SEX IN THE CINEMA: Jimmy looked too old for Kim!

SATURDAY, JANUARY 6, 2018

Part 4—Our floundering species in action:
Back in 1979, several Alabama mothers dreamed the improbable dream.

In one case, the mother's 19-year-old daughter was dating 32-year-old Roy Moore. "She thought he was good husband material,” the daughter told the Washington Post late last year.

This helped create a moral panic, during which the Republican Congress passed Donald J. Trump's tax plan. That said, where did that Alabama mother ever get that appalling idea?

To answer that question, let's return to the comical annals of sex in the cinema, malecentric Hollywood style. Let's consider the comical romantic pairings which dominated Tinseltown during the 1950s, when those Alabama mothers would have been coming of age.

For starters, let's return to Debbie Reynolds, she of Susan Slept Here.

Too funny! When last we reviewed this talented person's career, she was paired with the 50-year-old Dick Powell in that ridiculous 1954 film.

Reynolds was 22, playing 17. As the film ends, she's trying to drag her recalcitrant husband into his bedroom. She's hoping she can get the old coot to consummate the deal.

Heh heh heh heh heh! The following year, Leslie Caron (24 in real life, playing 18) fell in love with Fred Astaire in the horrible Daddy Long Legs.

In real life, Astaire was 56. What was not to love?

Improbable pairings like these dominated the malecentric dreams of the decade. This brings us to Reynolds' assignment in the 1955 film, The Tender Trap.

By now, Reynolds was 23 in real life; she plays 21 in the film. This time, she falls in love with Frank Sinatra. At age 40 in real life, he fell on the younger end of the desirable male spectrum in this age of "codger chic."

The Tender Trap was based on a poorly received Broadway play of the exact same name. Playing a 21-year-old ingenue, Reynolds falls for the old coot once again, though not without being allowed to issue these words of protest:
REYNOLDS: Do you think that's such a wonderful thing, being in love with you? I never wanted to. I don't want to now.

You're selfish, you're arrogant, you're spoiled. You're much too old for me.

FRANKIE BOY: Now see here!

REYNOLDS: Too old, I said, too old! Too selfish, too arrogant, too spoiled.

Oh, lord knows why I love you. But I do!
Too selfish, plus way too old? We'd have to add, "too funny!" But that was the logic of the decade.

The 17-21 year old ingenue was required to fall for the codger. It would happen again and again and again, and then it would happen some more.

How common were these rather unusual pairings? Check the real-life age dynamics in these early Reynolds/Caron films. We'll throw in some early Grace Kelly:
An American in Paris 1951: Gene Kelly 39, Caron 20
Singin' in the Rain 1952: Gene Kelly 40, Reynolds 20
High Noon 1952: Gary Cooper 51, Grace Kelly 23
Mogambo 1953: Clark Gable 52, Grace Kelly 24
Susan Slept Here 1954: Dick Powell 50, Reynolds 22 (playing 17)
The Country Girl 1954: Bing Crosby 51, Grace Kelly 25
The Tender Trap 1955: Sinatra 40, Reynolds 23 (playing 21)
Daddy Long Legs 1955: Astaire 56, Caron 24 (playing 18-21)
High Society 1956: Crosby 53, Grace Kelly 27
This was very much the norm all through the decade.

We assume the ubiquity of these pairings was driven by two motives: by Hollywood's desire to continue getting value from bankable, older male stars; and by the hard-wired dreams of Tinseltown's older male moguls and stars.

Few female stars of this era escaped the gravity of this improbable dream. Just consider a few of the dreamboat pairings to which Audrey Hepburn succumbed.

During this era, Hepburn became one of the biggest stars in film history. She also became a fashion icon. In her later years, she became a widely-revered humanitarian.

That said, her waiflike look and elfin demeanor suited her to the era's mad dreams. At age 22, she starred in the Broadway version of Gigi. From there, she proceeded to a series of films in which she played the much younger lover/girl friend/water sprite talisman of the much older man.

It started gently, with Roman Holiday (1953), in which she played a princess of indeterminate age who falls in love with Gregory Peck.

