Tuesday, January 19, 2016

On Carol's Snub (With Spoilers)

So it is always rather interesting to me when I post to a site that is not primarily for gay women. I feel, despite our occasional disagreements, I understand where you are coming from. But while I have been writing for Women & Hollywood for almost a year, I still have not gotten a full grasp on its audience. So when my piece on why “Carol” got snubbed for Best Picture/Director Oscars went up on Friday, I was not sure what to expect. Needless to say, I do not agree with most of the comments ( also, admittedly, just stopped reading after a while because it can become exhausting).

I would, however, like to respond here to the frequent charges by its detractors that the film is “cold” and “chilly.” At first I was simply incredulous at these comments. Were we watching the same movie? How could the unstoppable attraction between these two women – always simmering just under the surface – be read as “cold?” Have you never wanted someone and then, slowly, marveled at the miracle that they actually wanted you back? Have you never had eye sex?

But then I realized perhaps that is part of it. The understanding (especially among some of its straight critics) of the often veiled nature of LGBT (especially about lesbian culture) culture just isn’t there. Also, this movie is set in 1952. This was way, way before main street pride parades and corporate sponsorship of gay causes was commonplace. Sure, now even graham cracker brands are falling over themselves to support us. But back then everything was coded, everything was unspoken.

And society, as a whole, was just more restrained. Men went to dinner in three-piece suits and women wore gloves and hats to lunch. All emotions were muted because the culture at the time demanded it. So the idea of two women in love being demonstrative with their passion out in public? Well, that was simply impossible.

I guess in the end, as much as I want the film to be universal, “Carol” just mattered to many of us gay women more. Here we finally had a film without anyone who goes crazy, without anyone who dies, without anyone who sleeps with a man. While there is suffering – because our basic humanity demands it – there was also at long last our happy ending. Yes, other films have also given us the happy ending (“Desert Hearts,” “Imagine Me & You,” “But I’m a Cheerleader,” “When Night Is Falling,” et al). But another film with such a mainstream cast, high profile production and the possibility to cross over? Never.

This story of two women in love matters to me, and I wish it mattered more to that larger world. That is didn’t will be forever a disappointment.

Of course, at this point you’re probably sick of hearing me yammer on about this (and I promise to talk about other things again soon). But before I go here are some other smart folks’ thoughts on why “Carol” was snubbed. So, clearly, you do not have to take my word on it alone.

-The “Carol” Oscars Snub: The Problem Isn’t Lesbians, It’s Misandry – Autostraddle
-“Carol” was snubbed by the Oscars for the very same reason it was written – AfterEllen
-Why Did Carol Get Shut Out of Oscar’s Biggest Categories? – Vanity Fair
-Why Carol is Misunderstood – The Atlantic
-5 myths that prevented 'Carol' from getting a Best Picture nomination – HitFix
-How ‘Carol’ Got Screwed – Flavorwire
-By mostly snubbing Carol, the Oscars continue to exclude queer cinema – A.V. Club
-A Letter From The Oscar Board On Why ‘Carol’ Was Totally Snubbed – EliteDaily

p.s. As I said before, I am now just openly rooting for Furiosa and Mad Max: Fury Road to fuck shit up at the Oscars.

22 comments:

NM said...

I quit commenting there (Women in Hollywood) when I realized that what might've had more effect, was a nice, heavy baseball bat.

That's never a good sign. Discipline prevailed (because I'm supposedly civilized [a byword for 'boring']), and I let well-enough alone.

But hey, at least we GET Carol! We also GOT Carol! What did those twerp naysayers get? Well, they certainly didn't get a movie with Cate Blanchett in it, I tell you that ;)

--NM

Aretha Jones said...

Another post on how no one understands how awesome/groundbreaking/revelatory Carol is. Huh.

I'm gonna boycott the Oscars. That'll show them.

Anonymous said...

I agree. But at least the movie was made and it was beautiful and it had a relatively happy ending. I'm happy that I got to see a mainstream lesbian movie on the big screen out in BFE.

And this movie will be watched and loved by gay women (and men), as well as film buffs, for many years to come. That's what movies are all about. Not Oscars.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're writing about it again here. I was so surprised by the comments I read on Women in Hollywood ( although I too stopped reading them because they were so frustrating!!). Thanks for covering the issue and I know this is totally un-p.c. for me to say but who cares...you are RIGHT and all of those people over at Women Hollywood are WRONG:P

Anonymous said...

