Star Wars and The Bourne Identity

OK. First: a warning. This is a rant. I'm sorry. I can't help it - I really need to blog this out! So if you aren't interested in hearing about how women AREN'T as liberated as we all like to think we are, then go to another blog or get on ebay or something. Sit this one out. OK?


So last night, we watched Star Wars Episode II. It's a pretty average movie and it was hard to miss the bad cliches. And by far and away, the most annoying and infuriating cliche was the half-undressed commando girl running around fighting along beside men who are fully clothed. Seriously.

As she heads off to rescue Obi Wan Kenobi from the bad people's planet, admittedly in a skin-tight white outfit BUT fully covering her from neck down except for her hands, Padme (Natalie Portman) falls into the hands of the bad people alongside her 'we mustn't get together because we can't, but we will anyway' boyfriend, ultimate big bad guy Anakin Skywalker, aka Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen). Somehow, during the process of being taken captive, she loses half her shirt and her shirt sleeves. Somehow, Anakin doesn't. Nor does any other character in the movie. Seriously. Why?

Prior to this point of the movie, we're treated to two types of Padme: the one who wears modest but chunky outfits while hanging around the Senate, but when romancing future Darth Vader, suddenly changes into a skin-tight strapless corset top, a dress with absolutely no covering on the back and a floaty off-the-shoulder number whilst she giggles coquettishly at him in summery fields with daisies blowing gently in the breeze or in front of the open fireplace. Seriously. Gag me. Why?

Why is this supposedly confident and work-focussed woman suddenly dressing like a provocative and giggly little seductress? Made me think. Sure, it's subtle. Sure, I may be overreacting. But I don't like the example that's set -sadly, movies do that for young people- that to fall in love with a man, women need to bare some skin. I think it's the opposite in real life - boys who like girls who don't show copious amounts of skin are more worth keeping than those who need to be tempted sexually.

OK. That's gripe number one.

Gripe number two is about one of my favourite novels: The Bourne Identity.

I love the novel and I really enjoy most of Robert Ludlum's novels. I'm not keen on sadistic violence in novels or movies, but I'm OK with general, shoot-'em-up violence in context. So, when the movie The Bourne Identity came out, I was excited.

Then I went and saw it.

The disparity between the novel and the movie was OK for the most part, but again, the part that I didn't like most of all was the difference in the character Marie Jacques, who is the equivalent of Padme in Star Wars. Here's a list of Marie in the novel, then the movie.

Novel: degree in economics, works high up in Canadian government in finance department, is first assaulted by Bourne and used as hostage to get out of a building, is then taken hostage by the real bad guys who separate the two and attempt to kill Bourne but he escapes. Marie is then rescued by Bourne, he goes back for her. She sees the good in Bourne (there's a lot of big discussions in the novel) and that he's lost and so helps him out with her contacts, intelligence and ultimately, they fall in love and the novel ends with them living under protection in New York.

Movie: a drifter with no close family or contacts, visa issues, no money and so takes Bourne's money to drive him out of the european country they're in. They fall in love and to protect Marie, Bourne gives her some money to get out of europe and start a new life in an unfamilliar place without him while he deals with the business of those nasty people trying to kill him. She does this and hooks up with Bourne again, but in the second Bourne movie, ends up being shot and appears to die as Bourne watches her body disappear while they're both underwater by the current of the river.

I haven't seen the last in the trilogy of the Bourne movies, so forgive me if it turns out Marie mysteriously comes back from the dead.

But seriously, how pathetic.

The 1975 character of Marie is well-educated, intelligent and a strong person. The 2000-whatever Marie from the movie has no education and is a helpless, desperate woman, who from my perspective, sleeps with Bourne as a result of feeling overwhelmed and scared with being on the run with him. As a woman, that one deviance from the novel really spoilt the movie for me. Surely, if in 1975 Robert Ludlum writes about an independent, strong and well-educated woman, we can at least honour that portrait by giving the 2000 Marie at least one characteristic from the original? Obviously not.

With the 'liberation' of women in the 1960's-1970's has come an illusion that women are free - free to be themselves, be strong, be like men and be free of the infamous 'legalised slavery' within marriage.

Well, I look around at young women today and I see people who are forced by society to try and attain a standard of outer beauty that is SO narrow that we have girls starving themselves and petrified of putting on weight. Girls are dying from that! I see women who are afraid of having a baby, like it's an alien thing that will destroy their freedom and force them to be someone they're not.  Man, I've found myself in motherhood! Women are told lies about abortion and undergo these hideous procedures that scar them emotionally for the rest of their lives. Not to mention their baby.

I see women popping pills to prevent pregnancy or gain youth. They're undergoing surgery even for their most private parts to meet a standard that is set by others in the porn industry. I'm reading about an astronomical increase in STD's. Research is showing that women still do most of the housework whilst holding down a job and raising children while a staggering amount of husbands remain unengaged in their families. Eerily, being 'a woman' today has become about being more like a man, being selfish 'making your own choices and taking charge of your life' and competing with men at work. Melinda Tankard Reist is hearing more and more from young women are sleeping with men who expect the same of the women they see in pornography. As in violence and sex. Together. I see confused and bewildered promiscuous young women who have never had a father around/had a bad/abusive/absent father to affirm them as young women, so they turn to sex with just as screwed up young men as a replacement for love.

Some freedom. Some liberation.


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