I'll be a wife!

Lesson Fourteen

Line:  I'll do anything! I'll waitress. I'll be a wife!

Context:  Sandy has just been summarily rejected at her audition for the part of Emily Kimberly and is devastated.  At this point in the movie, she still has “a problem with rage” and her default emotion is despair.  There’s some evidence she was particularly invested in this role.  Michael didn’t seem to believe that her tears from the previous night could have been caused just by her retard date leaving with somebody else and figured they must be due to anxiety about her audition.  She bitterly declares she has no hope of getting the part because it doesn’t suit her.  “What kind of a part is it?” he asks.  “A woman!” she wails. 

To his credit, Michael stays up to help her run lines and accompanies her to the audition in the morning in order to properly enrage her.  But he loses a lot of that grace when he leaves her in the studio while he runs off to see his agent and demand to know why a professional rival is doing so much better than he is. 

So, Sandy’s confidence as a woman has been challenged by her abandonment (both by her date the night before and by Michael the following morning), a man (Michael, when he helps her rehearse and later when he actually gets the role) out performing her professionally, and additionally by the lobby full of mannish woman who are her rivals for the Kimberly role.  “Is that what I’m supposed to look like?” she asks Michael.  “That is what you look like,” he hisses back.  Yes, that was to get the anger up, but fuck it had to hurt. 

And when she is dismissed on the basis of “not being right physically” without so much as reading her lines, it’s just too much.  She wants to go home, and not to her apartment, but home home, to San Diego.  “I hate it here!” she tells Michael.  “I’ll do anything.  I’ll waitress.  I’ll be a wife!”

This is Sandy’s professional (as opposed to personal, see Lesson Nine) version of “Not with me as Tolstoy!”  Michael claims and protects the integrity of his craft against idiotic demands, Sandy—shocked by recent assaults on her feminine being—considers retreat into a clichéd, non-controversial version of womanhood.  They are both defensive outbursts, though they are defending different things.  Michael’s artistic ego is unassailable, until he rends it into Michael Dorsey/ Dorothy Michaels.  Sandy is challenged by threats—grave threats, especially from Michael himself—to her conception of herself as a female and her worth as a woman, until she has weathered all the trials and finds herself fully empowered as a woman (“I read The Second Sex!  I read The Cinderella Complex!  I’m responsible for my own orgasm!  I just don’t like being lied to!”) and as practitioner of her chosen career (“I think I should tell you to shove your play.  But I never allow personal despair to ruin my professional commitments.”).  She’s also got a nice little handle on that rage.

Usage:  Sure, we agree that Sandy (and Michael and Julie, et al) emerge from the tunnel better, stronger people.  But maybe they are a bit less interesting and relatable?  As much as I would love to claim I told anybody to shove anything in earnest, I’m far more likely to wave a white flag and go cowering to the protection of my friends and cry out in frustration for a job, a role, that seems reassuringly simple and defined.  “I’ll be a wife!” is a primal cry of female frustration.  While it doesn’t negate the reality of the painful or annoying circumstance, it is a nice comic summation of them and a terrific release.

Lesson Fifteen: "I knew this was right. I didn't tell you how I'd feel about it though, did I?"
Lesson Thirteen: "These are good people, George."

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