Archive of columns.

10/18/98: This week's question:

Will Hollywood ever grow out of its delusion that Woman is supposed to be a size-4 25-year-old?

CARD 1: 6 of Wands--Glory
CARD 2: Major Arcana 17--The Star
CARD 3:Ace of Pentacles--Reward
CARD 4: Major Arcana 12--The Hanged Man
CARD 5: Major Arcana 1--The Magician
CARD 6: 10 of Pentacles--Protection
CARD 7: King of Cups
CARD 8: 8 of Pentacles--Apprentice
CARD 9: 8 of Swords--Disillusion
CARD 10: 2 of Pentacles--Change
Madame Esmeralda reads the cards:

Get real. Look at those cards: almost half of them are Pentacles. This is a matter of money, and no argument about ethics or logic or health or anything else is going to hold any sway as long as Hollywood thinks anorexic teenagers are the key to the treasure chest. Also: most of these cards are men. Men have more at stake in this situation than women do, and they're determined to protect what they have.

The question is laid out in Cards 1 and 2--Elvis and Marilyn, the cards of Glory and Stardom. But both are problematic cards--this is the middle-aged, getting-fat Elvis, an object of national derision. And do you honestly think Marilyn Monroe would have a chance in the Hollywood of today? She's too old and too fat, plus her boobs aren't big enough. The trend over the last 40 years has been to increasingly thin, ever-younger women, preferably synthetically enhanced. The Women's Movement has only resulted in an exacerbation of this archetype--as female movie characters have gotten smarter and more independent, their resulting power has been undercut by an increasingly weak, childlike and sexually objectified physical presence.

Card 3, the Challenge, is the Harrison Ford card: the Ace of Pentacles, the quest that leads to Reward. The quest in this situation of course should be for a realistic and healthy modern heroine archetype.

Right. Let's see, who was Harrison Ford's reward in his last movie quest? Anne Heche, a skinny woman at least 30 years his junior. Not a promising sign. And how about before that? Does anyone else remember "Sabrina"? Any time Harrison Ford's had a middle-aged romantic partner she's been a minor character in the film, hidden, kidnapped or dead for most of the movie.

The 4th Card is the card of God's purpose in this situation: The Hanged Man, the card of Sacrifice that leads to a wiser life. Again, not a promising card: women sacrifice to be thin, women sacrifice to look young, women sacrifice to have unnatural protuberances jutting from their chests. And what is the reward they receive for all this? Not a wiser life, certainly; merely the continued uncertainty of an identity that's based on a lie. Perhaps the real sacrifice would be to let go of this image. That might lead to a wiser life. But our fear is that we'd also be sacrificing our hopes for love and masculine approval.

The 5th Card, The Magician, is the card of the present, the place where we're coming from--and God knows that a Magician is exactly what we've had to be. It takes a lot of dietary, surgical and cosmetological magic to make a 50-year-old mother of 4 look 18 years old.

Card 6, the future, is another Pentacles card--Marlon Brando as Don Corleone, the card of ominous masculine protection. It's clear that this situation is not going to change because the men and the money are not going to let it--in fact, they'll fight pretty dirty to protect the status quo.

Card 7 is the King of Cups. This means that the question we should have asked is about Man's ability to take control over his emotions. You may remember this same card appeared in exactly this spot in last week's question: How Will the Bill And Monica Movie End? Very telling, I think: the essence of both situations has to do with men's inability to handle emotional relationships with peers, and their resulting objectification of young women.

The card of the archetype acting in this situation, Card 8, is the 8 of Pentacles: The Apprentice. This card also appeared in last week's reading, where it represented Monica. Here it shows us that the problem is intensified by the fact that there are young skinny women and women who are young skinny wannabes who completely buy the prevailing image as truth and work as hard as men do to keep it alive.

The card of the archetype we should be modeling in this situation, Card 9, is Disillusion. This goes back to Card 4, sacrifice that leads to a wiser life--we women need to reject the spurious image that Hollywood gives us and accept whatever happens in our lives as a result. We may be disillusioned, but at least we'll be living Truth.

But Card 10, the final destiny card, indicates we probably won't do that. The 2 of Pentacles is the card of Change--but it's minor change, the card of "the more things change, the more they stay the same". Don't hold your breath for real change in Hollywood; maybe they'll begin to allow one or two crow's feet at the corner of a woman's eye. But the only way women will be allowed to go up to even a size 6 is if the boobs increase to 38D.

George Clooney's salt-and-pepper hair is pretty sexy, don't you think? But I do not expect to see an important female movie heroine with gray hair in my lifetime.

Lady Esmene responds:

Well, for pity's sake--talk about a crab! Does anyone out there have some Midol?

Seriously, though, this is a real problem, and it makes me as mad as it makes every other woman, but I don't think things are as dire as Esmeralda makes them out to be.

Look at the final card, for goodness sake: it's Change! Things will Change! It might be slow, but it's gonna happen!

I'd write more, but unfortunately Esmeralda's rant pigged up most of the allotted word count. Plus, I'm already running late for a hair appointment.

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