Tony Montana has taken just so much shit his whole life. He’s been oppressed and repressed and mocked and called a spic and turned on by his own country (Cuba) that he’s just not going to take any shit anymore. He’ll shoot someone just for pissing him off, which is almost admirable, or at the very least understandable. I’m not advocating violence; all I’m saying is that we all have our limits and if someone treated me the way Tony Montana had been treated his whole life – if they spit on me, and degraded me, and mocked me and doubted any power I might have, I might want to prove them wrong.
Of course, it’s a movie, and we know it well; Scarface with Al Pacino as the Cuban immigrant turned drug lord with his mountains of coke and his beautiful but, basically dead, wife, Elvira, living what he believes is the American dream.
Elvira, Tony’s wife, played perfectly by Michelle Pfieffer, is beautiful and so cool she’s ice cold, whose only job is to be an ornament, and who comes from somewhere in Baltimore, we’re told, and whose only goal, it seems, is to just be taken care of by all these rich and violent thugs. She doesn’t seem phased by all the guns and underworld thugs that hang around the house, but then, her nose is so packed full of coke that this is not really a surprise. Most of the time, she’s got this false cocaine-calm aloofness that lends itself to comparisons with a mannequin.
Her power and her trump is that ultimately, we get the sense that it’s a role she’s chosen – not one that was ever put upon her. That it’s all within her control. Men like Tony Montana are brought to their knees by her cool beauty and icy aloofness. She’s like coke they can’t buy or trade or snort or get enough of, but surely as powerful . But ultimately, she’s just some middle-class chick form Baltimore who was probably really bored and moved to Miami for some excitement. She’s a bitch. As Tony says to her, “You got a look like you haven’t been fucked in a year.” And it’s true. Maybe she knows her power is in the withholding, but this can only last for so long; a tease works because ultimately, there has to be something at the end of it. If it’s all attitude and cock tease, after a while, that gets boring and the furthest thing from sexy. Something’s gotta give.
Tony Montana wants, as he says, “what’s coming to me,” which is “the world and everything in it.” Never satisfied, never settled, the immigrant with the chip on the shoulder who sees Miami as “ a great big pussy just waiting to be fucked,” and he’s the guy to do it. I love that he sees himself so well endowed; it shows a moxie and an appealing verve that today’s sensitive men lack (or more accurately, feel they must keep under wraps.) Tony’s energy is violent, sexual, intense; he’s all about conquest and triumph and most of all, proving himself. A guy who knows that in “this country, you gotta get the money first” That money is power and all flows from that.
When Elvira laughs and mocks at his tiger-striped, tricked-out Cadillac (read; his interpretation of money versus what people who have money do), he goes and buys a new car, bringing her along. She canpick the car. He’s adapative, comprising, and mostly, wooing. That he’s willing to shake-off the guido-trappings he can then have the ultimate American male accessory – the beautiful and aloff womean who doesn’t give a shit, and as she says, “doesn’t fuck around with the help” which is him, but not matter. She will. The icier she is, the harder he tries. It’s a little dance we see a lot on our society and I wonder why we can’t just say what we mean and mean what we say and why we have to pretend we’re not interested in the first place. But okay.
Her nose is packed with coke, she needs to relax more than a little and should be doing Valium and Prozac and Ritalin instead of coke and she does look like she needs to be fucked, especially by someone like Tony Montana. But what Elvira fears is her own sexual appetite – and basically anything that makes her human, and this reminds me of other girls.
My point is that Elvira is afraid of need and wanting which is like a lot of girls in the world that I see every day. We kill our natural desire will pills and yoga and shopping and expensive highlights and blow-outs and make–up from Nars and Armani that we don’t need, but believe are The Answer, because all these panaceas makes us feel better – for a brief time.
Am I the only one who finds it odd that we pursue the latest make-up or perfume to create the seasons’ smoky lid and crimson lips and cheeks all flushed and wear blush called Orgasm and wear perfume that smells of musk and civet (from the balls of a wild cat), all in an effort to create the illusion that we have just had a night of mind-blowing, boot-banging, spank me-fuck me sex with some guy like Tony Montana.