A person could hardly blame her for that. In real life, she was 24; he was 37. But the pattern hardened from there.

In 1954, she fell in love with Humphrey Bogart in Sabrina. Bogart was 55 in real life; Hepburn, 25 in real life, was playing the chauffeur's daughter.

(Bosley Crowther in the Times: "She is even more luminous as the daughter and pet of the servants' hall than she was as a princess last year.")

Bogart was perhaps too old, but by the rules of the Hollywood dream, the pet of the servants' hall was required to fall for the grouchy old coot. In 1957, she fell in love with Gary Cooper in Love in the Afternoon.

He was 56 in real life; she was 28. She was cast as "a young cello student" who seemed to be substantially younger than the actress' actual age. The leading authority on the film describes the action perhaps a bit sadly, like this:
Flannagan is intrigued by the mysterious girl, who refuses to give him any information about herself, even her name. He resorts to calling her"'thin girl." She has no romantic history but pretends to be a femme fatale to interest him, and soon falls in love with the considerably older man.
She had "no romantic history," but the dreams of an era required that resolution! That same year, this transcendent star was sentenced to her prison term with Fred Astaire. Cast in Funny Face as a "shy bookstore clerk," she falls in love again.

In real life, Astaire was 58. Hepburn was thirty years younger. So it went back then.

Hollywood played by these rules throughout the decade. Just ask Sophia Loren:
The Pride and the Passion 1957: Cary Grant 53, Loren 23
Legend of the Lost 1957: John Wayne 50, Loren 23
Houseboat 1958: Cary Grant 54, Loren 24
It Started in Naples 1960: Clark Gable 59, Loren 26
This was the way of the world when that Alabama mother was forming the cultural notions which had her picturing Moore as a son-in-law. Forty years after she dreamed those dreams, the utterly clueless moral giants of our own pathetic tribe staged a mighty moral panic about the fact that those mothers were operating in line with a widely-promoted type of cultural ideal.

They mixed chaste dates with alleged assaults. To them, it all seemed the same!

There's a great deal more to be said about this Hollywood era. On the one hand, the era is comical. But then too, it's highly instructive.

The older men of Hollywood were dreaming rich dreams at this time. To some extent, could this reflect some part of the way our struggling species is wired?

In the last few months, we've been told that more than a few of Hollywood's men have behaved extremely badly right to the present day. Some who shout the loudest now enabled these fellows down through the years. That too is how our floundering species may sometimes tend to work.

There's more to say about this era, in which Hollywood's powerful men dreamed their dreams out loud. On some other day, we'll talk about Rear Window and its conceptual sequel, Vertigo, in which Alfred Hitchcock re-explored the themes of the earlier film, presenting a gloomier outcome.

Vertigo has been declared the greatest film of all time by a bunch of French film critics and assorted unaligned beatniks. That said, it didn't do especially well at the box office in real time.

According to the leading authority on the film, "Hitch" had an explanation for that. And it went something like this:
The initial reception expressed in film reviews for Vertigo were mixed. Variety said the film showed Hitchcock's "mastery", but was too long and slow for "what is basically only a psychological murder mystery". Similarly, the Los Angeles Times admired the scenery, but found the plot "too long" and felt it "bogs down" in "a maze of detail"...

Contemporaneous response in England was summarized by Charles Barr in his monograph on Vertigo stating: "In England, the reception was if anything rather less friendly. Of the 28 newspaper and magazine reviews that I have looked at, six are, with reservations, favourable, nine are very mixed, and 13 almost wholly negative. Common to all of these reviews is a lack of sympathy with the basic structure and drive of the picture...

Additional reasons for the mixed response initially were that Hitchcock fans were not pleased with his departure from the romantic-thriller territory of earlier films and that the mystery was solved with one-third of the film left to go. Orson Welles disliked the film, telling his friend, director Henry Jaglom, that the movie was "worse" than Rear Window, another film that Welles disliked. In an interview with François Truffaut, Hitchcock stated that Vertigo was one of his favourite films, with some reservations. Hitchcock blamed the film's failure on the 50-year-old Stewart looking too old to play a convincing love interest for the 25-year-old Kim Novak.
Jimmy looked too old for Novak? That's what Reynolds said!

