Anyone who has read Freud knows that past is present when it comes to the traumas of our ancestors, especially when we do not consciously heal our family lines. This is also true of nations, which is why so many international wars stem from centuries-old conflicts. It is also why every person living in the United States, regardless of their race, religion, or where their ancestors lived 150 years ago, is impacted by slavery – its unmerited entitlements for whites; its dehumanizing exploitation and abuse of blacks. Nowhere is this legacy more evident than in the grave mistreatment of people of color – especially black males – in the U.S. criminal justice system. Policing the Black Man, an essay collection edited by activist and academic Angela Davis, lays out how African American men have remained endangered by our law enforcement system since “Juneteenth” – June 19, 1865 – when the slaves in the former Confederacy of the southern United States were officially emancipated. Continue Reading →
The “female likeability” mandate has been holding women hostage in literature, as in life, since the Ancient Greeks introduced Medea and Clytemnestra. But it was Shakespeare who really enforced the myth that girls had to play nice. Though he authored some beautifully complex women, he also created a bevy of thorny female characters who either sweetened up or met a brutal fate–in King Lear and The Taming of the Shrew, especially. Then there’s Lady Macbeth. As a woman who notoriously did not know her place, she was doomed to go mad before offing herself entirely.
Though she is never name-checked except in its title, William Oldroyd’s adaptation of Nikolai Leskov’s classic 1865 novel, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk, is haunted by the Lady. About a young woman sold into marriage to a man more than twice her age, this “Lady Macbeth” is a feminist screed that doesn’t just politely nudge at expectations that adult women should be good little girls. It rips them up and then stares at us defiantly. Continue Reading →
If you are a diehard fan of “Anne of Green Gables,” perhaps you have postponed watching “Anne With an E,” the newest television adaptation of L. M. Montgomery’s beloved 1908 novel about a Canadian orphan with notoriously red hair. Originally released by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, it hit Netflix in May, but I could not bring myself to watch the series after hearing it described as yet another “gritty, dark reboot.” Anne, I thought, should not be sullied by gritty darkness. Like another notoriously red-headed orphan (what is it about red hair and orphans?), she’s a paragon of cheerful pluck. Continue Reading →