The International Writers Magazine: Film and Society
HEAVEN FOR LITTLE GIRLS
films in the history of the Oscar Academy awards overwhelmingly
thrash its opponents to a pulp and take most of the little puny
statuettes ranging from best film to best costume design, specially
those of days gone by. Todays mammoth productions include
supercilious extras such as sound and visual effects as well as
cybernetic design techniques overtaking yesterdays reasons
for the prize-winning based on how the representation of the script
on screen touched the hearts of the audience. Gone are the days
of Captains Courageous and To
kill a mockingbird that left a warm feeling within the
soul as you left the theatre, and not a deaf ear due to the outrageous
sounds of bombarding warplanes or invented monsters screeching down
The film in question,
which is the basis of this essay, is none other the one that swept away
most of the prizes in 1958. It was the musical Gigi
staring Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier and Louis Jordan.
It is a simple tale of the emancipation of a young French girl named
Gigi as she blossoms into womanhood during the frolicking
period at the turn of the XX century enjoyed by Parisian high society.
Virtue and promiscuity go hand in hand as a young and innocent Leslie
Caron, who plays the leading role, transforms before the very eyes of
a seductive yet bored and rich mentor, Gaston (Louis Jordan)
who is unknowingly falling in love with her. The film is enhanced by
the very charming and never ageing Maurice Chevalier, as Louis
eternal bachelor uncle and continually spiced with Lerner and Loewes
brilliant lyrics and musical score. Lisa Minellis father, Vincente
directed this musical masterpiece.
But there is a dark side to the film. In todays male versus female
society it would probably be condemned. The opening scene depicts a
dirty old man (Chevalier) introducing us to the story as
he sings a ditty about little girls and how they grow up
in the most delightful way. In the scene he is smiling lecherously
at a group of them playing in the park. The character would be deemed
a paedophile and taken to court in two seconds flat. On the other hand,
Gaston is a typical male chauvinist pig. He is rich and has no regard
for women other than as bedroom playmates to be taken in one at a time
as mistresses and given the life of super luxury. That is, until the
women grow old and ugly and is replaced like any other worn out machinery.
Even the Madames left on the scrap heap accept the eventual renunciation
by their male lovers and retire gracefully to become instructors
for future young female playmates. Gigis grandmother and aunt
have been through the mill and as experts in the art of male pleasure
prepare her for Gastons bedroom. Her mother, another has-been,
is too far-gone and spends her time singing in the bath. Thank goodness,
feminist societies were non-existent at the time. The film would never
have been released.
Take the present day situation regarding children. You have the Michael
Jackson case whereby the singer has been accused of sexual assault on
a thirteen-year-old who was a guest at his Dream City. He
is meant to have tucked the kid into bed with him and given him a few
goodnight kisses. For all we know that is all he did and all he meant
to do. Fifty years ago, nothing would have happened. Today, it is a
major crime. Then we have a whole series of Roman Catholic priests that
have been up to no good in the past, again with young children of both
sexes. Unfortunately this is and was a common practice for centuries.
Almodovars recent movie, Bad Education highlights
the subject in sordid detail. It is the story involving sexual abuse
in a Jesuit school back in the sixties.
But what about ordinary decent and grown up human beings that have always
cuddled and hugged young children as part of their nature? Forget it!
Ask any schoolteacher what the rules are and she or he will answer without
any hesitation: Hands off! even if the little creature has
just fallen down and broken its nose. So much for the evolution of child
abuse and the resultant present day legislation.
On the other hand, is male chauvinism a thing of the past? Lets
see, a XXI century Gaston would not survive no matter how much money
he had at his disposal. Or would he? Actually the roles have changed.
Because of the move for equality of the sexes, woman are just as prone
to act as Gaston as their masculine counterparts. Despite the Suffragette
movement at the turn of the XX century that kicked off the war
of the sexes in the Western world it was Simone de Beauvoir, the
famous French writer who opened the doors to proper scientific debate
on the difference between men and women. Her thesis The Second
Sex, written in 1949, explored the injustice and oppression
of women exerted by a male dominated society. Although certain of her
theories were later disputed, women the world over was on the march
to fight for equal rights based on sound reasoning and common sense.
Although the struggle goes on, huge differences still exist. They range
from politics to business, education to household responsibilities;
for this reason women still feel the need to assert their equality in
todays modern world. The question remains, will they eventually
make it and if so, will it really change our society for the better?
One thing will never alter. Men spawn babies and women produce them!
(Test tubes asides- Ed)
I am not a fan of statistical information but it is a known fact that
males still dominate the Western worlds society. The majority
still prefer to leave the washing up to mummy while they
are watching the latest World Series or European football matches. Women
still have to put up with sly sexist remarks from the boss
as they enter the boardroom to discuss the latest financial results.
They continue to be beaten to death by their male partners, despite
severe protective legislation. Rape is rampant throughout the world
and is on the increase. A male philanderer is a hero; a female one is
still considered a whore, even by her own sex. I dare not even mention
the Muslim world with their religiously biased gender philosophy. So
what is the solution? Perhaps there isnt one! Boys will be boys
and girls will be girls. Reverting back to Gigi, there is one
caveat in the film. It hits back with old fashion morality as Gaston
eventually marries Gigi whilst Maurice Chevalier sings away the happy
ending of my favourite musical. Thank heaven for little girls.
© James Skinner. 2004. Nov 2nd 2004
jamesskinner at cemiga.ca
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