Four decades into the feminist era, the number one movie at the box office is Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables, in which Eighties action heroes blow stuff up. Right behind is Julia Roberts’ Eat, Pray, Love, in which a divorcée expensively feels sorry for herself in Italy, India, and Indonesia. (Iowa, Indiana, and Idaho presumably being all booked up.)
I don’t think it’s too scandalous in 2010 to point out that these films are aimed at disparate audiences. Today, in fact, it’s hard to remember how nervous such observations made the bien-pensant as recently as the early 1990s, in the wake of the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas brouhaha. Back then, it was almost mandatory to add after any subversive notice of sex differences, “But, of course, that’s all due to dressing baby boys in blue and baby girls in pink; if it weren’t for society, everybody would like the same things.”
When depressed about the intellectual flaccidity of the 21st Century, I cheer myself up by noting that nobody wholly subscribes to feminist orthodoxy anymore. Most people can now admit that social conditioning isn’t what differentiates the sexes; instead, it’s the only hope of their ever getting along civilly. When allowed to indulge their inner fantasies, however, as incarnated in movies such as The Expendables and Eat, Pray, Love, the sexes barely seem to inhabit the same planet.
Eat, Pray, Love is faithfully adapted from magazine writer Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2006 memoir/self-help book, which sold nine million copies. ... It embodies Oprahlosophy so cunningly that I might suspect it of being another hoax, like Oprah’s earlier autobiographical fave, A Million Little Pieces. Yet, trying to discern which events Gilbert might have concocted is pointless, because there are practically no events in the movie.
August 17, 2010
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