Live by the codger, die by the codger, or so Hitchcock alleged. He went on to pair Anthony Perkins, 28, with Janet Leigh, 33.

At long last, the roles were reversed. We all know where that led!

Before Robin Williams and Jonathan Winters: We recently stumbled upon this 1954 What's My Line appearance by Debbie Reynolds.

Hollywood never figured out how to cast her. In part, she looked too much like Debbie Reynolds. She was hard to cast as somebody else.

That said, she was 22 years old at this time. She'd grown up in working-class Texas.

Where does comedic talent come from? At age 22, the 50-year-old Powell's 17-year-old bride was plainly spilling over with it, plainly had it in spades.

Where did all that talent come from? In line with the foolishness of the era, Hollywood's malecentric men never much put it to use.

42 comments:

  1. Somerby would understand this topic better if he read a little social history.

    Men like to believe younger women are in love with them and not their money. Does Melania love Donald? He probably thinks so.

    I was a young adult when thesemovies appeared and I found them yucky and absurd. But they weren’t aimed at me.

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    1. "Men like to believe younger women are in love with them and not their money"

      Jesus, you needed to read a social history to understand that?

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    2. No, you need to read a social history to understand that prior to the 20th century, younger men could not support a family until they were in their late 20s. Death in childbirth was a reality and many older men wound up marrying several times because their young wives died and the children left behind needed a mother. With infant mortality much higher, people raised larger families because they could not expect all of their children to live and they wished to ensure inheritance and continuance of their family name. Parents were less able to support adult daughters and sent them off to work in other homes or in factories or businesses, and those girls were happy to marry a widower in order to have a home of their own. Older men could provide that whereas younger men could not.

      No one would have cared whether Moore dated 19 year olds (with mother's consent) if he were not fooling around with 14 year olds. Why can't Somerby understand that there is a difference between these two?

      My point is that those movies are fantasies for men, not women. No woman would prefer an aging Bogart to the young Paul Newman, other factors aside. But why on Earth does Somerby think those movies prove anything about the social acceptability of Moore's behavior? Does he think it is OK for older men to buy the sexual attention of young girls, simply because they have the social standing and wealth to impress their moms?
      He hasn't yet raised the phenomenon of bride prices and selling of children, practiced in some parts of the world today. I wonder why not.

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    3. "Why can't Somerby understand that there is a difference between these two?"

      That's the question he has been repeatedly asking about the press corps. Why did they conflate the two?

      He seems to be saying that the culture industry presented this scenario as okay and the mothers accepted it as normal. It wasn't unusual for the tastemakers or the mothers and the press treated the Moore situation as if it were unusual or abnormal or weird.

      But I can't speak for him. You should email him and ask him. Or just try to live with these gnawing perplexities to which you devote your time and mental energy.

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    4. @anon 5:42pm: "He seems to be saying...": that's a great encapsulation of the problem with Somerby: even his fans can't say definitively what the hell his point is. And the expense of time and mental energy you deride the commenter for? Classic Somerby fan response: criticize Somerby? How stupid of you; just go away. Instead, I will waste MY time and mental energy criticizing YOUR waste of time and energy.

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    5. @5:42 Normal for 19 year olds, not normal for 14-16 year olds.

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    6. 648 interesting you project the word 'waste'. I didn't use the word 'waste'.

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  2. "That said, where did that Alabama mother ever get that appalling idea?"

    Well, aside from the cultural norms of the period (that you're endlessly howling about), perhaps you may want to consider Mr Kissinger's famous quip: power is the ultimate aphrodisiac...

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    1. Cultural norms of that period included easy credit so young men could buy homes and start their families and thus girls didn't need to marry codgers, as they perhaps did during the depression or WWII (when the boys were shipped off to war). No teens were hanging photos of old men on their walls. The photos were of young Elvis, Troy Donahue, young Pat Boone, and similar young men. Teen magazines didn't feature those old stars, appearing in films with older audiences including men who wanted to believe themselves still young and vital.

