Monday, March 14, 2005

The Art of Seduction

This past weekend, I watched “The Lady From Shanghai” (1948) and “Double Indemnity” (1944). “Double Indemnity” was under the regulations of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA--better known as “the Hays office”--1922-1945) but “The Lady From Shanghai” was not under the regulations. Even so, both films followed the movies’ moral code prevalent at the time. Killers had to die, even if we liked them and they were charming. And particularly, women killers had to die, no matter how justified their crime, so they wouldn’t breed more of their kind. I grant you, that last sentence was not in the revised 1930 production code, but it’s not difficult to make the inference. It wasn't until 1960 (“Psycho”) that Hollywood finally broke with nearly 40 years of adhering to the MPPDA formula for morals in the movies. However, this weekend’s double-dose of movies which showed in exquisite detail how two women used their wiles to get men to do their dirty-work had an unsettlingly familiar after-taste. What was I reminded of? And then it hit me. Oh! My God! The Bush administration is the Lair of the Bitch Goddesses. No, not the women in the Bush administration. The men. The BushMen use the tactics that have given bitches a bad name. They govern by using the worst character flaws that society has damned women for. They lie, deceive, cheat, promise anything but deliver nothing. Or, as some wag said about an entertainment diva (turning Churchill’s famous line about the Royal Air Force insideout--“never was so much owed by so many to so few”)--“Never have so many paid so much for so little.” The BushMen tantalize and tease. They carp, nag and say catty things about opponents. They use dirty tricks. They get others to do their dirty work by spreading rumor and gossip. They start conflicts for the fun of starting conflicts. They don’t end conflicts nor do they have any desire to end conflicts. Conflicts are fun. Spreading dissension is fun. Creating mischief is fun. The US (and to a lesser extent, the world) is being governed by a bunch of desperate housewives. It’s also interesting that the Hollywood Production Code of 1930 turns out to be the rules of conduct the far-right neocons have decided the United States should live under. Check it out-- Anyone voting for the Bush administration has been seduced. And seduced in the manner that tarantulas and Venus Flytraps seduce, not in the manner that men seduce. What are we to make of that? Beats me. It’s interesting though, when you think about it, isn’t it?

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