Monday, February 16, 2004
Mysoginistic River

Mystic River

Misogynistic River

The real victim is the feminist movement.



Too true that all the women in the film are treated unfairly - not least because they are only there as fulcrums for and reflections of the male characters.  I’m not sure that the men get a much better treatment, though: their ‘tough-guy’ masculine ideal and their seperation from women and femininity are what constantly cause them suffering and confusion, and bring about the murder of Dave.  To me, that ultra-masuline pose seems ridiculous and dangerous from the beginning, and the film serves to illustrate - intentionally or not -how foolish and dangerous it is.  However, there is reinforcement of the masculine archetype in Shawn’s story, in the psychoanalytical subtext of the gun.  Shawn starts out as being somewhat emasculated because he has been abandoned by his wife and pleads with her to come back.  In the climactic scene when he confronts the teenaged murderer, he is again temporarily emasculated when he is forced to drop his gun.  Then, he overpowers the murderer, thereby proving that his gun is strongest, and is rewarded with the return of his woman.  There is a similar but more ambiguous subtext between Jimmy and Dave.  Jimmy shoots the gunless Dave, and, though mistaken about Dave’s crime, is rewarded with the loyalty of his wife.
Your statement that Dave becomes “powerless, weaker and therefore feminized” worries me.  Dave is a ‘broken man’ but do we accept that to be less of a man means to be more of a woman?  Or do you mean that this is true in the context of the film?  I think Dave is punished for being less of a man, and not as another form of female oppression.  His death is acceptable in the eyes of the group - including himself - not for his violent action against pedophiles, but for his lifetime of unmanliness.  His aggressive actions show that he still deep inside, he was still a ‘real man’ and worthy of some respect, if only posthumously.
Of course, none of this changes the fact that the film reinforces the worst stereotypes of masculine behaviour, giving men in general a bad rep.  The female characters get a poor treatment mostly by neglect, but the men are shown to be true monsters.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 20 Feb 04 at 08:54 AM
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