Even holiday classics like It’s a Wonderful Life have come under vicious scrutiny in our politically correct, brave new world, with CNN openly questioning whether the beloved film is secretly sexist and should, therefore, be “retired” from American culture.
CNN writer Carol Costello says she has “cooled to classics like ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’” lamenting that in a post-Harvey Weinstein world, she can never again watch that movie “in the same way [she] did when [she] was a kid” because she keeps wondering if it is “inherently sexist.”
“And that’s a good thing,” she adds.
Seen through the revisionist prism of radical feminism, the classic Frank Capra film starring James Stewart and Donna Reed becomes part of a patriarchal plot to keep women subjected to men.
After all, “if gorgeous, brilliant Mary had never met her George Bailey,” she would have never ended up working in a library, Costello suggests. Poor Mary threw away a stellar career for the mere love of a man.
Those “old-fashioned songs, plays and ballets,” Costello says, “can influence the way kids think about gender roles,” and, therefore, maybe the whole lot should be thrown out in the name of a new, gender-neutral social engineering experiment.
“Perhaps it is time we retire these dinosaurs and bask in a brighter, more equitable future,” Costello writes.
It’s a Wonderful Life is not alone on Costello’s cinematic chopping block. She would also like to eliminate the Broadway hit The Producers along with the Nutcracker Suite ballet, while other feminists have called for censoringGone with the Wind for its supposed depiction of “marital rape.”
What does Ms. Costello propose instead of classic cinema’s odious depictions of gender stereotypes? She envisions a world where women replace men as the lead roles in all action films and dramas, which would finally leave behind the fanciful notion that men have something meaningful to contribute to modern society.
Costello’s favorites include the Last Jedi, which features Rey, “a smart, strong freedom fighter,” Wonder Woman, which “boasts a superhero who is compassionate, smart and a kick-ass fighter,” and Beauty and the Beast, whose leading lady, Belle, “refuses to settle for a man who is not up to her standards.”
She also applauds modern remakes like Ocean’s 8 and Ghostbusters, which have traded in their male leads for tough female characters.
While moviegoers seem to enjoy films with strong female characters, they may resist the notion that most of the films of Hollywood’s golden age were somehow secretly sexist.
One recent reevaluation of It’s a Wonderful Life actually comes to the contrary conclusion: despite appearances, the real hero of the story is neither George nor Clarence.
“The biggest hero is actually a heroine, Mary Hatch Bailey, played by Donna Reed,” writes Paul J. Batura at Fox. “She’s George’s poised and unflappable wife and the mother of their four children, Janie, Pete, Tommy and Zuzu.”
Mary, Batura writes, has many of the qualities that her husband lacks and keeps him and the family on track against all odds.
“Heroism manifests itself in many forms in the overlooked or understated people of this world, most especially spouses who sit outside the spotlight and mothers who sacrifice on a daily basis for their children,” Batura adds.
It is, no doubt, a pity that Ms. Costello and others of her ilk can no longer enjoy It’s a Wonderful Life and other classic films, partly because of a two-dimensional understanding of heroism.
The question is whether they have the right to ruin things for the millions who still do.
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