Recently, a friend sent me a link to an article in the TPM referencing a New York Post Critic, Kyle Smith, and how “women are not capable of understanding Goodfellas“.
I honestly don’t know where to begin. Should I first handle the obviously ludicrous implication that 52% of the population are the same because they were lucky enough to be born with a uterus, or the idiotic idea that gender dictates taste, intelligence or capability to understand popular culture?
Having spent the best part of my life watching films which are generally considered “masculine” I can tell the difference between the good, the bad and the down-right ugly.
(While I’m on the subject, why is it that films with a female lead are considered “feminine” or “girly” and therefore not to be taken seriously? I asked a friend recently if he had seen Bridesmaids, to which his response was a laughing “it’s a girls film”, as if that was reason enough! “Chick flick” is such a degrading phrase. Why isn’t there a male equivalent? Could “dick flicks” be a thing? I know there are “bromances” but they’re not quite the same thing, are they? Obviously, films starring male comedians are fun for all the family, but as soon as you place women in the starring role they are not suitable for men. Here was me thinking that a sense of humour transcended gender. Anyway, where was I…)
I like Goodfellas. As is often the case with Martin Scorsese’s work, it is a well constructed story full of three-dimensional characters which is beautifully shot. Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci are perfect in their roles, indeed Pesci won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. But beyond this, it is bloody brilliant. It is full of suspense, violence and humour and, for those of us who are not part of the mafia, allows us to escape and experience another world.
But this is all beside the point. It doesn’t matter that I am a woman. I do not speak for all women, I would not dare to. In the same way that I would not presume that Kyle Smith speaks for all men, or all Americans or even all Goodfellas fans. I understand that critics are constantly looking for different angles from which to tackle their subject matter, and being controversial is an excellent way to get free publicity.
It’s a shame that this particular critic has decided to cross that line between controversial and idiotic. I hope for his sake that he doesn’t believe what he has written. Lines such as “What would “GoodFellas” be like if it were told by a woman?” and “women are the sensitivity police” show such a lack of understanding. To say that a film which managed to get to number 17 on the IMDb Top 250 Films isn’t beyond the comprehension of half the world is… well, I’m speechless.
It must be very difficult to live in such a polarised world. If Goodfellas and other Scorsese films have taught us nothing else, it’s that people are always more complicated than they appear.