“Our difference of opinion isn’t political; it’s religious. I’m an economist and in my church it’s your customers who are the job creators. And no one here thinks you’re an asshole. ” – Sloan Sabbith
I know that The Piano(1993) directed by Jane Campion is a film about New Zealand while it was a colony. Jane Campion is an famous New Zealand director who won a award at the Cannes Film Festival for her first short film. The Piano is about Ada and her daughter Flora who are sent to live in imperial New Zealand. Ada is mute and is married off to a Land Owner Alisdair Stewart who tries to control her. Ada plays the piano and communicates through the instrument as well as sign language, which empowers her. The Piano‘s a feminist film because Ada uses alternative modes of communication like in the film The Question Of Silence. Here are some of my new ideas. I want to warn you that there are some spoilers in this post. I think you should watch The Piano because Ada is a feminist hero in many ways:
In her essay “The return of the repressed? Whiteness, femininity, and colonialism in The Piano“, Lynda Dyson writes that the “piano” in the film represent the male dominated imperial world. Dyson argues that when Ada agrees to throw her piano into the ocean she is “severing her connection with the imperial” world.
As I see it, Ada doesn’t belong with the imperial world. Rather she is struck silent very much like Christiana is in The Question of Silence (see my blog entry The Question of Silence Recommendation). Men have taken away Ada’s power. She does not speak because nobody will listen to her. Ada’s father married her off to Stewart who refuses to listen to the pianist’s desire to bring the piano from the beach to her new home. Ada uses her daughter Flora to voice her desire to bring her piano to her new home. Stewart first refuses. Not only that, but Stewart locks her in his home because she doesn’t love him and loves another man, Baines. Ada chooses not to be a part of the imperial power because in that world all choices are made by men.
Ada’s piano playing represents a subversive female way of communicating. As Stewart’s Aunt states, Ada does not play the piano like a ordinary musicians instead she uses it to communicate feeling. The music resonates deeply beyond “normal” playing. She never truly communicates with other people who buy into imperial ways. Ada uses the piano to express a piece of her soul. She takes out a key to express her feelings toward Baine. Since Ada does not use her voice to express her feelings, the piano which truly expresses her emotions are used to tell Baines that she loves him .
The piano clearly is not a imperial force it’s the opposite. That’s why Stewart who is the ultimate land owner and imperialist tries to destroy the piano with an axe. He believes that he must destroy the piano because male imperialists must put their mark on “objects” they owned. In Stewart’s mind he owns Ada. The piano and Ada are one so he must get rid of the piano to show he owns her. Stewart wants to destroy the piano because the instrument empowers Ada and allows her to express herself or communicate in a non-normative way and he does not want her to have any power.
If you like this post please follow my blog. This week I will be posting about Shonda Rhimes and other interesting feminist television concepts.
“I’m sorry, but don’t I open my eyes and notice its a new day?” – Maggie Jordan
In the book Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong there is a discussion about what present day television programs are influence by The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The list includes: 30 Rock, Grey’s Anatomy, Ugly Betty, Parks and Recreation, New Girl, Nurse Jackie, and Girls. The Mary Tyler Moore Show was the first show about a funny indpendent working woman making her way. We have that show to thank for many of our comedies. While I am away please post your favorite episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Tell us why you like it.
Note: I will post next Monday.
Note: I am going on vacation for seven days starting on Friday. During that time I will not be posting anything, but I will leave you with this quote from Leona Lansing from The Newsroom.
” Moses and Jesus are playing golf. Moses steps up to the tee and hits a beautiful shot 250 yards straight down the middle of the fairway. Jesus steps up to the tee and hooks the ball into the trees. Jesus looks up into the heavens, raises his arms, and suddenly the sky darkens. A thunder clap rings out, rain pours down, and a stream rises among the trees. The golf ball floating on top finds its way into the mouth of a fish. Then a bird flies down and takes the fish and the ball out over the green, drops it in the cup for a hole-in-one. Jesus turns to Moses with a satisfied grin, and Moses says, ‘Look. You wanna play golf or you wanna fuck around?’ ”
” I played a very bad hand very well. There is a distinction.” – Adelle DeWitt
” Hey, save it! And don’t hand me any more of your crap about being some superior, ascended being. To ascend to anything, at minimum, you don’t cut up women! ” – Echo from Dollhouse
Note: I know that some people think that Dollhouse(2009-2010) is sexist, but I don’t believe that the series is. First of all, while a lot of the customers seem to be men who want a female doll to quench their fantasies, there are still male dolls. Male dolls who are used for both sexual and non-sexual fantasies. Female dolls are also used in all sorts of fantasies. Second of all the dolls are used to save children, be doctors or nurses, be best friends to Divas, break into vaults, and solve crimes. They are not just used for sex. Dollhouse actually portrays the female dolls achieving amazing tasks (even though by the second season the organization is revealed to be quite evil.) Thirdly, Echo is the first doll who is able to be fully aware, have multiple personalities in her mind and not be crazy like Alpha (who is a man). She is one of the top leaders of the group.
