Kung Fu Nonsense
In the Winter 2001-02 issue of Notre Dame Magazine, Mr. John Monczunski highlights the work of Professor Wendy Arons in the article “Kung fu dream girls.” In the profile, and apparently in class and the cited book, Prof. Arons implies that there is a basic message emanating from Hollywood — that women can only be strong if sexualized and that to depict all women that way is, of course, bad. Her contention is that a better characterization (if not THE characterization) would be that of the heroine in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. In effect, the claim is that women should be characterized either: 1)without reference to men at all, (i.e. they are worthy in and of themselves) or, 2)as the equals of men, without any sort of judgement on beauty or the character’s relative attractiveness to men. Whatever the motivation behind Hollywood’s depictions of women, whether intentional or happenstance, the article takes for granted that these characterizations are important because they affect society. If it is so, the picture Prof. Arons portrays is incomplete. If the contention is true, that these characterizations of women are “hypersexualized,” and are therefore harmful in some way to the image of women in society, then the corollary argument is not made; that in most instances today, the characterization of women as strong heroines, physically and morally, is accompanied by the characterization of men as their clownish, hapless and evil enemies, and that this image would have to be damaging to the image of men in society.
The first point that should be made is that Professor Aron’s subject area is the land of make-believe, of fantasy. Hollywood deals in fantasy. If movies are worth academic study, because the claim is that movies impact society, that is fine, but then the study should be done accurately and completely. Secondly, there is no intellectual agenda to depict characters in certain ways, other than the keen use of the intellect that tells producers and writers that money is to be made by attracting the largest audience possible.
There are plenty of other examples emanating from Hollywood of strong and attractive women characters that Prof. Arons could justifiably pillory. The heroines (I do realize that using that word will upset the feminists) of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, Xena, Warrior Princess, Dark Angel, and several other TV shows and films of the recent years, could be used by Prof. Arons in class as well, to point out that these women are “fetishized,” whatever that means. If herein lies an imputed intellectual agenda that drives the depictions of these characters, it is mistaken. The producers only see the scenario of heroines that are young, pretty and “strong”, constantly beating men, as a moneymaker, a double winner. In the audience, the young guys are going to watch the pretty girls, and the young girls are going to watch the women beating the men. If the genesis of the character is not important, only the depiction itself, and Prof. Arons wants to argue the “teeny-tiny skirt and a bikini top” as a negative because that might not be reality and only “ree-ality”, then she must argue that the strong women of her intellectual interest are also a fantasy, because they only beat on buffoons, and couldn’t beat on equally skilled men.
Look at the still from the movie as reproduced in the magazine. Is it realistic that any character, male of female, is going to fight and defeat three attackers? Of course not. To depict a woman character defeating three male attackers who are physically stronger by nature that she is, is all the more fantastic an idea. That is unless the male attackers are all unskilled goofs, outsmarted and out kicked, inferior physically as well as morally to the woman. If the depictions of beautiful women on screen causes harm, then it also holds that harm is caused by the depiction of male buffoons. Of course, to point out to women students, “look at the way you are portrayed!” without doing the same for male students regarding male characters, is disingenuous. It either creates a fire where there is none, or only tries to put out half the fire.
David Sauve ’90
‘House Calls’ makes point
I thoroughly enjoyed A Threat of House Calls by John O’Neil in your Winter 2001-02 issue. Just from reading it though I can’t tell whether it is fiction of non-fiction.
But that hardly matters. Do you understand now why American gun owners do not want to register their guns? And that registering cars has nothing to do with anything? Have you ever seen a car that looked like a gun? How about a gun that looked like a car?
Julian Quintero ’64
Re: Burt Constable’s article “Lane Closed Ahead” Though I’ve been living in Indiana’s second largest city for the past decade, I did live in Los Angeles for 4 1/2 years, and I can sympathize with Mr. Constable’s articles about the perils of commuting. However, I’ve been reading the same tired articles from different writers from different publications in different cities in this country. Mr. Constable, instead of whining and complaining about events that are presently beyond your control, how about creative suggestions on how to ease your commute to and from work…and everyone else as well? Stop giving us re-hashed old lines about the lady in front of you putting on make-up or the person beside you with the music turned up so loud he/she would be unable to hear an ambulance or fire engine’s siren. Why not take a cue from Eric Zorn’s sidebar and work from home, Mr. Constable? Thank you for your attention, ND Magazine, and keep up the good work.
Robert Concepcion, Class of ’78
I’m sorry to see that by stopping tailgating you are putting another nail in the coffin of ND Football. The administration at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, stopped all tailgating and they lost Coach Mac Brown to Texas (which just had the best recruiting year of all colleges), the stadium has empty seats and they are losing athletes and games. The weather is better at the University of Portland and San Francisco for my grandchildren anyway. Requiem in pace!!
Re: Winter Issue, The Campus in the Wake : It’s hard to believe that the sight of 70 of ND s best and brightest (America’ too) marching in formation after an exercise would inspire anti-military reactions in some administrators. In the wake of 09/11 who better to prepare to defend our land than these ND ROTC students?
As an undergrad I routinely witnessed Army ROTC students double-timing through campus in formation early on Saturday mornings as I walked to the fields near Stepan Center to play Rugby. (Realize that we as a nation that honors those men and women who received the yellow and red ribbon). ROTC in fatigues on campus is new? It would seem those who oppose the military benefit by the sacrifices made by that same military. They enjoy the freedom and other luxuries provided and yet dislike those who gained, defended and preserve it. Wake up! Remember ROTC scholarships help pay your salary!
Look around campus: Championships without WWII vets! How many of us have lost grandfathers, fathers, brothers and sons to defend your place in this free land? My neighbor, my friend, my client, my child leave their home, family and job to freeze their behind off and get shot at so you can have the privilege of living off students tuition and benefactors generosity.
There s a saying Keep your sword bright for Liberty s sake! It was never truer than it is now!
Timothy M. McKeogh
Chagrin Falls, OH
On the one week anniversary of the terrorist attacks, I had two gentlemen visit my office. As we were sitting down, they both noticed my computer screen saver which continually scrolls, “God, Country and Notre Dame”. The first visitor inquired if I had done this in the wake of the attacks. I said no, that I had installed it the day I set up the computer. The second visitor asked if it would not be more appropriate to change the phrase to say, “God, Country and Family”. I replied that if he had been a graduate of Our Lady’s University, he would know that Notre Dame truly means Family.
Bill Nowak ’72
Oh! The luxury of living in the freest country in the world and being able to denounce the concept of “Country.” Since The Campus in the Wake discussion of “God, Country, Nore Dame” only discussed “Country,” that is what I shall address. What I find chilling is Father Baxter’s narrow mind. What is “Country” if it is not one’s family, one’s home, one’s neighbors — one’s “Country!”
William D. Hohmann ’58 CDR/USN/RET