So Jodie Prenger has been named the new Nancy for the christmas opening version of Oliver! Congratulations!
But I was disquieted somewhat by the ways in which the women were encouraged to talk about the role. I’m thinking about such quotes as “I was born to play Nancy” or “The more this competition has gone on the more I realise I am Nancy”. I have a less romanticised notion of this and ask whether these participants meant “I was born to play the role of an alcoholic, battered prostitute who dies at the hands of her male partner/pimp”. Somehow seems less, well, desirable that way.
But this led me to thinking about the role available in the West End at the moment. And it’s actually quite depressing. Seems women, according to musicals, should fit into one of four categories:
1. the tragic heroine (Fontine, Les Mis for example, or Nancy; Grease (who then becomes 4))
2. the virginal maiden (Cosette, Les Mis; Maria, Sound of Music; Dirty Dancing; Phantom of the Opera)
3. the one-to-blame-for-everything (the Mothers, Blood Brothers)
4. the sexually promiscous (Sally, Cabaret; Chicago; Witches of Eastwick)
Exceptions? – Kate Monster (Avenue Q) and to some extent Elphaba (Wicked, although she could by type 1). So, yes, there we have it – tragic figure, virgin, harpy or whore. And as if to prove my point see this forthcoming delight:
Bob is a man on a mission: to seduce five different women and keep them apart so they don’t become aware of his other conquests. This Lothario is so desperate to score with them all and keep their existence unknown to the others that he resorts to extreme measures to learn their secret desires.
And whilst we’re on flagrant abuses of culture – Angry Lesbians drew our attention to this film just started filming – Lesbian Vampire Killers. The plot? An ancient curse has turned all the young women in a village into lesbian vampires and two men are sent to sort it out. Lovely, or rather, as Angry Lesbians put it ” A movie shamelessly catering to men’s girl-on-girl fantasies. Once more a movie exploiting lesbians and women.” Their objections:
1. use of lesbians to titillate men (as has happened over the years). (Note these lesbians are only lesbian because of a curse – so it’s always a bad thing and women are obviously “naturally” hetero unless cursed otherwise! And lesbians are seemingly blood-thirsty and violent.
2. Homosexual-as-virus which “wastes its victims and spreads its monstrosity unchecked…Coding the queer as monster allows viewers the catharsis of experiencing the terror of a threat to “normal life,” while insulating them against that threat by presenting it as a fantasy character or demimondain usually destroyed by film’s end.”
3. Derogatory to all women – shown only as “scantly clad lust objects”. If you see the cast list, the part of one actress is simply labelled: “Blonde” (to be played by Susie Amy from Moving Wallpaper/Echo Beach.
Angry lesbians have a petition going here.