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Thursday, August 14, 2008

There's No Crying in BASEBALL!

One of the Best. Lines. Ever.

From one of the BEST. MOVIES. EVER.

Hands down.

The first time I watched this movie, I was bored and just looking for something new, and had seen portions of it here and there on TV, which prompted me to finally pull it out of my roommate's DVD library and watch it.

I was enthralled. I love this movie. And for a long time I had cable so every so often I watched it, but for months now I've been deprived of cable services since I can't afford the fun stuff like TBS. So while I was at recently ordering my books for my upcoming semester, I also looked up DVD's and purchased "A League of Their Own" for the awesome price of $3.95. I'm not sure there will be anything left of this DVD when I'm done with it!

My Confession...

I've never really been a fan of baseball, and that's one of the reasons I delayed so long in watching this movie to begin with. When I was a kid I HATED softball with a passion, and every other sport. This was likely because I couldn't SEE..I had an astigmatysm and even in the classroom teachers couldn't understand why I wasn't grasping the material. I didn't realize that I couldn't see like the other kids could. I didn't realize that I sucked at sports because I literally couldn't see the ball coming at me and I couldn't observe the plays of any given sport, so when a ball or a puck came to me, I had no idea what to do. (Incidentally, for some really odd reason, I was REALLY GOOD at soccer and Field Hockey in spite of my vision problems...but never got the opportunity to play them when I got out of elementary school.)

But I digress...basically, the point is, I've never been a huge fan of Baseball. I've gone to games in person on occasion, and ALWAYS enjoyed the experience. I remember when the Minnesota Twins won the World Series in 1987; I was in Jr. High, and in the classes like Drafting, where we had "work time", the teachers let us watch the afternoon games as long as we also continued to work on our projects. It was then that I maybe had the first enthusiasm for Baseball. And let's face it; this is a uniquely American sport, with a unique place in American history. I still remember sitting with my Great Aunt Rose in her livingroom, watching the Twins Games on her little livingroom TV. She was a HUGE fan, and I'm guessing she'd remember the Women in Baseball portrayed in the movie I watched tonight and I only regret that I didn't even, at the time, know that women HAD a history in Baseball.

The themes woven throughout this movie make it a timeless classic. Themes of sisterhood, of family, of feminism (both the good and the bad) and chauvenism are woven masterfully and theatrically throughout the story, painting a very believable picture with a mixture of fact and fiction to keep us all hopping, inspiring us to learn more, and...might I BE more?

The movie opens with the ongoing rivalry between the farm sisters, Dottie and Kit, both incredibly talented in Baseball, both responsible in their work on the farm. And even in their rivalry, the love and connection they have to each other is nearly palpable.

Then we see the theme of selfishness versus sacrifice, which switches throughout the movie to the people and the situations, revealing the depth of the characters as well as the human capacity to overcome their own personal failings. In the beginnig, Dotty refuses the offer to come to Chicago to try out, but at the ultimatum given to Kit, "If your sister comes, you can come too", along with Kit's desperation to finally come out from under her sister's shadow, Dotty realizes that her life, although already chosen, isn't hers alone, either. She sacrifices what she truly desires in order that her kid sister can reach her own potential.

That's love.

Yet when they witness injustice, a rejection of an incredible yet not-so-attractive woman, BOTH Kit and Dotty refuse to continue on the train towards their destiny. They both recognize talent and aren't willing to let the world's standards of "beauty" reject the calling of even a potential competitor. And so it was that Marla Hooch joined them. (And for the record...I NEVER thought she was ugly, and the way she was treated in the movie by "officials" really ticked me off! But wasn't she a beauty as an elderly woman?)


This movie took place just past the peak of true Feminism. It seems to me, without researching the timeline and actual facts, that WWII marked a Golden Age of Feminsim, wherin the gifts of woman were recognized beyond the "barefoot and pregnant" category, where women literally stepped up to the plate and saved our economy, built our weapons, and even provided our timeless form of national entertainment in the form of women's sports. And un-heard-of event. Women literally saved America. U-RAH!

The event brought out the same weird extremes we see today; with the pre-programmed and prim prude who continues to suggest that women must remain in a niche that had oppressed them for so long, to the chauvenism that fought to "elevate" the women as sex objects, even using the idea of "charm school" to give the impression of "lady-ness" so as to better exploit their "wares" on the National, or even Intenational stage.

