Reader/Blogster “Bookworm” e-mails to commend The Other Charlotte’s devastating take on the disappointing film remake of the enchanting (as it were) 1960s TV sitcom “Bewitched” (see TOC’s “Why Is the New ‘Bewitched’ Hexed?,” July 6):
“I too was disappointed by [new-‘Bewitched’ star Nicole] Kidman’s decision to channel [Marilyn] Monroe or [Jayne] Mansfield, rather than [original-‘Bewitched’ star] Elizabeth Montgomery. Because [new-‘Bewitched’ screenwriter Nora] Ephron is a good comic writer, the movie had a lot of laughs, but it was ultimately a tremendous disappointment.
“As you’ve pointed out, Samantha in the old ‘Bewitched’ show was a powerful woman who never lost her charm. She was also a moral center, constantly striving to do the right thing in the tug of war between the mortal and witch worlds. Isabelle, the character in the new movie, is out for herself, and does it in a fussy, feminine, helpless, throwback kind of way.
“It does seem as if modern feminism, with its aching desire to demonstrate that women are somehow emotionally superior to men, has decided that the 1950s woman, or the Victorian woman — who is ruled by her heart, not her mind — is the desired role model. Funnily enough, I thought that was the limiting stereotype the Elizabeth Cady Stantons and Susan B. Anthonys of the Victorian world, or the Betty Friedans of the 1960s, were trying to escape.”
Good points all, Bookworm.
And regular Inky correspondent L.M. has these thoughts about our running dialogue about whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing that today?s flight attendants, unlike the glamorous, smartly suited air hostesses of yore, are often sullen battleaxes attired in sagging polyester prison-warden slacks. (See my “Why are Airline ?Flight Attendants So Awful–and So Ugly?,” June 27, and the Mailbags for July 5 and July 6.)
“It isn’t just flight attendants, or women, whose appearance has gone south. It’s everyone, men included. As a country, we put slouchy ‘sport’ clothes on bodies that couldn’t play a sport more vigorous than badminton. We carry water bottles even though we don’t break a sweat. We brag that we don’t own an iron and won’t wear pantyhose or a tie. We eat more junk food than cheap, healthy vegetables. We have salons everywhere, and clothing is ‘wash and wear,’ but we look like we just rolled out of bed.
“When I told a friend that I wasn’t attracted to men anymore, she asked if I liked women instead. No, it’s just that it’s rare for a man to turn my head.”
Amen–and yes, men are definitely part of the problem, and maybe they are the problem.
Part of the reason for this new slovenly trend seems to be a desire to ape the young. My college students can get away with–or almost get away with–their unisex go-to-class uniform of pajama bottoms, hoodies, and flip-flops, along with the requisite uncombed hair, because the dreadful attire clothes young, attractive bodies (although those unshaven youths don’t turn me on). Older folks thus clad look like bums lined up for the free Thanksgiving dinner at the gospel mission.
The other reason seems to be a defiant in-your-facism directed at the rules that still require men to look civilized at the office. Maybe it’s a holdover from when Mom forced these fellows to shine their shoes and don their clip-ons for church, but men seem to react to the formalities of the work week by looking unspeakable on weekends: sneakers (which should never be worn for non-athletic activities), shorts (which should never be worn for non-casual activities), bedraggled T-shirts pulled over pot bellies, and the ubiquitous “slides” (sometimes with socks–please!). It’s not unusual for the female in a couple out on a date these days to be elegantly dolled up in high heels and a chic blouse and skirt, while her male companion indulges in hairy, knobby bare knees, thwopping footwear, and a baseball cap. This is a shame, because thanks to the democratization of chic that our fave Virginia Postrel writes about, even mid-level department stores these days offer a huge array of snazzy, moderately priced menwear.
Fortunately, as the Washington Post reports today, many employers–including many airlines, and now, including even McDonald’s–are hiring name designers to upgrade their company uniforms. Click here (then scroll down and enlarge) to see a photo of the snappy and professional attire–from business suits for both sexes to nice-looking pants for ladies–that Kate Spade has designed for both male and female flight attendants on Delta’s new bargain Song Airlines subsidiary. So even when you fly cheap, you can still be served by good-looking people.