      The movie "The Swan" stars Alec Guiness as the old prince and Grace Kelly fated to marry him instead of the young tutor she is in love with (and who loves her). She doesn't fall in love with the prince. She is resigned. That's more realistic than the fantasies Somerby describes and comes from the same time period. So not all movies catered to male fantasies. Some cherry-picking going on, if Somerby is claiming these films justify anything at all.

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  3. Hitchcock was bent. People who are not similarly warped tend not to like his films much. Hitchcock wouldn't understand romance if it bit him on the ass.

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  4. The point of the current rebellion against sexual assault is that a power differential does not entitle men to engage in sexual behavior without consent. That men of wealth and power were able to buy sexual partners in the movies or in the 50s, does not mean they are entitled to take them at will today.

    The wealth, prestige, power that come with increased age for certain men, does not mean that women love them and want them to act out sexually with them. These movies may portray powerful men doing things they would not be permitted to do today. Today's wrongdoers are still culpable. We don't live in a movie fantasy world and we don't live in the past either, nor do we live in a more backward culture where women are raped for riding buses or going out of doors without a male escort.

    The thing men have in common with each other at the men's rights discussion groups is that they are frustrated by their lack of success with women. Undertones of that resentment seep from this series of posts by Somerby. With or without wealth and power, men don't like it when women exert control over their own sexual choices. This time it isn't about abortion or birth control, but about the basic right to say "no" to a man who considers himself entitled.

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  5. While we wait for the Trump nuclear winter (according to the Howler), while those poor kids continue to be ignored, while education gets ignored by those mainstream media types, guess we might as well continue to talk about Roy Moore. Somerby's priorities seem abundantly clear.

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  6. In 1985 I was recently divorced. The stress (and having to eat my own cooking) caused me to loose 40 pounds. Under that fat was muscle and as a hard working farmer it was well toned. At 33 I was very young looking. I was introduced to an 18 year old girl who looked at me like a doberman would look at a raw steak. To her not only was I good looking, I had my on home and business and was perfect Daddy material (if you know what I mean) . Thirty two years (and two kids) later she still thinks that, even after the fat came back.

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    1. Yeah, it's not all the man's fault. And it wasn't just the movies. Until very recently most women preferred older guys -- not 50, but a 10 year difference was usually no big deal.

      Now they don't seem to like them at all!

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    2. I don't think young women today prefer guys who are living in their parents' basements. The age gap may widen if economic times worsen for millennials.

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  7. If she were 14 instead if 18 she might look at you like a daddy instead. That is too much like incest.

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  8. Somerby seems to have really wanted Moore to win (so he could continue to write 365 articles criticizing we liberals for allowing Moore to come to power). Now that Moore has lost, he's continuing to defend this sexual predatory gallantly and saying the press was wrong to attack him. Somerby is a true Trumptard.

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    1. If you truly believe that, reading comprehension is not a strong point with you. Practice by first reading some Dick and Jane primers. Eventually, hopefully sooner rather than later, you can work up to perhaps T-Model Tommy. Don't attempt anything like Moby Dick for a few years. Perhaps USA Today, which has lots of pictures, can help.

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  9. Somerby describes a genre of film and pretends it is real life. Maybe he thinks porn reflects real life too? That would excuse all kinds of sexual misbehavior.

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    1. Bob's actually exaggerating the movies' part in all of this. For eons women have gone after older men.

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    2. For eons they’ve had no choice. Only foolish old men think women prefer them for their flabby old selves.

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    3. Well, some may not be as flabby as you apparently are, my friend.

      Moreover, and more to the point: mating behavior of our species is known for occasionally being affected by non-physical characteristics of our prospective mates. You see, we (the non-zombies among us, anyway) have big brains, capable of processing all kinds of information.

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    4. Mating behavior of men is governed by physical attractiveness as a proxy for reproductive health (heh, heh). Mating behavior of women is governed by prospective commitment of resources to support herself and children. Men without resources need not apply.

