Continued from previous page
Louise's lover, Jimmy (Michael Madsen), follows her
across state lines. A sweet guy, though none too steady,
Jimmy loves Louise but has a mighty hard time saying so.
He runs away from commitment until Louise runs away
from home. When he shows up in Oklahoma City, he has a
shiny engagement ring with him. Meanwhile, in another
room at our duo's motel hideaway, Thelma consorts with a
charming sociopath named J.D. (Brad Pitt), who shares
with her the secrets of great sex and genteel robbery.
But men aren't the solution. They are, at best, a new set
of problems, part and parcel of the baggage the two need to
leave behind. So, Thelma and Louise continue their journey
alone—together. With every mile they travel, the two
become less defined and controlled by men. They take joy
in the moment and in each other. They come closer and
closer to becoming whole and free as women. And that
makes them dangerous.
Ignored when they were good girls (and silent victims),
these outlaws are now wanted women. "Like every other
guy, he just loves the chase," Louise says of Jimmy. "He's
got his work cut out for him, then," replies Thelma. Rejection triggers pursuit in patriarchy, and not just in the romantic sense. Escape from the control of men is not a socially
acceptable option for women. The powers that be aren't
about to let these women get away. Alive, anyway.
Thelma and Louise, our allegorical everywomen, refuse
to be taken. (Never again.) Hunted to the ends of the earth,
they hang on tight to one another and continue their flight
to freedom. Do they get away? In the most important sense
of the word, they do. And that is why the tears women shed
at the end of this movie are not tears of sadness alone.
As skillful as Callie Khouri is in wedding natural dialogue to mythic storytelling, Thelma & Louise would have
been just a gender switch on the buddy/outlaw/road picture
without the performance of Susan Sarandon and Geena
Davis in the lead. And when I use the singular of the word
"performance," that's no typo. The work of these two fine
actors is so deeply intertwined, so symbiotic, it's difficult to
judge where one starts and the other leaves off. Both
women are magnificenL
The dynamics of the friendship that is Thelma-and-
Louise shifts constantly throughout the movie. In the beginning, Louise is the mentor, the protector. As Thelma mends
her self-esteem and becomes the bodacious bandit, Louise
takes strength from Thelma's reckless elation. In the end,
they are equals, loving friends who decide on and meet
their fate together.
I never doubted that these two had performances of this
caliber in them. They just never had material of this complexity and wcOT-_n-aJTinriing vitality before. But if I knew
that Sarandon and Davis were up to the task, I had no idea
that Ridley Scott was capable of directing this kind of
women's story. Sensitivity and emotional intimacy have
never been his forte as a filmmaker. And women in his
movies (e.g., Kate Capshaw in 1989's Black Rain) are often
plot conveniences more than characters.
True, he was the director who launched Sigoumey
Weaver as Ripley in Alien (1979), but he is more associated
with male mythology in visually stunning but emotionally
sterile films like Blade Runner (1982). Ridley is still in love
with the Look of his movies, and he is still overly fond of
his big canvas. But only once or twice did the slick visuals
and prominent soundtrack strike a false note here. Not even
the big rocks of Canyonlands and Arches National Park (lit
up in ways Mother Nature never dreamed of) could dwarf
the intensity and humanity of this picture.
That such a hue and cry should be leveled against the
violence of Thelma 6\ Louise is particularly ironic when
Scott's last film, Black Rain, had ten times the blood and
bad attitude. In it, the manly hero, played by Michael Douglas, is a crooked cop with a "Fuck you very much!" attitude towards everyone. Under investigation in New York
for taking drug pay-offs, Douglas is sent off to Japan to
deliver a member of the yakusa to Japanese authorities.
When he mistakenly hands over his prisoner to the wrong
men, he has the perfect excuse to roam the foggy, rain-
slicked, neon-lit mean streets of Osaka and wreak havoc.
