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Billboard watch: Daughters of Eve and Mary

June 6, 2008 |  3:28 pm

This is surely just a fancypants way of saying hubba-hubba, but I'm fascinated by these Showtime back-to-back posters for the shows (neither of which I've seen) Weeds and Secret Diary of a Call Girl. I've always sort of believed Frank Sinatra was the last American man to suffer from the virgin/whore complex, and his dumping of the neighborhood sweetheart Nancy Sr. for the foul-mouthed, tantalizing Ava (the one woman who was really able to make a monkey out of the Chairman), was the classic, and final, acting out of that particular pathology. But the iconographic oppositions here — home/nightclub, thin/curvey, green/purple, natural/synthetic, etc.) show that there's always life left in a moth-eaten archetype cooked up by men to explain women:

Weedscallgirl

The idea that every woman is a daughter of Mary or a daughter of Eve goes back quite some way, but this diptych has to count as an improvement, since here even the "pure" girl is (per this series synopsis) a. not a virgin and b. ready to party. So it's win-win!

Slowestcarblurred_6 But maybe this archetype isn't as dead as I'd thought. As my media diet consists largely of Barbie DVDs these days, I assumed we had moved onto a new iconography where every woman is either an over-the-hill harridan voiced by Angelica Huston or an earnest young chippie voiced by Barbie herself. But, for example, I recently watched the excellent Richard Linklater joint Fast Food Nation, and was amused and surprised by the Spanish-language plotline, which featured a good sister/bad sister tension leading up to a lady's "fall" that seemed like something out of Pamela. Mary and Eve all over again. Or is it the billboard itself that's the original sin? My colleagues are a pretty anti-billboard bunch at Opinion L.A., but I love the look of a grungy, ad-choked skyline.

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