      Mao assumes all commenters are male. Pretty flabby thinking, Mao.

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    5. Your reductionist fantasy of what 'governs' mating behavior of humans isn't very original, my friend.

      Forgive me for asking, but could you perhaps clarify: which sort of zombie 'logic' led you to the conclusion that "Mao assumes all commenters are male", please. I need this for my research of zombie reflexes. Thanks in advance.

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    6. 1. Of course it is not original. It comes from Wikipedia and summarizes current theories of mate selection in humans.

      2. I said women were not attracted to men's flabby old bodies (@1:03). You said some of those men were not as flabby as I was (@1:50). Ergo, you assumed I was male. As it happens, I am not.

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    7. Got it, and thanks for unexpectedly civil response, Miss.

      But in fact the phrase "as flabby as you apparently are" was supposed to challenge exactly the kind of baseless assumptions you're accusing me of now. So, there.

      As for your 'evolutionary psychology' wisdom from wikipedia, ... tsk ... well, let's just say: it's a bit more complicated than that. Humans are full of quirks and contradictions, and their cultural norms, preferences, and attitudes can change real fast.

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    8. Women as earners has forever changed the game. There are fewer men who earn more than the woman and if she makes a good living she will look for other more primal qualities in a man that signal masculinity and protection including physical attractiveness and sexual performance. Combine this with the fact that these young fit men are available to women of any age for the asking and women are having children later in life you have interesting changing norms.

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  10. So, how does this fit in with TDH's mission to critique the political press? Whatever. The attention paid the history of Moore's sex life is a poor excuse for the Rebublican Tax Bill, an affront to decency supported by zero Dems.

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    1. Clearly, Watson, Somerby does not always hew to the frame.

      And clearly, Somerby should be writing about a bill drawn in secret by the Republicans, since nobody else is already doing that.

      Leroy

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    2. Well, Somerby seems to claim that the reason the tax bill was passed was because the press was in a 'moral panic'. Actually if the press had not covered the Moore allegations, Moore would likely have won. And Bob could then have ranted about liberal failure for another 365 posts.

      Since Bob has already covered this matter dozens of times before, of course, he should beat this dead horse again and again. Clearly the interests of liberals are best served by defending Moore and Trump. Bob must do this, since no one else ever does it -- not Fox and Friends, not Sean Hannity.

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  11. Moore’s loss had such a dispiriting effect on Bob that he decided to downgrade the condition of our entire species to: Floundering.

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  12. Used to see middle aged men with young attractive women in restaurants in Las Vegas. If the waiter referred to the young woman as wife, the men would get angry. They were always nieces. Wonder why the anger if this kind of thing is A-OK?

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  13. I pretty much rolled my eyes when I saw Bob going over this again. He did make me laugh with this:

    “A person could hardly blame her for that. In real life, she was 24; he was 37. But the pattern hardened from there.”

    Thanks for the link Bob. Debbie Reynolds got through that bit with aplomb and grace, not to mention think-on-your-feet comedy, despite the creepiness of the host. I can only hope she gave him a good tongue-lashing after the show, at least in the Ralph Kramden sense. Thanks Caesar.

    Hollywood and the Catholic Church (and organized religion in general) are two examples of institutions with power which evolve concerning the views of their audiences. How else can you keep them from coming back to the temple? Staring at the boob-tube is the same as kneeling at Mass in these days.

    What was considered normal at one time evolves with society as those norms are replaced. If we’ve learned anything from such evolution, it’s that the powers that be only change while kicking and screaming. We’re seeing it now as the powerful are held to account in the entertainment biz. As societal norms have changed, so have the Church and HW been forced to do the same.

    Has it changed re codgers and young babes in HW movies? I’m not much of a movie viewer, but yes, it has seemed to evolve with cultural norms. Just as the Church has had to deal with the perceptions of their followers. The larger message here of course is that the media helps form opinions, whether it be HW or the Church. It clearly used to be the case that, in my opinion, Hollywood was only reflecting societal norms, which concerning age have evolved beyond the sexy idea of a young nubile babe.

