Carousel? More Like Domestic Abuse = Love

I'm not a big fan of musicals, but despite not knowing so much as a song from the show, I gave the 50s film adaptation Carousel a chance. After learning that Time Magazine named Carousel the best musical of the 20th century, I figured it might actually be entertaining.

But oh dear, it's terrible. In short, a man and young woman meet for the first time on a carousel. Over the course of a single song, they fall in love, in a way that can only happen in theater. Despite knowing nothing about each other, they immediately marry. The guy is an unemployed jerk who controls his wife, alienates her from her family, and hits her. She's pretty forgiving of his poverty, lack of compassion, and abuse, however, because of, duh, *love*. We know this because she sings about it a lot. 

The funny thing is for some reason we're supposed to relate to this man. He's like "the every man" who deserves redemption, or that's how it's portrayed anyway. And, sorry, but I don't relate to a man who loses hundreds of dollars that he doesn't have while gambling with a known conman (who else could deal himself three blackjacks in a row?) and then attempts to rob an innocent man at knifepoint. He dies in this botched robbery, and his wife is distraught - even if her friends don't totally understand - because she LOVED being a doormat, you see?

Anyway, the guy gets to go some approximation of heaven because despite all of his actions, he was deemed a good man deep down. Years later, he receives a day pass back down to earth so he can meet the daughter his wife was pregnant with when he died. He talks to his daughter for all of a few minutes before he winds up smacking her.

Wait, it gets worse. The dialogue that follows between the wife and the daughter is truly disturbing.

Daughter: "He hit me hard. I heard the sound of it, Mother, but it didn't hurt. It didn't hurt at all. It was just as if he kissed my hand."
(a couple of lines later)
Daughter: "Is it possible, Mother, for someone to hit you hard like that - real loud and hard, and it not hurt you at all?"
Wife: "It is possible, dear, for someone to hit you, hit you hard, and it not hurt at all."

And that's pretty much how the film ends, with the wife swooning and fondly recalling the husband who used to hit her without it hurting. I mean, who wouldn't love getting hit if it feels like a kiss? That's how you know he loves you!

I get that it's from another era when domestic abuse isn't quite as frowned upon, but who the fuck would write an abuse-apology story like that? It makes me suspect that you might have been able to find some bruises hidden under stage makeup on Mrs. Rodgers and Mrs. Hammerstein. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i just watched it tonight in its entirety for the first time

i was sickened

that men would write it

and women would act in it