Friday, May 01, 2009

why i love alfre woodard: a mother's day preview

this is from an Onion A/V interview with the badass alfre woodard about getting moms wrong onscreen:
Americans have a hard time writing moms. I’ll get a script and everything’s really great, everything’s well-drawn, but the mom is like this character, like stock footage, they go and get that out. They plug it in, this idea of “mother.” You could lift moms out of any script, no matter what the culture, what the neighborhood, what the economic status, even if it’s a period mom, and you could switch them around, and they’d be the same person. I think it’s because most people don’t really have a human idea, a specific life that they attach to who their mother was. Their mother was there for them, so it either gets deified, or the opposite. That Mommie Dearest kind of thing. We love them or we don’t, or we rebel, but we can’t see who they are. That they are a person in life with taste, with sexuality, with opinions, who is pissy also, who has a right to not be the big tit for you every time you want something. And then we leave, and we go off to college or off into the world to work—you really appreciate your mom then. But there’s that big chunk when you don’t know your mom’s faults, desires, wishes, distastes.

my very favorite part: That they are a person in life with taste, with sexuality, with opinions, who is pissy also, who has a right to not be the big tit for you every time you want something.

in an old post on my other blog ChurchGal (currently on hiatus) i wrote that i thought my mom was happier when she went back to work and came to this realization while watching her during work parties (she'd take us with her because there was no babysitter and dad worked the nightshift.) i saw a different Mom at those parties. well, some commenter went batshit, offended that i could say my mother had an interior life that was about more than caregiving.

if anyone responds to this post, i don't want this to turn into a 'good mommy' v. 'bad mommy' thing; i want us to start seeing motherhood, and talking about motherhood, in all its multiplicity.

and this, from a woman who will never be a mother.

PS: Dear film people - give Woodard more play!


SiddityintheCity said...

I got to learn earlier than most that my mother *was* just a person, and I'm glad of it. I think it's made it easier for me to understand her without sheer selfish desire/reaction getting in the way (at least I hope it has), and I think that in turn has made it easier throughout life to let all people be who they are and not try to make them who I think they should be.

My baby brother will be heading off to college next year. I'm both excited and worried about her going into this phase, this woman who has spend more than half her life juggling hard decisions for our sake.

Jessica Restaino said...

Fabulous quotation--I'm stealing it--with a link to this blog (so maybe not directly stealing, then...)! This is so important.

Lee said...

D. - After forwarding your wonderful post to my mom, she wrote me back with the following words:
"Actually I think you guys [my brother and I] do not know me at all. Then again I may not know me at all."
I was stunned! Also intrigued. More later.


ding said...

Our mothers are mysteries to us.
Why did they make the choices they made?
What were they thinking?
Would they have changed anything?
What were their pasts really like?
What do they want now?
What do they *really* want?

Mothers' Day the way it's advertised, and the way we celebrate, it is kind of limiting, I think.

ding said...

@Lee - that is intriguing. i hope you follow up with her and find out what she means.

@Sid - my mom turned into a different person when my sister and i flew the coop. it was an opportunity for me to see her differently. all the things i assumed she did because that's what mothers did were mostly things she did because she knew we expected it of her - the holidays, the meals, the errands. when we were gone, mom was like 'Dude, i am done.'