What The Heck Is Going On Here? Of “Little Women” And Authentic Frontier Feminist Gibberish

I wonder if what is going on here is that over-heated feminist fervor absent appropriate criticism for fear of being labeled sexist is causing a lot of women to lose touch with proportion and reality.

“Here” is this article in the Daily Beast: What the ‘Little Women’ Outrage Is Conveniently Missing.

I couldn’t resist clicking on it; what could that title possibly mean? There is outrage over “Little Women”? What? How? So I read the essay, authored by Cassie de Costa, a freelance writer who used to work at Medium as a writer-at-large and at The New Yorker as an assistant editor.  one would think she would understand the basic requirements of writing such things; you know, coherence, clarity, a reason. I think the last time I felt so confused reading anything was when I tried to complete “Godel, Escher, Bach.” Was I being gaslighted?  Here’s part of the first paragraph:

Recently, former New York Times film critic Janet Maslin shared her “disbelief” regarding attitudes toward filmmaker Greta Gerwig’s recent adaptation of Little Women (one of several, with the first  woman-helmed one coming in 1994 from Gillian Armstrong), which has been ignored and rebuffed by men in Maslin’s circle. She tweeted that “[t]he Little Women problem is very real. I don’t say that lightly and am very alarmed. In the past day I have been told by 3 male friends who usually trust me that they either refuse to see it or probably won’t have time. Despite my saying it’s tied for #1 of 2019.” She is also troubled by the relative lack of appreciation the film has received from awards committees, from the major ones to the critics’ associations, and even ones with exclusively female membership….

Oh, I see. This is a long, long article about what a self-absorbed ex-Times film critic—female critic; I’m sorry, that is very, very important—tweeted in anger because her male friends said that they weren’t all excited about seeing the latest version of “Little Women.” What is this, a practical joke? Who gets angry because someone doesn’t want to see a movie? If someone does, why is this irrational reaction worthy of an essay in the Daily Beast?

The essay continues by asking why Maslin was upset—as if anyone should care—beginning with this sentence, which nearly made me quit reading:

Why, of all films, publicly lament the anecdotal misogyny faced by Greta Gerwig’s Little Women?

Anecdotal misogyny? Because some full grown men don’t want to see another adaptation of “Little Women,” which is based on a novel written for little girls? This is the fourth “Little Women,” and I saw the first three. I don’t need to see another one; Janet Maslin can bite me.

Then the essay jumps the proverbial shark, with earnest, rambling sections like this:

And for these white professional women of means, their foremost audience—even beyond other women—is their white male counterparts. This is the ideology of corporatized, lean-in feminism, which springs from the fountain of neoliberal thinking—if the men won’t reward our striving, we will never achieve their power. While Maslin has written about and praised films by non-white, poor, and queer women and men, her most vocal outrage of the year of course belongs to the kind of film that was meant to succeed in the first place: the career-successful white feminist manifesto, in period dress.

What are we talking about again? Is it intersectionality? In “Little Women”?  What’s so important about Greta Gerwig? Yeah, I know that she got an Oscar nomination for “Lady Bird,” and it’s a good movie. So? I don’t care whether a director is male or female. It shouldn’t matter, but as I have noted before, if every female director feels that she has to use her position to turn a film into feminist propaganda, then I’ll care, and avoid movies directed by women. And if female essayists get in the habit of writing navel-gazing tripe like de Costa’s piece, I may avoid them too.

The latest obnoxious strain of feminism is making women fanatics, bigots, demagogues and worst of all, bores, and someone should tell them. They’re wasting our time, testing our good will, and undermining their own position.

28 thoughts on “What The Heck Is Going On Here? Of “Little Women” And Authentic Frontier Feminist Gibberish

  1. It’s a catch-22. You can’t tell the women engaging in this behavior, that they are bores. It just shows that you are a misogynist that doesn’t take them seriously, patronizes them, or condescends. Any critiscm from males will be just proving the point of patriarchal oppression. Female critiscm will also be dismissed, because these critics will be suffering from internalized misogyny and vote against their own interests. So then you have to agree with the feminist, which gives credence to their premise of patriarchal oppression and just proves the point of “Everything is terrible”. Isn’t it great to be beholden to leftism, everything has an answer, and that answer is (insert you choice)-ism. What a perverse cult that just makes you depressed and angry.

