Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Miranda and Anna: Who's the Devil?

The Devil Wears Prada is the latest film to take on the myth of the successful woman, and reach the easy conclusion that while she may be successful, her personal life is a mess.

Even assuming the obvious--that no successful businessman, or magazine editor for that matter, is judged by the presumed quality of his life out of the office--the film doesn't do Miranda Priestly justice. She's shown in conflict with her husband because she missed yet another dinner date with him, a conflict that's presented as if it might be emblematic of how she is not attending to her marriage. In that scene, I wondered why she hadn't had one of her many assistants simply phone him to tell him she was running late. Later in the film, there's an reference that he may not be her first husband, and combined with the fact that she's helmed Runway for many years, surely he's a grownup (after all, he's played by James Naughton, a manly man if ever there was one) who knew what he was getting into marrying the major fashion arbiter. Surely he knew she wouldn't always be available when he wanted her to be.

So why assume that Miranda can't have a reasonably happy home life while keeping her go-go career going? Note that I said "reasonably" happy. The myth of "having it all" also assumes that everything is always the best in the best of all possible worlds. In real life, with its complications and complexities, no one "has it all, " except perhaps for a fleeting moment. Which is not to say happiness isn't possible -- it's just not the fairyland that many of us grew up thinking it would be.

And the real-life model for Miranda, Anna Wintour, does seem to have a life outside the office. She even managed to have an affair (with her current companion, Shelby Bryan), while married to Dr. David Shaffer, and do what seems to be a reasonable job of raising her two children at the same time. While the wisdom, or not, of the affair is her business, one certainly can't accuse her of not attending to her private life (not to mention what must be superior time management skills). Maybe the real Miranda understands that happiness is complicated, and the career/family issue is not an all-or-nothing proposition, on either side.

1 comment:

Elvira said...

Yeah, Biffles. But sometimes a bitch is just a bitch ... and sometimes and asshole is just an asshole.

You don't have to be sucessful to be nasty. The shopgirls on Beverly and Third are evidence of that.

And Anna Wintour is chic, urbane and smart ... but she ain't no sweetpea. Go figure.