Not Beholden to Certain Invisible Rules: Anna Bogutskaya on Unlikeable Female Characters | Interviews

Just today, I rewatched “Sunset Boulevard.” Obviously, Norma Desmond is murderous. We start off with the voiceover from her victim. As the movie progressed, and maybe because I’m older since I saw it last, I see her, and same with Alex, as such tragic figures where they were fitting themselves into all of these expectations of them—how to be a star, how to be a successful independent woman in the America of the 1980s. And then they become so fragile because they’re stretching themselves so thin with all of this that when the time comes with that push, with this one man that they’re obsessed with, they go off the rails. And it doesn’t make me hate them as characters. It makes me really feel for them. So, I would agree with Glenn Close. I think Alex is a really sympathetic character.

You covered so many of my favorite movies in the book. And one that I was particularly happy to see because it’s not very well known is “Female” (1933) with Ruth Chatterton as a woman who heads an automobile company and sleeps with the handsome men who work for her. But that character was only possible in the pre-Code era. 

Well, there are so many movies that I could mention, but I wanted to specifically bring that one to attention, because sometimes we have this erroneous notion that everything was much worse in the past, and silent Hollywood and old Hollywood female characters were very strict, very conservative, they didn’t have agency, they didn’t have any power. And that’s not true. 

Watch those films, especially the pre-Code ones like “Female,” like the Mae West films. Anyone watching Mae West films—“I’m No Angel,” for example—watching now and thinking, “This is outrageous, even by 2023 standards. How is she getting away with this?” And the same with “Female.” You know, you look at Shiv Roy in “Succession” now. It’s because it’s a portrait of corporate ambition, right? Of monetary ambition, of climbing the social and economic ladder. But it seems almost more provocative now that it’s a woman that prioritizes money and financial success over relationships. 

Sumber: www.rogerebert.com

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