Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Three Movies, One Week

 


I’m usually not a person who channel surfs looking for something to watch. Of the 98 channels on my cable lineup I watch only four consistently and another two or three occasionally. Over the weekend I was totally bored and I started clicking through the channels. It was still early evening---sevenish---and I was shocked to find Fifty Shades of Grey starting. Fifty Shades of deviant behavior in a time slot where little kids could be watching! What were they thinking? The movie caused quite an uproar when it made the rounds in the theaters a couple of years ago. I’m not a prude about sex in movies and books but I strongly objected to a story line that includes bondage and sadomasochistic crap being marketed at an erotic "love" story. Don’t correct because I’m not wrong, but there is nothing romantic about a woman giving up her power and allowing herself to be handcuffed and beaten and I don’t care how many "safe words" you agree on ahead of time, sadomasochism is the product of a sick mind. 

I’d hadn’t seen the movie or read the book but I’d read enough about the controversy over the so-called love story to have that strong opinion above and it didn’t change after I sat in my living room watching this movie minus the minutes they had to cut to make it “suitable for TV.” It’s starts out like an overused and outdated boilerplate romance with tired plot devices---extremely wealthy man takes an interest in a naïve virgin and remains aloft as he tries to resist falling in love. Where it separates from the romance genre is when he presents her with a bondage contract. The woman who plays Anastasia, Dakota Johnson, has the most expressive face! She was mesmerizing even if the character she plays is ten shades of stupid. 

125 million copies of Fifty Shades of Grey were sold and when the film was in town back 2015 I watched a news segment where a local TV personality interviewed the owner of an X-rated video and sex toys store and he said their bondage kits were “flying off the shelves.” I don’t shock easily, but that interview shocked me---that a store on the fringes of polite society was being presented like it was just another dollar store in a strip mall! According to Wikipedia in the year that followed the book’s release injuries that required a trip to the ER from S&M related sex spiked 50%. So much for 'safe' words. I rest my case. I win. A marketing department mainstreaming deviant, abnormal behavior as “normal romance” is just plain wrong. And speaking of marketing ploys, the third in the “shades” trilogy, Fifty Shades Darker is due out for Valentine’s Day.

The second movie I found channel surfing was a cute romantic comedy starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black called Shallow Hal. It has a good message about judging a book by its cover, so to speak. Jack plays a guy who is stuck on superficial, physical looks in women until he gets hypnotized by a life coach who makes him only see a person’s inner beauty and not the package it comes in. He falls in love with Rosemary, a morbidly obese woman who, to him, looks like Gwyneth but when he is given the trigger phrase to break the hypnosis he doesn’t recognize her. Fast forward past this turning point in the story that has her heartbroken and joining the Peace Corps to where he has an epiphany. He comes to realize she has a beautiful, loving soul and he signs up for the Peace Corps, too, and they presumably live happily ever after. How’s that for movie bookends? One lighthearted and uplifting and the other gratuitous and sending the wrong message to young people.

In between these two movie bookends I saw Victoria and Abdul with four of my Gathering Girls pals. It’s based on the true story of elderly Queen Victoria’s unlikely friendship with a young servant from India. It takes place in the late 1800s and I’m glad I saw it at the theater instead of waiting until it comes on TV. Why? Because It was filmed in twelve spectacular locations, places like: Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire and Osborne House in England; the Isle of Wight in the English Channel; the Highlands in Scotland , Agra, Uttar, Delhi and Pradesh in India; the University of Greenwich, National Railway Museum, Windsor Castle, York, North Yorkshire, Richmond, Surrey and Hertfordshire; West Wycombe House and Ham House in London. Downton Abbey fans will probably love this movie and we were quite entertained by the humor in it. Lines like when Victoria’s son said to his mother, “You’re treating him like a member of the family.” “No,” she replied, “I like him.” We all enjoyed the movie and lunch afterward but I was hoping for a knock-your-socks-off, full of wisdom answer to Victoria’s question to Abdul when she confided: “Everyone I have loved has died and I just go on and on. What is the point?” “Service, my queen" Abdul said. "We are here for a greater purpose.” What’s the ‘greater purpose?’ He didn’t explain and I need to know! And how can I find mine? ©

Shallow Hal

Fifty Shades of Grey
 
 Victoria and Abdul

26 comments:

  1. I never saw or would want to see those fifty shades movies. I agree totally with you. Our society is trying to normalize every behavior so it all becomes "grey" with no real clear picture of right or wrong. To me.....a culture in decline. Just look at the rest of the news! Trump would have never made it in the past with his crude behavior, but today a good third of the public idolize him! And look at what's going on with this Harvey Weinstein. Sex no longer has a thing to do with love, but power and control. The world has become very crude, rude and shallow.
    As far as a point, I don't really know...sometimes I don't believe there is any point...maybe enjoying the little things, love, family and friends and just simply being kind. Kindness is very underrated.
    And your point was of course loving and taking care of your husband and this blog, truly. I look forward to it every time. It's a small pleasure in my life.