Why not just fuck Tony Montana or whoever it is that appeals. We’re just trading dependencies by falling into consumerism instead of relationships. Product can’t talk back or betray or hurt us the way a person can, and god help if us we should live life and take a chance at love, and yes, that includes hurt. It’s fear that controls us, but ultimately we’re not living. Instead, we create this illusion of life, like the illusion of post-coitus achieved with make-up and hair-texturizers .
For our all of our so-called liberation and advancement as women, I think we had a helluva lot more fun in the seventies, when women were just beginning to enjoy the sort of rights men had always enjoyed; a time when women grew their hair long and brown and used Herbal Essence in the original green bottle and didn’t feel the need to trim and shape their public hair into neat little strips; when women fell in love and fucked and married and felt love and heartache and betrayal and wrote great songs about it, like Carole King, whose songs wouldn’t be possible without all of those messy emotions, that today, we just don’t want to deal with.
Look: I don’t find a huge pubic bush particularly sexy, but I find the choice sexy, I find that back in the seventies, women weren’t trying to shape-shift themselves into acceptable fem-bots for men. For as much as we say we have more now and deny that we aren’t concerning with making ourselves attractive to men (which, is also stupid, because it’s natural to want that, to want to be attractive), we nonetheless fit ourselves into this neat little box, ultimately defined by men and glossy magazines that serve as guide-books to snagging a husband; so we trim and stuff our chests with saline and silicone and plump our lips with chicken fat (chicken fat!), which is just disgusting, and even inject poison into our faces when in the seventies, we wouldn’t even buy canned goods at King Kullen if they were even slightly dented for fear of botulism. All this time and effort to fit in, be attractive. But why bother fitting the type if no man is ever going to see it. In short, why make yourself desirable when you are so afraid of this desire and insist in a shrill voice that you don’t want “this kind of attention” and insist , oh really, we’re doing it all for ourselves because it makes us feel better.
It’s not even close to believable. If you lived alone in a hut on the top of a mountain, would you really care about creating pubic topiaries. Would you go out and find some tree-sap and some leaves and paste them on your bikini line and rip the hair out by the root to create pretty shapes because ‘it pleases you.’ I wouldn’t.
Our problem is not that we need other people or want to be desired – that’s normal and human and healthy. And it’s not a problem that there are some women who do things to their bodies that I personally would never do, but then there I things I do that they would find just as ridiculous, like the fact that I sprinkle my underwear drawer with Chanel No. 5. Our problem is that we expend all this effort and money and energy to be desirable and even achieve desirability, but it stops there. It doesn’t go anywhere, because it’s part of a greater effort that is not of the moment, but for the future, which means it’s all an effort to secure a husband.
Instead of an expected and triumphant Hooray, because your feminine wiles have worked when a man responds, we seem to prefer the power of all this seduction so that at the critical moment we can say “No”. We choose power over fucking and engaging with another human being, and we do this because of fear. Because in this age of psychotherapy, were everything is a fucking issue (pun intended) as if our boyfriend cheating or leaving us would cause a complete breakdown, as it has and does for so many girls today. Girls today, with few exceptions, don’t get back out there like Carole King or Carly Simon and belt out our anger and pain in some healthy way in a song with scathing lyrics. Instead, young women today run for the shelter of pastel pills and their standby bottles of Xanax and Zoloft and frantic calls to their therapists and lock themselves in their Back Bay apartments with their cats because we’re all so fucking fragile. It’s pathetic.
Carole King and Carly Simon and so many others went through the same heartache but they didn’t run away; they belted it out in songs like “You’re so Vain” or “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (Bonnie Tyler), and Abba and Fleetwood Mac who made a life-style of heartache and fucking – because that is life. These women seem a lot braver to me.
