The Way We Were

Today was a wonderful day spent trapped in my apartment with a raging storm outside, a cup of tea, a cashmere sweater, lit candles, and cuddly kitties all keeping me rather picturesque whilst I cried over Katie and Hubbell’s doomed love. The sad thing is, I’m not embellishing this pathetic scene. I know, I know, I know.

Thankfully, my cool self-image is somewhat spared by the surprising fact that The Way We Were is an explicitly pro-feminist film.

I imagine most of “you” have seen it already, but until now I for one knew nothing of this somewhat self-parodic romantic classic.

The basic premise is the story of college students Katie, a super-smart, rabidly political, hopelessly unpopular Jew and Hubbell, a winning gentile, star athlete, and big-man-on-campus and their unlikely love. First of all, Katie’s feminism, communism and loud mouth are not downplayed in this film in the name of validating her as a sexualized counterpart to Hubbell. In fact, her very appeal to Hubbell is informed exactly by those empowered traits and the audience is made to feel seduced by her agency as well. The central conflict of the film centers around her political commitments and his inability to rise to the occasion: the occasion being, well, her. However, it doesn’t play off as though head-strong women will never find love. Rather, the critique casts its gaze to Hubbell. It is he who will not be happy until he can handle a woman who challenges him, expects more of him, and who stands strongly beside him.

As I have written earlier, I am a great defender of “the romance” as an artistically viable genre, though it is often cast aside as “trivial” by overwhelmingly male cultural critics (as are most genres geared toward women…oh, I mean “chicks”). A romance is damn hard to make well and instances of success are utterly rare, especially when the perception is that audiences want to see beautiful, passive women “swept away”. The Way We Were demonstrates that the public can not only digest but fall in love with a feminist, difficult, and not-all-that-pretty woman.

And finally: Babara Streisand. Enough said.

Watch it now! The user “tisgemuh” has uploaded the entire film on You Tube.

If you still need convincing, marvel in the glory of a collosal diva: