Monday, June 29, 2015

Hey sweet man: Alan Alda Syndrome

The third man in my Hey Sweet Man series is Alan Alda. The header is a reference to the resentment that Alda has provoked in anti-feminists because since the 1970s Alda has identified as a feminist.

The first time Alda came out as a feminist was his participation in Marlo Thomas's Free to Be You and Me. Here he is singing along with Thomas in William Wants A Doll.

But what really pissed off misogynists is that Alda "ruined" the TV show MASH by pushing for a more liberal attitude, especially towards women, resulting in the term "Alan Alda Syndrome." And the disgruntled included one of the authors of the original novel, as TV Tropes reports:
Considering that the original novel consisted mostly of young doctors boasting about how much sex they have and shows a truly awful degree of sexism, note to produce such a long, successful and at times thoughtful series is a fine example of Pragmatic Adaptation, a very nice change in a world full of Adaptation Decay. Of course, Dr. Richard Hornberger, one-half of the writing team behind the pseudonymous author of the original book and allegedly the model for Hawkeye, didn't see it that way, and was known to rant about it at length (in a sequel, MASH Mania, he has his version of Hawkeye remark how he enjoys going down to the State University to "kick the shit out of a few liberals").
You could see why they were so soreheaded about it - Alda was a very attractive man at the time of MASH - combine that with a good sense of humor and a feminist outlook and you have yourself some hardcore catnip - women loved him. Nothing provokes seething hatred in misogynists more than a hot pro-feminist guy.

And as if having a liberal like Alda on board wasn't enough, Mike Farrell, who played BJ Hunicutt, is also a big liberal.

One of the results of this change in tone in MASH was that Hawkeye was shown up as a sexist jerk, who learns a lesson as in the Inga episode, posted below in unfortunately bad-quality Youtube videos below. As The Hathore Legacy notes:
The episode is a great story to relate when you’re trying to explain the distinction between loving, respecting, admiring, even worshiping women, and seeing women as equals. Seeing us not as this “other” to be evaluated differently and separately, but as fellow humans who happen to have a different bodily function or two. As Margaret explains when she takes Hawkeye outside, women have thoughts and dreams just like men, and they also screw up from time and time and have to pull themselves back together. Margaret would know; what she wants more than anything in life is to advance all the way up to the rank of general, and nothing she can do will ever make it happen because the army, like Hawkeye, can’t handle the idea of women as men’s equals. Or superiors.
Alda both wrote and directed the episode. 
It should be noted that Alda has been married to his wife Arlene (3 years older than him) for almost 60 years now.





Alda talks about the episode below.



Alda still identifies as a feminist at least as of a year ago:
Alan Alda Discusses Isla Vista Killer: Misogyny A 'Disease That Needs To Be Cured'

I have my own special affection for Alda due to his JULIA & BUDDY connection. I was inspired to write J&B because of the Barbra Streisand movie version of The Owl and the Pussycat, but George Segal played the Owl to her Pussycat. It was only after beginning to write J&B that I did research into the movie and discovered it was a play starring Alan Alda.

I see that Wikipedia has an entry for the movie version of The Owl and the Pussycat, but not the play version. I will have to fix that soon.


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