THE RATIONAL ANIMAL'S VALUES: Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2020

Tired book turned into tract:
For reasons which haven't been fully explained, Greta Gerwig decided to create yet another film bearing the name Little Women.

Such films are sometimes called "adaptations." In this case, Gerwig produced some ch-ch-changes to Louisa May Alcott's somewhat dated tale. To wit:

As everyone knows, Alcott's famous novel ends with its heroine, Jo March, marrying Professor Bhaer.

According to one of Gerwig's producers, this had to be ch-ch-ch-changed. "You know we can’t actually have her marry Professor Bhaer,” Gerwig is said to have said.

This resolution has produced a mysterious ending in Gerwig's film—an ending straight outta This Year at Marryin's Bad. Some viewers think Jo and Bhaer get married; others feel sure that they don't.

Whatever! Fanpersons agree that the ending is great, whatever it is that actually happens. The fact that you can't tell what happens is what makes this ending so great!

At any rate, the fact that Jo March can't get married is one of Gerwig's major ch-ch-ch-changes. A second, widely ballyhooed change involves Marmee's anger.

In Louisa May Alcott's actual book, Jo, then roughly 15, tells her mother that she (Jo) can't control "my dreadful temper." Thanks to a bit of (understandable) pique on Jo's part, her youngest sister has almost drowned. The following exchange occurs, with Jo speaking first:
ALCOTT (chapter 8): "You can't guess how bad it is! It seems as if I could do anything when I'm in a passion. I get so savage, I could hurt anyone and enjoy it. I'm afraid I shall do something dreadful some day, and spoil my life, and make everybody hate me. Oh, Mother, help me, do help me!"

"I will, my child, I will.
Don't cry so bitterly, but remember this day, and resolve with all your soul that you will never know another like it. Jo, dear, we all have our temptations, some far greater than yours, and it often takes us all our lives to conquer them. You think your temper is the worst in the world, but mine used to be just like it."

"Yours, Mother? Why, you are never angry!" And for the moment Jo forgot remorse in surprise.

"I've been trying to cure it for forty years, and have only succeeded in controlling it. I am angry nearly every day of my life, Jo, but I have learned not to show it..."
As you can see, much of the writing in this famous old text is in fact rather clunky. But Marmee's statement—"I am angry nearly every day of my life"—appears word for word in Gerwig's film, and it's been heralded, far and wide, as Marmee's complaint against sexist oppression.

Every critic praises Gerwig for diagnosing this hidden meaning in Alcott's famous text. Perhaps somewhat cynically, we'll guess that this widely recited interpretation was floated in the film's press release, or perhaps it simply was put into play by Gerwigs early interviews.

Whatever! According to major anthropologists, the rational animal always loved to repeat whatever the last twenty tribe members had said. So it has been in reviews of this film, with Gerwig praised for the greatness of the way she found the meaning in Marmee's remark.

For better or worse, Alcott's actual text doesn't support this interpretation is any conceivable manner. Indeed, how has Marmee learned to check her hasty words? Soon, this exchange occurs. Marmee is speaking first:
ALCOTT: "I've learned to check the hasty words that rise to my lips, and when I feel that they mean to break out against my will, I just go away for a minute, and give myself a little shake for being so weak and wicked," answered Mrs. March with a sigh and a smile, as she smoothed and fastened up Jo's disheveled hair.

"How did you learn to keep still? That is what troubles me, for the sharp words fly out before I know what I'm about, and the more I say the worse I get, till it's a pleasure to hurt people's feelings and say dreadful things. Tell me how you do it, Marmee dear."

"My good mother used to help me..."

"As you do us..." interrupted Jo, with a grateful kiss.

"But I lost her when I was a little older than you are, and for years had to struggle on alone, for I was too proud to confess my weakness to anyone else. I had a hard time, Jo, and shed a good many bitter tears over my failures, for in spite of my efforts I never seemed to get on. Then your father came, and I was so happy that I found it easy to be good. But by-and-by, when I had four little daughters round me and we were poor, then the old trouble began again, for I am not patient by nature, and it tried me very much to see my children wanting anything."

"Poor Mother! What helped you then?"

"Your father, Jo. He never loses patience, never doubts or complains
, but always hopes, and works and waits so cheerfully that one is ashamed to do otherwise before him. He helped and comforted me, and showed me that I must try to practice all the virtues I would have my little girls possess..."
Oof. Marmee was lucky enough to have the help of her cheerful husband! At any rate, nothing in Alcott's book suggests that Marmee's temper is meant to be seen as an expression of her oppression. This is one of the ch-ch-changes we're told that Gerwig engineered to make the book fit our own times.

Another of these ch-ch-changes involves Professor Bhaer's "harsh criticism" of Jo's writing. In Gerwig'a film, we see Professor Bhaer tell Jo, in no uncertain terms, that he doesn't approve of the "sensation stories" she is composing for what it, in effect, the tabloid press of the day.

Bhaer is remarkably direct. Jo tells him off in no uncertain terms, as any self-respecting person would do in the thoroughly enlightened modern world of today. But nothing like that actually happens in Alcott's actual book.

In Alcott's actual book, the professor hasn't seen any of the Jo's tabloid tales when he tells her that he disapproves of such work as a general matter. It's also abundantly clear that Jo agree with this critical judgment.

She has already voiced embarrassment at the fact that she writes such lurid "rubbish," and we've already seen her reproaching herself over the fact that her parents wouldn't approve. Not even good feminist Marmee!

After her exchange with Bhaer, Jo vows that she will never produce such tabloid trash again. At no point does she storm off in anger over criticism by the professor. Indeed, in Alcott's book, Jo is grateful for the fact that the wise professor has helped her see the problem with the "rubbish" (her term) she has been producing.

