Sunday, March 21, 2004

So I was talking with my roommate about Uma Thurman, who is currently separated from her ratty cheater of a husband, Ethan Hawke, and gallivanting around with some hotelier. Supposedly, one of the reasons for Ethan's cheating ways/their troubled marriage was Uma's relationship with Quentin Tarantino.

Now anyone who has seen Kill Bill is aware of Quentin's total obsession with Uma (and her feet - evidently Q is something of a foot fetishist). Now this has arguably made Thurman's career; she is much more well known for her work in Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill than for The Truth About Cats and Dogs or Paycheck. Without Tarantino's support, Uma would likely have passed into obscurity sometime in the 1990s instead of getting starring roles at the age of 34; she's striking, but no great actress.

My disagreement with Geoffrey centered around the propriety of Uma using Tarantino's sexual obsession to her advantage. He almost certainly knows that he will never get Uma; does she have a duty to actively discourage his interest or remove herself from his sphere? Would a similar obligation apply to analogous non-Hollywood situations? Geoffrey used this as one more example of how women are evil and manipulative; surely we can sympathize for the gently pining man used by a calculating woman. I contended that while there is perhaps an initial duty to warn an aspiring suitor that his chances are nil, once this has been given it is not manipulative to continue to benefit from his continued feelings as long as the message is clear that a stream of benefits will not affect his chances of success.

Part of what made this conversation stick in my head is that this situation arises much more frequently and obviously with respect to women, who are often in less powerful positions and thus more in need of the edge that sexual attraction can provide. However, I also think that men do not often realize how often they benefit similarly from sexual attraction and thus are free to look down on using other people's feelings to one's advantage as some sort of feminine manipulation. Men in positions of authority have an attractiveness of their own (insert obligatory Kissinger quote here) and can leverage their innate physical attractiveness and their power to obtain more loyalty and hard work from subordinates than otherwise would be the case. Of course, in this scenario if the impact of sex appeal is acknowledged at all it is with a shaking of the head at those silly females in thrall to a handsome man. But cui bono?
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