When we left Joanna last week she had suffered a nervous breakdown. Her husband moves the family to Stepford. A beautiful suburban area that is the epitome of wealth and luxury. Stepford seems to be perfection. If it seems to too good to be true it probably is. And Stepford is too good to be true. This is Movie Bad Girl of the Week.
Joanna and her family move into their new community. The homes are lavish, the lawns perfectly manicured, there is no crime and no poverty. There seems to be lots of time for relaxation, the families that reside here are happy. The men are the providers and each and every one of their wives are perfect…..too perfect. Joanna in her city chic fits into Stepford about as well as a viewing of “Showgirls” would fit in at a 10 year old’s Birthday Party. The family is greeted at their new home by Claire Wellington, a woman that behaves like a Welcome Wagon lady gone utterly mad. She takes perky to a whole new level. Joanna is taken under Claire’s wing as she tries to help her assimilate into the community, meanwhile her husband Walter joins the Men’s Association and this is where the story begins.
Joanna rides with Claire to The Stepford Day spa where all the women go to socialize and exercise. There are SUV’s parked out front as far as the eye can see. When they walk in Joanna is taken aback. The women who are there to exercise are all dressed in beautiful dresses that are in pastels, high heels and full make-up with every hair in place. Joanna standing there in slacks and a frumpy shirt (her clothing is black and gray) questions the wardrobe of the ladies. Claire tells her that they want to look their best no matter what they do and couldn’t imagine being dressed in dark urban wear with hardly any make-up on. Joanna looks on stunned as the ladies begin an insane set of exercises that are based on household chores. Joanna believes she has stepped into the Twilight Zone.
Tips we can learn from Joanna.
Joanna is a city girl with her own sense of style. She prefers black as her basic wardrobe color and her clothes are both expensive and stylish. She wears minimal make-up and her hair requires little attention in the short trendy coiffure she sports. She is now thrust into a town where it looks as though all the women have gone into a time warp back to the 1960s with beautiful dresses that are made of lovely fabrics. The ladies wear full make-up and their hairstyles are so perfect you would believe you are looking a heads in a wig shop.
The message here is Joanna is a non-conformist. Where the entire town of ladies look like they have been made with a cookie cutter, Joanna would rather be that imperfect one that did not get cut correctly. She is an original in a world of carbon copies. The ladies are like minded, Joanna likes to think for herself and not go with the masses. We have all stood out at one time or another because we dare to be different. We should all stand out in our own way. We can be cattle and follow the herd or we can be that rogue and do our own thing. Joanna even has the nerve to ask about this conformity because she can’t believe any group of people can be so exactly alike. This is one of the things in life we deal with everyday. In some ways we do conform at work or in certain social circles and now it is thrust upon kids in school (this is another subject altogether and I tend to rant about it but this is not the time or place) however we should each maintain aspects of ourselves that are uniquely “us” that doesn’t go with the flow. We are individuals and are entitled to be exactly who we are and not who everyone else thinks we should be. Hang on to this and you will be a much happier, fulfilled and self-empowered person.
There is a picnic and country style barn dance in Stepford and the Eberharts attend. Joanna tries pointing out to Walter how odd the women all are. She makes a remark about one group stepping over to greet them. She is still stunned by these creatures who seemed to have fallen out of a 1950’s television show. Walter on the other hand see nothing wrong, especially since these women do nothing but stroke his ego. One of them goes as far as looking at the khakis he is wearing and remarks with a flirtatious smile “Now I know why they call it Banana Republic. You can tell that Joanna could get ill watching these strange creatures. At the picnic she meets two unique people in the bunch. Bobbie Markowitz who is a famed author, recovering alcoholic and a sarcastically funny woman who lives in a world of creative chaos and Roger Bannister a very sought after architect who also happens to be a very proud and out (not to mention flamboyantly) gay man. She gravitates to these two because they are not like everyone else. They stand out and are comfortable in their own skin. They become best friends and cohorts in crime getting into mischief like little kids. Most of all they have fun together and really care about one another vs the perfection that the women of Stepford are, warm, beautiful and kind, yet somehow really unsettling, detached and scary. Together they will begin to unravel the mystery of Stepford and realize that something sinister is going on. Little do they realize that one by one their turns are coming.
You are who you hang around.
Joanna takes an instant liking to these two characters and the reason is a simple one. Much like in our own lives we want to know and surround ourselves with people who are unique and original and can bring so many interesting things into our lives. Good conversations, fun times out, someone to listen when you need to vent and someone who cares enough about you to say the things you may not want to hear because it is the truth. These two are very unlike the wives of Stepford who have conversation that is both dull and routine, whose idea of fun is baking cookies or (in the case of this movie) being the caddy for a husband’s game of golf and who will give you an answer that they believe is what you want to hear and is therefore what should said. The care they show for you is superficial. I can look at so many times in my life that people around me have been conformed in action and appearance because it is deemed the norm and they are worried what others may think of them. I have had heated debates (and a couple of arguments) over my wardrobe, attitude or things I do in the pursuit of living my life to the fullest degree and enjoying it while I do. I have had people whisper behind my back and have been made fun of. It is okay because when it is my turn to die I will know that I have lived a full and rich life full of experiences and joy and hopefully I have brought some light and smiles to those around me. The others I feel a little sorry for. They are doing what they believe society says they should do and that means their lives will have been an endless game of keeping up with the Joneses. There are very few people like that in my life. I don’t have a lot of use for them as cold and cruel as that may sound. I choose to surround myself with a group of people that are eclectic and somewhat eccentric. They are creative people that pursue many endeavors of varied taste. Each one is a beautiful and unique individual and each one of them adds color to my world and makes my life a much richer tapestry of fabulous fabrics. I love them and feel that love back. It is true that we are who we hang around. This is the way the world looks upon us. If you hang around a particular group then you must be just like them. So the question here is do you want to be a copy or do you want to let your creative spirit fly and be that person living a full life of (mostly) non-conformity that makes you “you”? I say mostly because there are times and places like at your job where certain standards and behavior is expected of you and you do need to pay your bills. It is more-so a case of following the rules in this instance rather than conforming.
I thought this article was a two part column. As I sat here writing and saw the length the column was getting to I realized that I lied. This one will be a trilogy. I had no idea a character out of a comedy would give me so much to say so next week we will wrap things up with Joanna. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and we will finish up next Tuesday. Until then Embrace Your Inner Bad Girl because being bad feels so damn good.
Next week our exciting conclusion!