Jo is grateful to the professor. Indeed, we see her tell herself this about her lurid "sensation stories:"
ALCOTT: "They are trash, and will soon be worse trash if I go on, for each is more sensational than the last. I've gone blindly on, hurting myself and other people, for the sake of money. I know it's so, for I can't read this stuff in sober earnest without being horribly ashamed of it, and what should I do if they were seen at home or Mr. Bhaer got hold of them?"
Jo says she's been hurting other people for the sake of money! Think how conflicted she might have been over the amounts of money tabloid rubbish can produce today, on cable TV or in Hollywood!

In Alcott's book, Marmee's anger doesn't stem from societal oppression. The professor doesn't "harshly criticize" Jo, and she doesn't tell him off when he does.

The other change Gerwig affects involves the fat, unattractive Bhaer. In a remarkably instructive essay at Vox, followed by a remarkably instructive colloquy, Constance Grady instructs us in the values of our modern highly progressive progressives.

According to Grady, Jo's marriage to the appalling Bhaer has always lay at the heart of the book's "notorious problem ending." The professor is too old and too "stout;" he's also "unattractive." In the passage shown below, she helps us see the values with which our flailing, failing tribe is now apparently saddled:
GRADY (12/27/19): The end of Little Women sees its heroine, tomboyish and ambitious Jo, married off to the pointedly unromantic Friedrich Bhaer, a middle-aged and unattractive German professor who disapproves of the sensational stories she writes. And the character readers expect Jo to end up with, her charming best friend Laurie, marries Jo’s least favorite sister Amy instead.

And so, while generations of readers have loved Little Women and sighed over Little Women, they have also puzzled over that bizarre, unsatisfying ending. Why would Louisa May Alcott do such a thing to Jo? Why would she do such a thing to us?
According to the highly progressive Grady, Professor Bhaer is unattractive and middle-aged (according to Alcott's text, he's "almost 40" when he and Jo meet). He "disapproves of the sensational stories [Jo] writes." Two paragraphs later, Grady complains that the professor is "stout."

The professor is old and fat. Given our modern progressive values, that called for some ch-ch-ch-changes!

With that, along came Gerwig. Alcott thought she knew what we need, but Gerwig knows what we want:
GRADY: Little Women adaptations have struggled to provide satisfying answers to those questions, and generally they do so by working hard against the grain of Alcott’s writing. Laurie’s marriage to Amy generally gets glossed over as quickly as possible, while Bhaer generally gets transformed into a palatable romantic hero.

Most contemporary versions of Little Women, contra Alcott’s description of the professor as a middle-aged man who is both “rather stout” and also “plain and odd,” have cast Bhaer with a young and attractive actor. He also becomes less harsh toward Jo’s writing...

Gerwig’s Little Women follows some of the path laid out before it by previous adaptations. Gerwig, too, makes Bhaer younger and sexier than he is in Alcott’s novel.
The professor wasn't palatable! Like all the other Tinseltown types, heroic Gerwig has made him "younger and sexier." We fiery modern-day progressives can thus breathe a sigh of relief.

We leave our campus tomorrow morning on an Oscar-related mission of extreme national import. For weekend study, we leave a possible reading assignment:

In chapters 33 and 34, Alcott actually does a skillful job showing us the development of Jo's attraction to Bhaer.

In chapter 33, we read her letters home from her new job in New York—letters in which she keeps describing the professor's various fine qualities. We learn that he has even gifted here with volumes of Shakespeare. This is some of the best writing in Alcott's book—and it's easy to make out the drift of what Jo describes in her letters.

In chapter 34, the exchange about the rubbishy "sensation stories" occurs. But all through that chapter, in several episodes, Jo's growing admiration for the professor only becomes more obvious. With how much clarity did poor Alcott have to spell it out?
ALCOTT (chapter 34): I don't know whether the study of Shakespeare helped her to read character, or the natural instinct of a woman for what was honest, brave, and strong, but while endowing her imaginary heroes with every perfection under the sun, Jo was discovering a live hero, who interested her in spite of many human imperfections. Mr. Bhaer, in one of their conversations, had advised her to study simple, true, and lovely characters, wherever she found them, as good training for a writer. Jo took him at his word, for she coolly turned round and studied him—a proceeding which would have much surprised him, had he known it, for the worthy Professor was very humble in his own conceit.
Jo was discovering a live hero. As she coolly turns round and studies him, Alcott describes a long list of virtues she finds in this unattractive man.

Later, Jo and Fatso marry, creating this allegedly beloved book's "notorious problem ending." Even worse, they open a school for destitute children! Why would someone do that?

Progressives like Grady and Gerwig can't seem to find value in such tedious conduct. They want the professor younger and sexier. With these values, our failing tribe keeps marching forward, often while being exposed to justifiable ridicule by the grateful propagandists at Fox.

The punditry surrounding Gerwig's "adaptation" has been deeply instructive. Simply put, nothing is too dumb or too unclear for us to assert it as obvious fact—and Fox is eager to take our nonsense and tell The Others about it.

The professor was honest, brave and strong, but he was also too fat. We may offer a few more thoughts about this mass of punditry next week; a great deal remains to be said. But oh what kind of progressive values are these, which go from dumb and deeply unattractive to much worse?

69 comments:

  1. I am tired of participating in Somerby's heavy-handed attempt to stomp all over a book that means something women, especially younger women.

    Anger is what oppressed people feel, and it is an appropriate emotion given their situation. Women feel it because of the way they are treated by men and because of the constraints of their roles, especially during the time period depicted in Little Women.

