Gender in Twin Peaks: The Return (SPOILERS)

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Cipher
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Gender in Twin Peaks: The Return (SPOILERS)

Postby Cipher » Tue Jul 18, 2017 7:03 am

(This was not conceived as its own thread; it was, unfortunately, splintered off from a conversation in the Part 10 discussion. Hence the weirdly confrontational start.)

Rhodes wrote:It is a shame that so many people don't seem to get the concepts of television and arts.

It seems so disrespectful and unjust to me that a great man like Lynch has to endure all this gender studies nonsense (that also completely misses the point). Let's give the man a big applause instead.

You'd be laughed out of any serious critical discussion or workshop in the last seventy years for suggesting participants ignore gendered elements. I have a hard time imagining you'd be able to contribute much to serious Lynch discussions either. I'd be fascinated to know what you think any of his films are about if you insist on turning a blind eye to the concept. (To discuss Eraserhead or Inland Empire without gender would certainly be a feat.) All the posts here on the subject have simply been discussing the way episode 10 and/or The Return thus far handle what has always been a principle fixation in his films -- women in trouble, violence against women, the expectations placed on both men and women that render domestic structures uncannily nightmarish.

Art appreciation does not mean turning off your ability to apply a major critical lens.

--MFA holder who considers Lynch one of his favorite narrative artists
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Re: Part 10 - Laura is the one (SPOILERS)

Postby Rhodes » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:10 am

Cipher wrote:
Rhodes wrote:It is a shame that so many people don't seem to get the concepts of television and arts.

It seems so disrespectful and unjust to me that a great man like Lynch has to endure all this gender studies nonsense (that also completely misses the point). Let's give the man a big applause instead.

You'd be laughed out of any serious critical discussion or workshop in the last seventy years for suggesting participants ignore gendered elements. I have a hard time imagining you'd be able to contribute much to serious Lynch discussions either. I'd be fascinated to know what you think any of his films are about if you insist on turning a blind eye to the concept. (To discuss Eraserhead or Inland Empire without gender would certainly be a feat.) All the posts here on the subject have simply been discussing the way episode 10 and/or The Return thus far handle what has always been a principle fixation in his films -- women in trouble, violence against women, the expectations placed on both men and women that render domestic structures uncannily nightmarish.

Art appreciation does not mean turning off your ability to apply a major critical lens.

--MFA holder who considers Lynch one of his favorite narrative artists




I am not denying the fact that there is violence in Lynch's work. And that this is sometimes directed at women.

But it is unbearable that so many viewers not only LIKE to see "empowered women" (etnic minorities, etc.), but also CRITICIZE the artist does not follow their preferences.

Too much focus is on the wrong questions: does he have a low opinion of women of a low opinion of men (who commit the violent acts after all)? Does he see women as weak? These are interesting question if they are disconnected from an appraisal of his work. But people are making this connection constantly! Even if Lynch WERE a sexist (which is of course totally unfounded), it still would not undermine the quality of his work the slightest.

(We see the same in Game of Thrones, by the way. "Oh, Sansa has to endure more male domination. Oh, she is raped! When will she finally be empowered????" But why wouldn't some characters be consistently dominated, weak and unhappy? This whole idea every character much go through a metamorphosis and there is justice in the end, is responsible for all kinds of Hollywood disasters)
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Part 10 - Laura is the one (SPOILERS)

Postby yaxomoxay » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:22 am

Rhodes wrote:
Cipher wrote:
Rhodes wrote:It is a shame that so many people don't seem to get the concepts of television and arts.

It seems so disrespectful and unjust to me that a great man like Lynch has to endure all this gender studies nonsense (that also completely misses the point). Let's give the man a big applause instead.

