Notes from a Drama Queen

GONE WITH THE WIND (and good riddance)

Monday, June 06, 2011

It’s the 75th anniversary of the publication of Gone With the Wind. Those were the good old days when a historical romance could win a Pulitzer Prize. As I remember I loved the book much more than I loved the movie (Clark Gable didn’t do it for me as Rhett Butler), so I’m basing this on countless revisitations of the movie, and for me it has one huge infuriating problem. I’d gotten over it until the same thing happened this season on House, but more about that later.

Throughout the movie, Rhett Butler is a Bad Boy with a conscience, and he’s immediately drawn to Scarlett. Bad Scarlett in all her self-centered glory. He loved her exactly the way she was, he saw her exactly the way she was. Self-absorbed, jealous, strong, ignoring social niceties. He loved her ruthlessness, which enabled her to survive the war and take care of those with her (Mammy, Melanie, etc.). He chased her and finally backed her into marriage knowing exactly what he was getting into.

And then suddenly he starts wanting her to be Melanie. He gives her nothing but shit when she behaves as she always does, and in the end he has the nerve to walk out on her, simply because she’s the woman he married, the woman he always wanted.
To quote Marty McFly in Back to the Future III, he’s an asshole

Nowadays every time GWTW comes on and someone insists on watching it I throw pillows at the screen. Men!

In House, it’s the women. Cuddy (does the character even have a first name?) knows House better than anyone. In fact, she’s one of the few people who can keep him under control. She has no illusions about how selfish, weak, needy he is. She knows he has a desperate problem with drugs but he’s managed to stay clean and sober for a good long while. Despite all his many flaws she’s always been in love with him, and she finally decides not to fight it any more.

Okay, I’ll buy that. Because House, as embodied by Hugh Laurie, is almost irresistible in his grouchy brilliance. So grand passion ensues, she has a cancer scare, and he fails her because he’s frightened. He tries, shows up later having pulled himself together, and she dumps him. For being exactly who he is.

The problem being that she’s given him hope. Because she brought him into her life he’d dropped some of his defenses, bonded with her daughter, actually made an effort occasionally instead of always manipulating. With her, he tried to be a better man. And suddenly she dumps him, simply for being who she always knew he was.
One of the last scenes of the show this season was when House came by to drop off her hair brush (and why was she whining about her hairbrush, for God’s sake?) and sees her leaving her dining room with a couple and a new man, laughing and flirting. He drives a block or two, then turns around, guns the motor and drives the damned car straight into her dining room.
I cheered. I expected some (most?) people were horrified. Wilson, his best friend, certainly seemed disturbed. But I loved it.

And in my fantasies that idiot Rhett Butler most certainly returned to Scarlett, because he was obsessed with her, and I’m hoping to God she looked at him and said, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”


Blogger KT said...

I've been in love with this book and its characters since I was 13 years old!

12:49 PM  
Blogger Robena Grant said...

I've only read GWTW once. It was over a long weekend when I had the flu. I recall loving it, staying in bed the whole weekend except for when I got up to the BR or to make cups of tea, and I went through boxes of Kleenex. I've seen the movie a few times but it isn't half as good as the book. But then again, I could have been drugged out on cold medicines.

I stopped watching house years ago. Being a retired RN I just couldn't stomach some of his antics. If he'd been on staff at any of the hospitals I worked at he wouldn't have passed a peer review. His license would have been revoked, or at the least he'd have been put into drug rehab. ; )

7:01 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Tempest said...

Completely agree about House. Can't believe Cuddy led him on like that then tore his heart apart.

1:24 AM  
Blogger WorkInProgress said...

Oh gawd! I thought I was the only one to shake my finger at the character of (Lisa - yes, it's her first name) Cuddy. I couldn't believe her from the moment she jumped into dating him - but tried holding off on having him meet her daughter - I knew she was going to rip his heart out and stomp on it. All in the name of protecting herself. My husband and I were laughing hysterically when House drove the car into her home. :D Can't wait until next season.

6:20 PM  
Blogger Carla Swafford said...

GWTW: WOW! I never thought about it like that. Something to think on.

BTW, love the driving the car into the house. LOL!

9:31 PM  
Blogger Kiru Taye said...

Anne, I totally agree with you. I dislike GWTW for exactly the same reasons. I can't stand to watch it know. I end up screaming at the screen. LOL

I haven't seen that episode of House but it's so wrong to lead someone on like that. :o))

6:12 AM  
Blogger Anne Stuart said...

So glad you guys had the same reaction to House that I did. Yeah, Robena, the hospitals on tv don't have anything to do with real ones, but either you fall in love with House or you don't. I did. He's an asshole, but he's mine.

10:19 AM  
Blogger gleecady said...

Can't speak about House as I don't watch it, but surely GWTW's "comeuppance" for Scarlett is a product of its time. Selfish, stubborn, uppity women were to be punished then. Actually, in some cases, still, now 75 years later, there are still folks who believe in that "proper" place for women. I don't think that any other ending would have been acceptable in the 30s.

4:24 PM  
Blogger Robena Grant said...

Krissie said:
either you fall in love with House or you don't. I did. He's an asshole, but he's mine.

Ha ha. Yep. I loved him at first, then I didn't "get" him...I think I'm missing a very important storytelling fantasy element. I'm such a realist it's downright boring.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Musicteacher09 said...

I used to wonder if Rhett got with Scarlett partly to stay near Melanie. Once she was dead he dropped Scarlett like a used kleenex. This was the first book I read and then saw the movie, and I was aghast as a 13 year old could be that they CHANGED the book.

Love House. Yes, he's an ass, but you would want him to diagnose you, right?

3:31 PM  
Blogger Sera G said...

Dear Ms. Stuart,
I have been reading your books as long as you have been writing them. "Catspaw", anyone?
I fear that I must disagree with your comments about "House." That was ONCE my favorite show. I stopped watching when they took two amazing, complex characters and gave, the woman, of course, a lobotomy and assasignated her character at the same time. The writers planned from the very start that the relationship was doomed. So, rather than trust the audience to go along for the ride they destroyed 6 1/2 years of tantalizing 'foreplay', love, chemistry and opportunity for writing a love story for mature people, instead of 20 year olds. I hated the car through her home. It made him look like a homocial maniac. "See, she never should have trusted him." That was BAD writing.
Ms. Stuart, that is one reason I love your books. You have trust that your readers are smart enough to take risks with you. Even if your characters appear unlikeable at the beginning, we know that you will get us safely 'to the other side.'
I look forward to "Shameless" as I do with all your books.

11:27 PM  

Post a Comment