    Anger is assigned to men in our society. Women are supposed to suppress anger and redirect, as Jo's mother describes doing. A woman who feels or expresses anger is ostracized, even today.

    Somerby is oblivious to what it means to be female, today or in the 1860s. He keeps repeating the word fat (when stout was originally used) and he keeps trying to bash progressives over one thing or another in a film that he clearly doesn't like or understand.

    I will be back when he decides to write about something else. In the meantime, I plan to re-read Little Women until I feel less angry about what a heinous boor Somerby is.

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    1. But Somerby says that white women should be happy they aren't slaves. Who cares if they can't own property (even their own earnings and inheritance), must have as many children as God gives them, and must do whatever any man tells them to do? Who cares if they must always be self-sacrificing and never assert their own needs, always be calm and pleasant and never show any feeling except delicate goodness? They could have been born slaves and really had something to complain about! But, you say, slaves were whipped and beaten. So were women, when their husbands were displeased (or drunk or cruel).

      It has been traditional for any comparison between the lot of women and that of African Americans to be avoided. That was explicitly demanded by civil rights activists. But it is also difficult to argue that there is much difference between the slavery of African Americans and the experience of most women.

      Historically, black men have gotten freedoms and rights before white women. We have had a black President, but not yet a female President. You might say that white women have it over black people because they could order slaves around, but they did so only in the name of the man who owned those slaves. So, when Somerby suggests that the Civil War was fought by men on behalf of freeing slaves, while the Little Women enjoyed themselves, he is at his most offensive. Women too fought the Civil War (see Women's War by Stephanie McCurry). At its conclusion, arguably slaves were better off, but women were not.

      I find it hopeful that women and people of color are joining forces to address inequities that persist. The yowling of white men such as Somerby attest to the progress being made. They wouldn't complain if there weren't change on the horizon.

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    2. "I am tired of participating ... "

      That'll be the day.

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    3. TDH isn't "stomping all over a book." He's stomping all over a film based on a book, a film he thinks is harmfully revisionist. I suggest you don't return until you've learned to read for comprehension. And until you and your therapist discover why you're angry at a blogger you don't know and at his blog that nobody reads.

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    4. “Harmfully revisionist”

      Who is it harming?

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    5. "It has been traditional for any comparison between the lot of women and that of African Americans to be avoided. That was explicitly demanded by civil rights activists. But it is also difficult to argue that there is much difference between the slavery of African Americans and the experience of most women."

      I think I suggested a while ago that you post under something other than "Anonymous", so that we can follow your thoughts from one post to the next...but perhaps I now understand. I fear the quoted thoughts would risk your cancellation if they became associated with the real-life you. Fortunately, TDH is (I hope) a kinder, gentler venue...and I wish that the rest of the world were as tolerant as we are of such thoughts...thoughts that, unlike some SJWs, I will not characterize as evil, but do strike me as incorrect to the point of foolishness.

      There are, of course, as you note, certain parallels between the historical female experience and that of race-based slavery, and so are there parallels between the lives of Christians under the Umayyad Caliphate and Jews under the third reich. But to compare the gilded (with gilding varying enormously by class) cage administered by fathers and husbands to the frequently cruel, brutal and even murderous regimes of the slave-holder (and Jim Crow) seems, well, I won't say offensive, because we shouldn't take offense at good-faith positions no matter how poorly thought-out, but at least distinctly foolish.

      I normally give little weight to arguments from "privilege"...propositions should stand or fall based on the evidence and arguments adduced thereto...but I'm guessing that you are a white, middle-class (at least) college-educated woman. If I'm right, and, living as you perhaps do, in the 21st Century Western world, you are perhaps among the most privileged human beings ever to have existed (although possibly less than I). That doesn't exclude your having legitimate concerns (even associated with your demographic), it doesn't mean that you should not raise those concerns, but having some sense of proportion regarding your situation compared to others would help avoid undermining the credibility of your arguments.

      On a personal note, from time to time I hear related claims that strike me as lacking perspective from my dearly beloved daughter and daughter-in-law, who are possibly even more privileged than you. It seems inescapable to observe the remarkable coincidence that their (and your) concerns just happen to coincide with those that are most likely to increase their (and your) privilege. I must acknowledge the same could be said about myself. The lesson I draw is that we do all, me included, need to be alert to self-dealing in our arguments, to listen to the arguments, claims and experiences of those unlike ourselves, and to be alert to self-interest embedded in the arguments that we and others make.

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    6. Somerby doesnt like the book either.

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    7. " But to compare the gilded (with gilding varying enormously by class) cage administered by fathers and husbands to the frequently cruel, brutal and even murderous regimes of the slave-holder (and Jim Crow) seems, well, I won't say offensive, because we shouldn't take offense at good-faith positions no matter how poorly thought-out, but at least distinctly foolish."

      If you think that women live in a gilded cage, you know nothing whatsoever about domestic violence, an important women's issue that men generally ignore.

      Why do you suppose prohibition was a woman's issue?

      Domestic violence transcends class. Poor women can and are beaten by their husbands and fathers, and so are wealthy women. The most dangerous time for a woman is when she is pregnant (because it confronts a man with perhaps unwanted responsibility) and that is the time when women are most likely to be killed by an abusive spouse. The second most dangerous time is when a woman tells her husband that she is leaving him. The kinds of workplace shootings in which a husband arrives at a place of business and kills his wife and perhaps a few coworkers is so routine that the media is relieved it isn't a terrorist attack. Men killing women just isn't defined that way.