You'd be laughed out of any serious critical discussion or workshop in the last seventy years for suggesting participants ignore gendered elements. I have a hard time imagining you'd be able to contribute much to serious Lynch discussions either. I'd be fascinated to know what you think any of his films are about if you insist on turning a blind eye to the concept. (To discuss Eraserhead or Inland Empire without gender would certainly be a feat.) All the posts here on the subject have simply been discussing the way episode 10 and/or The Return thus far handle what has always been a principle fixation in his films -- women in trouble, violence against women, the expectations placed on both men and women that render domestic structures uncannily nightmarish.

Art appreciation does not mean turning off your ability to apply a major critical lens.

--MFA holder who considers Lynch one of his favorite narrative artists




I am not denying the fact that there is violence in Lynch's work. And that this is sometimes directed at women.

But it is unbearable that so many viewers not only LIKE to see "empowered women" (etnic minorities, etc.), but also CRITICIZE the artist does not follow their preferences.

Too much focus is on the wrong questions: does he have a low opinion of women of a low opinion of men (who commit the violent acts after all)? Does he see women as weak? These are interesting question if they are disconnected from an appraisal of his work. But people are making this connection constantly! Even if Lynch WERE a sexist (which is of course totally unfounded), it still would not undermine the quality of his work the slightest.

(We see the same in Game of Thrones, by the way. "Oh, Sansa has to endure more male domination. Oh, she is raped! When will she finally be empowered????" But why wouldn't some characters be consistently dominated, weak and unhappy? This whole idea every character much go through a metamorphosis and there is justice in the end, is responsible for all kinds of Hollywood disasters)


Exactly my thoughts, especially after reading this:

"Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, declared in a 2006 report posted on the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) website that:

Violence against women and girls is a problem of pandemic proportions. At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime with the abuser usually someone known to her."

Or,

" In 2009, for homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 93% of female victims were murdered by a male they knew, 63% of them in the context of an intimate relationship."

Or,

"In the United States, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 1995 women reported a six times greater rate of intimate partner violence than men, suggesting either higher levels of violence by men, higher levels of reporting by women, or disproportionate response by law enforcement.
The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) indicates that in 1998 about 876,340 violent crimes were committed in the U.S. against women by their current or former spouses, or boyfriends.According to the Centers for Disease Control, in the United States 4.8 million women suffer intimate partner related physical assaults and rapes and 2.9 million men are victims of physical assault from their partners."

Or,

"About 2.3 million people are raped or physically assaulted each year by a current or former intimate partner or spouse.
Physically assaulted women receive an average of 6.9 physical assaults by the same partner per year."

So,
I would say that on the subject Lynch is not sexist but a realist.


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Re: Part 10 - Laura is the one (SPOILERS)

Postby Hester Prynne » Tue Jul 18, 2017 10:46 am

Rhodes wrote:It is a shame that so many people don't seem to get the concepts of television and arts.

It seems so disrespectful and unjust to me that a great man like Lynch has to endure all this gender studies nonsense (that also completely misses the point). Let's give the man a big applause instead.


As someone who has applauded Season 3 a number of times on this board and has had Twin Peaks imprinted on her soul for the last 27 years, in addition to enjoying some of Lynch's other work, I don't think the topics that have been discussed are "disrespectful and unjust," and I don't think a good counterargument to someone's opinion that you don't like is 'well, they must not get it.'

Trust me - DKL isn't loosing any sleep over discussion about episode 10, and I highly doubt he feels like he's being barraged by some kind of character assassination because people are discussing gender issues in relation to the episode. I think he would probably be more upset if we weren't talking about and exploring these ideas. And I can't imagine he edited this episode and wouldn't have anticipated this sort of discussion. Remember the whole "old school/new school" dialogue with Denise? Do you really think that was just about Cole? I think that was his way of saying 'hey, I'm old school, but I'm a good guy and I have a good heart.' I don't think anyone on this board has said otherwise.
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Re: Part 10 - Laura is the one (SPOILERS)

Postby Cipher » Tue Jul 18, 2017 10:46 am

Rhodes wrote:I am not denying the fact that there is violence in Lynch's work. And that this is sometimes directed at women.