As a macho man of the movies, Douglas gets to say
things like: "Sometimes you have to forget your head and
grab your balls." Judging from his actions, he does have a
brain the size of a testicle, but that doesn't keep him from
getting his man and giving Japanese authorities a lesson in
police procedure. Our hero claims his violent approach to
life as the American way, and, therefore, the right way of
doing things. And it must be. By the movie's end,
Michael's new Japanese partner is delivering firepower and
lines like "Sometimes you have to go for it!" with equal
While few critics raved over Black Rain, neither was it
savaged, as Thelma & Louise has repeatedly been, for providing "horrible role models" for youthful viewers. Racist
arrogance, corruption, and the urge to spray large numbers
of people with bullets seems reasonable enough for a male
protagonist Let a woman blow away a rapist or blow up
the property of a sexual harasser, and the critics start fearing for the souls of America's womenfolk.
And well they should. Give a listen to the female members of an audience watching Thelma &. Louise, and you
will likely hear exclamations of delight when Thelma finally tells off her husband. You're bound to also hear loud
enthusiastic cheers when the two avenge themselves on a
sexist trucker who refuses to mend his ways and say he's
sorry. Some women even hoot their approval when the
rapist is shot dead.
Callie Khouri *s subversive little screenplay is two
hours of female—and, yes, feminist—catharsis. It puts
most women watching it in touch with their hatred of
male violence and oppression and, just as importantly,
their love of other women. This is not a story about men or
male-bashing. It is a story about resisting patriarchy even to
the point of crossing over the line and going over the edge.
Before her transformation into a desperado, Thelma says
of her husband: "He's an asshole.. .. Most of the time, I
just let it slide." Thelma & Louise, a movie women are
making a word-of-mouth hit, is the story of two women
emphatically refusing to let it slide anymore. No wonder
the boys are so alarmed at the idea of these two becoming
Kat hi Maio has never packed a rod. She is, however,
happy to have recently been labeled an "extremist* by a
major Southern newspaper.
Kathi Maio is the author of two books of feminist film essays. Feminist in the Dark ($7.95/pub. 1988) and
Popcorn and Sexual Politics ($9.95/pub. 1991). Her books are sold at Inklings Bookshop, 1846 Richmond.
What's New With Taxes?
Again this year, not much has
changed for the middle income earners. Those earning under $20,000
who have children and those earning over $100,000 are experiencing
the most change. Look for more
"middle" advantages, such as expanded IRA deductability, to be
proposed by Congress next year; it
will be a Presidential election year.
Earned Income Credits
The big news for household heads
and married couples raising kids on
under $21,250 is that the earned income has expanded from a one line
do-it-yourself number to a two-page
form. The people who do free tax
returns for folks in need have announced that this is a "sign the
return and let the government
figure the credit" item. Promises to
vote for revision are already being
lined up in congress, but for 1991
returns, we'll have to live with it.
These are the three key points.
First, the credit is a few dollars less
for one qualifying child than for two
or more. Secondly, if you paid for
family health insurance, that total
and the name of the insurer gets a
credit. Third, if you had a baby
born in 1991, you get a new baby
Professional women and couples
generally look to itemized deductions for tax savings. Personal interest is out. Home mortgage interest
and investment interest are deductible, as are real estate taxes. Charity
is deductible, so add up those
checks to KPFT! Heartsong has
received its federal tax exemption
letter from IRS, so look at the fair
market (yard sale) value of items
given to their garage sales.
(Womynspace is not tax exempt.)
Miles driven for charity are worth
twelve cents each. A percentage
reduction formula is applied to
medical and miscellaneous items.
All itemized deductions are compared to the standard deduction;
one deducts the greater of the two.
The standard mileage rate is now
27 L/2 cents per mile. Self-employed
women know the disadvantages of
paying a much higher social
security tax than employees. Some
of the advantages over employee
expenses are that business expenses are deductible directly off
income and that more generous
deductions are available for self
employed retirement plans. One
can hire and oav one's own
children to work in the business. As
long as they are under 18 and don't
earn more than $3,400, you won't
pay social security tax and they
won't owe income tax.
if s, And's or But's
All of these things are general statements. For every rule there is an
exception. The general mood of the
Service is that simplification is in.
Fairness is impossible, for it makes
the rules too complex. Or so they
Kathy Hubbard is a tax practitioner
in private practice.
J. M. GAYLES
ANGELA M. PASSARETTI
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