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October 17, 1996 - Image 22

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-10-17

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10B - ae Michigan Daily WeekefI Magazine - Thursday~ctober 17,1996
j Sound and Fury

* The M chigantily Weekend I
Actors decide to try their
hand at directing, vice versa

ma

B0a d i &Pa
Nlld~deW P

I'M NOT FROM MARS

By DEAN BAKOPOULOS

You've come a long way, baby.
In recent decades this slogan has
been used as a rallying, congratulatory
remark to womankind. I've always
thought it was a little silly: "You strived
for centuries to gain equality - here's
your very own carcinogen!"
But anyway, the slogan has stuck in
many circles, although a few recent mass
media phenomenons have made it
unclear as to just how far a "long way" is.
Unfortunately, there are still some
women who are contributing greatly to
significant and giant backward steps.
Two such women are Ellen Fein and
Sherrie Schneider, co-authors of a new
book from Warner Books titled "The
Rules: Time-Tested Secrets for
Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right."
This soon-to-be bestselling book is
unabashedly offensive to women.
Basically, here is the book's premise in
a horrifyingly accurate nutshell: 1) You
are a woman, and thus you need and
want a man in your life. 2) The only
way you'll have a relationship with a
man that lasts is by playing a series of
games that are emotionally and mental-
ly unhealthy. 3) Short skirts and black
silky nylons are the main elements of
your attractiveness.
The book also goes on to tell women
not to return phone calls, not to tell men
about any kids they may have, not to
agree to go on a date the first time (pre-
tend you're busy even if you really want
to go out with Mr. X).
Nauseous yet? How about these
"Rules": Never leave the house without
perfume or make-up, never speak to a
man first, never, ever be the first to
show a sexual interest in Mr. X.
Basically, let THE MAN be the con-
queror of the beautiful and disinterested
goddess.
I don't think this is what is meant by
"coming a long way," do you?
Books like "The Rules" are an
assault on those women who are
plagued by low self-esteem. It's an
attempt to capitalize on the women in
our culture who do not feel that they
can be loved for who they are. And this
problem is only perpetuated by a cul-
ture that pays the highest homage to
women with killer bustlines and back-
sides. Thankfully, I think most
American women are simply too intel-
ligent to follow these "rules." But what
about impressionable females in their
teens, or those women who may have
been mistreated by men in past rela-
tionships, or those who are suffering
from eating disorders because they are
chronically upset about their physical
appearances? Women and men alike
need to speak out against these kinds of

books, the ones that imply that male-
female relationships will never be
based on equality.
Yet women aren't the only gender get-
ting knocked about by pop culture. What,-
about men? Take, for example, the oafish
humor of NBC's overhyped new sitcom
"Men Behaving Badly." The show's
premise is basically the following: "Men
really like sex and beer. They don't like to
talk, unless they can eventually reach
orgasm. Men also are mentally incapable
of communicating with women. Unless
they want to have sex."
Simply ridiculous, and as a male, I
find that offensive. It's not even a funny
show, but that's beside the point. The
fact is that this show is spewing forth a
new attitude, an attitude that, inciden-
tally, is also being embraced by the
once respectable men's magazines
"GQ" and "Esquire." This attitude
states, "Ah, men will never be suitable
partners for women. Let them be bad,
ladies, so at least we can all have sex."
There's no wonder why the talk shows
and self-help bookstores are filled with
titles like "You don't understand me!"
The same culture that thrives on male-
female relationship problems also contin-
uously feeds them. Check the best-seller
lists and the TV ratings. People are eating
this stuff up. "Your man / woman is hope-
less!" "Men are from Mars, Women are
from Venus, Live With It."
I don't buy the Mars / Venus crap.
To double-check, and to lend some cre-
dence to my argument, I called a woman
(whom, incidentally, I'm going to marry)
on the phone last night. She's from Earth,
she insisted. My parents insist that I, too,
am an earthling, which renders the whole
Mars / Venus thing inapplicable. And
"The Rules" go out the window too. In
fact, we do have a very good relationship
even though SHE came up to me and
INTRODUCED HERSELF! And now,
sometimes, I even let her leave the house
without a short skirt, silky nylons and per-
fume! I bet most folks in successful rela-
tionships would tell you the same things.
Healthy relationships are based on equal-
ity and honesty, and love comes only
when those two elements are present.
Two people don't end up together
because they follow the norms in self-
help books and pop culture. They don't
play games. They don't follow rules.
They don't accept any "bad behavior."
Relationships aren't about gimmicks.
Could someone please tell that to
Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, and
the other self-help nutheads out there?
Because it looks like we ALL still have
a long way to go, baby.
- Dean Bakopoulos can be reached
over e-mail at deanc@umich.edu.

