In Defense of Rory Gilmore

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Alexis Bledel as ‘Rory Gilmore’ in “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life”; photo taken from Hypable 

I wrote the following after seeing multiple posts on blogs, Tumblr, and legitimate news sites basically slut shaming Rory Gilmore in “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” for decisions she makes regarding men.  Some of it isn’t actually slut shaming, some of it is simply die-hard fans who, like me, have probably watched the original series many times and have a romanticized idea of what Rory is like and how she should behave; they are disappointed, these fans, that thirty year old Rory isn’t making the same decisions as twenty year old Rory.

I think there are many factors to consider before judging Rory too harshly.

First of all: it’s been ten years.  No one dates exactly the same way they did ten years ago.  She’s in her thirties now, she’s less inhibited, less shy, more open to experiences.  As humans grow, we change, see things differently.  Rory is going to have a different mindset at 32 than she did when she was nineteen.

Secondly: We don’t know what her dating experience has been since leaving college.  Previous relationships have a great affect on how a person treats future romantic partners.  It’s possible she’s had one too many terrible boyfriends since Logan.  Also: Rory’s a bit of a nomad, it’s difficult to maintain exclusive relationships when you’re constantly moving.  Believe me, I know.

Thirdly: As a person ages, she becomes less idealistic.  Young people often have a rigid sense of morality, Rory certainly did.  This is why kids will often (foolishly) write off friends for not meeting a certain moral standard (see Veronica Mars).  But as we age and mature, we realize there’s a lot of gray in the world, and we are not the ultimate voice of right and wrong in the universe.  So we sleep with that guy we met at that party, and we drink the tequila, and drive to NYC to watch an SNL rehearsal and get a hot dog just to turn around and drive home again the same day.

Fourth: People also become less optimistic.  Which seems strange considering people become less cynical (unless you’re Louis C.K., or a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker) as they get older, but when it comes to relationships and dating, single, straight, American women seem to become more pessimistic about relationships.  Consider this Garfunkel and Oates song.

Fifth: We don’t know what sort of relationship Logan has with this French woman.  Maybe it’s an open relationship?  Maybe he has the same deal with her as he has with Rory?  The French are way less puritanical about sex than Americans.

We, especially those of us who grew up alongside Rory, want her to be a sort of moral beacon since she’s just like us only better, but really she’s not.  Rory is just as flaky as we are, she’s just as confused, just as meandering, just as flawed.  She is searching for her place in the world the same way we are.

And, as with all things, the viewer brings his or her own experience to the story.  All my girlfriends who are married, engaged, or in long term relationships had the same reaction: “Rory has had ample time to find someone new, loving, and stable, why is she back with old boyfriends and making these decisions?”  While all my fellow single girlfriends in their early thirties looked at Rory and said: “Yeah, nope, that’s exactly right!”

This post is edited slightly from the original post on Tumblr.

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Perspective is a funny thing: Mo’ne Davis shows Good Sportsmanship.

Huff Post Women picked up an article, written by a man, condemning the dude who used Twitter to call Mo’ne Davis a “slut”.  The writer commends Davis for being gracious enough to forgive the dude and speak up on his behalf.  But even though she’s forgiven him, the writer cannot.

I agree with the writer, it’s sad how often a child is the bigger person, forgiving an adult for their wrongs.  My hope is that anyone who thought it might be ok to call a 13 year old girl a “slut [or to make jokes that sexualize little girls (Seth MacFarlane)] will rethink their point of view when said thirteen year old girl comes forward and says, ‘You did wrong, dude, but “everyone makes mistakes”; I’m going to forgive you.’  And then help you get reinstated on your sports team.

“Lolita” photo from Styling Dutchman

This girl did not have to respond to that dude.  She could have responded with hate and condemnation.  But she responded with love and compassion.  She took the high road.  She showed Good Sportsmanship.

