...as logical problems arise: How good a film in the new Little Women?
Presumably, opinions differ. But even before the film was released on Christmas Day, we were told it was facing a problem.
The report appeared in Vanity Fair, with Anthony Breznican doing the honors. The "public screenings" to which he refers seem to have been industry screenings.
BREZNICAN (12/17/19): Little Women Has a Little Man ProblemPascal was doing a lot of mind-reading, but also perhaps a bit of selling. Vanity Fair played along.
The first public screenings of Little Women were filled to capacity, but the distributors and awards-season strategists behind Greta Gerwig’s new film were worried nonetheless. The audience was overwhelmingly comprised of women—and the voting memberships of various Hollywood awards ceremonies are obviously not.
That trend may account for why the critically beloved adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel had an underwhelming showing in last week’s awards nominations. The team behind the film hopes to reverse that by the time Oscar nomination voting opens on January 2.
“It’s a completely unconscious bias. I don’t think it’s anything like a malicious rejection,” said producer Amy Pascal. Still, she doesn’t believe men gave the movie a shot. RSVPs for the first screening in October, as well as many others that Sony Pictures hosted around Los Angeles in recent weeks, were skewed about two to one in favor of women. ”I don’t think that [men] came to the screenings in droves, let me put it that way,” Pascal said. “And I’m not sure when they got their [screener] DVDs that they watched them.”
At that time, Little Women hadn't done especially well in the early award nomination chase—specifically, in nominations by the Golden Globes and by the Screen Actors Guild.
A few weeks later, the film would do much better in the Oscar nominations, where it racked up nominations for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress awards.
How poorly was Little Women doing when Breznican wrote his piece? Consider its total shutout among the SAG nominations.
The Screen Actors Guild only gives acting awards. That said, it didn't nominate any individuals from Little Women, and it didn't nominate the cast of the film for its ensemble acting award.
Did this result from the gender bias Pascal described as "completely unconscious?" Or is it possible that SAG members simply thought that five other casts had done a better job overall?
In these latter days of our nation's experiment, such questions are no longer asked. Instead, the children take numbers and stand in line, waiting to repeat the highly speculative bias claims which routinely emerge from us on the floundering cultural left.
Panic invaded our tribal ranks in the wake of Pascal's complaints. On December 21, Janet Maslin tweeted a call to arms.
Maslin said she knew three men who didn't want to see Gerwig's film. The alarm went exactly like this:
MASLIN (12/21/19): The “Little Women” problem with men is very real. I don’t say that lightly and am very alarmed.So read Maslin's first tweet. Given the dumbness of our tribe, three no longer seemed like a comically tiny "N."
In the past day have been told by 3 male friends who usually trust me that they either refuse to see it or probably won’t have time. Despite my saying it’s tied for #1 of 2019.
Inevitably, the New York Times jumped into the fray with its own report about the film's alleged man problem. Inevitably, the internal logic of the Times report may have been even dumber than Maslin's.
The essay was written by Kristy Eldredge. Online, it appears beneath these headlines:
Men Are Dismissing ‘Little Women.’ What a Surprise.Who but the Times writes piddle like that, in which "men" are said to have "dismissed" and "rejected" Gerwig's film?
The rejection of the latest screen adaptation of the beloved novel echoes a long-held sentiment toward women-centered narratives.
Who but the Times writes such foofaw? And sure enough! In the body of Eldredge's piece, Times subscribers were soon invited to swallow logic like this as Eldredge advanced Maslin's claim:
ELDREDGE (12/27/19): One of its producers, Amy Pascal, told the magazine she believes many male voters have avoided it because of an “unconscious bias.”Pascal had diagnosed an "unconscious bias" in industry types. On what basis was Eldredge now willing to say that this bias had "seemed to trickle down to the casual male viewer?"
While the box office numbers following its release on Wednesday suggest the movie has found a decent audience—it placed third, behind the new “Star Wars” and the latest “Jumanji,” on opening day—that unconscious bias has seemed to trickle down to the casual male viewer as well, if Twitter is any indication. The New York Times critic Janet Maslin recently tweeted her surprise at the “active hostility about ‘Little Women’ from men I know, love and respect.”
She also described the movie’s “problem with men” as “very real.” Someone tweeted in response: “It’s not a ‘problem.’ We just don’t care.”
On what basis did Eldredge make that statement? Simple! That seemed to be true, Eldredge said, "if Twitter is any indication." And then, explaining what she meant, she cited a single tweet in response to Maslin, in which one person had said that men "just don't care" about the new film.
Maslin had employed an "N" of three. The New York Times was now willing to roll with an "N" of one! The sheer stupidity put on display exemplifies the "very stable dumbness" to which future anthropologists now routinely refer as they describe the events which led to the global conflagration they refer to as Mister Trump's War.
Sad! Liberal and mainstream reporters and pundits have been behaving this way for decades. When cultural guardians are routinely this dumb, can a Trump be far behind?
Experts insist that this exquisite dumbness stems from a basic longing of the so-called rational animal. At times of tribal conflict, these celebrated experts say, we humans wanted to tell the simplest possible stories—stories in which members of our own group or guild were pitiable innocent victims, and The Others were just extremely bad.
Future experts say we descended into an "identity Babel" during the decades which eventually led to our Trump. Strange as it seems, they say the punditry surrounding Little Women offers a window into the way these identity bubbles worked.
The dumbness was general, these experts all say. And it wasn't all found Over There!
Next week, we'll turn to the pixels of Vox to explore the rational animal's values. Scribes at Vox have gone all in on the greatness of Gerwig's well-reviewed film. Their logic, and the values they've revealed in the process, give us a look at the era's brainpower, and at the era's soul.
Coming next week: Marmee's anger, Professor Bhaer's girth and the cultural values of Vox
Along with an N of two: Maslin ran with an N of 3. Eldredge went with an N of 1 as she diagnosed the mistreated film's man problem.
Yesterday, we discussed a somewhat similar report in the Washington Post. How did Ellen McCarthy know that female candidates pay a price for employing humor?
Simple! She scrolled through a list of YouTube comments, then went with an N of 2! She had found two (2) different men making critical comments about a joke one (1) candidate told!
At the upper end of our national press, rational animals have been playing the game this way for a very long time. According to despondent future experts, this left us with no lines of defense against the appearance of Trump.