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    1. I debated if I wanted to watch it but I decided if I'm going to continue to criticize the trilogy I should take the free opportunity....wouldn't pay a penny to do it, though. Normalizing what isn't normal is exactly what that movie promotes. You nailed it.

      What Harvey Weinstein, Bill Crosby and other powerful men have done is not new. Getting outed and having to pay a price for it is new and maybe its the beginning of the end of that kind of behavior. I just wish that paying a price had started before we elected a groper president.

      Thanks for the kind words about my blog. I really do hope my blogs---especially the two from my caregiver days---helped others going through the same things. I know writing them helped me.

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  2. The interesting connection between your first and second reviews is that Gwyneth Paltrow is one who's come forward to talk about her abuse at the hands of Harvey Weinstein.

    What's most obvious about that entire, sordid saga is the role of power. Everyone agrees that everyone knew: but no one wanted to cross such a "powerful" man -- even people who had a good bit of power to wield themselves, if only they had chosen to do so. There are plenty of other so-called power couples that are notable for the women keeping their mouths shut when they should have stood up for themselves. The Clintons are only one. What's really intriguing to think about is how many other people in Hollywood, DC, and so on who are involved in equally unhealthy relationships that have gone unnoticed -- at least by the public at large.

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    1. I didn't make the connection between Gwyneth and my first movie review.

      Back when I started out in the work force during the '60s abuse of power of male bosses was wide spread and everyone knew it. But even if a woman had spoken out it wouldn't have done any good other than the accuser getting fired. And a few women used sex to get ahead which clouded the issue. It hasn't been that long that sexual harassment on the job has even been against that law. Hollywood and D.C. men in power were/are no different than the guys with less power in the heartland. The woman just had more to lose if they came forward because their lives would be all over the tabloids.

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  3. I have not read 50 and I didn't see the movie, but I would have to live in a cave not to have heard all the hoopla. It's not up my alley either. When the book was at its peak, I saw Sherri Shepherd and someone else (I've forgotten who) do a silly segment on The View in which they presented toys and kind of spanked each other with a feather duster-type thing. I remember thinking, "Really?"

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    1. I'm against censorship but there is a huge difference in marketing aka mainstreaming S&M the way that show did. Never should have happened! "Really!" indeed.

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  4. This was so very interesting Jean. I did not care for Shallow Hal because I didn't see it the same way as you. I may need to revisit that and see it through your eyes. I would never ever watch 50 shades or read the poorly written book. I read a page because a friend had made such fun of it due to the poor writing. That was enough. There is good eroticia out there in print if I want to read some.

    As for Victoria and Abul, I so wish to see this movie. I am glad it was as good as I hoped. Can't wait to view this one! Thanks for the review.

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    1. I think I built Victoria and Abdul up in my head so much before seeing it that I was slightly disappointed. But we all liked it. I didn't LOVE, LOVE it, if you know what I mean. I was happy the theater was full because that will help Hollywood make more films that appeal to older people if we older people support them in the theaters.

      Got goes to Amazon now and see if I can read a few pages of "Shades" to see what you saw regarding the quality of the writing. Interesting!

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  5. When I was busy reading everything I could get my hands on, a dear old friend sent me the three books. She told me what she thought of them and I could form my own opinion. I shared her opinion of disgust. The books sounded like lies she was telling her sorority sisters, trying to convince them of her experiences. Bad writing, I never felt like I was there. A waste of my time ... It's amazing how some people rave about some movies/books because of the racy subject and not the actual content.
    I saw Shallow Hal and got a real kick out of it. I never read the book, if there was one.
    I really want to see Victoria and Abdul, of course, I'll have to wait for it to come out in BluRay. I like Judi Dench and think she is great!
    I, too, would like to know the answer. :-)

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    1. Judi Dench was perfect in that role. So a great talent, that woman.

      Interesting two comments in a row about the poor writing of "Shades." I could never understand why so many people raved about these books, given the S&M thread that runs throw them. I saw an author interviews and I found her to be disgusting.

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  6. I took issue with the fact that such a big deal was made about 50 Shades when the book The Story Of O had already been written, excerpted, and made into a film for more than...20 years? The point of it being Mainstream S&M is the Big Deal, I guess, but perhaps it also means Really Mediocre Writing as well.

    **To be fair, I only read a couple of excerpts provided with reviews. That was enough for me. I mean...come on.**

    No matter how you look at it, women are up against a Power Struggle every single time. Especially against other women who are, as my students used to say, "Haters." No one is harder on women than other women. Men know it, and they love to sit back, watch, and use it against us.

    Sorry--that's off-topic of your post.

    I like what the commenter Mary said above: Kindness is very underrated. Your "service" to other widows as they navigate widowhood is a wonderful kindness to them. They can read this blog and find their way through the journey with a Kind Pathfinder, feeling less lonely and frightened as they go.

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    1. I didn't even know about the Story of O but, thanks to you and Mr. Google, I do now. I bet that didn't play in my town that, back then, was known as the City of Churches. There was a local protect when 'Shades' was playing but they didn't shut it down...just white noise and more publicity for the movie because the protest made the news.

