Feminist Criticism

Bill Cosby was a shitty comedian. His material on stage was smug, take-my-wifeish, and dated long before reports surfaced of his sexual predation. I covered a dreary concert he performed at Carnegie Hall, and I believe it’s in “Laughing in the Dark.” Louis CK’s riffs on masturbation in his sets were more flashing than revelation. He is a complex artist, and I am not reducing him to bits I found repellent and dovetail with personal behavior that has come to light. Phillip Roth’s inability to look at the resentment his male characters feel toward women shrinks his world view. What his books think or feel about anything in the world is reduced by these blinders. Feminist criticism of art, theater, books, movies — everything we have looked at — has been thinking for decades about how conscious and unconscious expressions of patriarchal values mute, maim, and trivialize works of art. That is still our contemplation. The other day a writer asked on Facebook what people thought of the movie Rosemary’s Baby. I said I loved it. I thought the casting of John Cassavetes as the lout husband was genius in that he combines the solipsism of the New York actor with the ordinary inobservance of the baby-husband to produce a man who believably pimps his wife to the devil to get better acting parts. In the case of Rosemary’s Baby, Polanski’s wit and brilliance steer the enterprise, perhaps because in his heart he knows he would do the same thing as Rosemary’s husband. Perhaps because he also identified with the targeted and isolated Rosemary. The movie is great because it lampoons patriarchal values. Who better than Ralph Bellamy to play the beloved, fatherly doctor who is of course in league with the devil. The devil is not grand and majestic. He is not some offspring of Milton’s Lucifer. He is a guy celebrated by people with bad taste, who tell the same tawdry, after-dinner stories, who don’t speak French. They elbow you in Fairway. They are emanations of the rotting meat sack occupying the White House now. Melania would be a perfect addition to the coven. She would not need to get clothes from wardrobe.

Laurie Stone’s blog: https://lauriestonewriter.com/