If you haven’t heard already, Leighton Meester is serving up every Of Mice and Men audience member (and “selfie with James Franco” taker) with a healthy dose of knowledge and double standard destruction.
Though the cast boasts an impressive roster of named actors, Meester wants to call attention to her character: the unnamed wife of Curley. If anyone is familiar with John Steinbeck’s novella Of Mice and Men, a cursory understanding of the plot casts Curley’s wife in a negative light.
She is viewed as flirtatious, yet cruel, and is often referred to in derogatory terms - Meester names “tart”, “tramp”, and “bitch.” She is seen as evil because she invites Lennie to touch her soft hair, because he likes soft things. He accidentally snaps her neck, which results in George and Lennie fleeing from the farm, which then results in Lennie’s death. Yet her death, though accidental, is often laughed at by the audience. They only see her as a villain.
Meester, in a Huffington Post op-ed, analyzes how anti-woman the audience is receiving the story (through our cultural socialization). If you really analyze the story, Meester points out, the wife is a victim in the situation. She is trapped in this situation and suddenly murdered - which the audience cheers about. I’m not doing nearly as well a job as Meester in explaining the backstory and rich history behind Steinbeck’s subversive work (which she finds to be wholly feminist).
She tackles everything our culture is guilty of when reading/watching this work: slut shaming, “asking for it”, dehumanization of women, and what it reveals about the person reading/watching.
Meester brings the feminism of this work to light, so maybe next time a Franco-fan decides they’ll drop the money to see their favorite star on Broadway, they’ll actually think realize the cultural misogyny that is taking place - instead of laughing along with the rest of the crowd. Thank you, Leighton; this piece was a perfect and timely way to bring such a relevant issue to light.
Read her piece published on the Huffington Post here, and share with your friends!
Images courtesy of Amanda Schwab via Startraksphoto.com, Richard Phibbs via Huffington Post