Bridget Jones, as we know, is really Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice all over again but with a contemporary spin. What I love about Bridge Jones is that she’s honest about her life and her pain; that she’s not a perfect size four, and that she’s all T and A and not afraid to show it. , The aloof and cool size four girls of control would never dream of wearing the sexy little numbers that Bridget does; they gain a pound and they’re on Atkins or South Beach. We get to see Bridget painfully waxing her own bikini line and wearing “scary stomach holding in panties” to help chances of “reaching crucial moment.” which we all know is a thin euphemism for getting laid. She’s not what society tells her she ‘should’ be in any way; she’s overweight (though, frankly, I think she looks great), she’s emotionally all over the map and messy, she’s unmarried, and though these things concern her, she still marches on and keeps trying.
Bridget gets hurt and gets fucked (literally and metaphorically) and is a sweet and not-so-sweet girl. An honest wanton sex goddess, with messy emotions that she doesn’t try to hide. And most admirably, when she’s dumped for “an American stick insect” (the kind of cool and aloof girl with the make up etc etc. that I’ve been talking about) allows herself a day or two of stadium self pity, involving lots of vodka and ceremonial dumping of self-help books all about how to catch a man, and sits crying in the bath with her stockings hanging over the rail to try, she nonetheless snaps out of it and decides she “will not be beaten by a bad man and an American stick insect.”
It makes me want to cheer, even if it is Hollywood manipulative. Before you know it, Bridget is on television sliding down a fireman’s pole in a mini skirt with her less-than-perfect but beautiful Zaftig ass; She is the Carole King of our times because she gets herself back up and tries again. Bridget has found some balance and she lives her life and knows that because she fucks a guy, doesn’t mean she’s committed to anything – which, by the way, is a very guy attitude.
Her counterpoint is Diane Lane in Unfaithful – yet another Adrian Lyne morality play – a director I like despite myself. Yes, Candice, the central character is married and ten years older than Bridget, but the issues are similar: issues of fitting in and being socially acceptable and giving yourself permission to enjoy sex. But Candice is the size four with the bikini wax and the right make-up and her butter-blonde highlights and zero-fat physique and she’s cold, whereas Bridget is warm.
Candice is so clearly unhappy and the doting Richard Gere who plays her husband, so clearly doesn’t do it for her anymore. Nonetheless, she still keeps up with the tweezing and the highlights and the waxing, but we are expected to believe that she has no intention of having an affair; all this upkeep is for her or for her husband who she doesn’t want anymore? And then oops, one day the wind blows her accidentally into this exotic foreign guy in SoHo and she literally falls on top of him, and it’s all one big accident, which sounds a look like “honey, I didn’t mean to, but I slipped and my dick, well…” you know. Are we really to believe that Candice isn’t looking for an affair. That it’s all one big accident.
Candice is so hesitant – pretty much all the way through, even when she’s fucking the lover, she’s pushing him away and biting him and punching as he’s edging down to her lily-white pure and suburban Good Girl cotton panties, which is her way of telling herself she tried to resist and so is not at fault, la la. If you’re going to have an affair, which I’m not condoning, but if you go there, then at least enjoy it; the time to be conflicted is beforeit goes anywhere. By the time the guy is edging toward your panties, it seems to me a little late in the game to still be deciding whether it’s the right or wrong thing to do. I think it’s the wrong thing to do, for the record, but again, if you’re going to do it, at least do it with conviction.
Basically, Candice is representative of so many of today’s torn women who do everything to attract and then resist and intellectualize and feel guilty because what they were advertising for does comes along and when it does, they don’t know what to do with it.. Frankly, I don’t know why she even bothers with the affair in the first place: she’s too wound to really enjoy it. She’s too full of guilt, so she ends it. What kills me is that when she goes to end it and finds her lover running through the rain with some gorgeous dark-haired Italian or Spanish-looking girl who looks like she’d enjoy the fucking a lot more, Candice is both shocked and hysterical. Betrayed. She’s cheating on her husband – but it’s inconceivable that anyone would cheat on her. What, exactly, is her moral view point here? That her lover, who is in the middle of a separation (which is honest) and is playing the field, should be committed only to her? Go home little girl and cry with your cat and take some Klonopin. And no worries about this happening again, at least with this guy, because pretty soon, her husband finds out and decides to kill the lover and dump the body, because it’s all so bad bad bad and the message is This is what happens when you follow your animal instinct. Glen Close met the same end in Fatal Attraction (another Adrian Lyne film). The lover must die.