      But you think only slaves and poor people deserve notice. And you want to call me out for some imagined privilege you don't even know I have? As if that invalidates anything I said. If you had a point, I think you would stick to the issue and not make ad hominem attacks (complaining that the lack of a nym makes it hard to be sufficiently ad hominem).

      You are certainly unlike me. I think you should practice what you preach about listening. I am no more and no less capable of self-interest than anyone with more privilege (or less). But that has nothing to do with whether my arguments carry weight.

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    8. Why aren't laws that forbid women from voting the same as laws that forbid black people from voting?

      Why aren't laws that forbid women from controlling their own wages, property or inherited money, the same as slavery?

      Why aren't laws that prohibit women from dining in a hotel or restaurant by herself, the same as Jim Crow laws that prohibit black people from dining in a hotel or restaurant?

      Why aren't laws that prohibit a woman from buying land the same as Jim Crow laws that prevent black people from owning land?

      Why isn't a society that considers black people inferior in nature the same as one that considers women inferior in nature?

      Why isn't a society that prohibits women from attending graduate programs in medicine, law, accounting, and many other trades and professions not the same as one that prohibits black people from attending such programs and practicing those professions (actually there were black lawyers, doctors, dentists etc. during Jim Crow, but not female ones).

      Do you seriously think that female slaves were treated better than male slaves? They suffered everything the men did, plus rape.

      I am not and never have been a single issue voter (with the main concern being myself). I don't find that many Democrats are that way either. I do find that Republicans are consumed by self interest to the point of greed and that many lack empathy for anyone else.

      The Civil War was about slavery, not women's rights. There still exist civil rights issues for African Americans. But there is no rule that says that all other people of color must have their rights addressed before American women can assert their own needs. Otherwise they are selfish gilded cage dwellers. Who benefits from arguments like that? Do I need to tell you?

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    9. Woman is the nigger of the world. Look at the one You're with.

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    10. Who is it harming?

      No idea. This is TDH’s hobbyhorse. I, myself don’t give a shit about Little Women no matter what medium in which it’s fixed. As far as I’m concerned, if you change the narrative of a story from another time by imposing your modern sensibilities upon it, the worst that happens is that you look like an ignorant fool. Kinda like revising The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by changing the name of Clemens’ character Nigger Jim to African-American James and having him un-ironically spout Black Power rhetoric from the 1960s.

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    11. Gerwig didn't impose modern sensibilities on an old novel. She made the movie more like Alcott's own life, erasing the compromise that Alcott made in order to get published (by her own account).

      This is just like the argument Somerby had about Harper Lee's book as a play. The play's author used material from other Lee writings about Atticus Finch, that Somerby was apparently unaware of since he never mentioned them, and then Somerby ranted for several weeks in his ignorance. Now he is doing it again because he knows so little about Louisa May Alcott and feminism in 1865 (which was alive and well, especially for female writers who never married but chose to write books instead).

      The film seems discordant to Somerby because he dislikes seeing active women with goals in a period piece that more often depicts stereotypes of women as passive, modest, kind and nurturing, compliant, etc...all the things Jo railed against but Somerby thinks is super wonderful, even when they are the very characteristics of that Professor Bhaer (and Malala).

      Somerby is warped. Women are real people, just like men, and a film does a better job when it depicts them as such, regardless of the time period. Because women have always been actual human beings.

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    12. "Who is it harming?"

      Somerby. His head is exploding.

      Delete
    13. Why aren't laws that forbid women from voting the same as laws that forbid black people from voting?

      They are, but by the time the 19th Amendment went into effect, only seven states maintained a complete ban on women voting.

      Why aren't laws that forbid women from controlling their own wages, property or inherited money, the same as slavery?

      Because there’s a difference between disenfranchisement and forced labor. But decades before the Civil War, states passed laws protecting the right of women to control their own assets.

      Why aren't laws that prohibit women from dining in a hotel or restaurant by herself, the same as Jim Crow laws that prohibit black people from dining in a hotel or restaurant?

      They would be if these laws for women existed, but they didn’t. Societal rules discriminated against women, forcing them to dine in areas segregated from unacceptably rowdy public dining areas.

      Why aren't laws that prohibit a woman from buying land the same as Jim Crow laws that prevent black people from owning land?

      They were the same before about 1840 when states passed laws protecting women’s property rights.

      Why isn't a society that considers black people inferior in nature the same as one that considers women inferior in nature?

      Why isn't a society that prohibits women from attending graduate programs in medicine, law, accounting, and many other trades and professions not the same as one that prohibits black people from attending such programs and practicing those professions (actually there were black lawyers, doctors, dentists etc. during Jim Crow, but not female ones).

      Could you rephrase these questions sensibly? The society that discriminated against women in graduate education was the same one that implemented Jim Crow. That doesn’t mean that the experience of black people and women are interchangeable.

      The first black woman to earn a medical degree in the US did so in 1864.

      But there is no rule that says that all other people of color must have their rights addressed before American women can assert their own needs.

      Of course not. Nobody says otherwise. The objection is to your claim that “it is … difficult to argue that there is much difference between the slavery of African Americans and the experience of most women.”

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    15. Bob's critique of the movie here is absolutely brilliant. He nails both the poignance of the book character's intellectual attraction to the old German scholar and the jerky absurdity of this latest adaptation.

      And btw ... old readers had no problem with this ending.

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  2. There is a great deal of feminist writing from the beginning of the movement, in both England and the US, that explains why marriage was bad for women. Somerby's apparent ignorance of the realities of marriage is another reason why men should take Women's Studies classes. He is making himself look ridiculous with this series of essays. Alcott wasn't saying anything new about marriage, and neither is Gerwig.

    There was a movie a few years ago called Suffragette. It is worth watching from a historical perspective because of its depiction of the main character's life as a laundress.