The writer of the article agrees, Davis acted appropriately, but is still outraged a) (and rightly so) that she was even in this situation and b) that her reaction (and everyone’s praise of her actions) is some sort of Uncle Tom nonsense.  He cites her forgiveness as another example of a black person “turning the other cheek” for a white person’s foolish mistakes.  Ah, perspective!  I saw it as yet another female “turning the other cheek” for a male’s boneheaded comments.  That is my perspective.  Way too often I’ve heard my young, male coworkers make comments about our female students dress, calling them “skanks” for wearing spaghetti strap tanks and using crude hyperbole to say “her shorts are too short”.

Women of all races, ages, and colors are expected to simply “accept” comments about their appearance, dress, and body whether it makes them uncomfortable or not.  Once, in a bar, I wore my father’s old naval shirt complete with patches and our name stenciled across the front.  A man I did not know, upon hearing the shirt’s history, commented “Wow, he must have been barrel-chested in his youth!”  I turned away, done with him.  He thought my reaction was extreme and tried to assure me it was a joke.  I said, “Yeah, I know; I’m not talking to you.”  There is possibly a version of this story out there where he is the innocent party and I am a stuck-up bitch.  I will not, however, apologize for not talking to what was probably a perfectly normal dude who happened to make a creepy comment.  This bonehead who called Mo’ne Davis a “slut” is probably a normal dude.  Normal Dudes don’t realize what they think are acceptable comments aren’t until someone tells them, and even then they don’t always get it.

Mo’ne Davis; photo via Black Celeb Kids

I think Mo’ne Davis is genuinely classy.  She is an inspiring young person.  But I also agree with the writer of the article, whether it’s institutionalized racism, or institutionalized sexism no one should be automatically expected to forgive and forget.  It is those that do who are truly exceptional.

Julie Chen makes the same worried statements about ‘The View’ as I do.

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This morning, for the first time in months, I caught most of ‘The View’.  I have always loved ‘The View’. I’ve loved everything from the Hot Topics discussion to the interviews.  I loved the concept of the show.  I loved that Barbara Walters was bringing together women from different backgrounds to discuss Important Topics, not just topics that are supposed to be important to women (not that those aren’t important – and they discussed those too).  I loved this show.  I loved it even when Rosie and Elisabeth were at each others throats (except when Rosie was being all self-righteous about it, that was stupid).  I loved Meredith Vieira.  I loved the conversations these women were having.  I even loved commandeering the TVs at school in the abandoned student lounge to watch it between classes.   But, based on what I saw today, I don’t think I love this show anymore.

Granted, I missed most of the Hot Topics segment of the show, which, for a very long time now, has been the most worthwhile segment of the show, but what followed was a serious letdown.  I was 100% disgusted when each host got up and they told us how much money each piece of clothing cost each outfit equaling around fifty dollars, thus assuring the viewer they too can afford to dress like a celebutard.  Then they “interviewed” Tyra Banks; the most interesting part of the hideously brief conversation was at the end when they touched on Tyra’s desire for women to change the way they talk about “fat”, basically, changing how we talk about body image.  (Fun words from a Supermodel.)  But, naturally, that wasn’t the main topic of the conversation.  First they had to talk about “America’s Next Top Model” and some photoshoot Tyra did recently in which she embodied other supermodels….

After that super boring conversation, we had the top Christmas gadgets.  There was a lot of The-Price-is-Right style shouting during this bit.  I had to turn down the volume while some dude showcased useless device after useless device until Jenny McCarthy was wheeled out on a fake sleigh by a clown dressed like Santa Claus (who reasonably looked offended when Jenny said that Santa couldn’t make it there today).  This was followed by a very short interview that I did not understand with two friends (who had a show?), they dated for forty days to see if a When Harry Met Sally style romance would blossom out of their friendship.  I can’t tell you their names, the name of their project, or anything else about them, except that Jenny loves them and they “broke up” after 39 days.  The last thing I remember is an actually interesting conversation with two veterans who wrote and directed two upcoming ABC tearjerker Christmas movies.  (The one about the little girl asking Santa for her mom to come home from Afghanistan looks really good.)

