I was thinking about difficult women. I was thinking of them in correlation with the season finale of Feud. I was acutely touched by Joan Crawford as she conversed with her “demons” over a late night, made up dinner party. The past was laid out in front of her, in the form her old rivals Hedda Hopper, Jack Warner& Better Davis. They seemed not so menacing to her anymore, in the soft glow of candlelight, of all of them dressed in the finery of a bygone era. As they laughed together, playing cards, talking of the past, we saw in Joan the relaxing of past anxieties. She became unguarded, asking questions, asking why it was that things had to be so difficult for her?
Why indeed, Joan?
It isn’t something any one of us can answer. Bette and Joan are the icons that line the halls of a specific kind of church. We have them next to Judy Garland and Marlene Dietrich. Their faces are painted severely. We often think of them with too much face power, too many eyelashes, bright red lips and big hair. They are “tall order” women. Their portraits look nothing like the virginal Audrey Hepburn, demure and pretty, clad all in white (maybe in the same white habit she wore in The Nun. Why not?!) No. These women drank too much, smoked too much and cursed up a storm. They made lives difficult for the heads of the studios, their children and the men in their lives. They were as unforgiving as they were unforgivable. They drew battle lines and crossed them, over and over again, taking names and taking heads. And here we are, almost whole century after their births, and we watch them in awe. I don’t know if I wanted a show like Feud to come along. I’m not sure if I would have responded with anything less than “neat” had someone told me they were making this show. But I can see now that I NEEDED a show like Feud.
We need to be reminded, as women- as individuals -that there is a reason these women continue to rule our consciousness. Beyond the pain of their childhoods and their embittered lives lies the spark of brilliance. Genius. We find ourselves in continuous battle with these “difficult women”; friends, foes, mothers, idols. We hear complaints. We hear how much hurt they inflict on those that love them best. I get it. We get hurt. But aren’t these women also the same people who mark us deeply with change? Who mark our lives and force us to get up again when we have beaten down to a slimy, unrecognizable pulp? I’ll pray to these women when I am at a loss. I’ll take out a string of rosary’s and countdown the bullshit that Bette and Joan had to deal with in order to get ahead in life. So what if they were hated? They hated you back. Nice doesn’t break the ice. It takes more than that. It takes balls.