March 10, 2008

Send Yourself Roses- Biography of Kathleen Turner

I get lots of emails from Kathleen Turner. If you're on progressive and women's list-servs, you probably get them too. It wasn't until I started getting these emails that I realized what an awesome feminist Turner is. But looking back on the roles she played, it makes perfect sense. Now Turner has told her full, honest story Send Yourself Roses, her new memoir done in collaboration with the former leader of Planned Parenthood, Gloria Feldt.

Send Yourself Roses is an easy and interesting read, there are some great tidbits from her film career, but more importantly, Turner takes issue with the culture that dismisses women as they age, and gives us an example of a woman thriving as she moves into a new role in life. Turner has recently taken up directing getting great reviews for her Broadway directing debut, a revival of Crimes of the Heart.

Turner made it big playing smart, sexy, independent women in films in the 1980s and early 1990s. I loved her in Romancing the Stone, its sequel The Jewel of the Nile and especially in Prizzi's Honor. She kicked ass with that sexy voice and her awesome hair and she was a great role model. There was never any doubt that her characters were equal to her male co-stars. Sadly, nowadays, those types of female characters are gone. (Does anyone get the impression from watching Keira Knightley in the Pirates movies that she is equal to her male co-stars? I don't.)

Turner's memoir illuminates just how bad it has gotten for women in Hollywood, but it also talks about issues related to women and aging from a broader perspective. She is strong woman who has survived Hollywood (probably because she never moved there), and a debilitating bout with rheumatoid arthritis (when we all thought she had just gotten fat thanks to the tabloids). I was really impressed with her honestly and guts. Suffice it to say that it's a good thing she's done with Hollywood, cause after this book, she probably won't be getting her any more calls from the guys running the town.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

I am seriously unhappy about the way women are "sold" today, through film and media. I don't think women want to be anorexic. I don't think the way, as they do in Charlie's Angels, to strip and lap dance- how humiliating.
I choose my roles for film and stage the same way I choose my roles in life. The woman I play must be integral to the script. If the film or play will be just as good without her, then I will not play that part.
About LA and Hollywood:
It is anti-women out there, altogether. Women are, without a doubt, second-class citizens. There is almost a palpable contempt.
Our culture is still afraid of strong women and tends to demonize them.
But the facts are facts and the truth is that in Hollywood, as a woman ages she's not likely to be the romantic interest. She gets stereotyped, often as bitter and angry or just silly. Men, on the other hand, continue to get roles as the romantic lead in films well into their sixties. We often see a visibly older man with a younger leading lady..."
How our society views women will have to change, because today's women are changing how we feel about our own age and aging.

As women get more economic power, we also become more respected for who we are...
These are just a few choice tidbits, but you get the drift. Kathleen Turner rules! Book is available everywhere now.