Hey, some of said we agreed with D.

What gets me is the thinly veiled hatred: these people are so ANGRY that we could possibly call Carol a good film. Why the anger? I can't see that they're motivated by anything other homophobia, honestly, I can't. What the hell else would drive all that effort? I mean, one guy, Gavin, has been all over, on just about every post that said that Carol was snubbed, and he's been insisting that that we're all wrong and that the film wasn't snubbed for any reason other than it was (in his superior privileged white male opinion) boring. He's even dared to go have his say on the Autostraddle post. Talk about mansplaining, and straight mansplaining to queer women, no less!

He might be ridiculous enough to come here, too.

Gavin, if you *do* come here, do remember that this is a blog and not a website, and GO AWAY.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:05, I am definitely including people who agreed with DS in the right category:) I'm also glad someone else feels like there was an angry tone to some of those comments. And I absolutely agree with you on that Gavin guy, thank gaaaawd I had someone to mansplain things for my tiny lady brain to understand!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing the piece in WIH and here. The film, its characters and design is steeped in refined subtlety, self-posesssion and restraint. Viewers can only apprehend the language, layers and depths in the film if these elements are present within themselves. In our age of bombast and exaggerated display, Carol's unspoken ardour and meaningful silences are simply anathema or not to be borne.
I am so grateful the film has been made with exactly the right assembly of talents that produced this gem. It exists, it is perfect and that matters more than any of the angry discourse. Thank You, Ms. Snarker for supporting and defending this movie.

L. Worth

Anonymous said...

@ L. Worth--

In our age of bombast and exaggerated display, Carol's unspoken ardour and meaningful silences are simply anathema or not to be borne.

How true, and how sad. It's exactly what Wordsworth meant when he wrote:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.
Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

Anonymous said...

No need to stop writing about it, in fact please don't if you have more to say. It's a pleasure to read someone who is able to articulate so many of the things I feel about this movie being snubbed.

Florence said...

I'm constantly and utterly baffled whenever I read reviews that say that Carol was slow, a bit dull, that the leads had no chemistry (?!!) and that it was rightly snubbed.
I just... did we watch the same movie?
Ultimately you're right: as much as I hate to say this, you have to be a gay woman to truly appreciate Carol.

Anonymous said...

@ Florence--

How that chemistry was missed... HOW THE HELL DOES ANYONE *MISS* CATE BLANCHETT PRACTICALLY DEVOURING ROONEY MARA WITH HER EYES!!! And I dunno if anyone else (*cough* who might've seen the film 6 times *cough*) noticed this, but Ms. Mara is regularly seen to give a little gulp, and her breath catches *visibly*. And I'm not talking about the love scene, my dears. The first time you'll see her catch her breath is the first time she lays eyes on Carol in that damned department store.

No chemistry? I think it's fair to say that anyone who tosses that complaint about, is someone who actually *believes* most of the crap that Hollywood produces and sells. If that's true, then they're all very unhappy people, waiting for unrealistic fantasies to happen to them.

Helena said...

Thank you for articulating so well the way many of us feel about Carol and the snub. I was also saddened by the comments on WH and just sopped reading. When I read the book about 20 years ago I would never have dreamt they would make a movie - so at least we got the movie ( and Cate :).

Emma said...

Exactly. That's exactly it. Thank you for this post. And I agree with Helena, at least we got the movie.

Retro on 8th said...

Excellent essays, always, Ms. Snarker. This movie has stuck with me and I have been devouring everything I can in its wake. I agree, I think it means so much more to lesbians, and even more to lesbians of a certain vintage but boring? From the set design, costuming, filming, location, to the cast, screenplay, directing...I think it is a perfectly made movie. It is quiet...that makes the scenes that are pivotal that much more jarring (the fight with Harge, Carol with a gun in her hand, and that asshole that interrupts Carol and Therese.) I have loved your opinions and encourage you to continue to talk it out...

Panty Buns said...

Beautifully stated. I won't be bothering to watch the Oscars but I would like to think of some good hashtags for Tweets on Twitter about the Academy being so male and so white and their nominations reflecting that.