  2. Ann Althouse covered this today. I thought it was noteworthy, that she pointed out that “Little Women” is geared towards young girls. Not exactly a surprise that grown men aren’t exactly clamoring for this material. That’s like being surprised that women didn’t really show up for the latest Jason Statham action movie, with lots of shooting, car chases and explosions. Who’d a thunk it, huh? And the award for Most Self-Absorbed Prig goes to… Janet Maslin!

  3. Way, way too much attention is being paid to this dumb controversy, but Ace of Spades has an amusing, and typical for the acerbic blogger, solution:

    Well, it just so happens that I have the perfect solution to this crisis — a solution proposed and enforced by the Social Justice Warriors currently complaining that men don’t want to see movies made for women.

    In the past six or so years, whenever Social Justice Warriors and feminists decided that there aren’t “enough women” going to see male-starring action movies, the SJWs/feminists always prescribed the same cure: that we entice women by putting more women into the movies.

    Make 007 a woman. Make the Ghostbusters all-female. Make the hero in five of the six Disney Star Wars movies a progressive white woman.

    So, applying this same solution to “Little Women” — if the producers of the film wanted men to come, they should have offered more Male Representation in their films, and perhaps have gender-bent most of the female characters to male?

    See, if women don’t See Themselves on the Screen, they’re not being represented, and a great crime is being committed.

    So why aren’t people outraged that Men Can’t See Themselves on Screen in Little Women?

    Also, the SJWs always demand more “diversity” in casting. That is both good for business and a necessary virtue signal, they tell us.

    So I need to know: Why are there not more black women in Little Women? Where are the transwomen, for that matter?

    Or is it that leftwing feminist white women are excluded from the same demands of Gender and Racial Representation they impose on all male-skewing entertainments?

    By the way: I don’t want any women to think I actually want Little Women to be turned into a mixed-race British version of the Dukes of Hazzard.

    I think women should be entitled to have the sorts of entertainments that appeal to them, without being adulterated and distorted by bizarre racial-and-gender bean-counting identity politics.

    I’m just asking: Why can’t men have the same thing?

    I also hope I haven’t offended anyone by speaking of white women feminists. Note the “Feminists” at the end.

    I like white women, obviously. But White Women Feminists are playing a devious and cynical game in always championing diversity for others, while branding themselves as “diverse” (despite being white, and despite being women, who are the majority of the population) and then just taking most of the Diversity Slots they themselves demanded.

    A lot of nonwhite feminists notice this double game, too, and criticize White Women Feminists for using the rhetoric of diversity to get quotas and set-asides for themselves.

    None of that applies to white women (or any other women) who are not feminists, of course. It’s just White Women Feminists, specifically, who use a lot of black faces in their PR advertisements for diversity, and then fill up the top slots with their own white faces.

    • I’m waiting for some brave soul to do a remake of the basic Tarzan story with a black man in the lead role. Imagine the SJW/diversity crowd tying themselves in knots trying to decide how to handle that.

          • Indeed. I was thinking of the schizophrenia-inducing conflict such a casting would cause in the community of racial justice arbiters. A black man in a traditionally strong white male role, good! (e.g, Will Smith as James West, Idris Elba suggested for James Bond, ). A black man as a member of a family of apes, and often behaving like one….uh-oh…

            • Come to think of it, the entire traditional Tarzan canon should probably be put down the memory hole because of the obvious bigotry of the apes, themselves. Presumably, they would have had numerous opportunities to adopt an orphaned black child, but waited until a white one was available.

        • See my reply to Jut, below. But yes, once you start assigning roles to serve a social justice agenda rather than to facilitate the story, the spiral into absurdity could be endless. Introducing elements that jar the viewer out of his suspension of disbelief run counter to what should be the aim of a production to engage and hold the attention of the audience. It’s a form of disrespect.

  4. Even as a female, a female geek, a reader who adored the novel when growing up, the previews left my Spidey sense tingling/BS detector blaring/a bad feeling in the Force. As a female writer hoping to bootstrap my writing career along with family duties, I greatly admire Ms. Alcott. Scholars have been using the “Primary Colors” analysis to try to identify Alcott’s potboilers under many pseudonyms.

    One line in the preview had a Pinnochio that totally did not match her pragmatic career or novel. Now if they wanted to bring in explicit 1970’s issues in feminism, it would be more honest to have the movie about feminists making a “Little Women” movie about a ‘can-do’ era by a woman hugely influenced by thinkers like (near-uncle) Thoreau. That way they could include modern controversy without breaking the period of the book.

