Saturday, January 21, 2012
The Throwaway Woman Plot Device
Watched Ides of March last night. Decent writing, great acting, but I felt twitchy at the end. Today I'm bothered. A couple of lines trouble me. A young woman confesses she's been out to f--k the man she's with, expects nothing, and won't tell anyone. Dialogue ensues, he tells her she's quite mature. It's a clinker line, doesn't make any sense. Mature? And once more we have what I'm going to start calling a Throwaway Woman part. A construct, a plaything, a victim, a plot device; completely erasable. Ides of March compounds the fault by introducing a replacement Throwaway Woman at the end. This is a cynical movie, full of steely jawed guys and dolls out to get what they want from everyone and everything, squeeze out the juice and toss the pulp away. The woman journalist is salivating like a junkie for the scoop in every scene she's in. Power and glory addicts. That's fine. Humans are a greedy bunch, politicians moreso, and I like that Marisa Tomei gets to chew up the scenery with the boys. I know I'm hypersensitive to women roles in movies, that there are movies I don't want shown on the same planet I'm on, movies I will never watch. I choose for potential good writing and elevated story sense. Even in the movies I do watch, too high a percentage have a Throwaway Woman. Usually she's in the credits as First Victim, or Dead Girl, no name. Cannon fodder. When Throwaway Woman is a major player in the piece it reminds me that our culture is like that. Filmmakers probably don't give a single thought to this lazy plot device. It's more than lazy, though. It's insidious.