Even racism makes an appearance, and we are made to realize that women of color were not allowed into the League, to the very detriment of the Game. The dignity and proud humility (the only time those two words can EVER come together) of the black woman who pitches an out-of-bounds ball to Dottie says far more than any rhetoic can ever accomplish. I have to say that this, for me, was one of the most heartbreaking scenes.

The movie takes place in the time of War, when the men of America enlisted in DROVES to fight Hitler, which is what allowed this entire sports event to happen. Yet, in the Roadhouse scene, populated by the vixen-like girls of the Rockford Peaches, I, for one, have to ask...from whence did come all the smitten gentlemen that had aforeto encroached upon the locale of that venue?

They seemed mostly healthy and intelligent to me...what had kept these men home to woo the vixens, as opposed to going off to defend freedom for the world? Could they really be the cream of the crop?

But I digress. Hollywood always has a stash of their own "objects" to fit any movie scene. Poor things.

The war theme comes to bear, having been built up among the women of the Rockford Peaches, especially those who were married. When a telegram comes, the agony is nearly palpable, and in this day and age, I think we might feel it all the more. This scene NEVER fails to make me cry; it's too real. It's too direct.

It's too "now."

And yet, we still see the theme of selfishness, even with Dotty, our heroine. She was the great talent who had, throughout the movie, saved the day morally, personally, and through her coaching for the team when Jimmy Dugan was far too schnockered to be bothered to stop scratching himself *ahem* long enough to bother doing his job.

But then Dotty's husband arrives, wounded, and even though her team is heading to the World Series, her detachment is so great that she leaves the team. At their most dire hour, she walks away. It's understandable, given the situation (husband back from war), but there didn't even seem to be a struggle; she got what she wanted, and who cares about anyone else?

It brings us to consider, no matter what we want, even if life throws our desires our way, are we really free to forget that others need us, too?

But there is redemption; for Dotty, for the alcohol-soaked Dugan, for Kit, who steals the show.

And in the end, we are left with nostalgia, a sense of what has been, maybe what should still be, of friendships that never ended and lives that had come to a close. It is a bittersweet finale that reminds us that life is temporary, and even in the shining moments, they become only snapshots in black-and-white, sepia tones at best, and it is our memories that add the color.

Maybe this is for another post, but I can't help but observe that what original feminism intended has failed. This movie alludes to the new "liberality" of sexuality that carried on in their baby-boomer children that are still wreaking havoc in the Church and our society. And while all the worst has happened, the beauty of the Golden Age has not continued. We don't have Women's Professional Baseball, and if we did, no one would go. When I was in college, a Women's Hockey League started, but while I was in Mexico. If I could have afforded the equipment and if I'd been there at the time of formation, I would have been on the team. But there have been no opportunities since then, and Women's Hockey STILL isn't major league.

Women's Basketball might be the biggest thing, and even that doesn't have NEARLY the prestige of other of men's sports.

I would suggest that if Feminism were to get over their vagina-gazing (not-so-veiled reference to the gross Vagina Monologues), and over their obsession with the so-called "sexual revolution" that has done nothing more than cripple women and kill babies, well, maybe they could focus on the things that mattered to the women who started the Movement to begin with. The foundresses, the women are rolling in their graves at what has happened with the idea that they originally advanced; that women have dignity. That women are more than just cooks and housekeepers. That women have gifts and talents that can contribute to and even BUILD society.

Instead, we've gotten...a culture of death. A far cry from the freedom and dignity we see in the movie.

You see, I can do rhetoric, too.

But it's time to bring this long post to a close. And I'll do it in a fun way. For those who know this you find yourself categorizing your friends? Yourself?

I can tell you right now...I'm Kit. I've never had her moment of fame, but I'm her, in all her best and especially worst moments. I have her fiery temper, I've been overlooked for the shadow of another, and I've had her passion. I've even spent time blaming others for things that weren't their fault. And like Kit, as much anger as I've had towards the important people in my life, I've loved them even more and recognized their contributions to who and what I am. But I gotta say...I'm Kit.

Maybe one day I should write a version of this movie and cast my friends...

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