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February 14, 2011

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I like the review, but disagree with the claim that the movie is all about maligning and hating female development, womanhood, etc. Claiming that we are to infer a free woman is a dangerous woman from the movie is like claiming we're supposed to infer that all dancers are nutters.

I feel like it's pretty obvious throughout that Nina and her mom are a contained unit of insanity, not a microcosm of all women. There are perfectly normal dancers waiting in the wings...the story isn't about them because they're not as compelling. Also I think that the film makes it abundantly clear that what Thomas does is uncomfortable/frightening to Nina (and therefore wrong). It's just not the focus, it's merely one of the many steps Nina takes on the way to her mental breakdown.

I appreciate your clear interest in women's and gender studies, but you can't go around looking to pick a fight. Some things don't have a feminist lean to them unless you put it there yourself, and I think that your strict focus may alienate many from an otherwise fascinating review.

I think this comment is a bit misguided, to be honest. Movies (or books, or commercials, or music, or tv shows, etc.) do not exist in a vacuum, and the characters and plot in any particular work are shaped within a society of certain beliefs and messages, just as they then perpetuate certain messages. "Black Swan" is very much a movie trying to make several points (about mental illness and, yes, gender), and even the director points out how Natalie Portman finds the film to be feminist. I think it is in a few ways, and I acknowledge one of them in the first paragraph, but those were not the focus of this review.

As for Thomas, I think the film portrays him as a predator but, at the same time, justifies his actions to a certain extent. What he does is "necessary" to allow Nina to grow, and in that respect it's portrayed as positive. Of course this growth is also portrayed as a self-destructive collapse, so I suppose one could argue that this sort of assault-triggered sexual exploration is depicted as inherently twisted because of the twisted beginning, but then you still have the problem of this whole process being linked with Nina's growing autonomy.

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