Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Two Poems for Two Conversations about The Godfather in Two Days

"On Not Enjoying The Godfather And Refusing To Watch Any of the Sequels"

Excessive machismo plus a complicated plot 
Minus women characters or anybody hot
Plus too many gunfights and minus any jokes 
Is the wrong formula for us feminine folk. 

"Breakfast in Bed"

Good old Coppola one-upped Ichabod Crane, 
In a way equestrians declared inhumane. 
We await headless riders as a matter of course
But nobody expected that headless horse. 


Confuzzled said...

I applaud your poetic chops. And agree with the sentiments behind both poems . . .

daine said...

Weren't you there when Jeremy and I watched the first one at the Foxwood? Maybe you were already too busy with your honor's thesis.

I heard such mixed reviews of the sequels that I couldn't bring myself to invest all the time into them.

But let's be honest, Petra. Was this movie all that complicated? Maybe you just couldn't tell the difference between the characters (a la Heat) or weren't paying enough attention after the 2-hour mark. Still, I think I liked your poems better than I liked the movie.


Petra said...


No, I was probably too busy with my thesis. Or just avoiding the movie, either way. I watched it in high school and don't really need to see it again.

And I think you just nailed it with your "complicated" explanation: we know I have issues with Pacino. Or was it DeNiro in that one?

the onion said...

What!? We are no longer friends. Especially since the second one is better (although the third one does suck), and especially since you're crazy, and since Michael's wife and sister are reasonably important female characters.

Petra said...

The Onion:

Maybe the second one is better, but if it's just as long, I don't really care to see it. And yes, sure, there are women characters, but they're important to the movie as structural symbols, not as actual characters. How much screen time does Kay get? And how much actual personality does she get? And what do you think that final door-closing scene symbolizes?

(Note: this is not the primary reason I didn't really enjoy the movie, though it is a significant reason in my argument that it's an essentially male movie.)

Annie said...

the mafia freaks me out, so i try to avoid movies about it. goodfellas was more than enough for me. i'll just read your poems next time someone suggests watching a mob movie.

Ginsberg said...

I've never seen these movies but as a "humanities" and pop culture scholar (of sorts) and fan (of sorts). I sure do get sick of hearing a certain kind of film critic or film buff go on and on about how great "The Godfather" and Pacino and DeNiro are.

Your comments about female characters, etc. are right on the money for many "guy" films. Women often end up getting cast as symbols. It is really hard for us to get away from that, but there are tons of movies that manage it and, no, I 'm not talking about "Hitch" or "The Wedding Planner" or any of that modern-day Jane Austen rubbish.

Anyhow, I fully support your decision to dislike this movie that I have never seen.

Petra said...


Of course, the 'character-as-symbol' thing cuts both ways: there's plenty of 'girl' films, and you just named a few, that have men more as symbols than actual personalities. So it's not necessarily a trenchant criticism of the film as a work of art (heck, there are works of art in which all the characters are basically symbols), and I'm not making any kind of feminist fuss about it, just saying that it's a reason I didn't enjoy the movie very much.

PS: I can't believe you've never seen them. And you call yourself a...what do you call yourself, anyway? Humanist? American scholar? Student of American studies? That's just not very catchy.

Connie, who blinked said...

it took me so long to figure out where the hell the comment button is, i forgot what i was going to say.

Ginsberg said...

Petra, I agree. But it seems a bit more annoying in some movies than others. I love Dead Poet's Soceity but the women in there (count 'em three: Chris--Knox Overstreet's object of desire--, the two girls Charlie brings to the cave once and, tellingly, the Playboy centerfold) are basically non-existent to the point of just being bodies. This combined with Robbin Williams/Mr. Keating's comment that language was invented to woo women (of which I heartily approve) add up to a growing disturbance in me during my most recent viewings of the film. I realize it is a movie about adolescent boys, but I find that whole stereotype tired and not wholly accurate. (And I WAS an adolescent boy, so I otta know, right?)

On the other hand, in a different media form, Daisy Buchanan is largely a symbol in The Great Gatsby, but I don't mind that at all.

So maybe what I'm really after is not women being cast as symbols, but being reduced to bodies. But the symbols can be problematic, too.

I haven't thought enough about the men in "chick flicks" (or seen enough of them) to say whether or not I'm offended enough by them to draft a letter to the Daily Universe, but I don't think most of those crappy romantic comedies should be held to the same standard as The Godfather or The Great Gatsby. Also, as Dead Poets Society, men have traditionally been in possession of the pen and its power for a bit longer and thus, to some degree that influence has led many to expect real women to be like those "symbolic" women. (i.e. the femme fatale, the nourishing mother figure, the devil or angel incarnate, etc. I imagine their are male "types" as well and would enjoy hearing from you or anyone about them.) And this all makes me said, because I'd like to know women as people, and, more specifically, would like to KNOW (ahem) one yet-unspecified woman as a person, not as my angel, etc.

Since I've never seen The Godfather, I can't and won't pass judgment, but the concept you were getting at simply resonated with me.

You'd be surprised how many movies I haven't seen, and how many books I haven't read for that matter.

I call myself a baseball scholar, but also an "Americanist" and maybe a "pop culture scholar". But I feel like I know too little to claim any of those except maybe baseball. Also there's that background I have in traditional Western Humanities that seems so useless to so many in my current department. This little rant make me sound like a feminist. So maybe I should claim THAT as my title.

Ginsberg said...

Please excuse my spelling errors and stuff. I can't read Vietnamese or whatever this is so I clicked on "post" instead of "view".

Petra said...


Have you read/do you read John Updike?

Ginsberg said...

Um, no. I haven't.

Petra said...

You should.

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