    But this would be playing fair with the classic and honoring the work created by one of the great early female professional writers…

    They might as well have done a Flintstones version. People of the Victorian era did not see issues in a modern light, and it is a disservice to warp a YA tale to fit a world closing on two centuries later. Who expects or desires scenes about green energy in the Three Musketeers? How many think much now about celebs who went around with chips on their shoulders last century, like these aggressive 3rd wave feminists? Woke message movies will become as much unloved curiosities and laughed at as “Reefer Madness” is now.

    • Not far from my home town of Arlington, Mass is the wonderful town of Concord, home of the battlefield, Walden Pond, and best of all, the Wayside, Nathanial Hawthorne’s home, where he wrote The Scarlet Letter, House of the Seven Gables, Twice Told Tales, and other novels. In addition to being that writer’s abode, was the house in which Alcott and her sisters grew up, the setting for “Little Women,” and later it was the home of Margaret Sidney, who wrote “The Five Little Peppers And How They Grew.”

      Before the authors, the house was owned by Samuel Whitney, muster master of the Concord Minute Men.

      • I had relatives near there, but I did not know about it when I travelled there for Bicentenniel events…

        Hmm, the 250th anniversary isn’t that far off now and ever so much closer than the green meltdown. Will anyone care enough to do it right?

  5. I don’t get it either. I don’t know why “It’s time” to have a female Doctor Who, a black James Bond or a Latino Superman, but there it is.

    I don’t care for the idea that, if “Star Wars” doesn’t have female characters making up 50% of the cast that women can’t identify with any of the characters.

    My husband and I saw the 1994 “Little Women” the other night. It was refreshing to see the men as supporting players, taking the place of what my husband calls, “The Concerned Wife” that’s become a trope in most male-character-dominated films.

    But the story is about women after all, not men.

    (As a side note, we were excited to find that the 1933 “Little Women” was playing on TCM on Christmas morning, having not seen it. We were less excited to find out that, apparently, in a money dispute with our cable provider, TCM has been dropped from basic cable and we would have to add it back in a “package” that includes a bunch of sports stations we don’t need or want.

    But I digress….)

    Make the story good. Make the characters good. That’s all I care about.

    I don’t need to be represented in a film in order to enjoy it.

  6. Didn’t Louisa May Alcott also write Little Men. I don’t see anyone raising a fuss about that book never being turned into a movie. Was the lack of screenplays due to misandry by these female directors. I doubt it.
    I bet men would not want to see that movie either.

    • In fact part II of Little Women is entitled ‘Good Wives’, followed by ‘Little Men: Life at Plumfield with Jo’s Boys’, and ‘Jo’s Boys and How They Turned Out’. Anyone agitating to see a screen adaptation with those titles?

  7. In the past day I have been told by 3 male friends who usually trust me that they either refuse to see it or probably won’t have time. Despite my saying it’s tied for #1 of 2019.

    So basically the article was a long-winded way of screaming “Look at me! I’m important! My opinions are the ones that matter! Look at meeeeeeee!”

    • Careful there, Dave. She may be Italian and the Cuomo brothers will come looking for you to mete out some justice for calling her a Fredo.

  8. I was in Barnes & Noble shopping for Christmas gifts a week or so ago. I had no clue what to give my nieces who are 11 and about 13 or so. Then I happened upon a classics section in their Children’s Department — I got Little Women and Little House in the Big Woods and my problem was solved.

    I was especially enthralled by the Garth Williams illustrations in Little House — they are awesome! It reminded me of one of the reasons I love being in the book selling business.

    Not only that, but I got an abridged copy of the Jungle Book for a younger nephew, and 20,000 Leagues under the Sea for my 13 year old nephew. There is a reason these books are called ‘classics’ — and all of them looked really thrilled to get those books.

    • DG, I’m still working on all the “Summer Reading List” books from high school that I never read then. Have recently finished “Two Years Before the Mast” and “A Tale of Two Cities.” Whew, what were they thinking having us read such substantial books fifty plus years ago?

  9. I think you have missed the larger controversy. This has been brewing for the last few years. The ‘feminist’ movies haven’t been doing well at the box office, so they are claiming misogyny is to blame. When Star Wars is written by women for women and ‘they don’t care about making a movie for white males’ and white males don’t go to see it, they get mad. If Captain Marvel doesn’t do well…misogyny, because there aren’t any women in superhero movies. The all-female Ghostbusters flop…more misogyny. Wonder Women doesn’t push an anti-male line, is a good movie, and does well…don’t try to confuse me with the facts.

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