Black swan misogyny

Black Swan
Image by paladinsf via Flickr

Maybe I’m taking a silly movie too seriously, but about halfway through Black Swan I thought I must’ve somehow not only travelled back in time to 1962, but into some sort of parallel universe in which all a fragile woman really needs is a good rogering by some aggressive svengali twice her age.

Add the really obvious theme of the neurotic self-harming ballet dancer with an eating disorder, with the controlling mother who won’t let her daughter grow up and is living out her own aspirations. Then throw in some 100% gratuitous lesbian sex, some really quite degrading masturbation scenes, and a long, long metaphor about taking flight from one’s own fears and natural limitations.

The naturally gifted, confident dancer (played by Mila Kunis) is portrayed as a completely libidinous and promiscuous character – who feels the need to stroke her dancing partner’s package immediately before he goes on stage. The implication seems to be that women can only be true artists if they are also sexually predatory. If it wasn’t such a ludicrous male fantasy written by a man who must have some pretty serious sexual issues of his own, I’d find it offensive.

It’s a shame in some ways, because the last 40 minutes or so are quite brilliant and frightening visualisations of madness, some really good camera work of the dancing, and a quite touching ending about unattainable perfection. Natalie Portman was incredibly good, even if she never really looked like a dancer. Vincent Cassell was embarrassingly miscast, Winona Ryder played her usual volatile diva role quite competently.

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