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July 1999, Week 3


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paul wiener <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 16 Jul 1999 11:35:16 -0400
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Maureen, thanks for your lengthy and interesting response. Since I
initiated the Liz Taylor thread, I'd be happy to call an end to it. I was
simply sharing a personal response with a potentially interested group. It
made me feel good to know that a number of others - men, it's true - shared
my feelings. I was beginning to feel like an alien.

It never occurred to me that this simple remark could be viewed as a gender
issue. I'm not a professor or film researcher, but I am a film-literate
academic familiar with gender politics. It could very well be that there
are women of all kinds who find Liz Taylor more or less beautiful than do
men of various kinds, and for many reasons. In my experience the beauty of
female movie stars has usually been addressed as a matter of what appeals
to men, Camille Paglia (whose attraction to Madonna is well-established)
nothwithstanding. But there's no reason it has to be. If you or any woman
could tell me what I may perhaps be missing or overlooking in Liz, or in
any other female beauty queen, I'd love to know. Are men's criteria for
attraction to female movie stars actually a subject for contentious
discussion?  What part do women play in maintaining the status and power of
female beauty queens? Maybe men (fans, producers, critics, directors,
co-stars, cinematographers) only think they determine this. Who knows?  I
have no doubt that beauty on the screen is often a far different quality
from beauty in the flesh, and it could be that many men who find, say,
Julia Roberts, very attractive, have never actually addressed an beautiful
woman in person, or loked beyond their surface. Ditto for Kathy Bates. I've
loved Liv Ullman for years on the screen, but also got within 5 feet of her
at a local screening 2 years ago: she was even more beautiful in person,
though "past her prime."

Paul B. Wiener
Special Services Librarian
SUNY at Stony Brook
Melville Library
fax: 516/'632-7116
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