    But it’s doubtful that the species has.

    One significant difference between HW and the Church was that the Church was largely composed of pederasts. HW can at least be given credit for its openness for old men desiring young babes.

    Anyway, concerning media influence, I stumbled across several websites afore finding this, which speaks directly to media influence over our very well-being.

    http://www.deepcapture.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/deepcapture-the-story-v1.pdf

    Enjoy!

    Leroy

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  14. Wake up and smell the hummus! Baby boomers swept Woody Allen's accusers under the rug and went to see his movies, which feature him leering at teenager girls no matter his age.

    That's the whole point. It was normal and it shouldn't have been.

    Do you get it yet? It's not about us projecting predatory behavior into the past, it's about the people from that time not realizing what they were doing is predatory, and thus not welcome in places of power anymore.

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    1. Except contemporaries of Moore were uneasy with his behavior at the time. He was banned from malls etc. In the day, not later.

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  15. "Vertigo has been declared the greatest film of all time by a bunch of French film critics and assorted unaligned beatniks."

    I assume Somerby is referring to the 2012 Sight and Sound Poll. Basically Sight and Sound magazine sent out "invitations to over 1,000 critics, programmers, academics, distributors, writers and other cinephiles, and receiving 846 top-ten lists from correspondents in 73 countries, citing 2,045 different films." If a film was on a list, it got a vote. Out of these 846, I counted about 43 from France or having duel citizenship in France. Of those, Vertigo was only on 5 lists. That leaves "assorted unaligned beatniks." Since I don't really know what he means by that, I can't comment.

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  16. Somerby, in his headline, says Jimmy looked too old for Kim. Looks aren't the problem. The problem is that aging imposes changes that affect relationships between very young women and much older men in cruel ways.

    1. The Man is at an age where his sexual performance is changing. The woman's sexual needs will be increasing not decreasing during that same time period. This is a mismatch.

    2. Men experience more health problems than women, especially in the years between 40-60. Their life expectancy is shorter too. That means the woman is likely to wind up nursing and being a caregiver while she is still relatively young and energetic. This too produces a mismatch in lifestyle and demands. women's energy levels and ability to contribute are increasing while her husband is withdrawing from the world and entering retirement.

    3. A woman who wishes to have children will be finding that her husband has already done that and may be less enthusiastic about starting another family. If she persists, she faces the prospect of raising kids on her own because he husband has died or lacks the energy to do typical parenting tasks. The kids have a grandparent for a father.

    4. The age-appropriate interests of the wife may not appeal to the husband and vice versa. The age-appropriate friendships of the wife may hold little interest for the husband, and vice versa. If they create parallel lives, the husband may worry about the younger wife finding someone else, resulting in suspicion and jealousy and attempts to restrict the activities of the wife. The wife may resent missing the things that normal women her age are doing.

    So, it isn't that Jimmy LOOKED older than Kim. The problem is that he IS older. Young wives are not decorative items but people. The audience may understand the implications of the gap better in a film that involves more running around and jumping, than in one where an old guy sits around in a tux in a fancy restaurant.

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    1. I agree with all that you’ve written, as it pertains to modern enlightenment-style norms, and I’m all for them. As Bob has been writing, Hollywood crossed proper boundaries, and glorified sexual exploitation in this regard, not to mention in regard to Hollywood types, and this perhaps influenced generations of viewers.

      To this day, Hindus in India are allowed to murder their own offspring if a marriage occurs for love, rather than in the context of a dowry-marriage. Though those norms are also changing due to societal pressure. Dowry marriages often end up with young women marrying much older men, against their will. Harems are also societal norms in some societies. Here, the Mormons call it polygamy.

      We can’t even pass the ERA here at home, fer chissakes. Thanks, Schlafley! You horrible bitch, RIP.

      Societal norms take a long time to evolve, as is obvious. Not much to be proud of about America these days, but progress is made, though it sometimes takes decades to realize profound societal change, with bloodshed and misery usually in the background.

