Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

Civil wars: women at the helm

By b0oua May 4, 2024

Three fictions, “Civil War” in the cinema, the series “La Fever” and the novel “And this is how we will live” by Douglas Kennedy, which a few months apart tell the story of the dirtiest of wars: the civil war. Two observations. 1. The authors have a hard time distinguishing who is nice and who is not. 2. The males disintegrated. They are HS, obese, whiny or robotic. The heroes are women. Heroines but not “super women”. They’re holding up a bit of shock. They testify. They seem to want to at least sign the act of burial of a breathless History.

Everywhere the smell of gunpowder. On the 8 p.m. news, deadly images from the trenches of Ukraine. A little later on TV, there are the first episodes of the series “La Fièvre, when everything goes up in flames” on Canal+. Six Franco-French episodes praised by critics. Conceived and written by the creator of “Black Baron” Eric Benzekri and directed by Ziad Doueiri.

It starts like in the RER on bad days after a police blunder. Live on television, a star Racing football player violently headbutts his coach and calls him a “dirty dope”. “White” in Wolof… It quickly goes into a tailspin. First on social networks where two rival communications influencers will face off. The next morning, you’re still a little feverish when you get off on the subway.

Against a backdrop of fires and the melting Statue of Liberty

And then, bing: you come face to face with this movie poster that screams death: “Civil War”. Against a backdrop of braziers and the Statue of Liberty which dissolves amid the smoke of heavy artillery. Four years after the Capitol riots and a few weeks before the next American elections where Donald Trump, the favorite in the polls, has already warned that he will be a “dictator” at least on the first day. In short, “Civil War”, this “road trip” of a team of journalists traveling across America torn here and there by armed gangs, is not quite cinema. Let’s say a powerfully familiar fiction. Plausible.

So, yes we let ourselves be taken by these commandos – right? Bad guys ? that’s not even the subject anymore — the assault on Washington transformed into a Mariupol-type pile of rubble. And the urban guerrilla war continues in the corridors of the White House. Objective assigned to the special units of the “Western Forces” (the “secessionist” alliance of the states of Texas and California): the elimination of the Constitutional President with a bullet to the head. Like a common Gaddafi.

It is true that the whiny President only represented a portion of the United States (Eastern and Central States). The Civil War had already shattered all of George Washington’s federal work: in addition to the Western Forces, there was also the Florida alliance and the “New People’s Army” of the northwest…

Kirsten Dunst, the photo reporter who has already seen so much

You should know that British filmmaker Alex Garland is not just anyone. First a successful novelist then director of hard-hitting thrillers like “Ex machina” or “Annihilation”. As for Kirsten Dunst who plays the war photographer reporter heroine, she also has some talent. She who imposed herself with an almost mineral presence in the series Fargo or the film Melancholia. She plays here the forty-year-old who has already seen so much, seen too much, who has come back from everything and looks helplessly at what will inevitably happen. What is written.

Kirsten Dunst is fiercely armored in this ferocious film designed as season 2 of the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. But the film says more than the inevitability of the war of all against all, more than the triumph of this supremacist soldier psychopath who suddenly executes a journalist just because he was born in Hong Kong and not in the former United States.

The editorialist Eugénie Bastié detected a singular novelty in the two “Civil Wars” (French (La Fièvre)) and American (Civil War): the major, almost monopolistic place of women in both scenarios. Bastié even speaks of women taking “power”. What is certain is that in both confrontations, the males are “out”. On the sidelines: tired, devalued, half-hearted, obese or at the end of their nerves. In short, retired from History.

The heroes, Bastié is right, are heroines: in “The Fever” the couple of communicators at war with each other: Nina Meurisse versus Ana Girardot. And in the film by Alex Garland, it is the couple of the seasoned image journalist and the young freelancer who take over.

The “fantasy of women’s power” according to Eugénie Bastié

This is exactly what Bastié writes: “The Frenchwoman, subtle and intellectual on one side,” she writes, “the brutal and depoliticized American on the other. With Nina Meurisse and Kirsten Dunst, the communicator and war photographer, in depressive and sacrificial forties who watch with dismay their country being undone. Women of course as heroines because the real fantasy is perhaps not so much civil war as the power of women. “.

Correct: it is mature women, not bimbos, who take center stage and the narrative. They, and they alone, who observe the fire lit by men now reduced to specters. Small natures, those who cry, those who get angry, those who no longer govern much.

It is the women who take photographs. Testifying. They are trying to put under control of social networks the ethnic clan fire which threatens to take everything away. Without being able to turn it off.

It’s not easy to draw any conclusion from Bastié’s intuition. Still, it is still disturbing to note that in the latest best-selling novel (2023) by the American writer Douglas Kennedy “And this is how we will live”, the narrative duo is also organized exclusively around of two women!

Douglas Kennedy: A duel to the death, that of two half-sisters post-American Civil War

A duel to the death: that of two post-American Civil War half-sisters: one is a citizen of the so-called “democratic” states RU (United Republic) of the East and West coasts and the other belongs to the state resulting from Trumpism : the “CU” (United Confederacy) led by the “12 Apostles” embodying white supremacist and Christian fundamentalism.

In “Civil War”, Kirsten Dunst’s character never takes sides. His impassioned gaze seems to confirm the implacable logic of descent into hell. She doesn’t comment. She records. She watches with her icy, affectless, almost blind eyes as the defeat of history is accomplished.

Douglas Kennedy’s agent Samantha, who must eliminate her half-sister, also does her duty without leaving the role assigned to her. But in the fog of the never-ending civil war, she gradually understands that the two “disunited and enemy states” which confront each other use repressive methods which converge. Marx wrote that Men made History. There it was History that defeated them and the women who signed the burial permit.

Nothing, however, could suggest that these fictional women are going to bury the necessarily criminal patriarchy to establish an inevitably cool matriarchy. This fantasy that Eugénie Bastié believes she sees does not exist in any of the three dystopias.

The enigma remains: in these three Civil War fictions, men are reduced to playing useful roles. They are all or almost, as we have said and repeated, weak, clumsy, weighed down like old orphaned children under the gaze of women. No spark of revenge or posthumous victory in their eyes. Just that of a cold and endless terror.

By b0oua

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