Mostly, though, the episode was a letdown; it was as if there were something essential missing.

The show, when it began and for many years following, was great because it was the first and only of it’s kind.  Women discussing Current Events the way your civics teacher meant ‘Current Events’.  So many news programs are men speaking clinically about current events, emotionless, offering opinions to a camera.  ‘The View’ gave audiences – their demographic surely being mainly comprised of women, given their time slot – women’s opinions.  It went even further to give multiple women’s opinions.  Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, black, white, Asian — women were doing what women do: discussing.  Discussing topics greater than celebrity gossip or shopping or entertainment or movies.  These topics are not unimportant, but they’re the staid topics of women’s magazines and Entertainment Tonight.  ‘The View’ gave us something different.  This is why it was wonderful.

Julie Chen is being given crap for saying ABC made a mistake hiring Jenny McCarthy.  In the above video she says that they don’t know what to do with McCarthy’s talent and are not using her as well as they ought.  She says McCarthy’s personality is better suited to a show like her’s, ‘The Talk’ on CBS.  Chen reportedly said further: “Because what made ‘The View’ so popular and so good was that you had five different women from different walks of life discussing politics . . . . what put them on the map and made them good and famous – they don’t do that anymore.”  Chen is receiving a lot of negative attention for her statements, but what she says is what myself, and probably others, are thinking.  The show was great because Barbara Walters, a woman who helped lead the way for other women in a traditionally male-dominated field was, once again, doing great things for women.  This was the reason my twelve year old, budding feminist self was so ready to love ‘The View’ when it was first launched in 1997, and why I continued to love it through high school and college; this is no longer what I see when I watch this program.

I am not ready to declare Jenny McCarthy the reason for the direction ‘The View’ is headed.  It’s been slowing moving in this direction for years now.  I’m more inclined to declare the cause the lack of a journalist on the show.  Whoopi, lovely as she is, is an actress and a comedian, Sherri is an actress, Jenny is a former Playboy Bunny-turned-actress and writer.  Barbara, who is meant to be leaving the show after this season, is the only journalist on the program and, historically, when she’s not there the show isn’t as good.  Without Barbara what will become of the program?  Will it take a turn and return to it’s former glory in the Coming Days?  Or is it doomed to become another vapid women’s program offering nothing more interesting than “what’s hot this holiday season” and rushed interviews with celebrities promoting their movie or TV program?  I think it all boils down to the priorities of the hosts (and network).  As for the hosts, I haven’t much hope.  Unfortunately for the show, Barbara may just be the lynchpin.  There never has been, nor is there likely to ever be, a host of ‘The View’ as respected as Barbara Walters; not unless Christiane Amanpour makes a seriously unexpected career move.

Now that I’ve read it: I do not like this version of ‘Emma’

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It is with a heavy heart that I announce: I do not like this version of 'Emma'

This is not shocking to most who enjoy the works of Jane Austen and critique the film adaptations, but it must be noted that this version of Emma, with Gweneth Paltrow as the title character and Jeremy Northam as the gallant ‘Mr. Knightley’, was actually my introduction to Jane Austen.  In theaters on the heels of Amy Heckerling’s Clueless, the modernized adaptation of Austen’s novel, both films were a great favorite in our household.  (Never ask my sisters and I if we know any quotations from either movie, rest assured we have both memorized.)  And we relished in the elegance and humor of both movies.

When I was in high school, someone or other, probably my mother, suggested I read Pride and Prejudice.  I loved it.  I’ve read it many times hence.  I sort of enjoy the Jennifer Ehle/Colin Firth BBC teleplay; and I took arbitrary pleasure at seeing the Kiera Knightly version in theaters whilst actually in Enlgand.  Some time later, I read Mansfield Park in Google Books and was somewhat shocked at the liberties filmmakers had taken in the 1999 Frances O’Connor/Jonny Lee Miller version of said film (Billie Piper and Blake Ritson’s 2007 portrayal on the BBC is so very much better than the former).  Northanger Abbey I read sometime later (and thoroughly enjoyed Felicity Jones and JJ Fields as Catherine and Mr. Tilney); then later still I read Persuasion after seeing an extremely boring TV production starring Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones.  I could not, in good faith, believe one of Austen’s novels to be as boring as that.  So I read it.  And was correct.