But it is unbearable that so many viewers not only LIKE to see "empowered women" (etnic minorities, etc.), but also CRITICIZE the artist does not follow their preferences.

Too much focus is on the wrong questions: does he have a low opinion of women of a low opinion of men (who commit the violent acts after all)? Does he see women as weak? These are interesting question if they are disconnected from an appraisal of his work. But people are making this connection constantly! Even if Lynch WERE a sexist (which is of course totally unfounded), it still would not undermine the quality of his work the slightest.

(We see the same in Game of Thrones, by the way. "Oh, Sansa has to endure more male domination. Oh, she is raped! When will she finally be empowered????" But why wouldn't some characters be consistently dominated, weak and unhappy? This whole idea every character much go through a metamorphosis and there is justice in the end, is responsible for all kinds of Hollywood disasters)

You must have been reading different posts than I've been, because no one is denying Lynch his right to portray unflinching violence against women. I do, at this point, have reservations about how it's been presented in the new season versus his films though, and that's down entirely to matter of portrayal. I don't believe the man who wrote and directed his movies could possibly be sexist (and I'd hope this would be enormously evident if you'd bothered to read the posts you took such umbrage with a few pages back, as I directly stated as much), but I wonder if his fascination with the subject hasn't led to some lack of imagination this season about how women might be portrayed independently from violence, or how a darkness far expanded from the original scope of the series might be portrayed in other ways.

If that winds up being the case by the end of the season, it'll be because of an almost myopic fascination rather than a sense of malice. That happens. Artists are human. It won't diminish my feelings about his work or the parts of The Return I find successful. In the meantime, discussion has simply focused on how the season and episode operate in that manner, and how it may or may not be different from his films, etc., focusing on craft and portrayal. That's an important, worthwhile conversation, and it was minorly infuriating to see you take an entire post solely to dismiss the subject or to pretend those engaging in it either don't care about or understand art. Especially if you haven't read through the conversation you're targeting; ignore it or read through it to see if your concerns have been addressed.

This is expressly, entirely, a conversation about Lynch's art -- no vitriol; no hyperbole; just talking about how this stuff works -- and I don't assume anyone is posting on this board because they have largely negative feelings toward it.

You built in an interesting secondary proposition into that post, by the way: Can an artist's social views (sexism, etc.) diminish the quality of their work? I don't think Lynch falls anywhere close to this category, like, at all, but just to address that, I absolutely do enjoy the work of more than a few artists who, frequently because of their time and place, hold or held repugnant social views.

When those aren't seeped deep into a work, I don't think the quality is diminished whatsoever, and it's just one of those bits of humanity you have to take. If the views do affect a work to the point of emotional or intellectual dishonesty, that's an issue, but I probably wouldn't be a fan of them in the first place if that dominated their output.

(And again; Lynch isn't in that category; I think his fascination comes from a good place and is brilliantly executed in his films; it's just with the pattern of abuse dominating female characters in season 3 so wholly and with its more distanced lens, I wonder if it hasn't accidentally moved into a less honest place in its portrayal, and that is the sole issue I've been trying to lay out. Talking about how the art operates; not attacking the artist.)

EDIT -- And, yes, as sylvia_north points out below, analyzing Lynch's work doesn't mean you're seeking to censor or change it. It's a high compliment. Even in seeming missteps, I'm fascinated enough by Lynch to want to dive into how and why it operates. There ought to be no cognitive dissonance in saying, "I'm not sure season 3 is entirely successful in the way it handles gender" and "I love Lynch's work."
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Re: Part 10 - Laura is the one (SPOILERS)

Postby sylvia_north » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:00 am

yaxomoxay wrote:
Rhodes wrote:
Cipher wrote:You'd be laughed out of any serious critical discussion or workshop in the last seventy years for suggesting participants ignore gendered elements. I have a hard time imagining you'd be able to contribute much to serious Lynch discussions either. I'd be fascinated to know what you think any of his films are about if you insist on turning a blind eye to the concept. (To discuss Eraserhead or Inland Empire without gender would certainly be a feat.) All the posts here on the subject have simply been discussing the way episode 10 and/or The Return thus far handle what has always been a principle fixation in his films -- women in trouble, violence against women, the expectations placed on both men and women that render domestic structures uncannily nightmarish.

