Throughout the film, Lee empowers women through their ownership of sexuality but at times undercuts it through the use of music. In the musical scene at 1:21.40, Lee utilizes the song “Oh Girl” which preaches the powerlessness of men without women in their lives, “Have you ever seen such a helpless man.” Though the lyrics place the power in the hands of the women, their behavior in response to the song demonstrates the opposite as they slowly succumb to the song.They were only successful in resisting the “stimulation” of the music through the assistance of ear plugs. The dependence upon these ear plugs emphasizes the inability of women to resist temptation set forth by men without outside aid. The ownership of women’s sexuality is the only consistent source of power for these women, yet the oversimplified “Operation Hot and Bothered” is nearly successful by men in taking that power back.
As Professor Drabinski mentioned in class on Thursday, Crooklyn seems to be one of the favorite films we’ve watched so far. Despite the tears it caused by the end, this sentiment holds true for me, too. As I watched, I tried to figure out what was causing this response. The interactions between the kids were definitely a large component. The soundtrack was also an enjoyable element. But, our discussion on Tuesday and Thursday paired with some reflection revealed the true deciding factor: Carolyn.
Carolyn quickly became my favorite character in the film. Troy is definitely one my favorites too, but I felt such deep sympathy for Carolyn accompanied by immense respect for her strength. One moment in particular inspired an awareness of the difficulty of her situation and respect for how she handles and carries herself. There’s a scene at the dinner table where Woody offers the kids cake, but Carolyn has to provide the caveat: They can only have it after they finish their vegetables. This small moment serves as a representation of their distinct relationships with the kids throughout the film. Carolyn is always the disciplinarian, reminding the kids of their responsibilities while Woody provides the source of fun and freedom that the kids enjoy. Carolyn never wavers, though, as she always keeps in mind and only wants what’s ultimately best for the children.
While Carolyn is consistently the enforcer of the house, it’s important to note her constant affection for the kids. She’s sure to discipline them, but is also quick to defend them from outside attacks (as seen in the interaction with the messy neighbor). Even when the kids are at fault, she’ll battle the outsiders that are attempting to disturb her family. Carolyn moves effortlessly through her many roles and it’s sad that her few moments of validation come in moments of deep sadness, such as after the argument with Woody and tragically with her death. The legacy she leaves through Troy serves as a testament to her largely unsung impact and her truly remarkable achievements.
As this NYT review of Crooklyn from its release in 1994 notes, Carolyn’s character is so effective because it “feels real”. What are your thoughts?