The reason why the serpent was included on the guest list when God created the world remains an unsolved mystery. For the movie and publishing industry, the serpent's presence in the Garden of Eden was a mixed blessing. Without free will to choose the path of unrighteousness, there would be no stories to tell because there would be no villains to drive the plot. Imagine Fatal Attraction without Alex, Star Wars without Darth Vader, Dr Jekyll without Mr Hyde. If Eve hadn't eaten the forbidden fruit and given birth to villainhood, the creators of film and literature would have invented it. The Executive Producer of life on Earth must have known that Eve and her evil offspring were essential performers on the world stage and that without them, the cast list would be incomplete.
Eve is the world's first and most powerful villain. She alone is held responsible for humanity's downfall. Without her, there would be no evil, no wars, no conflict and no vice. She is carnal, tempting and sinful. By contrast, the Virgin Mary is kind, pure and chaste. These gender splitting archetypes are a root cause of gender war conflicts. Murder, rape and assault are consequences.
Bloodthirsty killers in maniac movies have been stalking the silver screen for close to a century. The personalities of most of Hollywood 's movie villains and heroes are developmentally stunted at the level of two-year-olds. Like two-year-olds they love to destroy things, and people are no exception. Slasher movies pit powerful chest-beating heroes against powerful cut throat villains in a blood fest of glorified violence. Villains thrill American audiences with the same, if not more enthusiasm than heroic cowboys, cops, soldiers and terminators. Jason in Friday The 13th is a typical monster villain. He is ruthless, glassy-eyed, sadistic, horny-for-blood and risen from the dead. Like the hero, he must be a worthy opponent: fearless, relentless, strong and determined.
Powerful male hero defeats powerful male monster, saves powerless female victim. This hero-monster-victim plot formula has served as the heartbeat of American movies since the birth of the industry. Male monsters, vampires, creatures, beasts, bastards, werewolves and psychopaths overpower, decapitate, dismember, rape, humiliate and bludgeon women to death. Female witches, bitches, vixens and whores tempt, trick, betray, harass, poison, seduce and sexually manipulate men to death.
The female heroine archetype is the princess-victim. She serves as a prop for men. Rose, (Kate Winslet) in the 200-million-dollar budget 1997 blockbuster, Titanic, exemplifies the female princess-victim archetype. She is young, pretty, powerless, desperate, helpless, suicidal and needs to be rescued by heart throb hero, Leonardo DiCaprio. Scarlett O'Hara is another princess-victim archetype. She is pretty, powerless, challengingly rebellious and in need of a rescuer. The morning after she is raped by a drunk and violent Rhett Butler, she awakens with an orgasmic smile on her face. The messages that the princess- victim archetype delivers to both male and female audiences is that women are helpless victims who need to be saved, rescued (and sometimes raped) by strong, invincible men and that a woman's power and success is only in relation to her consumer driven external beauty. Women who dare to behave like male heroes by being direct, fearless, assertive and confrontational are called ‘ball breakers'and ‘bitches'and demoted to the status of villain.
The male hero and the male villain are split archetypes that complete the hero-monster-victim psychic complex. Batman and Superman, Hercules and Tarzan, Zorro and 007 are invincible male action heroes who are so one dimensionally alike that when stripped of their capes, masks and loincloths, become clones of each other like Dolly the sheep. They are macho and fearless, tough and death-defying, powerful and virile. They don't need anybody, don't ask for help, never complain and survive physical challenges against impossible odds using superhuman strength. They rescue females in distress but are far too independent to form meaningful relationships.
By identifying with fairytale princesses in Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Anastasia and Pocahontas, girls grow up with the expectation that someday their one dimensional hero will come along, make their lives magically meaningful and rescue them from their empty, unfulfilled existences. Sooner or later, the perfect husband, provider, father, lover, protector and rescuer turns out to be three-dimensionally imperfect and they become disillusioned and resentful.
When the husbands of Pamela Smart and Lorena Bobbitt didn't measure up, one was murdered and the other suffered a fate worse than death.
Men who identify with male super hero role models by being tough, virile and in control, cut themselves off from their feelings. Like Rocky Balboa, they are supposed to beat the eight count and keep on punching. Women who try to live up to the cultural ideals of womanhood by being passively helpless and in need of a rescuer, cut themselves off from their power. Hero-rescuers and princess-victims polarize the genders and split their individual wholeness into separate parts. According to gender researchers Aaron Kipnis, PhD., and Elizabeth Herron, M.A., ‘Problems arise when any one of these psychological elements dominates our character. We become possessed by the split-off part, which, in acting out its polarized role, is also constantly seeking its missing counter part'. Women have a strong, capable and powerful heroic side. Men have a gentle, vulnerable, caring side. Becoming complete, multidimensional human beings means accepting our human flaws and imperfections and embracing the maleness and femaleness that exists in all of us. Denying these very real parts of ourselves is not only gender alienating and separating but self-alienating and separating.
Kipnis and Heron propose that the path to gender peace is reconnecting with the split-off parts of ourselves. Instead of identifying with a continuous stream of cartoonish, one-dimensional, consumer driven role models of manhood and woman hood, we need to reclaim ourselves as multidimensional human beings and confront the real monsters that need confronting — starving populations, ozone depletion and the extinction of species.
In 1991, the Hollywood movie industry experienced a cardiac arrest. Somebody reversed the gender formula. That somebody was renegade screenwriter, Callie Khourri, who wrote the Big Screen gender-bender, Thelma and Louise about a couple of outlaw women avenging sexist crimes with both barrels. ‘Male-hero defeats male-villain and rescues female-victim' suddenly became ‘female-heroes defeat male-villains and rescue themselves'.
When the film first opened, a posse of wounded male egos took aim and fired back. John Robinson of the Boston Globe called the movie ‘the last straw... in a string of cultural strikes against manhood'. Bill Cosford of the Miami Herald condemned it as a ‘butt kicking feminist manifesto', In the Nation, Stuart Klawans wrote, ‘Anger — that's the simmering element beneath this film — women's anger'. Joining the male protesters, columnist Ellen Goodman labelled it, ‘A PMS movie, plain and simple'. In his book The Myth Of Male Power, Warren Farrell issued a warning that ‘male bashing is everywhere... it would be a mistake to view the current situation as simply another skirmish in the war between the sexes... not with only one side showing up. Women have been doing the shooting and men have been burying their heads in the sand hoping the bullets will miss. In an article for MacLeans magazine, Fred Bruning urged men to run for cover. ‘Even if Farrell is correct, men probably do not deserve a break', Fred conceded. ‘They have ruled the world and made an absolute mess of things. They have exploited. They have belched. They have consorted with floozies. Keep firing those shots, ladies. Boys, keep yourselves covered. This could last awhile.'