Okay, I have to confess first of all that I’ve only ever seen one episode of Buffy, so forgive my ignorance. But I just read a paragraph in an Entertainment Weekly article (commemorating highlights of the WB channel) describing a key Buffy plot point thus:
Buffy “was compelled to slay her great love, Angel, to save the world. At that point, Angel (David Boreanaz) was switching in and out of his evil alter ego, Angelus, representing death and destruction as much as he did allure and romance. At the operatic climax, Buffy and Angel kissed, then she stabbed him in the chest.”
Sound like a certain recent film climax, anyone?
Jillian and Dormouse, you two watched Buffy faithfully. Did it bother you to see the same plot resolution in X-Men 3? Was it okay because it’s a pretty common myth pattern anyway?
Also, I wanted to bring to prominence a comment Dormouse made on the previous X-Men post, because it’s really interesting:
“Also, I really enjoyed the ending of the movie. B/c I felt like it drove home a really key point–mutation cannot be cured, which, in my mind, indicates there’s nothing wrong there to begin with.
Besides, Rogue’s tragedy really compels me, and I hate the idea that she could just cure herself.”
I definitely agree that there’s nothing about the mutants that needs to be cured. But, on the other hand, I felt quite sympathetic with Rogue’s decision. The form her mutancy took was, to her, more heartbreak than benefit (she can’t touch people she cares about AND she doesn’t have any other powers that work at a distance). Now I can see why you would be upset with her decision if you’re viewing mutancy as a parallel to homosexuality. But what about if you think of it as a parallel to disability? Take a deaf person. Now there’s nothing “wrong” there, either, nothing that makes that individual less than a person. But what if that individual chooses to have a cochlear implant? Some in the deaf community would never want cochlear implants, because they cherish the particularity of that community, including communicating through sign language. And I don’t think people who get cochlear implants are necessarily saying there’s anything wrong with being deaf–they’re simply making a choice about how they want to live their lives.
Of course, Rogue’s decision isn’t about either homosexuality or disability, and yet it’s about both, as well as a whole host of other issues. I do like the complexity of the questions the film raises, how the same question may look different through different angles.
However, given the wiggling chessman at the end of the film, I think we might surmise that Rogue’s “cure” won’t be permanent anyway.
June 3rd, 2006
I’ve been meaning to write about this for a long time, as it’s one of my little stump speeches, but I am just now getting around to it. More than the historical errors, more than the silly conspiracy theories, what drives me nuts about The Da Vinci Code (the book) is its veneer of the “sacred feminine,” under which lies the deep philosophy of “sex is all about what men get out of it.”
For example, here’s the passage that makes me stomp around and kick things. Langdon is lecturing his adoring students at Harvard (yeah, right) when he veers slightly off topic and offers to give them “this bit of advice about your sex lives”:
All the men in the audience leaned forward, listening intently.
‘The next time you find yourself with a woman, look in your heart and see if you cannot approach sex as a mystical, spiritual act. Challenge yourself to find that spark of divinity that man can only achieve through union with the sacred feminine.’
The women smiled knowingly, nodding.
Blechhh! If this is feminist, then, well . . . the world is even more depressing than I thought it was. Granted, Langdon is talking to the male students at this point, but, even so, I’ve never read anything so male-centered trying to pass itself off as being enlightened toward women. And, if women exist so that you can get access to the divine through them, what the heck are women (heterosexual women, anyway, which I think are the only kind that exist in Dan Brown’s world) supposed to do to have a spiritual experience? Oh, I forgot. We don’t have to. We’re just naturally more in touch with the divine. Which is why we were supposed to be “the angels in the house” back in the 19th century, imparting our naturally superior religious virtues to our offspring. Don’t you love it when Victorian gender ideals get recycled in contemporary bestsellers?
And then there’s the whole chalice-and-blade symbolism thing, which just goes to reinforce the whole “all men are like this, and all women are like that” sort of view that characterizes the novel. Women, represented by the V-shape of the chalice, are thus reduced to being represented by their uteruses, which, may I remind everyone, are not really involved in sex itself. Let’s just randomly pick an organ to represent men sexually, like, say, the epididymis, which as far as I know, is just a passageway and has nothing to do with pleasure. Anyway, uteruses are of course receptacles, which seems to be the main role for women in The Da Vinci Code. Mary Magdalene receives Jesus’ sperm and thus becomes the “Holy Grail” continuing his bloodline; Sophie, as a character, seems to exist mainly to receive Langdon’s superior wisdom.
And this is supposed to be an improvement on the Catholic Church’s treatment of women? It actually sounds rather similar to the view once traditionally taken by the Church: women’s primary role is reproduction, and sex is not about pleasure (at least, not for women). Now, I’ll be first to say that both Catholics and Protestants have a lot to atone for in their historical attitudes towards women and sex. But viewing women as vessels is hardly progress.
Neither is reducing men OR women to their sexual (or reproductive, as the case may be) organs. In incarnational Christianity, sex does indeed have spiritual significance, as a celebration of the body’s created goodness. And that’s why, if there were actually any historical proof that Jesus were married, Christians should have no problem with it. It would have been one more way that Jesus lived out human life with us. I can’t offer any explanation as to why Jesus was single and celibate, rather than married with children. But I have my own little idea, and it goes like this:
Many particulars of Jesus’ life align him with the oppressed, the social outcasts. Though Dan Brown is absolutely wrong in his assertion that no Jewish man in Jesus’ day would have been single (Hey, Dan, you know those Dead Sea Scroll thingies that you reference? Do you actually know anything about the Essenes who produced them?), he is right that men or women without children were looked down upon, perhaps even considered cursed by God. If you were a barren woman in the 1st century, think how much hope you would find in the fact that your Messiah had no children, either. Or if you were, say, a male eunuch. I’ve always found the story of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 9: 26-40) one of the most moving in the New Testament. Here’s a man considered by his culture to be incomplete, and he finds himself (by no coincidence, I’m sure), reading over a passage from Isaiah:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So he did not open his mouth.
In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.”
Then Philip comes along and explains how this passage can be applied to Jesus’ life. And the eunuch learns that God, when God became a human, didn’t have any children either. And yet Jesus was as whole as any human has ever been. And you are whole, too. Good news indeed.
Human sex can play a role in showing God’s goodness and glory, but humans, according to God, are not defined by their sexual organs—which ones they have, or whether they have them or not. I find that a whole lot more liberating than pseudo-feminist “sacred feminine” bushwah.
June 3rd, 2006