Archive of columns.

11/15/98: This week's question:

What does the popularity of 'Buffy' and 'Xena' mean for the future of the Hollywood Bombshell?

Sarah Michelle Gellar's filmography at the IMDb
Lucy Lawless's filmography at the IMDb

CARD 1: 2 of Cups - Romance (Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire)
CARD 2: 2 of Pentacles - Change (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
CARD 3:King of Pentacles (Ving Rhames)
CARD 4: 5 of Swords - Defeat (pre-Vietnam-era Movie Indians)
CARD 5: Prince of Pentacles (Raymond Burr)
CARD 6: Major Arcana 8 - Strength (Sigourney Weaver)
CARD 7: Major Arcana 17 - The Star (Marilyn Monroe)
CARD 8: 9 of Pentacles - Accomplishment (David Bowie)
CARD 9: 8 of Pentacles -- Apprentice (Mark Hamill)
CARD 10: 10 of Swords -- Ruin (Robert Downey, Jr.)
Madame Esmeralda reads the cards:

Half the cards in this reading are Pentacles. This means that the force most greatly influencing this issue is Money. The future of the Hollywood Bombshell depends on whether or not she's going to continue to bring in the cash.

The question is laid out in Cards 1 and 2, in this case, Romance and Change. Ginger Rogers was the quintessential Hollywood Bombshell, doing everything Fred did "only backwards and in high heels"; she subverted her power to get her man. This card is countered by Change - the Mighty Morphin Power Ranger girls are more likely to kick a guy's ass than dance with him.

Card 3, the Challenge, is the businessman sensualist. This guy has two needs: (1) he needs to make money, and (2) he wants to maintain his sensual pleasures. So the challenge operating in this situation is: what image of women is going to make the most money, while still appealing to the male audience desire for cheesecake?

Card 4, God's purpose in this situation, is Defeat. This tells us that we are seeing the end of the traditional Hollywood sex goddess archetype. About time.

The 5th Card, the card of the Present and where we've come from, shows us that this change isn't occurring by chance. This card is tied to the Challenge card, above, and also reminds us who's really manipulating the scenes here: men have put a lot of analytical thought into this alteration of the old archetype. They've responded to the changes in women's lives in the last couple of decades by saying: "Okay, this feminist stuff is here to stay. How can we make money on it?"

Card 6, the Future, is Lt. Ellen Ripley, godmother to Xena and Buffy. This shows us very clearly what the future is: 'Hollywood Bombshell' is now taking on a whole new meaning; she is now a woman who can inflict some serious physical damage.

Card 7 is the question we should have asked: are beautiful sex goddesses like Marilyn Monroe and Ginger Rogers a thing of the past? Hardly; just look at the cheesecake photos on any Lucy Lawless, Sarah Michelle Gellar or Sigourney Weaver internet site. Buffy, Xena and Lt. Ripley have all the sexual magnetism of their bombshell foremothers; they just have a different way of responding to situations. For example: if they get attacked by a gang of no-goodniks, they don't need to scream for Rock Hudson or Clark Gable to come save them. They simply stab this bad guy in the heart, turn and kick that one in the groin, then elbow this one in the nose, without breaking a sweat or a fingernail. And if they do sweat, it's sexy sweat.

The card of the archetype acting in this situation, Card 8, is monetary Accomplishment; a repeat of what we've said before: this question is about determining the female archetype that's going to make the most money for the guys in power.

The card of the archetype we should be modeling in this situation, Card 9, is The Apprentice. I don't like to keep harping on the same thing over and over again, but this reminds us that women are still subordinate in Hollywood; the challenge is to learn the lessons, and become the Master; at that time, women can delineate for ourselves what our Archetypes are (for example, the Great Mother - powerful, all-knowing, the ultimate creative source - is the most pervasive mythological archetype in the history of the world, yet she remains non-existent in Hollywood. Donna Reed simply doesn't cut it.).

And Card 10, the Destiny card, is Ruin. The Bombshell did her job, but like the older wife who's thrown over for the trophy wife, her day is over, and she did it to herself: she let Man be in complete control, and he took her up on it. He thinks he can control this new archetype he's created, but like Dr. Frankenstein he may be in for a surprise. Today's Bombshell is a woman who still makes regular visits to a plastic surgeon, but when she goes to his office she's wearing her Taekwondo black belt.

It's hard to control someone who knows how to kick your ass.

Lady Esmene responds:

Puh-leeze; the closest Esmeralda's ever gotten to a black belt in Taekwondo is the time she sat through a 10-hour Jackie Chan marathon!

Is there nothing that can make this woman happy? Even when she thinks the feminists have won, she whines!

The underlying influence of Pentacles in this reading isn't money - it's sensuality. The sex goddesses of the past were sensual while lounging around; the sex goddesses of today are sensual while beating people up. This says more about the acceptance of violence in our society than it does about women's roles being controlled by men! I think this is the first time I've ever found the Ruin card a hopeful sign: we're nearing an end to the preponderance of violence in the movies, because we've ruined the whole movie-watching experience for ourselves. Card 5 said it too: the Purpose here is Defeat - not the defeat of women over men or men over women, but the defeat of this negative and demeaning violent imagery! The next big change in Hollywood will be a return to making nice movies about nice people doing nice things!

Sarah Michelle Gellar and Lucy Lawless could be pretty girls, if they didn't have so many hard muscles. Take it easy, girls, and soften up! The popularity of "Buffy" and "Xena" is a temporary aberration, in response to the fact that our society's gone to hell in a handbasket. This imbalance will be corrected shortly, and we'll be back to movies the way we've always loved them, with romance and adventure and beautiful, delicate women and strong, dominant men; movies where good can conquer evil without splashing body fluids all over the screen.

What's wrong with dancing backwards?

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