    It is as if Somerby doesn't want a movie that explicitly deals with the specifics of women's lives in 1865 to portray them realistically in Little Women. Gerwig gives her film a fantasy ending, as Alcott did, but the fantasy has changed and what appeals to today's women is not the same as what past readers demanded (as explicitly shown in the movie).

    Somerby mocks Gerwig for being too progressive, but it is today's young women who are increasingly not marrying, not Gerwig's too-woke politics intruding on a happy ending. This is what today's audiences would consider not a sell-out to tradition, and women today are choosing to live with men, not marry them. There were some women who did that, even in the 1800s, for political and explicitly feminist reasons, to maintain their own freedom of action and integrity (and to preserve control over their own money). It might be more interesting to see a film about them, and not one that preaches feminine virtue while depicting how the straightjacket chafes.

    I'm sure that Somerby loves the way Bhaer resembles Malala and MLK in his overwhelming goodness. Perhaps this is the only character he can identify with in the book or film, and it is why he is so offended that Alcott calls him fat.

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    1. It is as if Somerby doesn't want a movie that explicitly deals with the specifics of women's lives in 1865 to portray them realistically in Little Women.

      Except that's exactly what TDH wants. He doesn't want a movie that portrays women in 1865 as though they were women of 2020.

      [TDH] is so offended that Alcott calls him fat.

      Except that he's not offended that Alcott calls Bhaer stout (not fat). He's offended for some reason that Gerwig makes Bhaer's heft a disqualifier for marriage.

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    2. If Somerby thinks that Gerwig makes Bhaer’s heft a disqualifier for marriage, then Somerby needs to have his head examined.

      Delete
    3. “He doesn't want a movie that portrays women in 1865 as though they were women of 2020.”

      People are people, deadrat. It is their circumstances that are different. The movie is trying to show the reality for women in 1865, not the stereotype of women of that period that may perhaps exist in the minds of people like Somerby.

      Or is Bob Somerby an expert on women in 1865?

      Delete
    4. Deadrat (and perhaps Somerby) thinks that feminism is a 2020 phenomenon.

      Here is a list of the writings by American feminist authors, writing about women's rights, their lives, and questions such as marriage, suffrage, civil rights, and similar topics. There is a lot more from the UK. If you were to read these, you would see that there is very little in modern feminism that wasn't also explored by precursors from the 1800s:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_American_feminist_literature#18th_century

      Note that Little Women and The Scarlet Letter are both listed as feminist literature.

      Delete
    5. People are people, deadrat.

      You mean genomically?

      It is their circumstances that are different.

      So in all ways except their shared biological nature, people are different.

      What’s your point?

      The movie is trying to show the reality for women in 1865, not the stereotype of women of that period that may perhaps exist in the minds of people like Somerby.

      TDH’s complaint is that the book shows the reality for women in 1865, and the movie changes that portrait by imposing 2020 sensibilities on the narrative.

      Or is Bob Somerby an expert on women in 1865?

      Was LMA?

      Delete
    6. "Or is Bob Somerby an expert on women in 1865?

      Was LMA?"

      LMA is more of an expert than Somerby because she lived it. Her book is about her own childhood, semi-autobiographical, and she is female.

      Somerby is clueless about women. And he doesn't like them much -- which shows every time he calls Stormy Daniels a grifter and gets Dimmesdale confused with Roger Chillingworth.

      If there were a list of experts on reality for women in 1865, Somerby would be second to last on it, and you would be last.

      Delete
    7. Gerwig didn't impose modern sensibilities on an old novel. She made the movie more like Alcott's own life, erasing the compromise that Alcott made in order to get published (by her own account).

      Congratulations. This is at least a reasonable statement of rebuttal, though not one prosecuted with much in the way of evidence. I don’t care enough to do your work for you, partly because I don’t care about Little Women no matter its form, and partly because I think TDH’s outrage is misplaced.

      This is just like the argument Somerby had about Harper Lee's book as a play. The play's author used material from other Lee writings about Atticus Finch, that Somerby was apparently unaware of since he never mentioned them

      Er, no. Which you’d know if you were aware of the details of that other “material,” which apparently you’re not. (If you don’t like my conclusion about your awareness, considering not drawing the same about Somerby.)

      The film seems discordant to Somerby because he dislikes seeing active women….

      I have no idea what Somerby likes or dislikes seeing in women. And neither do you. What he actually says is that the non-chronological order confused him.

      Women are real people, just like men, and a film does a better job when it depicts them as such, regardless of the time period. Because women have always been actual human beings.

      You realize that this is just two clauses stating the obvious, sandwiching your uninformed opinion about film, right?

      Delete
    8. LMA is more of an expert than Somerby because she lived it. Her book is about her own childhood, semi-autobiographical, and she is female.

      True, pretty much my point, and I suspect the reason for TDH’s tantrum.

      Somerby is clueless about women.

      Maybe. Like most men. But I don’t know him, and neither do you.

      And he doesn't like them much -- which shows every time he calls Stormy Daniels a grifter and gets Dimmesdale confused with Roger Chillingworth.

      Again, maybe. But you can’t tell because he calls a grifter a grifter. Did he confuse Hawthorne’s characters? Even so, I don’t see how that’s a window into his psyche.

      If there were a list of experts on reality for women in 1865, Somerby would be second to last on it, and you would be last.

      Well, I know that it’s not true that the experience of white women in 1865 was the equivalent of the experience of black people in 1865. So maybe not dead last.

      Delete
    9. “ I think TDH’s outrage is misplaced.”

      So do I and most of the other anonymous commenters. Why don’t you expound on that a little?

