Sunday Morning, “Death Proof,” and Making My Own Space

I swear to Goddess I’m two people. One week I wake up desiring church, ritual, and the whole patriarchal nine yards. Another morning, today, I wake up and the thought of church makes me slightly bilious. I find that I’ve successfully bifurcated myself into one half that respects societal norms and another half that follows passion and my true self at any cost. I realize this dissociative nature stems from my childhood where there were always the “secret” and the “public” spaces in which I moved. No one was supposed to find out about the “secret” outside of the extremely carnival horror household I grew up in. The public self was an extension of that self that acted without any holds barred, one freed from the “birdcage” so to speak. More often than not this led me into more dangerous situations as I grew older, but they were situations of my own choosing and I was, fortunately, enterprising enough, or god damn lucky enough to extricate myself from them before I got hurt.

Today, I woke up resenting religion’s tight reign on society with its frozen death grip of rules and regulations. Existentialist philosophers have always written that human beings must learn to live authentically; that we should re-center our lives around our most authentic selves and not to be afraid of it. Education, they say, empowers us to look back on our lives and see the courses we’ve taken and the paths we’ve probably not chosen with full knowledge. They advise living “in the moment” not looking to much into the past and not expecting too much of the future. I recall living that way as a teenager. The future was not to be looked at and the past was an impetus for current action. Now, that I’m grown, I see that we can make wiser choices living in the moment. No matter what brought us here, we can always choose right?

On another subject, or maybe not completely another subject, I have a predilection for horror films. I also like a lot of action films and while romantic comedies will always suck me in, films that are traditionally “guy” flicks always get my blood going. I loved Fight Club when every other woman I knew hated it (except for my wonderfully mind-linked uber-friend, Alyce) I loved Sin City and horror films do not make me flinch too awfully much. You see, I find the precarious situations in these films far less horrifying than real life has been. I’d say that having a face-off with one’s 220 pound, 6 foot tall step-father with a ripped in half cupboard door in one hand and a murderous gleam in his eye will do far more to make one nervous than any mere celluloid situation. Lately, Quentin Tarantino has become my new directorial hero. Since I saw Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill I and II, I wait for what he will make next with much expectation. While some see exploitation (or sexploitaton), I see exploitation turned on its sexist head, and a keen insight into the female and male minds. Last week my hubby and I watched Tarantino’s Grindhouse movie, Death Proof, (click the link for Erich Kuersten’s transgressive review) starring Kurt Russell and a whole host of other famous/obscure actors. We had just watched Tarantino’s Grindhouse zombie flick Planet Terror with our 21 year old daughter and we wanted her to see the second one, which was much better. So she came over and we watched it again. Watching a movie multiple times is always a fruitful thing to do. It made so much more sense to me the second time. Besides, watching Kurt Russell in his creepiest, slimiest, love him/hate him role ever didn’t hurt either.

The movie focuses on two sets of girlfriends. Each group has a familial tightness about them that makes one envious. Guys will watch the film for the wonderful lap dance Vanessa Ferlito gives Russell,

but it’s the women that make the movie here. It’s all about female friendships and the way they look out for each other, that is, those who are within their circle of friends and who “get” the girl culture. This movie isn’t for the squeamish as there is a horrific and graphic car crash that bifurcates (no pun intended) the first half of the movie from the second half. Tarantino is brilliant in that he portrays the 70s in a dazzling anachronistic way so that we are always left a little unsettled about the line between past and present. He is making clear the comparisons between the sets of girlfriends and the messages they convey to each other and to us; the audience. The ending was one of the best in film history, in my humble opinion. Go Rosario Dawson! The message I got is that we women have come a LONG LONG way and learned much since the 70s. There is never a sense that these women need rescued by anyone even though Tarantino suggests that the audience will think this and then some. These women’s strength is in their awareness and in their personal friendships. Sure, bad things happen to all of us, but it doesn’t always have to. The second half of the movie shows us that tables can turn and we don’t always have to accept our roles society places on us. We make good choices and we make bad choices. But overall, we have the CHOICE. We don’t “allow” men to give it to us. We take and make the choices ourselves. For good or for ill, it still remains our choice.

Godde, movies are great, aren’t they?

Sundays are becoming very fruitful when I remember that I can have faith and still refuse to enable the male institutions that have traditionally oppressed me. Taking a stand against being lured into an all-male ritual space again and again is the choice I have to make over and over in order to further the strength I’ve earned in the past. No one “rescued me” either when I was 15 years old. I rescued myself. There’s always the point where we have to say “enough is enough.” Unfortunately, I don’t seem to learn my lessons as well as I get older. Existentialism is great for now, but eventually looking back helps us to quit making the same mistakes, but nostalgia blurs the sharpness of that time. I find that I’m constantly looking back; always making sure I don’t fall for the same lures and tricks that I always fell for before. Keeping balance in an increasingly unbalanced, male-privileged world is the lot of women. Fortunately, the teeter is beginning to totter our way and will continue to do so whenever we refuse to participate in those “ties that bind.” I’d rather live with my hands unbound, thank you very much.

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