I have so much to talk about. But the thing about having lots of things to talk about is the things to talk about crowd out the talking about the things. Wait, don’t go yet! I’ve got a clip for you, apropos of nothing. That’s cool, right?
I’ve wanted to share this for a while. It’s an ancient episode of the Alfred Hitchcock Hour called “Lonely Place,” and my mind is frequently drawn to it in recent days. The internet has gotten frothy about the depiction of women, and the women we choose to depict, in our stories. This is only a good thing. The world has changed already so much from the time I was a moppet, and even then, it felt like a revolutionary time because we had a girl version of He-Man. But we’ve still got a long way to go, baby.
The story is pretty simple. Creepy drifter menaces a woman and her husband on an isolated farm. I can see Kurt Vonnegut mapping that out on a chalkboard real easy.
The woman in this story, Stella, is far from Imperator Furiosa, but she is kept in a way Furiosa would recognize and so would you, although Furiosa would probably think sex slave and you would probably think Grandma. She lives the harsh, lightless life of subsistence, the life that the majority of our species still understands as the only life available, the life that a majority of our rich country still can relate to. Her marriage may not be overtly understood as an economic relationship, but it is clearly loveless cooperation at best. As effectively chilling as Bruce Dern’s drifter character is, there’s a more pervasive menace holding our heroine hostage long before he comes calling, and that ends up being the really disquieting thing about the episode to me, and probably to you. Her life is so cheap. And this is not some fantastic relationship, isolated from us by a fantasy setting, be it a different universe or a wasteland or an all-purpose medievalish world. It’s not a far outdated condition to find a person stranded in — women, often, but surely men, too, and always children. Of course, there is more value to this than just observing her plight, and that’s instructive, too. I think about Black Widow in Ultron — a characterization I find no fault with, by the way — and then I think about Stella.
I don’t honestly have conclusions I wish to foist at you, but I do find myself thinking about how fine a dramatization this is and feeling moved to post it. Hope you find it worth your time.