      My view is that he has badly misrepresented Gerwig’s approach. He has also pretended to find “progressive” values in a handful of arts and entertainment articles. He has shoehorned his criticism into his usual screed against liberals.

      Again, your view as to how his outrage is misplaced? Or are you only interested in attacking the other commenters?

      Delete
    10. Anonymous Ignoramus @5:25P,

      Please, please stop telling me what I think. That's my job.

      Delete
    11. Why don’t you expound on that a little?

      That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me in this comment section. But sure. I love the sound of my own voice.

      There’s TDH’s thesis that Gerwig has indulged in a wrong-headed anachronism, and there’s TDH’s seeming obsession with his thesis and the implications he sees.

      I can’t judge the charge of anachronism: I don’t give a shit about Little Women in any of its myriad incarnations, so I’m neither going to re-read the book nor see Gerwig’s movie. But the worst charge that can be leveled is one of foolishness. See my comment@9:12P. I wouldn’t mind seeing a reasoned defense of Gerwig’s choices, but that’s too much to hope for from this commentariat.

      The dire implications TDH draws rely on film reviewers being the representative vanguard of the progressive movement and the notion that the fascist right in this country is going to weaponize the supposed revisionism. I find both of these notions ludicrous. See my comment @10:32P.

      Or are you only interested in attacking the other commenters?

      I’m not “attacking” anyone. I just point out commenters ignorance and they think it’s an attack. And not all other commenters.

      A friend of mine in college once submitted an essay he’d written while stoned. The professor returned his work with the following comment at the top of the first page:

      A quiet fool will be tolerated;a vituperative one will be scorned by ten thousand furies.

      The mission statement of my cyber-life.

      Do I need to repeat the list of topics on which I’ve contributed commentary not in response to other comments?

      Delete
    12. "Please, please stop telling me what I think. That's my job."

      Somerby thinks he's telling us what Right-wingers think but, in reality, he's just repeating their grievances (which even they don't believe).

      Delete
    13. Don't think so, @11:46P. TDH tells us what right-wingers do, e.g, "Fox is eager to take our nonsense and tell The Others about it."

      But regardless of what TDH does or doesn't tell us, you should quit telling me what I think. Still my job to tell you.

      Delete
    14. "women's studies" lol, = anti-man, anti-science garbage for spoiled, dumb bitches.

      Hey dumb bitch, take your bullsjit propaganda somewhere else. In a hundred years they will look back and laugh at "women's studies". It's made up garbage that is not rooted in any kind of science, history or fact

      Delete
    15. "It's made up garbage that is not rooted in any kind of science, history or fact"

      So it's Right-wing ideology, without the racism. Got it.

      Delete
  3. “But Marmee's statement—"I am angry nearly every day of my life"—appears word for word in Gerwig's film, and it's been heralded, far and wide, as Marmee's complaint against sexist oppression.”

    It “has been heralded.” Lots of things “are heralded”. Some of them are mistaken. Is this actually what is conveyed in the film? Somerby won’t say.

    “Every critic praises Gerwig for diagnosing this hidden meaning in Alcott's famous text. Perhaps somewhat cynically, we'll guess that this widely recited interpretation was floated in the film's press release, or perhaps it simply was put into play by Gerwigs early interviews.”

    “Every critic”? Nah.

    “We’ll guess?”

    Does a quote exist where Gerwig herself actually makes a claim about Marmee and sexist oppression? Somerby can only guess. Meanwhile, I haven’t found one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In the book, Jo carries the feminist voice, but the very fact that the five women are surviving during war time without any men is itself a feminist message. The more so because of the time period in which the book was written. If Marmee is angry about sexist oppression, it is downplayed in the film. She has made her choices already. It is Aunt March who gives the feminist lecture to Amy, and Jo and Meg who talk about it together when Jo feels betrayed by Meg's plan to marry instead of living independently with Jo.

      Delete
    2. She's clearly saying that -- that her anger is against male oppression. But sez who?

      It's a cliched/joke/idiot's lame view of the book. Welcome to our world.

      Delete
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    MY STORY HERE IS REAL AND GENUINE. My name is Adams Vienna and i am here to testify about Great Mother who brought back my man to me when he broke up with me because of another woman who he met at his place of work. Great Mother is a very powerful, real and unique woman with special powers. I tried to get help from many places and sources to bring back my man but nothing worked but when i contacted Great Mother, she made me smile again by bringing my man back to me with her special powers.. If you are experiencing any problems in your marriage, relationship, and you have any similar problem to this, contact this Great Woman now she will help you. Here is her website: Ourgreatmother1.com   and here is her email address: Greatmotherofsolutiontemple1@yahoo.com   and you can also contact her now on her own Whatsapp number: +17025514367 You can either contact her on her website, email or her whatsapp number. Thank you Great Mother.  

    ReplyDelete
  5. “his blog that nobody reads.”

    Sad for Bob. In this case, why doesn’t he just stop writing and retire? Nobody will notice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He cannot retire until the South rises again.

      Delete
    2. I really think you would notice

      Delete
    3. [W]hy doesn’t he just stop writing and retire? Nobody will notice.

      I don't know why. It's his time to waste as he sees fit, just as its our own time to waste commenting on his waste of time.

      Delete
    4. Somerby is trying to stave off dementia by pretending to reason.

      It isn't working.

      Delete
  6. “He's stomping all over a film based on a book, a film he thinks is harmfully revisionist.”

    The day he decries the harmful revisionism that a conservative perpetrates on a book is the day we’ll know that he cares deeply about harmful revisionism.

