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Meanwhile, Back at the Sexual Revolution...
The Death of the Grown-Up ^ | 6/29/12 | Diana West

Posted on 06/29/2012 8:52:54 AM PDT by kreitzer

With so many assaults on the boundaries of governance and sovereignty in the news lately, reflecting on the career of writer and Hollywood director Nora Ephron, who died this week at 71, may seem off-topic. But upon reading through many glowing Ephron appreciations, I realize that in her work lies another broken boundary. It is a cultural one, and every bit as significant as lines on the map or in the Constitution.

In a scene from her most famous movie, “When Harry Met Sally” (1989), Ephron brought to mainstream, predominantly female audiences the spectacle of a professional actress (Meg Ryan), not a porn prop, performing an extended impression of an orgasm in a crowded delicatessen. It was supposed to be the ultimate put-down of her crass male companion (Billy Crystal). Was this merely a smart update of the onscreen battle of the sexes once famously waged by Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy? Or had we become party to something darker? Either way, America laughed, and Ephron is today eulogized for this unforgettable display.

It was a first, all right, but maybe not so funny, since it was also a milestone in the pornification of the American middle class. This has been a long process in which increasingly voyeuristic audiences watch as increasingly untrammeled moviemakers rob human sexuality of intimacy and consequence. “When Harry Met Sally” took us over the top, cauterizing audiences to a new convention of shamelessness – the ideal of Betty Friedan feminism.

And then what happened? Ever since, as a critic approvingly wrote, “rom-coms have gotten increasingly raunchy and foulmouthed, often desperately so. But whatever supposed new twists writers dream up – make the lovers casual-sex partners or bisexual polyamorists or ex-lovers of each other’s parents – they’re just spraying Cool Whip on a cake that Ephron baked.”

This must make Ephron the mother of the transgressive “gross-out” comedy, even if she is more politely celebrated as the queen of romantic comedy. To be sure, two subsequent Ephron “rom-coms,” “Sleepless in Seattle” (1993) and “You’ve Got Mail” (1998), were more conventional entertainments. But the lines had blurred.

Such was the crowning achievement of a wonderfully successful career cocooned amid the entertainment Left. There was the short marriage to Watergate-famous Carl Bernstein and the early movie “Silkwood” (1983), directed by Mike Nichols and starring Meryl Streep battling an Evil Corporation. Ephron’s divorce from Bernstein was novelized in the best-selling “Heartburn” (1983), which in 1986 became another Streep and Nichols collaboration that also starred Jack Nicholson. Even after Ephron’s segue into comedy, the odd political barb poked through. In “Julie & Julia” (2009), Ephron’s final movie with Streep as Julia Child, Julia’s discordant character of a father is a rich, Republican McCarthyite. The character of Julie, meanwhile, is admonished by her Democrat boss that a Republican would have fired her.

Such is the lingo of the entertainment Left, for whom invoking McCarthyism, mean-spirited- Republicans and other stock villains is like breathing. “I forget how white they are, and mean-spirited, and thin-lipped,” Ephron wrote of Republicans in 2008 at Huffington Post. In a 2010 list of things she would not miss (dry skin, bad dinners), Ephron included: “polls showing that 32 percent of Americans believe in creationism” and Clarence Thomas.

Clarence Thomas? In 1996, Ephron warned Wellesley graduates: “Understand: Every attack on Hillary Clinton for not knowing her place is an attack on you. Underneath almost all those attacks are the words: Get back, get back to where you (women) once belonged. … Any move to limit abortion rights is an attack on you – whether or not you believe in abortion. The fact that Clarence Thomas is sitting on the Supreme Court today is an attack on you.” The world that crowned Ephron with laurels was a dark, dark place – if only these college-educated young women could see it: “What I’m saying is, don’t delude yourself that the powerful cultural values that wrecked the lives of so many of my classmates have vanished from the earth. Don’t let the New York Times article about the brilliant success of Wellesley graduates in the business world fool you – there’s still a glass ceiling. Don’t let the number of women in the workforce trick you – there are still lots of magazines devoted almost exclusively to making perfect casseroles.”

Aha! In Ephron World, there was no place for the nonfeminist female. Rom-coms were fine, so long as the female lead was sufficiently “liberated” from Republicans, Clarence Thomas and abortion hang-ups. In fact, maybe such re-education was what was really behind Meg Ryan’s big moment in the deli, in front of all those people.

And America laughed.

TOPICS: Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: hollywood; movies

1 posted on 06/29/2012 8:52:57 AM PDT by kreitzer
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To: kreitzer
When Harry met Sally..funny movie. Portrays the differences between men and women to a t.

"I'll have what she's having"...the older woman saying that was Rob Reiners mom.

2 posted on 06/29/2012 8:59:57 AM PDT by trailhkr1 (All you need to know about Zimmerman, innocent = riots, manslaughter = riots, guilty = riots)
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To: kreitzer
the pornification of the American middle class

more ethical subjectivism and relativism and new morality of secular humanist libtards

3 posted on 06/29/2012 9:02:11 AM PDT by mjp ((pro-{God, reality, reason, egoism, individualism, natural rights, limited government, capitalism}))
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To: kreitzer
I agree with everything you wrote. I'll add that Ephron’s screenplay of her novel Heartburn is far superior to the other movies she wrote and directed because the characters were real adults. They were deeply flawed adults, but they weren't “pornified” members of the middle class. There was no scene comparable to the “I'll have what she's having” one from WHMS.
4 posted on 06/29/2012 9:12:49 AM PDT by utahagen
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To: kreitzer

Yeah, too bad it’s not mentioned that “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve got Mail” are updated remakes of a Van Johnson and Cary Grant movies. Next we will hear that she invented sex.

5 posted on 06/29/2012 9:14:55 AM PDT by JimC214
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To: JimC214

“You’ve got Mail” was actually an update of a Jimmy Stewart movie.

Later made into a musical comedy film with Judy Garland.

6 posted on 06/29/2012 9:23:26 AM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: trailhkr1

No one hates slob comedies more than me (Bridemaids, anyone?) but this author is far-off in thinking Nora Ephron was on the ground floor of gross-out humor. I actually think the scene is funny and Meg Ryan is charming.

That Ephron was a provincial New Yorker who apparently never went below 86th Street and B’way is without doubt. Her political opinions are idiotic.

7 posted on 06/29/2012 9:24:51 AM PDT by miss marmelstein
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To: Sherman Logan

My apologies. The musical remake of The Shop Around the Corner starred Van Johnson.

8 posted on 06/29/2012 9:28:37 AM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: Sherman Logan

Thanks for the info.

9 posted on 06/29/2012 9:48:50 AM PDT by JimC214
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To: miss marmelstein
Yes, apparently the “Critics” never head of Animal House.
10 posted on 06/29/2012 9:51:31 AM PDT by JimC214
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