Skip to main content

If you be gentle, fret, fret, the coming of the might (11 March 2009)

Dowd writes, "Let's face it: The only bracing symbol of American strength right now is the image of Michelle Obama's sculpted biceps. Her husband urges bold action, but it is Michelle who looks as though she could easily wind up and punch out Rush Limbaugh, Bernie Madoff and all the corporate creeps who ripped off America." The subtext? Some people are intimidated by a first lady who symbolizes strength, instead of support.In a taxi, Brooks argued to Dowd that "Washington is a place where people have always been suspect of style and overt sexuality. Too much preening signals that you're not up late studying cap-and-trade agreements… Washington is sensually avoidant. The wonks here like brains. She should not be known for her physical presence, for one body part." [. . .] Bonnie Fuller, an ex-fashion magazine editor, thinks that Brooks and many of his muscle-a-feared Republican cohorts are resorting to verbal bicep jabs because they have nothing else to say as a party right now, are afraid of the strength of the Obama era, and unable to make actual bicep jabs ("I bet he's got jiggly girly-man arms," she jokes). [. . .] Michelle Obama is not typecast: she's playing a new role for her. She's also reinventing the role itself. Not just because of her achievements, nor her color, nor her wardrobe, but because of a combination of all three, and because of what she's communicating with that wardrobe. [. . .] With her bare biceps, Michelle Obama is carving out a new style and role for first ladies and for women generally. It's making some people, possibly those wearing tight fitting suits, very uncomfortable. But it suits her, and many other women, very well." (Vanessa Richmond, "The Right to Bare Arms." _The Tyee_. March 11, 2009)

We have here what happens when Vanessa writes about a woman whose self-assertiveness, whose refusal to kowtow to others' expectations, she respects, and NOT what happens when she writes about someone whose similar efforts to do the same, she evidently doesn't. Michelle has well-toned muscles and her own style-sense, and "your" problem with it, "your" hate-on for her, shows only "your" insecurities, lack of style, and obvious need to keep women and black people in check. Gwyneth has writing-gumption and her own quirky-style, and "your" problem with it, shows "you've" got taste (are not tone-deaf) and that "you" can see the signs that meme the end of all good things. (Vanessa's last article, on Gwyneth's "Goop": http://thetyee.ca/Mediacheck/2009/03/04/Goop/)

David Brooks is the one who is really taking the heat on this one. Do you know who he is, Tyee readers? Yes, he is a Republican. But don't you be thinking Rush Limbaugh or the like. In fact, it'd be better if you searched across the aisle, for in demeanor, mannerisms, he's much closer to your average genteel-democrat than he is to any Republican I can think of -- he's unusually sensitive, effete, for even a Washington (brain-oriented, style-oriented) Republican. To get a good sense of him, it might in fact be best if you imagined him the sensitive English lit/composition professor, who when he listens to you, reads your work, does so with tender respect, a willingness to learn (from you), with an inkling to gently show yourself to yourself and suggest a better way you might consider taking.

Yes, he showed no such with Michelle, but because she affectively overwhelmed him. But we might find that the Obamas come to encourage this reaction not just from Republicans (who, I actually think, will not so long from now stop fretting over being courted, acknowledge their true desires, and join the Obamas in their steel and track, tanking of America) but from sensitives, the genteel, who are mostly to be found amongst the left. (I am thinking now of the elegant [but not captured] progressive, Geraldine Ferrara, and her horror at the flaggrantness of Obama operatives as they tried to destroy her reputation in a single minded effort to 'surrect their King.)

If you have a hankering for the gym/an athletic nation, populist pop-culture, seeing preppy better-than-thous wallow (and maybe worse than wallow: _Salon's_ article on this topic was, "Put away the guns, Michelle [you're scaring David Brooks!]"), you'll never tire of what Obamanation offers. But if like David you prefer quiet talks, an easeful atmosphere, letting your "opponent" have her/his say, and aren't averse to reading some Mrs. Dalloway, don't let populist elation quiet your disquiet. Like Brooks, at the very least, say something -- if not revered, you might at least be remembered for having done so before the advance of "Thunder" and "Lightning" pounded you 'to pulp.

Link: The Right to Bare Arms (The Tyee)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Superimposing another "fourth-wall" Deadpool

I'd like to superimpose the fourth-wall breaking Deadpool that I'd like to have seen in the movie. In my version, he'd break out of the action at some point to discuss with us the following:
1) He'd point out that all the trouble the movie goes to to ensure that the lead actress is never seen completely naked—no nipples shown—in this R-rated movie was done so that later when we suddenly see enough strippers' completely bared breasts that we feel that someone was making up for lost time, we feel that a special, strenuous effort has been made to keep her from a certain fate—one the R-rating would even seemed to have called for, necessitated, even, to properly feed the audience expecting something extra for the movie being more dependent on their ticket purchases. That is, protecting the lead actress was done to legitimize thinking of those left casually unprotected as different kinds of women—not as worthy, not as human.   


2) When Wade/Deadpool and Vanessa are excha…

"The Zookeeper's Wife" as historical romance

A Polish zoologist and his wife maintain a zoo which is utopia, realized. The people who work there are blissfully satisfied and happy. The caged animals aren't distraught but rather, very satisfied. These animals have been very well attended to, and have developed so healthily for it that they almost seem proud to display what is distinctively excellent about them for viewers to enjoy. But there is a shadow coming--Nazis! The Nazis literally blow apart much of this happy configuration. Many of the animals die. But the zookeeper's wife is a prize any Nazi officer would covet, and the Nazi's chief zoologist is interested in claiming her for his own. So if there can be some pretence that would allow for her and her husband to keep their zoo in piece rather than be destroyed for war supplies, he's willing to concede it.

The zookeeper and his wife want to try and use their zoo to house as many Jews as they can. They approach the stately quarters of Hitler's zoologist …

Full conversation about "Bringing Up Baby" at the NewYorker Movie Facebook Club

Richard Brody shared a link.Moderator · November 20 at 3:38pm I'm obsessed with Bringing Up Baby, which is on TCM at 6 PM (ET). It's the first film by Howard Hawks that I ever saw, and it opened up several universes to me, cinematic and otherwise. Here's the story. I was seventeen or eighteen; I had never heard of Hawks until I read Godard's enthusiastic mention of him in one of the early critical pieces in "Godard on Godard"—he called Hawks "the greatest American artist," and this piqued my curiosity. So, the next time I was in town (I… I was out of town at college for the most part), I went to see the first Hawks film playing in a revival house, which turned out to be "Bringing Up Baby." I certainly laughed a lot (and, at a few bits, uncontrollably), but that's not all there was to it. I had never read Freud, but I had heard of Freud, and when I saw "Bringing Up Baby," its realm of symbolism made instant sense; it was obviou…