Anonymous said...

To lift you up........ http://variety.com/video/carol-cate-blanchett-rooney-mara-interview/
S

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Dorothy. You are so right on the money, and I sincerely appreciate your discussing Carol in this and other posts. I, too, am riveted by the movie. I was deeply moved by it, and I'm puzzled, angered, etc., by the reaction. I agree with you that statements about the film being "cold" represent a willful ignorance of lesbian identity, relationships, and existence, historically and currently in the United States. Thank you for expressing your sentiments, along with your criticism and analysis, of the film.

AnnieStinkle said...

I guess we (lesbians) have gotten so good at reading subtext cues, even when they're not really there, that when they ARE there they seem so obvious to us. I went back to see the movie a second time mainly so I could catch all of those subtle glances and expressions, which were the best part of the movie for me. Maybe a less practiced straight person wouldn't even notice them at all, thus thinking the movie was boring and the acting wooden.

Lianna Zolkower-Kutz said...

Funny, I came to the exact same conclusion. I read some of those comments ("cold" and "chilly") and thought, WTF?! Clearly my experience of the film (as a queer woman) is much different from that of other viewers. My experience did change a bit, however, with multiple viewings: after the first, I thought, "That was divine." After the second, I felt like I needed a cigarette. I'm planning to see it in theaters at least one more time, during which I will try not to melt into my seat. I feel like this is the ultimate compliment to a film - wanting to see it OVER AND OVER AGAIN. So, take that, Oscars! I'm comforted by the fact that even Citizen Kane didn't win Best Picture, although at least it was nominated...

Kate said...

I cannot tell you how much your writing about all things means not just to me but to so many women who don't have a voice to be heard in the larger world. You are spot on in your understanding of the whys and why nots of the whole Carol experience. In your post on the awful Carole ad on TV, someone commented on how this was because people were afraid of lesbians. I think the larger issue is that a lot of men are just afraid of women in general and powerful women in the extreme. And this is about an extremely powerful woman who acts to protect her child by doing what she must do to be the best person she can be. I do think that message which comes at the end of the movie and is almost a throw off line is one of the most powerful ideas of the film. Women who become their true and full selves are fantastically scary, wonderfully powerful and inspiring for all other women. Why wouldn't lesser humans be threatened? And really, why wouldn't the less subtle folks think it was cold? I mean it was snowing.

Kira said...

Hello Dorothy and everyone,

Thank you all for your comments. I don't believe I've commented on this blog before, though I have been lurking. I too was completely captivated by this movie. One thing that always surprises me about reviews is that I think, or at least hope, that everyone actually knows opinions are subjective. So yeah, when anyone declares Carol was "cold" or the leads "had no chemistry" as if it is FACT, that is really frustrating. It's an opinion, and my opinion was that this movie was a masterpiece. Perhaps it is true that hetero people are expecting more in-your-face displays, I don't really know. I know that I often find movies boring that many people do not. Many Quentin Tarantino movies, for me, are visually interesting but boring and lacking in emotion. THAT, to me, is a stylized movie lacking heart. For me, Carol is a stylish movie with tremendous heart. Is it possible that I felt that way because I'm a lesbian? Did one need to be a lesbian to relate? I certainly would hope people are more enlightened than that.
Also, in regard to Brokeback Mountain, the comparison that some people are making regarding passion, saying they felt passion in Brokeback but not Carol, seems off base. I haven't seen Brokeback since 2006 and I've only seen it once, but as I recall, the two characters have even less interaction than Therese and Carol before they get cozy in the tent. If anything, that seemed more like lust than love to me. They did grow into love, but the major emotion in that movie came from Jake Gylenhaal being brutally beaten to death and Heath Ledger mourning him. Was there so much emotion/passion when they were first getting to know each other? I don't think so, I think people are just remembering the movie as a whole.

By the way, if anyone is interested in reading a review I wrote of why Carol succeeds in depicting falling in love, please do so. I apologize if posting a link in this way is inappropriate blogosphere etiquette, I'm just getting into the blog world.
www.kiralesley.com

Kira said...

Also, I tried to post this twice using Open ID and it just too me to my own site. Anyone know why that is?