By Bryan Lark
Daily Arts Writer
"All I really want to do is direct."
Taking the cue from other, now-
cliched mantras like, "I have a screen-
play in development" or "There are no
good roles for women," the expression
of directorial desire is presently rolling
off the tongues of seemingly every
man, woman and child in the acting
profession.
However new and trendy the phe-
nomenon of actor-directors appears to
be, the trend dates back almost as far
as the medium of film itself, including
in its ranks such legends as Charlie
Chaplin, John Wayne and Ida Lupino.
Legendary
actor-directors
aside, judging by More than
the sheer volume,
of directorial -ou fa
debuts, this past HollyWoa
year alone could
be viewed as the earned th
pinnacle of the
simultaneous
acting and a
directing trend.
In the past year, more than 20 of
your favorite (or, in some cases, least
favorite) Hollywood stars have earned
their stripes as directors, making films
by famous first-timers as common as
films featuring either Gene Hackman
or Christopher Walken.
Some actors, like Tom Hanks, opted
for high-profile, high-risk debuts,
while others chose to get their feet wet
on the stage, in short films or in haz-
ard-free made-for-TV fare, like Gary
Sinise, Richard Dreyfuss, Christian
Slater and Kevin Bacon.
Whatever their route to the director's
chair, the excessive recent inaugural
entries, plus many films by established
actor-directors, raise one question that
eludes immediate tangible explana-
tion:
Why are actors so obsessed with
directing?
Perhaps an actor feels that an exten-

sive movie career and an Oscar are
viable substitutes for film school.
Adhering to this model are veterans
like Al Pacino and his upcoming docu-
comedy "Looking For Richard," Diane
Keaton, who debuted with the heartfelt
"Unstrung Heroes" and the man
behind "A Bronx Tale," Robert
DeNiro.
Perhaps an actor takes the helm to
revive his or her flatlined career.
For example, take such fading
comedic stars as Emilio Estevez and
Matthew Broderick, both of whom
will make serious, emotional pleas for
redemption this fall. Estevez's "The
War At Home" chronicles a soldier's
dysfunctional

series "Fallen Angels"; America's cur-
rent sweetheart Bullock wrote, starred
and filmed the short film "Making
Sandwiches"; and Van Damme kicked
and screamed through the (NO!) mar-
tial arts adventure, "The Quest.'
Perhaps actors direct major motion
pictures because they are tired of not
winning Oscars for acting.
This school of thought has some
prestigious pupils who turned a dan-
gerous career move into a little gold
man engraved with "Best Director"
that they can place on the mantle or
above the toilet.
The fed-up actors club includes
Robert Redford, Kevin Costner, Clint
Eastwood and Mel Gibson, who won
for "Ordinary People," "Dances With
Wolves," "Unforgiven" and
"Braveheart," respectively.
Perhaps the chance to direct is just
another outlet for an actor to showcase
his or her quirky, independent film
sensibilities.
The urge to control quirkiness
would explain the unique "Trees
Lounge" from slightly creepy Steve
Buscemi and the short "Submission,"
about a hotel-room drug deal from
erstwhile Fenster, Benicio Del Toro.
Perhaps an actor directs for the first
time possessing a mentality that
screams, "I want to direct because I
just won an Academy Award, because

ni 20 of
Prite
(M stars
Weir stripes

homecoming,
and Broderick's
"I n f i n i t y"
depicts the for-
mer Ferris
Bueller as a
physicist coping
with a bomb
and his dying
wife.

David Schwlmmer, here In
I'm really cool and becat
dammit!"
That justifiable, egom
soning would best des
Thing You Do!" - the
fable from America's othe
Tom Hanks and the cl
heist thriller "Albino Alli
usual suspect Kevin Space
Perhaps directing gives
opportunity to escape beir
situation comedy hell.
Sitcom refugees Ron "t
Richie Cunningham" H
"Meathead" Reiner
"Laverne" Marshall have
enormous success on
screen.
Hoping to follow in the
footsteps of Ron, Rob an(
year are two people that v
edly always be remembe

Perhaps an
actor decides to direct in order to paci-
fy their jealousy of RuPaul, the self-
proclaimed "Queen of All Media."
Having conquered music, televi-
sion, stage and screen, multi-media
divas Barbara Streisand, whose sec-
ond effort, "The Mirror Has Two
Faces," opens in November, and
Cher, the reluctantly tattooed direc-
tor of a segment of HBO's "If These
Walls Could Talk," are now tri-
umphant "Queens" behind the cam-
era, too.
Perhaps an actor chooses to direct to
gain credibility and shed his or her
image as a sweet, airbrushed fabrica-
tion, created by Hollywood for the sole
purpose of making money.
Tom Cruise, Sandra Bullock and
Jean-Claude Van Damme have all
recently balanced vanity with directing
responsibility. Cruise directed an
episode of Showtime's anthology

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