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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Roger and Me

   I'm sure most of you know what "ego surfing" is. It is when you enter your own name into an internet search engine and see if any references pop up. I am wont to do that on occasion.
   Once I did so, and was surprised to find my name appearing on an Amazon page. I knew none of my books were listed on Amazon, mainly because I have none. Clicking through to the page, I found a surprise.

   In the early '90s, Roger Ebert, long-time film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, hosted a film review site and "blog" (whatever it was called back then—the name escapes me) on AOL. Once I wrote him concerning the movie Jurassic Park. Little did I know that a portion of what I wrote would find its way into one of Roger's books, Questions For The Movie Answer Man.
   Here is my question from page 178 (which I assume I can quote in full, since it's my words):
I am extremely disquieted by the blatant feminist slant of Jurassic Park. Three examples: 1. At one point Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) states: "Man creates dinosaurs. Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth." This was not in the book. 2. As the Dern character is about to venture outside to restore power to the compound, the Attenborough character suggests he go, since he is a man. Sattler's response: "Cut the crap." Again, not in the book. 3. In the movie, it is the young girl who restores the computer, which saves the remnant. Not in the book! In the book, it is a male character. P-U-L-E-E-E-Z-E!! I am beginning to believe the most prescient person on film today is indeed Michael Medved, who says it is rare to find a film that does not have a liberal agenda.

Ebert's response:
Are we all agreed that portraying competent female characters is a liberal trait?

   That is a clever rejoinder, although it only appears in the book. In personal emails that ensued over the next few days, I explained how I felt much of the feminist agenda was unnecessary in movies, and pointed out remarkable women who stood strong without it, from Garland's Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz, to Sally Field's Edna Spalding in Places in the Heart, even to Kathleen Turner's Matty Walker in Body Heat. I used examples from film noir in the forties and fifties, where men were tough, and women were tougher. And Roger ended up agreeing with me on my primary point.

   I didn't know then, as I know now, that Ebert was a life-long liberal, which makes me even more respectful of his gracious dialogue with me. And I was then, as is obvious from the letter, a card-carrying member of the Religious Right, or at least one who felt that Hollywood was out to destroy Christianity. (I now know that they are not—they could care less about Christ, but they do enjoy portraying mankind, and Christians especially, in all our glorious fallenness.)
   Part of me regrets that my only published words seem so foolish, but hey, that's show business.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

"My only published words..." you could change that. Then Ebert's quote of you will only be one of your MANY published words. And if I ever quote you, and it gets published, I'll make sure you come off wickedly clever, which would be quite accurate.