Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sister of the Road gets run over by Hollywood *SOB*

Just watched Martin Scorsese's Boxcar Bertha. What a let down. It watches like an object lesson in how Hollywood can fuck up a great story, and how the idea of a strong independent woman being the focus of a film is clearly anathema to the sexist movie industry. They completely neutered the Bertha character, simulataneously sexualizing her in a passive, stupid way. They gave her 3 male sidekicks and a love interest whose story eclipses hers.

I was really stoked to see this movie so I'm bummed it was such a let down. Needless to say it completely fails even the Bechdel test (below), give that it has one female character (ok, there were glimpses of a few of her fellow sex workers).

Bechdel test


The Bechdel test or Bechdel/Wallace test was developed by Liz Wallace and became widely known after Alison Bechdel featured it in her comic Dykes to Watch Out For.
The Bechdel test is a test of female characterisation in movies. Passing the Bechdel test requires that:
  1. the movie [media] has at least two women characters;
  2. who talk to each other;
  3. about something other than a man.
Passing or failing the test is not an ironclad guarantee of well-rounded, feminist, characterisation but it is indicative of the problems of token women characters. A vast amount of geeky media fails the test.

Master of her own domain. 

The movie was supposedly based on the book, which I read a few years ago. It was amazing. It's a nonfiction memoir of Boxcar Bertha. She comes of age during the depression and is basically a complete radical who rides the rails, stands in solidarity with unions and wobblies, and eventually tells her story to the doctor who writes the story. She's on the move through the whole book, she believes in free love, works in a whorehouse, befriends all kinds of intellectuals and street people. She comes across as a really intelligent, uneducated woman who kind of epitomizes the notion of the free spirit. Her actions are motivated by survival and also by an innate moral compass. It's a great book.

I'd never even heard of the Scorsese movie until a couple of years ago. I really wish someone else would take on an adaptation of it for film, and let the character speak for herself. Fuck, I'm actually depressed by how stupid and passive they made her character. The film industry thinks so little of viewers, or maybe just has so little capacity for creating progressive work due to financial issues that I don't know or care about.

Well I guess the movie got terrible reviews. It's kind of cold comfort but I'll take it.

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