down to his toenails. Nor would she have had a screaming crying fit at his “betrayal” (in quotes because she’d be onto him.)
The only thing good about that portrayal is that she WAS shown as being smarter than Mark Antony!
I kept straining to catch glimpses of the canny politician our Cleo was known to have been, but all the series gave us was skimpy dresses and lots of bedroom action.
They did do one thing gloriously well. The final scene where Atia, Octavian’s mother, which this series inflated into a major player by adding to her character the deeds of several real women of the period, joins her son’s other ladies for his final triumph, we sudenly see her as a flaming anachronism in Octavian’s New World Order. She hasn’t changed, but Livia is mealy-mouthed where Atia swears like a gladiator; they’re in white and pastels, as sanitized as a monument, where she’s her flamboyant self – think of a 50-year-old Sally Bowles from Cabaret, appearing unchanged in 1950.
Just a side note. It’s been a fascinating series and I’m sorry its over, but they really did seem to reduce the women to sex and hysterics, which is a serious misreading of their role during that century.
But it’s a pretty good reading of our image of women’s role in this century. Makes you wonder about the times you’re living in when ancient Egyptian queens need to be “naive-atized” for modern audiences. And while Atia sounds quite interesting… is it just me, or is it usually women characters who get consolidated from several into one? It’s as if historical men are so important, you wouldn’t dare consolidate their deeds into one character, but women? Why bother with several strong women, when you can make do with one? Then you still have lots of women supporting the usual female stereotypes, and only one the little target audience boys have to ignore.
And SunlessNick came across one of those things that make you go “hmm”:
The entry page for the Borad Comedy group – equinoxtheatre.com/broad – includes this review quote:
“These vaginas have balls!”
-Terminal City, Vancouver BC
Obviously the group themselves didn’t mind it, or at least not enough not to include it, but it did hit me
with an “I know you think that’s a compliment, but…” vibe.
Hit me that way, too. “Balls” are the only body part that slang English associates with courage, which linguistically removes (Orwell style) our ability to talk about women having courage in this earthy, poignant verbiage. “She’s got guts” or “She’s got chutzpah” somehow doesn’t hit the same note. In that sense, I think the reviewer’s intent was to include us by simply overstepping the gender boundary – which is a positive thing (and, it appears, appropriate to the theme of the play itself). What sucks, however, is the unavoidable reinforcement of the idea that only people with testicles have courage, and that women who display courage are acting “like men”.
Of course, applying phrases about “balls” to women is the surest way to drive them out of usage completely, so maybe that’s not a bad idea.
On a more disturbing note, TV Smack sent me this link about blogger and author Kathy Sierra getting anonymous death and rape threats on her blog and around the blogosphere. And this rebuttal from one of the guys who says she’s accused him unfairly. Of course, some bloggers are claiming that she’s making the whole thing up. Others are claiming they get death threats all the time and it’s no big deal. Others think she’s playing the gender card. Um, the day I see a man tell another man about all the various ways he’d like to rape him and then kill him, I will consider the possibility of a future in which rape threats could be gender blind. Until then, my address is still on Earth.