The Kids are All Right

Last weekend we watched The Kids are All Right with Annette Bening and Julianne Moore.  I had heard about the rave reviews (though hadn’t actually read any of them) and loved the concept of the movie, so I couldn’t wait to see it.  During the movie, Mark kept giving me the what-the-heck-were-you-thinking-when-you-ordered-this glare and I reassured him by looking at Rotten Tomatoes that it was a 94%, Oscar-buzz movie.  It had to be good!

Though my husband might disagree, I’d say from a watchability stand point it was a pretty good movie.  It kept my attention and I was emotionally involved enough to want to know how it was going to end.  But after it was all said and done, I found the whole thing offensive.  Here are my reasons: **SPOILER ALERT**

1.  It presented this idea that a Lesbian in her late 40’s or early 50’s, in a committed relationship of 25 years+, could suddenly just meet a man and be unable to resist the urge to have sex with him.  Adultery aside, isn’t this a slap in the face to the whole idea of sexual orientation being a valued and real part of who we are???  I’m not even a lesbian and this just pisses me off!!!

2.  The two mom characters were these excruciating stereotypes of the worst possible characteristics a woman could possess.  One was air-headed, flighty, and emotionally needy.  I mean seriously, she couldn’t even stay committed to her gayness after at least 40 years with it.  The other one was this powerhouse, narcissistic, nagging bitch.  She was so controlling and at times downright MEAN!  If you can imagine any complaint a man could make about an ex-girlfriend or ex-wife one of these two characters illustrated it.  I didn’t feel any camaraderie toward them at all.

3.  The male characters were the only ones who had anything redeemable about them.  Paul, played by Mark Ruffalo, starts out as this selfish-playboy-bachelor type who is given the opportunity to meet two children that were fathered using his sperm donation.  Once he meets them he is miraculously transformed. He swoops in and saves the kids by giving them great advice about their lives. Then he starts having sex with Jules (one of the lesbian moms) and surprisingly falls in love with her.  Although the sex thing was ultimately a bad move, you watch him grow and transform before you.  In fact he does come across as a Prince Charming (even if it’s in a quite twisted way).  The son, Razor, is also a very level-headed character.  You watch him grow and change for the better through the course of the film too.

4.  To me, the movie felt very out of touch with normal people and I get the feeling it intended to do just the opposite.  Not only did it feed into negative stereotypes about women but it also did the same for upper-middle-class-intellectuals.  Is that really how *normal* smart, rich people act??

I was listening to the radio this morning and heard that it had been nominated by the Academy for Best Picture and probably several other awards.  That is really disappointing to me.  What I felt while watching it was this underlying hatred toward women.  I didn’t see any of the characteristics I love about the women in my life.  I wanted to see something that was empowering to women and especially to Lesbians…unfortunately I didn’t find that at all in this movie.  Worst part of it is it was written and directed by a woman.  I sure wish we women would be nicer to our kind!!

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Selfishness…

Tuesday was a busy day.  We had new carpet put in to replace the nearly 20 year old carpet that was in our bedrooms.  We spent the day moving around furniture and belongings.  I blinked and it was dinner time.  After dinner I went to see Eat Pray Love with my friend, Kelly, and it was during the movie that I realized I hadn’t written or scheduled a blog post for Wednesday.  Luckily I was watching a very inspiring movie.

I read the book Eat Pray Love over two years ago.  I remember liking it, but not loving it.  The spiritual aspects of it spoke to me, but I’ve never dreamed of being a world traveler so with the exception of the ashram in India I didn’t feel any envy on that front.  That being said, I LOVED the movie!  I don’t know if I’m just in a different place now, but it was moving, funny, and I really loved Liz and the whole cast of characters in her life.

That brings me to the title of the post.  Last week I read a scathing review of the movie.  Pretty much had I never read the book and just read this review, I might not have paid to see the flick.  The overall criticism of the movie was that the main character was selfish and narcissistic.  I’d put the link to the review here if I could remember, but I can’t.  The reviewer was so convincing that she even had me vaguely remembering the self-involved nature of the author in the book.  But guess what?  It was a memoir.  The purpose is for the author to write about her life experiences and her personal reactions to those experiences.  Of course it would have self-involved overtones.

So I went into the movie with this review still in my head and plans to pin point all those horribly narcissistic moments on the big screen.  The thing was, I didn’t see any.  I saw a woman with her own problems, dealing with them in the only way she could.  A big argument made by detractors is that she “had it all” and was so selfish that she left it to find something else.  It was made clear in the movie that her big dream was not to be a wife and mother, so how can we say she had it all.  Sometimes we make decisions based on a mold created for us by our families or our culture, sometimes we make decisions for ourselves and simply change our minds.  It was mentioned that Ms. Gilbert so thoughtlessly left behind her family and loved ones to travel the world, but all I saw was a woman who was given the perfect opportunity to have an adventure.  There was no one in her life that NEEDED her in order to survive and thrive.  In fact, the people who thought they wanted her went on to find more success and happiness once she was out of the picture.

I think it’s sad that people tend to jump on the label “selfish” every time another person does something specifically for their own well-being, sanity, and happiness.  We have no idea what other people are actually thinking and feeling.  A small problem to us may be a devastating obstacle to someone else.  A person who appears to “have it all” may in fact have not one thing that makes them feel good about living.

I, for one, find Elizabeth Gilbert inspiring and no more narcissistic than anyone else in the world.  (We’re all a little narcissistic and selfish right?)