Editor’s note: we asked contributing writer Amanda LaPergola to write up a review on either Snow White and the Huntsman or Prometheus. We told her it did not matter which movie she chose, just as long as she got in a review within a few days of the movie’s opening. Clearly, we never learn our lesson.
I dearly love themarysue.com, as a site. I think they’re doing a smashing job of covering a variety of topics, from a variety of points of view, in a way that keeps bringing me back for more. I really, really do.
But: I have a problem here. It’s a cute comic, except for the basic premise: It assumes that being angry isn’t okay for a woman.
Now, SWATH (Which I personally enjoyed) features much rage, villainy, and really awesome scenery chewing from Ms. Theron. The entire point of Ravenna, is that this is someone who has been so twisted by gender role/beauty expectations, that it consumes her whole life (and consequently, the lives of many young women as she strives to maintain her youthful appearance.) There is basis in reality for this character: Countess Erszebét (Elizabeth) Bathory, the Blood Countess. Snow White has always been, to some degree, a tale of women in competition for primacy of sexual attractiveness. Not only does SWATH illustrate that, but it demonstrates that beauty may be an external expectation that does not have to be internalized (i.e., Snow White spends much of the film covered in muck and not in a pretty dress, mkay?) and can be overcome.
Prometheus, on the other hand, simply assumes that women are capable, has some ancillary minor-character misogyny, (it’s near future, we won’t have changed that much) but does not compromise its female characters by assuming they have to be nice.
Being angry is a valid emotion, regardless of gender. It doesn’t make a person or character an unhappy one, it makes them an angry one. Whether it’s long-standing rage, or arising suddenly from a situation: anger is a healthy emotion, (within boundaries of not using it to maliciously hurt other people, irl: obviously) and you know what, sometimes people are just mean and angry in real life.
If we can’t have characters who have their own motives and emotions, regardless of whether or not we like the motives and emotions they have, there is a problem. Pointing out that an actress has played characters who are very angry and not stepford smilers in two consecutive roles (let’s not leave out Young Adult, btw, in which she plays another very unusual female character) is bordering on patronizing.
Given that we’ve had no less than Entertainment Weekly conflate rejecting gender roles with being a lesbian, in Pixar’s Brave, I think it’s time we rethink what we consider appropriate emotional displays from women. Whether it’s real or fictional life: women get angry all the time. It doesn’t always lead to tears, or resolve into happiness. Sometimes we’re just angry, and many times, it’s justifiably so.
I think I’m disappointed by this piece, because I expect better from The Mary Sue. It’s a group of thoughtful, talented, smart women doing a great job. I wasn’t expecting this kind of gender stereotype bobble.
Charlize Theron’s life with her child and her life onscreen have nothing to do with one another, and I’d rather know that she’s happy with playing characters that she feels are challenging and defy expectation. Her home life is her own business.