The only, of the six, novel that I actively did not watch a film version of before reading the novel was Sense and Sensibility.  My only knowledge of it was that it is a story of two sisters, in a 1995 attempt on the screen, played by Emma Thompson (whom I have loved ever since I first saw Much Ado About Nothing on Masterpiece Theater) and Kate Winslet (who’s Titanic fame never much warmed her to me).  I was resolved to not let any movie adaptation color my opinion of the story as had happened with Emma and Persuasion.  I have since read Sense and Sensibility, just last winter, in fact, and found it to be supremely charming (actually I hated it for a while, then I started to appreciate it — go here and read all about it).

I have a few times endeavored to read Emma, always assuming since I already am familiar with the story that it would be nothing.  But every time I have been frustrated and found I must put the book down.  Why?  I cannot be sure.  Sunday, December 1st, I was feeling amazingly grumpy about many things.  A chance post on Tumblr of Neil Gaiman reading a short story he wrote about December happened to pull me out of my mood.  Recently I have been enjoying this particular gentleman reading his works from the album “An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer” and desirous of hearing a story, rather than half listening to a movie or TV show, while I cleaned, I searched the Internet for audiobooks.

Free audiobooks are interesting hard to come by on the Internet.

But I landed on LibriVox.  No Neil to be found, as LibriVox only caters to works within Public Domain, but I did find old Classics that I either hold dear, or have been meaning to read.  I was going to put on Melville’s Moby Dick, but I thought better of it and discovered Austen’s Emma.  It took a few tries to find a voice that was not objectionable, but find one I did (I recommend version 5, read by Moira Fogarty).  And now, after two days’ listening, I can reasonably say that I have, indeed, read all of Jane Austen’s novels (although, now I do want to attempt actually reading Emma).

Upon ‘reading’ Emma, I have, now, a much greater understanding and appreciation of Jane Fairfax – why film adaptations gloss over her, as they seem to do, is quite silly – and I feel as though I have a better understanding of Emma herself.  Generally her character is to be captured in adaptations, but I find that neither Gweneth, nor Kate Beckinsale really did her justice (although I’ve heard Ramola Garai is lovely).  I now feel as though I understand the complexities of the story – it is more than your garden variety love story about a man who feels more and a girl who realizes almost too late.  No, no, Emma is much more than that: it is a story about relations.  The relationship between men and women, women and women, friends, neighbors, and family members.  It is very much a delightful commentary on how we treat, and how we ought to treat, our neighbors and our friends.  Also, strangers.  Lest we forget Robert Martin.  Emma shows us how, essentially, to be a good person.

I rewatched the 1996 version of Emma after finishing listening to the audiobook – and it was a letdown.  I hated it.  Most of it, anyway.  Everything from how quick the pace of the story is, to Gweneth’s fake British accent (odd she played so many English women in her career).  The most best parts of the movie remain the scene outside the ball when Emma and Mr. Knightly are talking, and when he’s just returned from London and runs into Emma in the lane.  Because, I think, those two scenes retained the most of the original dialogue and sentiment from the novel.  Mr. Knightly says to Emma things actually written out in the novel, and Jeremy Northam, I think captured Mr. Knightly, if not very well, then mostly (much better than whatshisface opposite the Beckinsale – although he’s supposed to be excellent in other things).  But, my point being, I am saddened that I now find my introduction to Jane Austen so disappointing.  It’s a shame really.  The thing that gave me a taste, a thing so beloved and cherished for so long, is now an afterthought.

It is my own fault, I probably shouldn’t have watched it immediately after finishing the audiobook.  I will, one day, watch it again and find it sweet and feel nostalgic, but not so close to reading the novel, I should think.