In addition, the Los Angeles Dollhouse is run by a brilliant ruthless British woman named Adelle DeWitt and the majority of the men in Dollhouse work under a woman. Lastly, Joss Whedon is the creator and he is a major feminist. If you are not watching Dollhouse because you believe the series is just about women fulfilling male fantasies, then you should give the show another look.
” Leo, we need to be investigated by someone who wants to kill us to watch us die. We ned someone perceived by the American people to be irresponsible, untrustworthy, partisan, ambitious, and thirsty for the limelight. Am I crazy, or is it not a job for the U.S. House of Representatives?” – CJ Cregg
Deborah Attoinese is Independent Filmmaker. I think seeing independent films is as important as seeing Hollywood movies. We must push ourselves to explore all sorts of media. Below here is a written interview I did with Attoinese. She is extremely insightful and creative.
1. What is it like being a female director and producer in Hollywood?
I tend to direct much more just outside of the “system” so I’ll have
to answer this question from that angle. I can say that
I feel being female/director producer in any system or world
is a strange and wonderful thing. Being a director for me feels very much
like they only thing that makes sense to me — it’s so hard and all
encompassing in your life that if I didn’t really feel that I honestly don’t
think I’d be doing it. Actually I’m sure I wouldn’t be.
For me the magic is taking all the elements of story and feelings and visuals and
mixing them with music and light and anything else you can find to throw in the mix
and hopefully make something that’s a little bit different and touches people somewhere.
If it doesn’t touch me somewhere-then I really can’t do it. I’m just not interested.
2. Do you pick jobs and create films based on being a woman? How do you play with gender and sexuality politics in your films?
I pick jobs/projects based on what the material is trying, wanting, needing
to say. I would so much rather be just a filmmaker vs. a female filmmaker
but we as a society are not there yet.
I play with gender and sexuality by often writing from the male point of view –
I find it incredibly freeing and interesting switching those roles around. I think the art of reversal is so necessary in art and life. What is that person in that situation thinking or feeling?
3. Can you talk more about your short film Girl Knight?
Girl Knight will be my sixth short film and is driving me crazy.
It has taken me around my inner world several times now as
it’s a very personal. It’s a story about surrender. About letting
down your armor and being in that vulnerable position where you
find incredible strength if you can allow yourself to go there. It’s about
being uncomfortable in your openness. I am very excited by it and terrified by
it alt the same time. I’m looking forward to making it soon.
4. How do you build complex female characters of all sexualities and races?
Again I’m not so much looking at anything other than the inner story of a
character first. I want to know what movie is playing in their head what
script are they living out – what is their story. And how does that effect
the story of the film.
Then how they choose to identify themselves, their sexuality, gender what
they need to “be” in the world for the world to make sense – then
that becomes very important. But first I want to know what’s inside,
what’s needing fixing, what makes them tick, are they ticking?
5. Are there any new projects that you would like to talk about?
I have a mini-series. I’m about to start that I’m incredibly excited about
again creating a world where everyone is looking for something
underneath what appears on the surface. I can’t really say much
more than this – but maybe you’ll interview me again!
Link to Deborah Attoinese’s Website: http://www.deborahattoinese.com
” You say these numbers mean dial it down. I say they mean deal it up. You haven’t gotten through. There are people you have not persuaded yet. These numbers mean dial it up. Otherwise you’re like a French radical, watching the crowd run by and saying, ” There go my people. I must find out where they’re going so I can lead them.” – Joey Lucas