    Artists revise and update pre-existing material all the time. Ask Shakespeare.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The day you figure out that TDH doesn't care about instructing "conservatives" will be the day you get a clue about this blog. I'm not holding my breath.

      Of course artists revise other's material. This is such an ordinary occurrence that it's hard to see what's got TDH in such an uproar that he saw a film he hates three times. And does he really think that the fascists in MAGA hats at Trump rallies are going to abandon "Lock her up!" and "Shoot immigrants!" for "Stop misinterpreting Louisa May Alcott!"?

      Delete
    2. You don’t get it yet? He hates liberals, and he uses any excuse to stomp on them. Is he really outraged about Gerwig and all her fans? That seems demented. He invents this sort of outrage and often misstates the articles he reviews in ridiculous ways. He is making a fool of himself.

      Delete
    3. TDH doesn't hate liberals. He still likes his old roommate.

      He doesn't use any excuse to stomp on them. It's always the same excuse -- dumb tribal behavior.

      Is he really outraged or is his outrage invented? How can we tell? We know what he writes. How about we deal with that?

      TDH seems demented to you? Have you spent any time with someone with dementia?

      If TDH "misstates" (I think you mean mmischaracterizes) articles, then it's fair to point that out.

      Is TDH making a fool of himself or has he just adopted a position you don't agree with? I'll go with your judgment as you're an expert on making a fool of oneself.

      Delete
    4. "Start on page 33 and proceed carefully from there." Dumbass.

      Delete
  7. “According to the highly progressive Grady, Professor Bhaer is unattractive and middle-aged (according to Alcott's text, he's "almost 40" when he and Jo meet). He "disapproves of the sensational stories [Jo] writes." Two paragraphs later, Grady complains that the professor is "stout."”

    “The professor is old and fat. Given our modern progressive values, that called for some ch-ch-ch-changes! “

    (Note that Grady does not use the word “fat”.)

    The title of Grady’s article should clue a normal reader in to her argument:

    “The power of Greta Gerwig’s Little Women is that it doesn’t pretend its marriages are romantic”

    In other words, Jo doesn’t marry Bhaer out of some romantic, sexual attraction. They aren’t like Romeo and Juliet. That is clearly indicated by Alcott when she describes Bhaer as stout and unattractive. From the text: “He was neither rich nor great, young nor handsome, in no respect what is called fascinating, imposing, or brilliant,“

    This indicates Gerwig’s greater fealty to the book’s intent than the previous movie versions, which depict the Jo-Bhaer liaison as standard Hollywood romance.

    That Somerby gets this completely backwards indicates his blindness to arguments made by (as he tellingly describes Grady) a “highly progressive” person.

    ReplyDelete
  8. “He's offended for some reason that Gerwig makes Bhaer's heft a disqualifier for marriage.”

    This is ridiculous. Gerwig wants Jo to be an independent, unmarried writer, like Alcott was. It has nothing to do with Bhaer’s heft.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He doesn't have that heft in Gerwig's film. He is a handsome, 30-something immigrant. His poverty and immigrant status make him an unusual marriage choice, not his heft or his age or anything about his appearance.

      He is probably more harsh than the Professor in the book when criticizing Jo's stories. He considers them shallow and trivial. The important part of the scenes where he offer her his opinion is that he doesn't make any attempt to flatter her or sugar-coat his reaction. He also doesn't tell her how to fix her writing. His appeal to her is that he takes her entirely seriously as a writer, even though he doesn't like her writing. It is never stated, but it is implied that the novel Little Women emerged from her attempt to write a more realistic story that digs deeper, going beyond plot-driven action/adventure stories (of the kind Somerby longs for) to explore characterization and relationships in real life.

      The film explicitly states that the timing of children cannot be controlled when a woman is married, and that because children are so time-consuming for the mother, that makes marriage incompatible with the career of writing. That is why Jo rejects all marriage (not any specific man).

      This theme is found throughout women's literature because it is not possible to be a serious writer in the time after the children have gone to sleep. The demands on any wife are too burdensome to be combined with writing, the writing suffers and then the woman (who was usually promised she could keep writing) finds she cannot do both and writing is given up because she, of course, loves her children and usually her husband too. But it is not a freely given sacrifice and writing is not abandoned without sadness, regret, anger perhaps, and other emotions.

      My mother (1926-1995) wrote wonderful poetry which she never attempted to publish or did anything with, other than to pass her writing around to literary friends (among them Anais Nin). There are many women like that. But Somerby prefers Robert Frost, so everything is OK without their contribution.

      Delete
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  13. All I can write right now (see what I did there?) is that this was a very entertaining thread. Okay wait, I can write some more.

    I admit that I too was quite surprised at the much ado about nothing from Bob. But so it goes, and hobbyhorse is a great term, deadrat, to describe this blog.

    Also surprised at the vituperence from the commenters. Jesu Cristo, why don't you mf'ers try to find a site that you can be positive about, instead of coming here to be ground into coarse powder by deadrat?

    Come to think of it... Keep it up. Maybe you'll become more edumacated if you do.

    Cheers,
    Leroy

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  21. My husband left me for another woman after one year of our marriage. I needed him back desperately because i loved him so much. I became very worried and needed help. On this faithful day  as i was browsing through the internet, I came across a particular testimony about this good DR IROSI help get ex back fast and stop a divorce or breakup and so on , So I felt I should give him a try. I contacted him and he told me what to do and i did it then he did a (return Love spell) for me. 28 hours later, my husband came back to me crying and begging for my forgiveness. Today I’m so happy and i want to recommend this great spell caster to anyone that truly needs an urgent solution to his or her broken relationships and marriage email him at:(DRIROSISOLUTIONCENTER@GMAIL.COM) Simply contact the great “DR IROSI” If you have any problem contact him and i guarantee you that he will help you., do not cry anymore-contact this powerful spell caster now. Thank you DR IROSI for saving my broken relationships and brought my husband back to me!” email him at: (DRIROSISOLUTIONCENTER@GMAIL.COM) or call/whatsapp him via: +2348118829771.    

