50s-60s American Men Apparently Dreamed of Dead Wives
...or certainly it was considered an amusing idea, based on the cumulative evidence of their films, ads and TV. Here's a startlingly glaring example: the "button defense" scene in HOW TO MURDER YOUR WIFE.
The most reprehensible scene in one of the most misogynist films of a period when wanting your wife dead was considered an understandable foible. HE GETS OFF A CHARGE OF 1st-DEGREE MURDER because he--a cartoonist by the way, which really gets up my nose--proves that any man if he could do it would try to do the same and why not? If you have trouble explaining "male privilege" or "misogyny", just show them that fucking scene. It is hateful, & the laugh of a bully. (also, side note: I hate the stupid walking stereotype Terry-Thomas. Terry-Thomas was not only completely unfunny, but hideous to boot; thank god the Beatles knocked away his version of England)
You will be agape throughout this scene, you will say "What the FUCK" more than once. His wife (unnamed throughout the filmexcept as "Mrs. Ford") actually shows up alive--but after this scene, when he's acquitted:when they think he did it, and he confesses he did it, straight to the jury, who acquit him instantly.
You will wait for the other shoe to drop in this scene and it doesn't. You think this is satire. And it is but the satire that kicks down, not up: the kind Fox attempts, say. You, the men in the audience, are supposed to be rooting for him, and the other men in this scene. If women feel anything but pure intimidation or anger watching this, they're meant to perhaps be impressed by Lemmon's masterliness and even a little turned on, because that too was the delusion of men at the time: that women might act all independent but all they needed was a man to force himself on her in some way to straighten her out. (see: nearly all Hollywood till the 70s)
It's supposed to be taken as empowering. Even cute. Jack Lemmon is supposed to look like a hero, and one with huge swinging balls at that. But this is supposed to be lighthearted. It's lit like color TV, like a Brady Bunch episode. I find it a sign of progress that this is horrifying now, and it's strange to me it wasn't then. But that fact is very telling and valuable to realize.
Notice too how not unlike the complaints of feeling persecuted by women from MRAs much of this sounds like--except this was in a time when men actually had the full power to act on it unashamed. This is what it looks like in a society entirely set their way. As opposed to significantly less so today. Now talking that openly this way at least fringes you.
The alien psychology of this period as artifacted in stuff like this fascinates me. You rarely see it put as bluntly as this. It's very instructive to see how they talked and how they thought when they thought it was okay to say it.
"Eternity with Beelzebub, and all his hellish instruments of death, will be a picnic compared to five minutes with me and this pencil." - E. Blackadder, 1791 Questionable
words & pictures from John Linton Roberson SUPPORT US AT PATREON!