Candice is the ultimate example of all these gorgeous girls I see riding the subway to and from work every day, flitting about in museums and publishing houses and literary agencies. These girls who’ve known how to do perfect eye-make-up since the tenth grade; who get Brazilian waxes by Edith and go to spinning class three times a week, and buy their clothes at Talbots or Anne Taylor or Banana Republic or J. Crew (all of which are basically interchangeable, just like the people who wear them); who all have the same platinum highlights from the same Newbury Street salons; and the same Kate Spade or Coach bags. Honestly, they’re like their own tribe. The truth is, for all of their put-together prettiness, I can’t tell them apart.
They are the girls who flirt in the office and fuck married men and betray other women and then scream bloody murder and cry and hide and scream about how unfair it all is when it happens to them (Candice). They seem stuck-up and cold and like they fuck for validation, not for the sake of fucking, and if they come at all, it’s cinematic , preplanned and delivered in a lady-like “oooo” or drawn-out sigh, and if there’s a mirror nearby, I bet they check how they look at The Moment.. It’s just so self-reflexive and boring. They are the girls who worry about whether their butt is giggling while they’re doing it, which I understand, but drop it already. Men don’t worry about their butt giggling. They just don’t. As they say in The Full Monty, “Fat is a feminist issue.”
See, Tony Montana is absolutely right about Elvira; she does need to be fucked. All these pretty but homogenized girls, who live by what they read in magazines and master the new look of every season and carry the “right” handbag and spend way too much of their lives looking for “husband material”, quickly assessing every date, what’s become known as the Is This Going Anywhere issue, dreaded by guys everywhere and an embarrassment for girls like me. These are girls who don’t know how to live in the moment.
How are we to understand the contemporary preoccupation of young women searching for a husband before they turn into a pumpkin instead of enjoying Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater in the now. It’s so sad that they could be missing their present life and so many experiences, for what is frankly, some glossy magazine future – some Martha Stewart Weddings fantasy that doesn’t even exist. That what they think of as liberated I would consider fettered.
The notion of putting off the Right Now Guy and the long hunt for Mr. Right means a lost opportunity for experience of what could have been a great conversation, a drunken evening rolling on the lawn in the park, or meeting a new friend, or laughing at an old film and cuddling on the couch, or just a soppy night of athletic love-making that will be a great memory when you are old and grey and doing the ironing or the dishes; the sweet memory of a boy who made you howl with laughter and explored every curve and you were young and alive and beautiful. Who knows: maybe he’d even wind up being the guy you do marry. But you’ll never know, because intense and immediate assessment of “husband material” is enough to turn even the best guys away, because no one wants to be reduced to a mental checklist to see if they qualify as what is essentially a prop in someone else’s fantasy.
It’s simple: I think the origins of what I call fettered woman syndrome began as good and healthy desire of women to want control over their own destinies and lives, to have the same rights as men, to be separate and recognized and vindicated, and for a time, we were. Women were getting jobs that were previously held by men, finally speaking their minds, dropping the silly charade of the virginal and pure bride and the idea that only men can enjoy sex. We were working and talking and marching and fucking in and out of wedlock, and had casual sex if we felt like it without any of the pointless guilt and shame that we had been told we should feel. We shook off our chains. It was like we finally admitted that all that thrusting and grinding and sucking didn’t make us any less lady-like. It made us human.
I’m not advocating irresponsible sex or “zipless fucks” or something you truly don’t want to do; what I question is all this effort that goes into making yourself desirable and then shutting the door on desire because you’re waiting for Prince Charming. I don’t think great love can be assessed in two dates, or that just because a guy is a carpenter and not a lawyer, that this should immediately cross him off the list. The carpenter just might be the guy who treats you better, who’ll be there for you; I don’t know, but the point is that by being so rigid, you miss out on a lot of opportunity.
