Tuesday, December 04, 2007

On Jo

I just watched "Little Women" again (for the god-knows nth time) over the past two nights. I think I started watching it just because Cristina had mentioned the theme music to it recently, and also because it feels like a winter movie, and also because I think that re-watching my favorite movies sometimes really helps me get centered. It's sort of strange, really, because on one hand I think that movies totally mess with me, with my generation, with whoever, because they give us these unholy insane ideals that reality can never live up to. But on the other hand, sometimes I think ideals are a good thing (and I realize that sounds like a "duh" statement). What I mean is, in college we had speakers talk to us about the completely unrealistic scenarios in movies, ones that made girls believe that they could reform the bad boy, that they would at some point be swept off their feet, that relationships were easy and the plot was over when the wedding happened, that when you fall in love you know, instantly. And the speakers (ok, I'm really only thinking of one, and he's one of my heroes) talked about how all of that makes you ill equipped to handle real relationships. And yes, I think that's right. But I also believe that some aspects of these movies really are worth savoring and holding on to and maybe taking as a certain kind of lesson, if not an absolute truth.

What does this have to do with "Little Women," you ask? Well, there's been an ongoing debate amongst my female friends about who was really meant for Jo, Laurie or Professor Bhaer. And I've always felt totally torn, because I know I'm supposed to like Bhaer but Laurie was just so much more dashing and boyish and energetic. Clearly this is an intellect-versus-emotion thing, like so many things in my life (specifically my romantic life, such as it is at the moment, which is not much). I've completely straddled the fence on this one. Tonight I watched from the proposal scene with Laurie through to the end, and I had, as usual, a lot of complex reactions, the upshot of which is that I became more sold on Bhaer. It wasn't that I liked Laurie less (although I have a hard time with a) his really weird moustache/goatee thing he has going that is supposed to show that he is older and/or more mature and/or throwing propriety to the wind, b) his declaration that he wants Amy because he "has always known that he should be part of the March family" --boo-- and c) his happy crazy revelation to Jo that he has married her younger sister, with apparently no awkwardness over the fact that he had proposed to her like a year before). It was more related to the fact that I have been re-evaluating, or trying to, my sort of mental list about what I really am looking for in a partner (I'm not actually "looking," but I mean). I felt like Bhaer met some high standards, matched some ideals, that I often have to remind myself are the most important. Such as: maturity, and intellectualism that isn't arrogant, and this certain indescribable quality, which as best as I can describe it is basically an openness to sharing Jo's world and interests and caring about them without having them be his own interests. These seem like sort of obvious things, but it seems to me that they are rarer than you would think.

This is why I think idealism is good sometimes. I want to remind myself to be like Jo, to hold off, to stand steady.

And I don't just mean this in relation to men. I always related to Jo because she was the writer, but I feel more and more like her now than I ever did before. And I still feel sorry for Jo, because she lost out on opportunities that she deserved (going to Europe, the line in the movie -- I realize that this is obviously all based on a book, which I love, but I think the movie is a great interpretation of it so I'm running with this -- where she says "I should have been a great many things"). The reason Jo couldn't be all those things was largely due to her gender in a time when women couldn't go to Harvard like Laurie could, when women's writing was dismissed as sentimental, etc. etc. etc. I guess I should feel lucky. I have had chances she never could have had. But I want to stay close to Jo's model, and dig my heels in until I figure out what I really want.

(Wow. So whenever I watch the end scene in the rain, I always think of the title of that chapter in the book, "Under the Umbrella." I just now went back and skimmed the text of it online. I completely forgot how it went. If it's been a long time since you read the books -- and for me it's only been three years since I read them for a class -- you might want to go back and read them again. Seriously. Wow. I have so many thoughts.)

1 comment:

el super said...

ok so did you watch the elizabeth taylor one or the winona one? I think this makes a difference sort of in my whole laurie or not to laurie debate because i really loved christian bale and laurie. also I think that if she had been allowed to have sex with laurie and like...just be with him, yes it would not have worked, but maybe i would have felt ok that it didn't work because at least she got to try it. and i just always hated amy and she shouldn't get to end up rich and going ot europe and all that shit! what a bitch! typical. maybe i should reread it since i haven't done so since 6th grade and since i might have like "moments" with it or something. i think i will when i go home.