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Emma

I got really annoyed with Jim Garrison (although perhaps partly my ambivalence to Kevin Costner) during the course of JFK. Although I think that I was supposed to feel annoyed with his wife for standing in between him and Natural Justice, I felt mad as hell with him for expecting her to keep the house running and children clean and quiet, while deprived of adult conversation and company.

The best example I think of a constructed homemaker/feminist oppositional relationship is in Fatal Attraction. Of course, Glenn Close's character isn't discernibly a feminist, but I think she's supposed to serve as a warning about where feminism takes women.

Great blog, by the way! I added you to the Gendergeek blogroll.

Alice

I was going to point out Fatal Attraction, too. Many portrayals of women in film are disturbing, and I really agree with your feeling on this particular portrayal of wives in film. On the flip side, if they aren't nags, they are angels (just like the wife in Fatal Attraction... I can't remember who played her at the moment). I might be going out on a limb here, but I feel it's part of the larger Virgin/Whore dichotomy.

bmmg39

It's a creativity issue. Writers often give the main character depth and then make the supporting roles one- or two-dimensional. You have the one-dimensional housewife; you also have the dimwitted husband (see just about any sitcom/commercial/film), the Bad Dad, the invasive mother-in-law, the motorcycle outlaw, the hippie liberal, the stuffy conservative, the dumb jock, and so on...

...I just get the feeling these writers have no idea what real people are like.

boy genteel

The Happy Feminist

Boy genteel is right that women are not the only victims of unfair stereotyping in movies. Teen flicks are the worst with the dumb jock, giggly prom queen characters. And both feminists and social conservatives have critiqued the endless television portrayals of men who are so helpless around the house that their wives have to do everything -- that stereotype is hopelessly unfair to both sexes.

And Emma is right movies that put the good wife/bad (often professional) woman in opposition are the worst. Fatal Attraction is at the top of the list. The other one is The Hand that Rocks the Cradle. Yech.

Alice

hmmm... I both agree and disagree with you, Boy genteel. YES, it is a creativity issue. It IS easier to stick with archetypes. (I wouldn't say stereotype, HF)

But. The question is, where do those archetypes come from? Why are they so recognizable and easy to digest? Why are these archetypes the ones writers have to choose from? They weren't created in a vacuum; they evolved through storytelling over thousands of years.

Eleanor

Boy, am I late to this post. But I just wanted to point out Harrison Ford's marriage in "Clear and Present Danger" as one that seemed pretty affectionate and respectful and real, especially since it's only onscreen for a few minutes.

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