Stage Left: Flipping the Script on “One Hundred Easy Ways to Lose a Man”

I am in a fairly light mood today, so I thought I’d match that with a pretty light post. One of my favorite things to do is to play with music or other media by mentally flipping the script, changing the context in which it operates. As a queer person, for example, this is one of the few ways I can get “representation” in mainstream media “what if I read that character as queer?”. Likewise as a person with several non-evident disabilities, which are rarely discussed on stage or screen. Today I want to flip the script…WITH FEMINISM [video: Scenes from Disney’s The Little Mermaid set to Donna Murphy singing “One Hundred Easy Ways to Lose a Man”] Forgive the visuals, this is the only recording of this version of the song that I could find online. And the visuals are, to be frank, rather delightful (though I won’t be talking about them today). So, “One Hundred Easy Ways to Lose a Man” (OHEWLM) is not at all a feminist song in its original context. In the musical Wonderful Town, the character singing it does so fairly early in the show and it is terribly sarcastic. She’s lamenting her inability to keep a man by lambasting how good she is at alienating them. But I mean really. It can just as easily be read as a way to weed out sexist jerks! Look at lines like “just throw your knowledge in his face/he’ll never get to second base,” or “just be more well-informed than he, he’ll never say ‘o promise me.’” I read it as skewering a certain brand of fellow, the kind who can’t handle his delicate ego being fractured by having a ~woman~ know more than he does. And I tell myself “Ruth Sherwood [the character who sings this song] totally wouldn’t want that kind of guy! This song is detailing an anti-asshole screening procedure. And by reading it through that lens (a lens greatly facilitated by Donna Murphy’s absolutely hilarious delivery), OHEWLM becomes infinitely more enjoyable. I put the question to you, readers: What are examples of non-standard media readings that you enjoy? Slash pairings, recreating characters’ motivations, headcanon…I want to hear it all.

Previoulsy: “Die, Vampire, Die” Reflections of Self-Doubt and Advocacy Work, You Gotta Get a… Black Girl?

by Dorian J-----
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11 Comments Have Been Posted

Google Nine Inch Nails Closer

Google Nine Inch Nails Closer Star Trek. Someone would probably disagree, say it's not appropriate or villainize me for thinking it's brilliant, (which is mhy I won't share the video here) but I always wondered about Kirk's playboy behavior and what was lying underneath Spock's cool exterior. How deep did their relationship go? Did they ever question it?

PS. This video was amazing! Upon re-watching the Little Mermaid (a childhood favorite) as an adult feminist, the sub context made me throw up in my mouth a little.

And you, my friend, should

And you, my friend, should Google "Spock/Kirk fanfiction" and discover the wonderful world of fangirls, who caught onto that subtext years ago. In fact, there wouldn't be fanfiction at all if it weren't for Spock and Kirk's epic love.

My side of the mountain

This isn't racy at all, but a few years ago I read one of my favorite childhood books, "My Side of the Mountain," aloud to my boyfriend, who had never read it. The book is a survival/coming of age story about a young boy who runs away from home to live in the Catskill mountains. When my boyfriend first saw the cover of the book, he thought the main character was a girl. The character's name is Sam. So he requested that I change all he/him/boy references to she/her/girl. This lead to awesome things like the dad saying, "Sure, go ahead and run away. Every girl should try it once." It makes me happy to think that in my boyfriend's mind, Sam is a girl and always has been.

That is delightful.

That is delightful. Genderswaps are one of my favourite hypotheticals to play with in media I love.

I also know several people who, until the Harry Potter movies were cast, read Hermione in the books as being black, which...I'm kind of disappointed that wasn't the case, really, because lord knows that series could have stood having some more people of colour in it.

Or some more people of colour

Or some more people of colour who get a substantial presence in the novels, at any rate...! What specifically made them read Hermione as black?

Well, in the books JKR never

Well, in the books JKR never specifically said she was white, so the fact that it was the default kinda sucks. Also In her description she has very curly, oft described as frizzy hair and when coming back from summer hols she was said to be very dark from the sun. It would have been a nice change of pace imo, if they had done that (love Emma Watson as much as i do)


I certainly love the slash especially as a response to the ever abundant buddy pairings in shows and film. I want a dramatic romance between equals but Mx. Scriptwriter has massively underdeveloped the female love interest/lead in favor of focusing on the awesome friendship between our lead dudes; you brought my Starsky/Hutch fanfic on yourself Hollywood.
I'm also big on viewing enmity as sexual tension which is actually more a part of my belief that slash fiction can be feminist. Asking yourself what mainstream entertainment would do if these two characters were the opposite gender and then putting that on the existing character to show the ridiculous ways women and queer folk are used in media. The new G.I.Joe film made the Baroness a love interest because you just can't have a villainess who isn't a former lover, fem-fatal, or switches sides for love. Apply that to strictly male pairings (and female or any other gender/sex if you can't find any) and you see how ridiculous it is. You also see how ridiculous the prohibition between homosexual affairs can be. Would Erik and Charles falling out in X-men first class been less poignant if they were lovers? Wouldn't that fill in the gaps, giving them a connection that they would fight to maintain despite the slow deterioration from their splitting ideologies?

And in an entirely different field I like to come up with reasons why various one-dimensional villains are right or at least right to be so angry and vengeful. Usually they're just as shallow as the characters: like Ursula is just mad because the sizest King Triton kicked her out of his court of "pretty people" when she refuse to let him use his magic powers to make her skinny and fishtailed.

I am definitely seeing the

I am definitely seeing the possibility of Erik/Charles slash based on James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender's work in the film, and I see I'm not alone:

"One-dimensional villains" reminds me of screenwriter Gore Vidal's explanation for Messala's motivation in <i>Ben-Hur</i> as described in <i>The Celluloid Closet/i>:

Just listening to the song,

Just listening to the song, with no visuals at all, and no thought to its original context, it sounded like a brilliant and hilarious parody of all those 1950s ways to get a man (that annoyingly still seem to rear their heads even now, grrrr). I could seriously enjoy this song as parody :-) Thank you so much for sharing this.

To the subject of fan fiction, and the rather annoyingly heteronormative world of Harry Potter (though apparently Dumbledore was meant to be gay, and I still really enjoy the Harry Potter books in spite of my problems with them). I am a straight woman (with an MA in Film and Television with a focus on gender studies), and my favorite Harry Potter pairing in fan fiction is Harry and Draco, and despite Rowling's insistence that they are both straight, I simply find them an infinitely more interesting possibility than any of the hetero pairings we get saddled with. There are so many more possibilities to explore the darker sides of humanity (given Draco's propensities), while additionally, the whole Draco/Ginny idea still leaves me cold.

I actually have a draft of a

I actually have a draft of a post about this exact song sitting around somewhere! You've foiled me, and I greatly approve.

I am, along with my fellow commenters, big on the slash. I ship most of the femslash pairings in the Arthurian canon.

Having never seen Wonderful

Having never seen Wonderful Town, I've actually spent my entire life believing that this song *was* an instructional guide to weeding out assholes. Now I'm actually disappointed it isn't.

As for slash pairings, my favorite is still Glinda and Elphaba (both in the book and the musical). I loved Wicked in high school, and that whole subset of fanfic was hugely important to tiny, questioning me. Also, try giving "What Is This Feeling?" another listen and notice how all the feelings they attribute to loathing (face flushing, head reeling, pulse rushing) could also mean something very different indeed.

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