There’s just a creepy self-control thing going on here – like a bulimic who eats and pukes – these are girls with giant blue vibrators tucked away in their Pier I night-tables, passing up the real thing just because it may not last forever. Just because they may get hurt, or betrayed, or rejected, which is all possible or even probable, since 50% of marriages end in divorce, but you never know which it would be if you don’t get out there and live it.
Listen: I hate that in my life I have been really hurt when I trusted a guy; that I was passed over by my great love for some Talbots-wearing-academic-bore. That it seemed unfair that I was the pretty girl and she was some grey-haired Boomer who was older than I; that got my heart broken because for a moment, she seemed more placating and sympathetic; I hate that the whole thing left me bitter and shrill and bereft and listening to way too much Alanis Morissette, who I now admire for having the courage to practically scream exactly what I was feeling at that time, word for word. She may our Carole King and god bless her for having the chutzpah to scream all the awful things we’ve all felt – or any of us who have lived a little.
But for as much as I hate that I went through that, what I really hate is all the time I wasted dissecting our lives in a vain attempt to sort out what she had that I didn’t. All that was a waste. But I’m still glad it happened, because it forced me to grow up and drop this ridiculous school-girl fantasy that there’s only one great love in life; I’m glad that, because it wounded me so deeply, I had to re-build by ego and self-esteem and take stock and because of that, I know myself – my virtues and foibles – a lot better than before; I learned that there are women with no scruples, just as there are men; and I learned that I do not need a man to love me in order to love myself. That I am lovable just all by myself.
These wound and rigid and searching girls make me sad because, of all their supposed of aloofness and icy cool, they are so dependent on men and what men think. That this quest for a husband tells me that they don’t feel that their lives have meaning without one. And I know that even when they find The One, that even with all of their precautions and pre-screening and guarantees and vows that people will still fall in and out of love and that everybody has a hungry heart and the heart is restless and seeking and you can be Grace Kelly-perfect and some of you will still be cheated on, passed over for some really average woman just because she is Other and people are curious and crave variety. And should you have any doubt, read up, for the statistics support this.
If it helps at all, know that adultery statistics show that the mistress is, as a general rule, usually less attractive, less educated, and guess what, even the sex is generally not as good (it is the illicitness that makes it good and that’s it). It’s sad that 50% of these girls will grieve because one day, their husband met someone and some synapse fired and these two people connected and, in that moment, she was able to make him forget about you.. And I can tell you that none of this has anything to do with you. That you didn’t cause it and you can’t prevent or predict it. What you will regret is all the years you passed up the chance to have fun because you were saving yourself and you didn’t have a fling with a neurotic but fun artist, all the time you spent being so careful to avoid this sad scenario, all that fun you passed up and it still happens, every day. .
Of course, it may not happen, but still, I’d rather have lived my life and have all these great memories of just allowing myself to be me and can at least know that I haven’t devoted my whole live to another person ad in the process, lost myself. No way. Because if the shittra hits the fan, I want to have me to fall back on. That for the one guy who broke my heart, I can look back on others who adored me, who spit-shined my shoes, who every day said he loved my freckles, who saw my ethereal whiteness as sexy, who thought I was a great lover, and that through these experiences I have built up enough of an inner core of confidence that is now entirely my own.
That experience taught me that I am good and sometimes gorgeous and sometimes sick and pale and ugly and sometimes a bitch, but even so, I am still lovable and worth loving. That I am worth loving myself. That my very being is not centered on one person’s opinion, which is dangerous.
That now, I can tell you, I feel most beautiful when I am alone in my garden, wearing that slightly see-through slip that I love and my Doc Marten gardening boots and no underwear and no make up and my high-lights have grown out and I’m covered in freckles and my breasts are loose in my shift and I feel full and ripe and full of life and that the world is mine for the taking.
by Sadi Ranson-Polizzotti