      The thing I worry about with this blog is that I'm far enough out from being a new widow that its original purpose and name no longer reflects what I write about.

      A agree with you and Mary, kindness is underrated. Our nightly local news is trying to change that and always ends with "one good thing." It's a segment where someone in the community wants someone else recognized for one good thing they've done. It's stuff like kids having a lemonade stand to raise money for the hurricane victims to an adult coaching a team of disabled kids on his spare time.

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  7. I liked the Shallow Hal movie too--cute and funny. I want to see the one about Victoria--I love Judy Dench. The 50 shades of whatever, I wouldn't allow the book or the movie inside my house. LOL Funny to remember, back in the day, when I read Peyton Place and was horrified. and my favorite author for a time was Harold Robbins. I had the book laying on the arm of my couch and my mother read part of it while she was baby sitting our kids. When we got home, she said, "Every time you read a chapter in that book, you need to read a chapter in the Bible to make up for it." I was 26 at the time and so embarrassed that my Mother knew I read such stuff.

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    1. I think my mom read Peyton Place before I ever did. I saw the movie long before trying the book. That's a funny story about what your mom said about it. Valley of the Dolls was another scandalous book from back in those days. I wouldn't have a "Shades" book or movie in the house either for fear I'd die and people thought I was a fan.

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  8. Didn't read the book nor see the Shades movie nor have I seen the Shallow Hal. However, Victoria and Abdul is for sure on my list and the nearest theater here is a 3 hour round trip which shows how much I want to see it. Judi Dench is my favorite actress.

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    1. She sure won't disappoint you. The shear opulence of the life style the queen lived in was mind boggling and from what I read, they filmed in the actually places, not on movie sets made to look like royal estates, palaces and rooms.

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  9. He did answer the question, didn’t he? We’re still here after the deaths of loved one for “service”. I suppose we all provide that service in our own unique ways within our situation which may impose limitations of various kinds. Simply “being” can be a service in some cases. For others maybe simply providing a listening ear will serve as a meaningful service. Am sure there are numerous other services we provide others which we may not even think of as having important value to others that they regard as such.

    I enjoy the characters Judy Dench creates — would like to see her performance in a stage play sometime. As for all the instances in most every business setting in which I was employed, inappropriate abuse of power was present — we either were subjected to it, or knew of others who had been. Those practicing such behaviors seemed to take for granted doing so was an expected perk of their position. Any effort to make them accountable might well result in only a slap on the wrist at worst and was kept very hush hush. That gross behavior isn’t too far removed from adults known to children as friends who abuse them which we all readily condemn.

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    1. Yes, he did answer it but I didn't like the answer. LOL I was over service when I was in caregiver mode for a total of 17 years between my dad and my husband. I don't have the desire or energy to be of service to anyone buy myself now.

      I agree with what you're saying in the second paragraph. A lot of men in the older generations probably don't/didn't think what they were doing was wrong. Sexual harassment was just a perk of a power career to them.

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  10. I would NOT spend a penny to read or watch any of that smut. Yuk. A woman who lives here wrote a book about her time in the Vietnam War ... having affairs with married officers. Will not read that either. Bragging about low morals? I think not.

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    1. Wow, going after marries men, then bragging about it is pretty low on the totem pole of behavior.

      I'm glad I saw "Fifty Shades" because it confirmed my ability to evaluate movie hype and plot lines, and I seriously wanted to understand how they presented S&M so that it made it acceptable to so many women. I will say the framing of shots and camera work was very artistic. It reminded me of one of Madonna's earlier video done in black and white. I hated her music but loved the artsy-fatsy quality of it.

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  11. I haven't seen any of these movies, Shallow Hal sounds like one to see and Fifty Shades would not be for me, I happen to agree with your review of the subject matter, no woman should be put into that situation regardless of "safe words"

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    1. I don't get why any woman (or man) would trust someone who wants to handcuff them or tie them up. Crazy, crazy!

      I really like Jack Black and usually like the movies he's in. They are light, silly and fun.

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  12. I agree with the comments above - I'd never watch 40 (although I might rifle through the pages, if I saw the book in the library). I'm not a movie goer, so will wait for Victoria to arrive on my TV.

    Re "greater purpose", wish I knew it too. I think its on the lines of "do all the good you can, to all the people you can, etc". But can't say I do that too. In working life, there was no time to ponder. Now all the time to ponder, but not much energy to do anything. ~ Libby

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    1. That line in your second paragraph is a paraphrase from Hillary's book and she says it's inherent in her faith, which I take is like a mission statement. Nice words to strive for but I sure don't do it either.

      I rarely went to the theater to see movies when my husband's was living. I can probably count the times on my fingers. I found wonder how I had the energy to work full time, I sure couldn't do it today.

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  13. No interest in 50 Shades, either. Will probably wait for the Victoria one for when it's on Netflix. Generally the only movies we'll spend money on are the big Sci Fi ones that deserve the mega screen experience. Some Oscar-nominated flicks, too. That's about it...

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    1. Going to the movies and lunch is an opportunity for a social event for me. When my husband was alive, we didn't have the time or desire to go either.

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