Gloria Steinem on “Chick Flicks”

Gloria Steinem blogs about books at Open Roads Media. The blog is called “Reading our way to the Revolution.” The once monthly column looks at a timeless and timely book.  Her latest review is about The Group, a 1963 novel by Mary McCarthy.  The Group is the latest review of a book that helped start the feminist revolution.

The Group book cover

I read The Group back in 1963. If you haven’t read it, I recommend you do. It’s a great read. This story of 8 women who graduated from Vassar in 1933 lead directly to the more current Sex and the City. And it was a bestseller, destroying the myth that chick lit would never make it. The Group was made into a movie, dubbed a chick flick.

I love what Gloria Steinem has to say about chick flicks and want to quote it:

In truth, anything that has more dialogue than deaths, more emphasis on how we live than how we die, may be called a “chick flick.” Hollywood’s preference for movies full of high-tech chases and gun battles rests mainly on the fact that they can be exported without language problems. Yet dollar for dollar spent on production, so-called “chick flicks” are equally or more profitable than those “prick flicks” seen multiple times by teenage boys.

I am so sick and tired of prick flicks. All that killing, all that shooting, all that violence. And for what? How does it help anything, fix anything, cure anything, change anything?

It’s the stories about people, about real life, that change the world. Stories that reach into our hearts and make us think. Stories create change. Think about The Color Purple or Glee or Transparent or My Left Foot or The L Word or Selma or a hundred other stories that impacted our culture in a positive way. We need more stories that help us understand each other, see each other, accept each other, learn from each other.

Long live the chick flick! Thank you to every filmmaker, every writer, every director, every actor who tells a story that would qualify as a chick flick.

Jennifer Lawrence will Star in a Steven Spielberg Film

Just when I think I want to stop following Steven Spielberg on Twitter because he’s something of a jerk, he goes and decides to make a biopic about war photographer Lynsey Addario called  It’s What I Do.

Jennifer Lawrence signed on to star as Addario. The film will be based on Addario’s new memoir It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War.

Lynsey Addario and the cover of her book
Lynsey Addario and the cover of her book

Addario is 41. It isn’t often that a film gets made about the life of someone so young. Jennifer Lawrence is 24, so I’m presuming that the story will be about the early part of Addario’s career as a war photographer.

For a quick education on why Addario is famous as a photographer, visit her web site at lynseyaddario.com and look at the photos there.

This is the first time Spielberg has directed a movie starring a woman since 1985’s The Color Purple, which starred Whoopi Goldberg. 1985. Do the math. That’s 30 years. Truth in reporting, Spielberg has produced women centric stories such as The United States of Tara since 1985.

Surely there’s some deep message to be unearthed from the fact that one of the most famous directors on the planet only undertakes a film about a woman once every 30 years.

Maybe it’s capitalism in action. Jennifer Lawrence is huge now. She’s part of the reason films starring women bring in a better return on investment than films about men. Go, Jennifer! You’re helping to change the world. May the rate of pay for female stars be ever in your favor.

Yes, a hot young 24 year old can get a lead part in a movie by Steven Spielberg. However, I don’t see Hollywood beating a path to the homes of the over 40 women in Tinseltown offering them big parts. I love what Jennifer Lawrence is accomplishing for female-led films – but all is not forgiven, Hollywood. You still need to do better.

There’s no word yet on any other casting choices or when the film will be underway or completed.

Review: Beauty in Truth

Beauty in Truth, a film by Pratibha Parmar, is a documentary about American writer and activist Alice Walker.

Image of Alice Walker from the film Beauty in Truth
Image of Alice Walker from the film Beauty in Truth

Predisposed to love it would be a good description of my attitude toward the film. I’m a lifelong admirer of Alice Walker. I have a tendency to finish her books and turn back to page 1 and start reading again. She’s an extraordinary soul – a beautiful soul – who has given so much to the planet. I respect her, I value her brilliance, I see so much wisdom and spiritual guidance in work. Her life is an inspiration.

Everyone should see Beauty in Truth. Everyone who is cares about American history. Everyone who cares about justice anywhere on the planet. Everyone with an interest in writing and storytelling.

Indeed, my recommendation of the film is enthusiastic and heartfelt.

Pratibha Parmar wrote, directed and produced the film. She first worked with Alice Walker after the release of Possessing the Secret of Joy, Walker’s novel about female genital mutilation. The Beauty in Truth website explains,

1993 Pratibha released her most challenging film Warrior Marks, which documented female genital mutilation at a time when the subject was taboo globally. This award-winning documentary was made in collaboration with the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alice Walker. Parmar and Walker collaborated on the book Warrior Marks – Female Genital Mutilation and the Sexual Blinding of Women, which documented the making of the film.

Beauty in Truth documents Alice Walker’s life from her upbringing in rural Georgia to the present day. It uses interviews, conversations with Alice, quotations from her poems and books, historical video footage, news reports and video and personal images supplied by Alice Walker to create the story of a writer and activist who is known worldwide.

Photo by Virginia DeBolt from Wikimedia Commons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Alice_Walker.jpg
Alice Walker: Photo by Virginia DeBolt from Wikimedia Commons
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Alice_Walker.jpg

The particularities and struggles of Alice Walker’s life reflect with universal truth on the Civil Rights Movement, on the women’s movement, on the gay rights movement, and movements for justice all around the globe. Her struggles and the reaction of the American people to them are not just a story about her but a story about the American character. Her writing and her activism create change that affects us all.

Alice Walker has been honored as a writer with a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for The Color Purple as well as numerous other awards and honors for her writing and humanitarianism. This film honors the life she’s lived as a human being with an ability to understand and speak for truth and justice.

The film is available for streaming on PBS if you act soon. A screening schedule is available on the film website, and the film can be booked for showing in schools. (PBS LearningMedia provides four video-based educational components are available for teachers of grades 9-12 to download for free. University level instructors can sign up to be notified when materials for their level are available. Instructions are on the website.)

Other People’s Opinions: A Few Reactions from Twitter

I saw quite a few tweets about the film when it first aired on PBS last week. I thought you might be interested in the reactions of a few other people as well.