AWFJ Women On Film – The Week In Women, September 5, 2009 – MaryAnn Johanson

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What if a gal doesn’t want movies as her mistress? Also: Hollywood rapes women, a boob-ilicious tale, and how to get fired on network TV.

TALK ABOUT THE MALE GAZE… Film journos Glenn Kenny and David Poland have obviously been having a bit of a tiff over something or other lately: I’m not quite sure how it started or what it was about, but the curious tenor of their making-up struck me. It happened in the comments section of a recent post of Kenny’s at The Auteurs, where Poland wrote:

I don’t think we are all that different, Glenn. We love the same girl. You seem to think I am abusing her, living off her by selling peeks at her tits and ass, while you really love her, body and soul. I don’t see it that way.

And Kenny responded:

You are right—we are both in thrall to the same mistress. So are our various allies, enemies, and so on and so forth.

Well, now, I’m neither an enemy nor an ally of either man, but I am a professional colleague, and I don’t consider film a mistress whom I am in the thrall of. It’s not a bad metaphor for how a man might feel about any passion of his — such as film — and I’m not suggesting that either Poland or Kenny shouldn’t have used it. And it’s certainly not a new metaphor for a man’s overriding interest in something, but one we’ve heard many times before.

But it made me consider that I haven’t come across a similar metaphor to describe a woman’s love for movies (or, for that matter, anything else). The entire dynamic of a man’s relationship with a mistress simply has no parallel for a woman seeking the same metaphoric meaning. There are undertones of illicitness and the thrill that comes with that when we’re talking about a man’s love of his mistress, as well as aspects of power, on both sides of the relationship. But even if I — or any other female critic or movie fanatic — likened film to my lover (and I have indeed often referenced “falling in love” with a particular movie, or movies overall), it’s not as powerful a metaphor as the mistress one.

It’s something I’m going to be looking out for, now that I’ve been struck by this: is there a way for a woman film fan to adequately describe her relationship with film that works as well as the mistress metaphor works for men?

HOLLYWOOD HATES WOMEN: THE EARLY YEARS. It’s a documentary about Hollywood’s longstanding tradition of using and abusing women, so of course it’s not coming soon to a theater near you. But you can watch Girl 27 online, completely free, at Snag Films. AWFJ’s Jennifer Merin describes the film:

Girl 27 is an expose of a Hollywood scandal dating from 1937 when Patricia Douglas, an underage contract dancer for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, was invited to Louis B Mayer’s lavish party for the studio’s most successful salesmen. The night of the big bash, Douglas and 119 other ‘girls’ (who were officially listed as numbers) were transported to a rural ranch where studio westerns were shot and it was there, in the parking lot, that this documentary’s leading lady (girl 27) said no to one of the salesmen — and was raped.

As other women who were at this and other such galas comment in the film, rape was not an uncommon complaint in Hollywood studio circles — but it was one that was never made public. The gals who were under contract as dancers, extras and bit players were wholely dependent on the studios for their livelihoods, so they kept their lips zipped. Not so the emotionally devastated Patricia Douglas, who was so outraged she dared to go public with her accusation. Her story was headline news, replacing even the tragic death of Carol Lombard on the front pages of every newspaper in town. Then the story abruptly disappeared, completely squelched and covered up by MGM. Patricia Douglas vanished, too. Until now.

I haven’t seen the film yet, but it’s going right to the top of my to-watch list…

LOST: TITS. IF FOUND, PLEASE CALL EVA MENDES. I thought Huffington Post was supposed to be progressive. Guess not, or else it would never have whipped up a story out of how Eva Mendes appears to have smaller breasts than she once did.


Eva Mendes burst onto the scene in 2001’s “Training Day,” has been a staple on Maxim’s Hot 100 list since 2002 (#7 in 2007 & 2008) and earns a nice side income rolling around in sheets for Calvin Klein.

But somewhere along the way the actress may have lost her famous curves.

Mendes is in Venice to premiere her new movie, and while she looks as gorgeous as ever, is something amiss?

And then there’s a series of photos for you to make the determination yourself.

I look forward to Huffington Post’s expose on whether Nicolas Cage’s penis is smaller than it once was. I mean, if you look closely at his crotch in recent photos, the bulge certainly looks smaller than it did just two years ago. What gives?

YOU’RE DOING A GREAT JOB. YOU’RE FIRED. Michaela Watkins was fired from Saturday Night Live this week, the second of two female cast members let go (the other was Casey Wilson). But two new female comics were added, Jenny Slate and Nasim Pedrad, so the gender balance of the cast remains the same.

This is the weird thing: the reason for Watkins’ firing by SNL honcho Lorne Michaels, as she revealed to Entertainment Weekly:

The only explanation I got from him — and he’s not known to say things just to make people feel better — was that he felt deep down that I should have my own show…. What he said is he’s trying to get what’s best for him and best for me. He said it had nothing to do with talent. And I’m just going to go on that. That was his only explanation.

Hear that? She was just too good for SNL.

I look forward to NBC’s firing of Lorne Michaels for being just too successful in keeping the show on the air lo these many years, even through the long dry spells when it was absolute crap.

OPENING THIS WEEK. The ongoing infantilization of women continues with All About Steve, in which 45-year-old Sandra Bullock plays a character who acts like an overgrown 12-year-old. Because it’s so adorable when adult women act like children. Bullock also produced the film, so we can only conclude that she approves of this. Thanks, Sandy, for making things so much harder for us all. (Get all the details on movies by and about women opening this week at the AWFJ’s regular rundown.)

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MaryAnn Johanson

MaryAnn Johanson is a freelance writer on film, TV, DVD, and pop culture from New York City and now based in London. She is the webmaster and sole critic at, which debuted in 1997 and is now one of the most popular, most respected, and longest-running movie-related sites on the Internet. Her film reviews also appear in a variety of alternative-weekly newspapers across the U.S. Johanson is one of only a few film critics who is a member of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (the Webby organization), an invitation-only, 500-member body of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities. She is also a member of the Online Film Critics Society. She has appeared as a cultural commentator on BBC Radio, LBC-London, and on local radio programs across North America, and she served as a judge at the first Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Film Festival at the 2003 I-Con, the largest SF convention on the East Coast. She is the author of The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride, and is an award-winning screenwriter. Read Johanson's recent articles below. For her archive, type "MaryAnn Johanson" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).