November 5th 2005

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: CANBERRA OBSERVED: 'A dangerous moment for our democracy ...'

EDITORIAL: 'Simpler, fairer' labour laws? You've got to be kidding!

SCHOOLS: Mathematics at mercy of trendy educators

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: Oil for food - or was it for a Mercedes?

INTERNATIONAL TRADE: WTO negotiations falter on trade liberalisation

VICTORIA: Water bill spells disaster for farmers

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Too many bulls in the China shop? / Anti-corruption conference / Logging onto other people's forests / Report from (another) conference / Little social protection

ABORTION: Cutting Australia's abortion rate

EMBRYO EXPERIMENTATION: Government push to use super funds for embryo research

WESTERN CIVILISATION: What conservatives should champion

CINEMA: In Her Shoes: Is Hollywood finally tiring of sleaze?

Maternity payment could make difference (letter)

How democracies perish (letter)

Justice for the worker (letter)

BOOKS: THE DEATH OF RIGHT AND WRONG: Exposing the Left's Assault on Our Culture and Values


Books promotion page

In Her Shoes: Is Hollywood finally tiring of sleaze?

by Len Phillips

News Weekly, November 5, 2005
Len Phillips reviews In Her Shoes.

Madonna, the other day, almost came out and said that the kinds of things she has been doing on stage these past 20 to 25 years may actually have been morally wrong and corrupting.

If not that, then what do you make of where she is quoted as saying that "the beast is the modern world that we live in!"?

"The material world. The physical world. The world of illusion, that we think is real. We live for it, we're enslaved by it. And it will ultimately be our undoing," Madonna said. All this is in her new documentary, I'm Going To Tell You A Secret.

Going further, she warns people that they "are going to go to hell, if they don't turn from their wicked behaviour".

Of this I have nothing to say other than the obvious, which is that 47 is a pretty late age to reach maturity.

Social disasters

I mention this only by way of an introduction to another film of somewhat more substance, a film showing yet another flicker that the social disasters visited on the world by the 1960s may be starting to fade.

In Her Shoes is a film of discovery in which a very lost Cameron Diaz finds solace and peace in giving up her alcoholic ways and succession of one-night stands, finding happiness in the bosom of her long-lost grandmother whose very existence she had been deprived of by her father, who begs for forgiveness at film's end.

If you think this is pretty trashy, it is; but Hollywood has been packaging such stuff for a very long time and knows how to do it well. So, if you can get past some of the bumps, you can enjoy this film for what it is: a night out in Fantasyland.

But here is the deal. Cameron Diaz is the dyslexic younger sister of Toni Collette. She is excessively pretty and knows her way round bars and men.

Toni is a lawyer in a very up-market Philadelphia law firm and is as plain as her sister is pretty. She brings home one of the best-looking men in the firm who is thereupon seduced by the younger sister. Toni finds them in bed together, and the great sisterly relationship that has survived everything till then is finally sundered.

This is the premise that gets the story going. Toni finally lays it on the line to her sister, that all of her drinking and sex will provide her with no lasting comfort, and that there are deeper values, and a living wage, that will forever elude her if she persists in her ways.

Since there is no one more dissipated than Cameron Diaz's character, it is hard not to agree. Whether there is a more general point being made, which is that it is okay to drink and fornicate as much as you like as long as you also have a full-time job, I cannot tell.

Suffice to say that Cameron finds her granny, goes cold turkey on the booze and gives up on the men. The grandmother, having the worldly wisdom of an age now gone, sees a troubled girl and knows just what to do.

Meanwhile, Toni Collette, having seen her man with her sister, quits the law firm and takes up a career as a dog-walker for the rich. Is this the solution to sleeping with men without commitment? Leave your career behind and find the most dead-end job you can get?

No it's not, but sneaking up on the outside is a fellow lawyer from her old firm who has been smitten with her from the very moment he first laid eyes on her.

Look, that is what was on the screen, and those were the words and actions the scriptwriter asked this fellow to play out, so who are we to complain? They get married, and that's the important part, especially if we are going to have the happy ending.

Bleak experience

So you might see things moving in the right sort of direction since the movie does make playing the field seem a pretty bleak sort of experience for any young woman. And I think that somewhere in this film there is some such message trying to find its way out.

But what difference will a film like this make to our culture other than to remind us that there is the widest variety of possibilities for young girls, even the possibility of finding a fellow who will love her and with whom she will be able to spend the rest of her life building a family?

The film does depict that as the one true path and perhaps, as I say, there is some very dim indication that things might find their way into more films.

But it is like Madonna. Millions of young women have learned their sexual ways from the Material Girl.

However, if Madonna has her way, her only daughter, now about to turn eight, will never be among them.

  • Len Phillips

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