One particular assault accusation against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently got my attention. A woman named Anna says Cuomo kissed her against her will at what appeared to be a large wedding. His lips hit her cheek because she turned her head.
When I saw this picture, I had a flashback to another wedding decades ago…
It was probably 1967. I was 13, staying the summer in Massachusetts with my grandparents and forced to tag along to a big Italian wedding. I don’t remember who got married, but I’ll never forget the gorgeous little cream-colored lace dress I wore, which I accessorized with hot-pink fishnets that my grandmother hated. Instead, she made me wear white anklets. With LACE!
We were on the church steps when a great-uncle showed up. I barely knew him. He had the look of a less-handsome Cesar Romero…
Suddenly, this near-stranger grabbed my face in his hands and kissed me right on the lips. And that was my first real kiss with the opposite sex.
Was I “confused and shocked and embarrassed,” like Anna? Did I alert the media to call out Uncle Kissy-Face as a perverted pig?
None of that. I was definitely surprised, but that’s Italians for you. Grabby and affectionate. What’s more cringe-worthy to me was the humiliation of those stupid baby socks.
Cuomo is accused of making gauche passes that sound like assault. If he did, he deserves to be punished. But a kiss at a wedding? Give me a break.
I’m afraid our whole sense of male-female interaction is being twisted beyond recognition. I blew a gasket that Turner Classic Movies feels a need to put Henry Higgins “in context.” WTF?!
TCM plans to hold roundtable discussions before showing certain classic movies to explain why they’re unwoke.
In this new reality, My Fair Lady, the Lerner and Loewe musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, is about a wealthy phonetics expert named Higgins who sets out to subjugate, humiliate and exploit a young women named Eliza Doolittle, whom he considers “a draggle-tailed guttersnipe” — just to win a bet.
TCM thinks Alan Jay Lerner made the story’s ending “less feminist” by giving it the upbeat ending viewers wanted, instead of Shaw’s. Watch it yourself. Higgins and Eliza have just had a final reckoning where he admires her new independence, calls her a “consort battleship,” but she tells him she can do “bloody well” without him. Now, he’s returning home alone…
I’ve watched this movie dozens of times and see Higgins, the “confirmed old bachelor,” finally brought to heel. At last, Eliza has put him in his place. When he tries to save face by inquiring about his slippers, she just smiles because they both know she’ll never fetch again.
I guess young people today think Eliza suffers from Stockholm Syndrome.
What’s surprising is that they haven’t gone berserk yet over another misogynistic musical written by those monsters Rodgers and Hammerstein based on a memoir published in 1870.
In The King & I, a young English widow with a son takes a job in Siam (now Thailand) as a governess. She immediately discovers that her workplace is toxic. Her boss, an Asian male, behaves like a king, walking around half-naked and demanding all subordinates — particularly women — to actually grovel at his feet. He forces Anna to live on-site against her will and be on call 24/7.
The climax of this woeful power imbalance may be the most prolonged and disturbing depiction of workplace harassment, bullying and sexual assault ever captured on film…
Since 1956, movie-goers have mistaken this movie, like My Fair Lady, as a love story without kisses. But now we know that Yul Brynner, his overpowering sexual magnetism notwithstanding, had NO BUSINESS touching Deborah Kerr’s waist without permission, let alone forcing her to do the polka.
Did I forget to mention that in both movies, not only was there great wealth and power disparity, but also age? Back in the day, these were called “May-December” romances, and no one considered themselves a victim.
PS: If Richard Rodgers were still with us, he’d be roasted alive on the spit of #MeToo with an apple in his mouth. He was a family man with two daughters who had a reputation for casual hookups. His music still pops up all the time in TV ads and comprises a sizable chunk of the Great American Songbook but, by today’s rules, we’d be compelled to silence and scrap his every note.