The Clare Spark Blog

February 27, 2015

Are “young” people dead to the world?

WSJ Spring Fashion Issue

WSJ Spring Fashion Issue

Last night, being bored by Hannity’s love fest with conservative potential candidates for President at CPAC, I switched to NBC, which broadcasts EXTRA and ACCESS HOLLYWOOD at that time (7-8pm West Coast ST). And so this blog.

I was not surprised by the glamour girls, the culturally correct blue jeans (that will hug the body all day, including at the office), or the dread of aging, with homage to (entrepreneurial) “ageless” Christie Brinkley and Cindy Crawford. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/25/christie-brinkley-skincare-cindy-crawford-unretouched-photo_n_6753130.html.) That’s business as usual. (There was also an obeisance to Madonna’s ageless beauty and pluck in finishing her song at the London pop music version of the Grammys after she fell off the stage, which has aroused the networks to fulsome coverage, including Fox.)

What shocked me out of my snooze was the segment in which a pretty young woman described her initial resistance to submission in sex (she mentioned “bondage”), which she was successfully coached out of. Appreciative smiles all around.

It turned out that my blog on the fabulous success of the movie and novel Fifty Shades of Grey was the most viewed in February, thanks partly to its being posted on a website devoted to the history of women. (See https://clarespark.com/2015/02/14/fifty-shades-of-romantic-necrophilia/.)

Sadly, a tiny number of these viewers used the reference to my analysis of middle-aged women (MOM) being the target of the sadomasochism that I have studied. (https://clarespark.com/2009/07/13/eros-and-the-middle-manager-s-m-with-implications-for-multiculturalism/.)

Perhaps more interesting was the next show on NBC, “The Slap” in which Uma Thurman was the lead character in this episode, and sure enough, she had a bad mother (an English professor of great note, who turns out to be dying: played by the ageless Blythe Danner) who, it is suggested, has thwarted her daughter’s desire for marriage and motherhood. The Los Angeles Times synopsized this episode as “Anouk” attempting to “balance” her contending alliances with mom and younger boy friend (a hip singer), while yet another post mortem sees Thurman’s character as “the voice of reason” (criticizing her hippie friend for pursuing revenge against the hyper-masculine Greek-American slapper of her obnoxious, unsocialized, violent little boy. See http://2paragraphs.com/2015/02/uma-thurman-voice-of-reason-on-the-slap/). That “Anouk” is a successful writer for television gets left out, for these culture critics are dead to the world, and to the crucial details of plot lines.

Uma Thurman in 2paragraphs

Uma Thurman in 2paragraphs

Moderation wins again, and Thurman is yet another ageless beauty, likely to appeal to the NBC demographic (18-49), who may be themselves torn between motherhood and abortion rights; Anouk decides to keep the child, leaving us with a note of optimism, reason, and balance. (For more on The Slap see https://clarespark.com/2015/04/03/the-slap-and-pop-culture-during-easter-week/.)

Needless to say, in the lead up to the well-written Slap, I wandered into an alternative universe, where Brian Williams’s oddities are of no concern, for he is drowned out by the toasts to the glamorous Kardashians, Madonna, and suchlike nonsense, some of it sinister for what it portends for the next election.

February 14, 2015

Fifty Shades of Romantic Necrophilia

Lygeia and  her familiar

Lygeia and her familiar

Today is Valentine’s Day, 2-14-15, and the times are bad for romantic love, which is misunderstood by such culture critics as Lee Siegel in the Wall Street Journal, which devotes two pages to the subject, contrasting pop culture and high art, concluding that Beyoncé’s cynicism is worthy of emulation. http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB20840515299319003486204580458140764862972. (Lee Siegel’s “The Truth About Romantic Love” 2-14-15.)

What no one, even most feminists are willing to examine is the ambivalent relations between adolescent and grown-up sons and their middle-aged mothers. For Freudian-derived attachment theory is out, having been thrown overboard by cognitive behavioral therapy. (https://clarespark.com/2015/02/08/steven-pinkers-reciprocal-altruism/. For evidence that the middle-aged mother is the target of S-M addicted males, see https://clarespark.com/2009/07/13/eros-and-the-middle-manager-s-m-with-implications-for-multiculturalism/.)

Without the embarrassment of developmental psychology, it is easy to applaud the broad popularity of the just-released homage to sadomasochism, Fifty Shades of Grey, which has opened almost as enthusiastically as American Sniper. And for some critics, financial success is just fine, and then they may drop the subject without reflection. http://www.forbes.com/sites/scottmendelson/2015/02/14/box-office-fifty-shades-of-grey-spanks-spongebob-with-30m-friday/.

But even recognizing the [middle-aged woman] as the creature to be silenced, is not enough, for the remarkable popularity of the novel and the movie is susceptible to class analysis. How many shop-girls or working class women or house-bound wives are not dreaming of an ever more elusive upward mobility, personified in the black Knight to carry them off in a private plane or helicopter to a life of luxury, notwithstanding the bondage and humiliation, even death in life that is submissively endured in S-M sex. After all, didn’t Edgar Allan Poe write “Lygeia,” the epitome of romantic necrophilia, to be updated with Fox’s The Following?

And is not Linda Darnell’s double corset one of the most popular clicks on my website? (https://clarespark.com/2009/11/07/dream-girl/)

WSJ 019026

But perhaps the scariest image I have found today is in the Spring Fashion Magazine of the Wall Street Journal. The model is propped up against a painted tree (http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/trees/tgen/painting-tree-trunks-white.htm), thus allying her with the latest Nature-preserving identifications. But to me, she is yet another Lygeia, especially the come-hither gesture combined with the blood-red shoes. Is she an image of the male’s own death?

Wyeth: Spring 1978

Wyeth: Spring 1978

Gone is grandma’s lacey Valentine; in comes a new era of the femme fatale/male double, enticing though dead to the world.

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