Tuesday, July 28, 2020

the new working woman

Waiter coded gay.
Fritz a condescending ass pretending he's looking out for JC's interests.
And that's where the sacrifice conversation begins. At the end of the film, JC insists she still doesn't want to make sacrifices, and yet she has already made most of the sacrifices that Fritz is talking about. She has a kid, has a house to look after, has a growing business. I don't remember if we see them, but she's got to have employees. Is she going to talk like Fritz later with her female employees?
Steven doesn't like JC dreaming about a vacation home and sex with him takes seconds and he calls it incredible when she is clearly not at all satisfied.
Feminism in the 80s still loves capitalism. JC's problem, Baby Boom would have us believe, is not her work ethic, even though 70-80 work hours a week will not fit with having a child. And JC is not satisfied with Vermont.
Hughes rejects JC ostensibly because she has a child (but really because she brought the kid to their meeting, so maybe he isn't that bad, or ineffective, yet.)
Even before she's got water troubles (the pipes and then the well) the movie doesn't show us much of her settling in.

But, I'm getting ahead of the movie now. As I pointed out yesterday, this movie stays in the city for more than half its length, making the Vermont venture a minor element. Which is strange. Because I imagine an ending in which JC doesn't say, "If The Food Chain can put Country Baby on every supermarket shelf in America, so can I." Instead she'd not need to be on every supermarket shelf in America. She's got one orchard, she's already selling her applesauce throughout Vermont...

I used to have this argument all the time with a guy I know online, used to work for the SciFi Channel, about tv ratings. The goal was always every show has to be number one in its slot with the right demographic, and that seemed like a ridiculous goal to me. A) It's science fiction, it's not going to be the most popular thing most of the time. Hell, almost never. 2) It's basic cable, so it would never hit the numbers of a network, and networks don't even get the numbers that they used to because there are more and more options for watching television all the time. And D) There is nothing wrong with coming in second, nothing wrong with making just enough profit to pay your employees well, pay your crew, your actors, buy new shows, and live to sci fi another day.
Everett sees a child in JC's office and (along with Fritz) is not happy about it. But, JC is preoccupied, spills Elizabeth's bottle on him, and is flustered, so maybe we're not supposed to be on JC's side yet, capitalism is winning.
With the interviews of potential nannies, and the first one being irresponsible, and JC panicking at the second, it seems like JC cannot trust other women (or maybe the movie doesn't want her to) anymore than she can trust men.
The straw that really breaks the camel's back at work is when JC takes a call in a meeting, when all she had to do is step out. Like none of the men there have ever had a call to take during a meeting, have never had any emergency that their wives couldn't take care of (like Fritz claims his does).
It feels like the movie is presenting men who are inadequate--I'm ahead of the film here, but the plumber in town, Boone, even--the presentation of his work estimates play like he's a country rube who doesn't know anything. His yeps and nopes present as if he's an idiot. But he clearly gets the work done. And, at the dance later, he seems to have some musical talent as well. But, at that point JC is more comfortable with Vermont so it's okay if we see another side of him.

Even his choice to take JC to Dr. Cooper when she faints is a pretty good move. There is no other Doctor nearby, so he gets her to the vet, because who knows what kind of emergency it is? The problem at Dr. Cooper's is not that he's the wrong kind of doctor but simply that JC doesn't realize it and after freaking out in front of Boone, she continues to spill out her feelings in front of this stranger and it becomes an embarrassment. That he's a veterinarian is just an extra punchline to make their future interactions more (and inappropriately) awkward.
JC spills her soda at a meeting, and it feels unrealistic to me--I've been in work meetings--that she's the only one without a good solid mug on the table. There would be drinks of all kinds, and probably bagels or donuts or something. The mess being just hers is a cheap move by the movie, except I'm not sure what the move means. Is JC bad at her job? Is her inability to keep up with a younger woman out walking because she's got a stroller an indicator that she is falling behind because of her choices and that is a bad thing? Or is she realizing that she doesn't need to keep up because there are better things in her life now? The movie should be arguing the latter but keeps insisting on the former.   
Ken does part of JC's job when she can't get to it, and 1) that's a dick move but also 2) a sign that the film is recalling pushing the idea that JC can no longer hack it. 
But, that's 80s capitalism and Fritz rewards Ken and JC quits. 
And Fritz is an asshole. Doesn't know how many grandkids he has, and he says it like he's made the right choice, work over family.
And, I'm not sure the film really disagrees. In the scene before the well discussion and JC fainting, she talks to a friend over the phone and her tone suggests things aren't going well, but the set decoration and the direction suggest to me otherwise. She's got firewood inside now; we saw her struggling to get firewood outside in the snow earlier. The place is clean. There are baby toys on the floor, sure, but that's normal, and JC is still at the point that she picks them up; she hasn't given up yet. But, the well drying up is too much.
And then there's Dr. Cooper. Stable. Calm. Immediately offering to listen to JC's problems. Not much later, he also offers to help with her research at the library. Somehow he's the positive male type in the film, but also sort of antithetical to what the film wants, or what we think it wants. JC isn't supposed to need a man, and she wants success with her applesauce. Country Baby is supposed to be ticket back to regular life...
But her regular life is not what she wants. Not anymore. That's the movie this should be. But, 80s feminism wants to reify the need for JC to keep pushing, even as the film wants to reify her need for a man in her life, and it's pushing in different directions and doesn't really work if you think about it. But if JC embraced Vermont, embraced Country Baby as a company that doesn't need to be nationwide to be successful, and could still embrace Dr. Cooper because he's a nice guy...
If he hadn't basically assaulted her by her truck when she had that flat tire. And, after she had confessed to him she hadn't been with a man in a while. I mean, back the fuck off, Jeff. She isn't interested, and no matter how much immediate dislike is twisted into attraction in every other romantic comedy (not that this was a romantic comedy for the first hour), that trope has got to go, and you need to keep your hands and mouth to yourself.
So, nevermind embracing Dr. Cooper. But, Vermont and economic comfort--that seems nice.

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