Almost from the very beginning, MB has been after me to watch the film, “Michael Clayton”. “Just give it a chance,” he would say. “It’s just like those 70s, dark paranoia flicks.”
Well, hell…I’m all about paranoia and I usually share the same taste in movies, but I just couldn’t bring myself to watch it because it stars Laughing Boy aka George Clooney, whom I cannot abide. I know–it’s completely unfair: he’s talented, his politics are good and I liked that he took on that colossal asshole of a director, David O. Russell, for bullying an extra…it’s just that face. That goddamn smug face…that smarmy, “I’ve-got-a-secret-and-that-secret-is-I’m-cute” face. The Germans–who apparently hate smug as much as I do–have the perfect description for this unfortunate affliction: Backpfeifengesicht: “a face that needs a fist”.
Repeatedly, I begged off, explaining: “I love you, but there are some things I can’t do even for you.” But just when the poor man was on the verge of giving up, he said the magic words: “Tilda Swinton won an Oscar for her performance…”
See, men haven’t seem to have caught on to this universal phenomenon–women worship Tilda. And by worship, I mean they want to fuck her and would rearrange their entire lives to do so. Straight, gay, blah blah blah…there is just something about Tilda: her height, her androgyny, her raw talent, her genuine sang-froid, effortlessly badass Tilda-ishness drives…women…wild.
Here’s a tip, guys: bring a $5.99 Trader Joe’s bouquet of flowers, chocolate tuxedo cheesecake and a DVD of “Orlando”, and you’ll be lucky to survive Tilda’s first incarnation.
Literally, within five minutes, I had Amazon up on the laptop, ready to play “Michael Clayton”. MB got all caught up on the excitement and went on and on about how brilliant Tilda’s performance was and how brave she was, letting the rolls of fat show…
Record scratch.”Fat roll? How the fuck is having a fat roll brave?”
Poor MB–he is lovely, but he is a disaster when it comes to qualifiers…always saying that one word or phrase too many.
“Well, you know…(talking fast now, because he’s seen the killer feminist glint in my eyes), she’s middle-aged and there’s a scene where she’s getting dressed and you can see her belly roll…”
“So the fuck what? That’s…being a middle-aged woman. Or just a woman, or–hell–being over 12 years old. What does that have to do with bravery?”
MB stopped. A cool thing about MB is that he’ll do that–just stop for a moment and allow the epiphany to come without resistance. I figured that was enough, but then he added, “Well, that wasn’t my take on it…I got that from a movie critic (…wait for it..). A woman movie critic!”
And that would be YOU, Manohla Dargis, Chief film critic for The New York Times. In fact, as MB noted, you actually referred to the brave roll as “rolls of gut fat”. That doesn’t qualify you as a Gender Traitor, Dargis…it doesn’t even qualify you for Asshole of the Week…but I would like to advise you that just because you work in a big dick world, doesn’t mean you have to be one.
And even if it makes a shit–and it doesn’t–there were no “rolls of gut fat”; there was a bit of tight waistband hangover…the kind that comes from sitting. And having flesh.
So, if it isn’t such a big deal, then why am I making it one?
Because courage is a character trait; not a physical one. To state that it takes a certain brand of bravery to be shown as a middle-aged woman having a middle-aged body implies self-sacrifice. That she laid herself bare for the mercy of the audience and at risk of near-certain ridicule. It’s the kind of head-fuckery that leads to self-loathing, because–if it meant Oscar-worthy bravery to reveal a not-perfect waist to the public, then what gives mere mortal women the right to even leave the house knowing that they have a similar layer of flesh…especially when she ain’t no Tilda Swinton?
MB, lovely evolved gent that he is, took that assessment to mean that “it was brave of her to expose herself in a Hollywood film when Hollywood is hyper-misogynistic and not many women would feel confident enough to do so.” And yes…I’m sure that would be true, maybe, for a glam-chick starlet trying to be taken seriously. But Tilda is neither of these things…nor has she ever been anything other than a serious, respected actress whose bravery lies within how much she gives of herself to her character…which was fucking brave as hell. Brilliant, unnerving, electrifying and, yeah…brave.
George was good, too–didn’t smile, smarm or schmooze, the whole movie. That was brave of him, I thought.