Stupid Girls

Thursday, May 20, 2010

TELEVISION: "Bernice Bobs her Hair"

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Ok, so HOW is Fitzgerald such an icon of American literature? I understand how the bob was such a symbol of the newly liberated woman, truly I do; that's why I watched this. But there's none of that in this piece. Women are groomed, domestic, house pets: it's hideous! The story is taken from letters Fitzgerald wrote to a young, female relative, telling her how to be more attractive to men. Sad. If I'd met a man from an ivy league school, I'd be brimming with questions about curriculum and all! I get that these are self conscious and small minded youngsters; does that deserve a story? Does it deserve a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to make into such a lackluster and poorly produced piece for public broadcasting? First thing, the tape hiss is horrible, and I have tinnitus, so I'm accustomed to a hiss. The sound engineer should be badly punished for the terrible mixing of interior scenes. I blame this, in part, for shooting inside real houses: floor clunks, reverb off walls, etc. But a good sound engineer could have mitigated these. The house interiors and veranda were death to camera people with dollies, too, it would seem. At one point on the veranda, I got the feeling the camera was about to tip over! I guess they did not use tracks in such a confined space. I think a sound stage was warranted. Duvall is a waste of time and always has been (note her performances in The Shining and in Popeye: she is dead from the neck up -- and down). If I were to broadcast a version of this today, I would set it in East Los Angeles, with an all Latino cast. In fact, America Ferrera would be a great Bernice and the other woman can be played by Ana Ortiz. This is one of those pieces that makes white women look like air heads, during an era when we were actually working for a living, thanks to WWI. We also began to wear more practical clothing, dance, smoke & drink in public, attend universities, postpone marriage, organize labor unions and exercise our franchise for the first time in U.S. history. So, if this is what Fitzgerald thought of us back in the day, it is no wonder it is taking so long for us to sneak up to earning seventy cents to every dollar men earn. The comedy of this is lost on me. I hated all these people -- even, I am sorry to say, Bud Cort, who I had hoped would be as cool as he was in Harold and Maude. I feel much better about never having read Fitzgerald now. And I was an English major!