Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Year of the Woman - more Warren Beatty please

A Facebook friend pointed me to a recently re-discovered film called "Year of the Woman" by Sandra Hochman, which I rented and watched.

I found a Rebecca Traister piece about it in the Huffington Post and I have realized that Traister (also a Facebook friend) and I are very different people. She seems to think Hochman is really cool. I think she's a ninny.

The film is described as a documentary, but since Hochman is a poet - which she never lets you forget, peppering the film throughout with her "poetry" - there's not nearly as much items of fact that you would hope to get from a documentary, especially about a subject as interesting as women's involvement in the 1972 Democratic convention - and waaaaay too much Hochman. That's poets for you - they make everything about them. Which works out OK, if you're Walt Whitman. Hochman is by turns pedantic and hectoring and then cutesy and twee and all manifestations of Hochman are self-indulgent and her Long Island dialect just makes it all that much more irritating.

There is a series of bits with Hochman and syndicated columnist Art Buchwald scattered throughout which starts out annoying and by the end of the film is absolutely excrutiating with Hochman and Buchwald pretending they're on another planet looking through a telescope down at the earth after a women's revolution, and Buchwald says it's a mess because women screwed it up and men and women all look alike now, which eventually causes Hochman to switch from her cutesy mode into her hectoring mode, demanding that Buchwald rework his fantasy to her specifications. There is a sequence of her tapdancing. Another where she sucks up to Norman Mailer because he gave her poetry a good review. She harasses a fellow poet for his "sexist" poetry. This woman is always utterly tiresome.

And Traister's piece just makes it worse:
The guys who come off worse are the ones less willing to acknowledge that there’s a revolution happening at all. Hochman asks Fred Dutton, the Democratic power broker who had served both John and Robert Kennedy and who was then working for McGovern, whether any women are writing position papers for the candidate. “Yes,” replies Dutton. “They tend to so far work mostly in the child care centers and things like that.”
Bullshit. Traister misrepresents Dutton by cutting it there. Here is the exchange:
Hochman 
Are there any women writing position papers for Senator McGovern? 
Dutton 
Yes, there are women who are working in all kinds of areas. They tend to so far work mostly in the child care centers and things like that. What we really need to do is get them much more into foreign policy and economic and things that don't have anything to do with being just woman or just man.

Traister is a professional journalist. There's no excuse for such misrepresentation. 

But even worse than that is her snarky slut-shaming of Warren Beatty:
And there are slick male provocateurs: Norman Mailer, here appearing as feminism’s most implausible friend, and the purring Warren Beatty, all soft-lips and pheromones, a liberal actor and activist who appears mostly confused by a filmmaker whose priorities don’t seem to include having sex with him.
First off, as I noted, Hochman was sucking up to Mailer. She made him feminism's most implausible friend out of careerist back-scratching. I'm not a fan of Mailer, but this wasn't fair.

And Traister apparently believes she can read Warren Beatty's mind: "confused by a filmmaker whose priorities don't seem to include having sex with him." This was a man who was doing Julie Christie and Goldie Hawn. I don't think he was that desperate to get into the sack with Hochman.

And he's confused by the filmmaker because the filmmaker is confusing. Rght before the exchange with Beatty, Buchwald also expresses confusion with what Hochman is up to.

I know you want to be a sister and all that, Traister, but it's not them, it's her.

The segment with Beatty begins as he is responding to something Hochman has said to him, but we don't know what it is. The title says: "Warren Beatty Famous Movie Actor" 

Beatty
It's kind of a sexist question. 

Hochman
Well this is a sexist film. We're interested in women. 
Beatty
Are you a female chauvinist? 
Hochman
Yes I am. I'd like to see women take over the world. I'd like to know how you feel about that. 
Beatty
You would like to have the male without a voice in the world? 
Hochman
Well I would like to have them have the same that women have had. 
Beatty
But you said you wanted women to take over the world. 
Hochman
Well I think that men could go to rehabilitation centers and be oriented towards their new role in this society. 
Beatty
But aren't women really worse male chauvinists than men? I mean, most of them? 
Hochman
Women don't always have to outdo men. I don't think they're worse than men. I think the pathology of oppression -  
Beatty
No, no no, I don't mean worse female chauvinists - I mean aren't they worse, aren't they more destructive to the women's movement basically than men are when they don't really participate? So I mean aren't we both male chauvinists?  
Hochman
I'm not. I don't know if you are.  
Beatty
So you think you've really licked it? When I met you, you were a male  chauvinist.  
Hochman
In what way? 
Beatty
Well you were doing all kinds of little things you didn't have to do because you were a woman. But obviously you've changed. 
Hochman
What was I doing that I didn't have to do? 
Beatty
Well you were being... you were doing little numbers I think. They were very pleasant, they were very nice but when you came and talked to me up at the Beverly Wiltshire - and I liked you very much - but I don't think you were very direct and very firm the way you are now about what you want. 
Hochman
Well I was talking about something I didn't feel very firmly about which was you.  
Beatty
Why did you come there then? 
Hochman
Because I wanted to meet you and see if you would be a possible person to be in my interview. 
Beatty
A possible person to be in your interview? What interview? 
Hochman
Well I was doing a piece for the Times on impressions of Hollywood. 
Beatty
Oh. Was I in it? 
Hochman 
No.

(they laugh) 

Beatty
Why? (to off camera) What are you waving at?

END OF SEQUENCE


First of all, "this is a sexist film" is a stupid fucking thing for Hochman to say.

I can't read Warren Beatty's mind any better than Rebecca Traister can, but I would bet that his confusion springs from the fact that Hochman has two modes, as I mentioned: hectoring and twee. And Beatty probably met Hochman at the Beverly Wiltshire when she was in her twee mode, and was confused by the fact that this time around she's in her hectoring mode. And you can see what Beatty was probably talking about when Hochman is talking to Buchwald - she gets this very soft, deferential tone, calling him "Mr. Buchwald" all the time.

This interview comes off with Beatty, while smiling and flirty, nevertheless being sincere and taking the discussion seriously, while Hochman comes off as an incoherent idiot. And the only reason Traister has to be bitchy about Beatty is that, apparently, she resents him for having sex with lots of partners.

Beatty was at the peak of his hotness at this time. I could watch an entire documentary of him being interviewed. You can see why he got so much sex. Hochman should be so lucky.

There was also a brief interview with Gloria Steinem who is always enjoyable to listen to. And my god she was a beautiful woman. If there was any justice she hooked up with Beatty during the convention.

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