      Reading between the lines on Bob’s endless posts on this topic (and many others), we primates are seemingly unable to live up to evolving Enlightenment values, and your reasoning requires that we do. Only societal pressure results in reallocating power from the various oligarchies. What is required for that to happen is inculcating such values through civic education. But those days seem to be over.

      “We have assumed control.”
      -Corporate America

      Sorry, as often happens to me, a song comes to mind. Or rather, an album.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0alqsapHOc

      Leroy

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    2. "To this day, Hindus in India are allowed to murder their own offspring if a marriage occurs for love, rather than in the context of a dowry-marriage."

      Citation please? Especially for the part that claims such killings are sanctioned/condoned/approved by the Hindu religion?

      Also, while it may not have been your intended meaning, may be worth clarifying that neither dowry marriages nor honor killings are specific to Hindus. England and France (cf. dot) , for just two examples, had a well-established dowry tradition.

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    3. Unfortunately, I cannot provide a link, since the citation I would provide comes from Harper's a piece titled "Letter from India, The Newlyweds."

      Here’s an excerpt from the article:

      “Under the authority of the state, love marriages are permitted in India; according to tradition, they are forbidden. In villages across the north, khap panchayats, councils of un-elected wealthy elders, resolve local disputes, issue diktats about daily life, and enforce the caste system above the rule of law. Each caste has its own khap to represent its interests.

      “Following the Manoj-Babli honor killing, a khap leader was convicted of murder. But that ruling was soon over-turned, and khaps have continued to facilitate acts of violence, thanks in part to the complicity of politicians who rely on them for votes.”

      So when I wrote “allowed,” I should have said Hindus DO murder their own offspring. Honor killings, they call them! And they still defer to the idea of a caste system, which is barbaric by any measure.

      If you can tell me how to attach a file, you can read the whole thing, since I can download the pdf. But my point (which I seem to have made poorly) was that what we rail about here, in terms of female exploitation, is pretty tame stuff. Not to say it’s okay! It’s just that Western society has evolved largely along Enlightenment, secular values, biting and scratching against “revealed” beliefs the whole way. And we still have a long way to go. But it’s society itself that must enact the change, and it’s happening (hopefully) right before our eyes with the #Me Too movement.

      Your point about dowry pairings is well taken. And it isn’t just Hindus that practice honor killings (which I didn’t even actually mention), but that was the main focus of the article in Harper’s.

      One last thing, Google “honor killings in India” and see what you find.

      Leroy

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    4. 1. I think my point is made; viz. that there is no citation for the claim that honor killings are sanctioned/condemned/approved by the Hindu religion. If the article (or letter in the magazine) mentions a source, please do mention it; the pdf is not neccessary.

      2. You jump from "honor killings in India" with the Hindu religion. Should "gun crime in America" be linked to Christianity just because it happens to be the religion of the majority. Of course, I am not saying there are no honor killings in India (or in the Hindu community), just that these are not intrinsic to that country/religion.

      3. I am not a proponent of google-based "research" -- like statistics, you can use it to "prove" anything. Should they use "gun crime in the US" search terms around the world to draw conclusions about American society at large?

      4. Regarding the caste system in the Hindu religion being "barbaric ", I do not know enough about it to comment. I do think that the nuclear attack on Japan was barbaric, the spreading of smallpox among the native American population was barbaric. I am not aware of any claims that the feudal system in France or England (still in practice there, mind you), is/was barbaric, so perhaps the outrage is rather selective (I only refer to the "barbaric" claim and do not mean there has been no outrage in general at all).

      5. I think that the belief that Western (by which you probably mean American?) society alone is evolving (capable of evolving), secular or "enlightened" could do with some "biting and scratching" as well.

      Finally, I would say that this blog often makes the point that terms like "racism" are bandied about with tenuous support. I think making assertions about any population/religion based on a letter/article or a google search (especially when those perceived problems exist world-wide) would fall in the same category.

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  17. I can't wait to see how Bob defends alt right/alt left (who can tell the difference?)flak and Trump advisor Stephen Miller.

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