Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Odd that 3 of the 5 Oscar nominees for best actor played people who made their splash in the 2nd half of the 20th century, and that both the best actor and best actress winners played such people. It’s not quite Shakespearean: his history plays were all set in a farther-distant past. And didn’t strive for realism.

Speaking of . . . yesterday in a record store I heard Johnny Cash singing “Cocaine Blues” at the Fulsom Prison concert, a performance featured in his biopic. The movie edited out his singing about shooting that “bad bitch” down and the crowd of inmates cheering wildly.

When I heard it yesterday, my first thought was, gee, Hollywood wouldn’t do a biopic about a woman who celebrated murdering men to a crowd of cheering women. Then I remembered the movie from 10 years ago about Valerie Solanas, the ‘60s playwright who wrote the manifesto for her one-woman organization, Society for Cutting Up Men, and who in real life shot Andy Warhol.

Johnny Cash was a culture hero; Valerie Solanas was a deranged menace; and that’s how their movies depict them. Can’t help but marvel at how our culture takes images of the murdering and maiming and torturing of women as entertainment. The blindfolded woman running in terror around in circles, futilely trying to escape men who in a few moments will murder her and desecrate her body, gets laughs in the Cohn Brothers’ “Fargo.” Murdering women is the narrative norm. If Patsy Cline or Wanda Jackson had gleefully sung about murdering men, they would have been seen as extremists, and a movie where female villains comically murder cowering, terrified, helpless men is unthinkable. Johnny Cash gleefully singing about murdering women -- hes a rebel.

And he was a rebel -- to sing for prisoners, to sympathize with prisoners. I have serious qualms about sympathizing with murderers so enthusiastically, but perhaps the catharsis of naming the reality is healthful. Perhaps. Making manifest the violent misogyny of the cultural ideology of male supremacy would be more healthful if it were made in a spirit of critique -- horror, regret, sorrow. Wouldn
’t be any fun for the prisoners though.

Women do murder men, in far fewer numbers than vice versa. If Michelle Shocked were to sing about murdering men to a crowd of female prisoners whooping it up, would it be a sign of progress?

Not being nice is not rebellious, it
’s totally mainstream, it’s the dominant ideology.

Mick Jagger and George Bush and Jack Nicholson share the same rock and roll smirk of pampered superioristic domination. They’re bad boys, they’re rebels.
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