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  22. Hello everybody, thanks to Dr LOSA the spell caster i am from USA, i don't just Know the reason why some people is finding it difficult to believe that there is a cure for HIV, my son have been suffering from HIV since last three years but today i am happy that he is cure from it with the herbal medicine of Dr DR LOSA the great healer,i was browsing the INTERNET searching for help when i came across a testimony shared by someone on how Dr LOSA cure his herpes i was so much in need of getting his treatment but after all Dr LOSA brought a smile to my son face with his herbal medicine. i am so much happy today that we have someone like this great healer out there, so my people out there kindly contact this great healer on his email address: (dr.losaherbalhome@gmail .com) please sir keep your good work cause there are people out there who is in need of your healing medicine.once more email him now: (dr.losaherbalhome@gmail.com) you can call him OR WHATSSAPP HIM +2349056464736
    DOCTOR LOSA CAN AS WELL CURE THE FOLLOWING DISEASE:-
    1. HIV/AIDS
    2. HERPES
    3. CANCER
    4. ALS
    5. Hepatitis
    6 Diabetes
    7 LOVE SPELL
    8 IF YOU NEED YOUR EX LOVER BACK TO LOVE YOU AGAIN.

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  23. Am Lizzy Dixon from Canada, I want to quickly tell the world that there is a real online spell caster that is powerful and genuine, His name is Chief He helped me recently to reunite my relationship with my husband who left me, When i contacted Chief he cast a love spell for me, and my husband who said he doesn't have anything to do with me again called me and started begging me to come back. he is back now with so much love and care. today i am glad to let you all know that this spell caster have the powers to restore broken relationship back. because i am now happy with my husband. To anyone who is reading this article and needs any help, Chief can also offer any type of help like, Curing of all types of Diseases, Court Cases, Pregnancy Spell, Spiritual protection and lot's more. You can contact him Via his email chiefdrlucky@gmail.com call or add him on whats-app with his phone number +2348132777335 Website: http://chiefdrluckysolutionhome.website2.me/   

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  24. I have been suffering from (HERPES) disease for the last four years and had constant pain, especially in my knees. During the first year, I had faith in God that I would be healed someday.This disease started to circulate all over my body and I have been taking treatment from my doctor, a few weeks ago I came on search on the internet if I could get any information concerning the prevention of this disease, on my search I saw a testimony of someone who has been healed from (Hepatitis B and Cancer) by this Man Dr. Silver and she also gave the email address of this man and advise we should contact him for any sickness that he would be of help, so I wrote to Dr. Silver telling him about my (HERPES Virus) he told me not to worry that I was going to be cured!! hmm i never believed it,, well after all the procedures and remedy given to me by this man few weeks later I started experiencing changes all over me as the Dr. assured me that I have cured, after some time i went to my doctor to confirmed if I have been finally healed behold it was TRUE, So friends my advice is if you have such sickness or any other at all you can email Dr. Silver (drsilverhealingtemple@gmail.com) sir I am indeed grateful for the help I will forever recommend you to my friends!!! with your lovely Email Address ( drsilverhealingtemple@gmail.com or whatsapp him on +2348123877102

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  25. I’m so excited because my broken marriage has been restored & my husband is back after he left me and our 2 kids for another woman. After 8 years of marriage, me and my husband has been into one quarrel or the other until he finally left me and moved to California to be with another woman. i felt my life was over and my kids thought they would never see their father again. i tried to be strong just for the kids but i could not control the pains that torments my heart, my heart was filled with sorrows and pains because i was really in love with my husband. Every day and night i think of him and always wish he would come back to me, I was really upset and i needed help, so i searched for help online and I came across a website that suggested that DR.Osasu can help get ex back fast. So, I felt I should give him a try. I contacted him and he told me what to do and i did it then he did a (Love spell) for me. 28 hours later, my husband really called me and told me that he miss me and the kids so much, So Amazing!! So that was how he came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and he apologized for his mistake,and for the pain he caused me and the kids. Then from that day,our Marriage was now stronger than how it were before,All thanks to DR.Osasu . he is so powerful and i decided to share my story on the internet that DR.Osasu real and powerful spell caster who i will always pray to live long to help his children in the time of trouble, if you are here and you need your Ex back or your husband moved to another woman, do not cry anymore, contact this powerful spell caster now. Here’s his contact: Email him at:Account:
    drosasu25@gmail.com , you can also call him or add him on Whats-app: +2347064365391,THANKS TO DR. Osasu

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  26. When I found Dr. OKISIN I was desperate in need of bringing my ex lover back. He left me for another woman. It happened so fast and I had no say in the situation at all. He just dumped me after 3 years with no explanation. I contact Dr. OKISIN through his Whats app number +2348109374702  and He told me me what i need to do before he can help me and i did what he told me to, after i provided what he wanted, he cast a love spell to help us get back together. Shortly after he did his spell, my boyfriend started texting me again and felt horrible for what he just put me through. He said that I was the most important person in his life and he knows that now. We moved in together and he was more open to me than before and then he started spending more time with me than before. Ever since Dr. OKISIN helped me, my partner is very stable, faithful and closer to me than before. I highly recommends Dr. OKISIN to anyone in need of help. Email: dr.okisinsolutiontemple@gmail.com Call him or add him on whatsapp via: +2348109374702  ..

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