Art appreciation does not mean turning off your ability to apply a major critical lens.

--MFA holder who considers Lynch one of his favorite narrative artists




I am not denying the fact that there is violence in Lynch's work. And that this is sometimes directed at women.

But it is unbearable that so many viewers not only LIKE to see "empowered women" (etnic minorities, etc.), but also CRITICIZE the artist does not follow their preferences.

Too much focus is on the wrong questions: does he have a low opinion of women of a low opinion of men (who commit the violent acts after all)? Does he see women as weak? These are interesting question if they are disconnected from an appraisal of his work. But people are making this connection constantly! Even if Lynch WERE a sexist (which is of course totally unfounded), it still would not undermine the quality of his work the slightest.

(We see the same in Game of Thrones, by the way. "Oh, Sansa has to endure more male domination. Oh, she is raped! When will she finally be empowered????" But why wouldn't some characters be consistently dominated, weak and unhappy? This whole idea every character much go through a metamorphosis and there is justice in the end, is responsible for all kinds of Hollywood disasters)


Exactly my thoughts, especially after reading this:

... (stats 98% of men commit violence etc)
So,
I would say that on the subject Lynch is not sexist but a realist.



I see where the conflict is now. Academic discussions - critical theory- is interpreted by laypeople as "I'm criticizing x" as in pointing out wrong things with it and want to change it, not- as has been said at least twice, critical thinking skills. There doesn't have to be a moral value judgment it's literally just observation and analysis. We posit hypothetical alternate scenarios for literally everything in a text, nothing is off limits, because we can. If you took did a bunch of course work and lived/breathe theory for multiple years, it's the hammer for which everything you see becomes a nail. No "great man" gets left alone in academia, it's a damn compliment to be written about so extensively. Some people think giddily playing guessing games is less valid and once the show ends, it is. - BFA, favorite director is Lynch
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Re: Part 10 - Laura is the one (SPOILERS)

Postby Troubbble » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:32 am

Cipher wrote:but I wonder if his fascination with the subject hasn't led to some lack of imagination this season about how women might be portrayed independently from violence, or how a darkness far expanded from the original scope of the series might be portrayed in other ways.


Can't speak for him, but I feel David Lynch is completely uninterested in ideological considerations like this when he's making art.

It's about aesthetic, pure and simple--not ideology. Wish people could appreciate The Return on that level, and let their personal agendas rest for an hour every week.
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Re: Part 10 - Laura is the one (SPOILERS)

Postby Troubbble » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:40 am

sylvia_north wrote:I see where the conflict is now. Academic discussions - critical theory- is interpreted by laypeople as "I'm criticizing x" as in pointing out wrong things with it and want to change it, not- as has been said at least twice, critical thinking skills. There doesn't have to be a moral value judgment it's literally just observation and analysis. We posit hypothetical alternate scenarios for literally everything in a text, nothing is off limits, because we can. If you took did a bunch of course work and lived/breathe theory for multiple years, it's the hammer for which everything you see becomes a nail. No "great man" gets left alone in academia, it's a damn compliment to be written about so extensively. Some people think giddily playing guessing games is less valid and once the show ends, it is. - BFA, favorite director is Lynch


Without pointing to a specific post, I have felt at various times that people unjustifiably suggested a degree of misogyny in his work.

I don't think that's true, regardless of what occurs in The Return - but even still, think we have seen far too little of the complete picture to make broad generalizations about the female characters and how they are portrayed, etc.
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Re: Part 10 - Laura is the one (SPOILERS)

Postby Troubbble » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:40 am

sylvia_north wrote:I see where the conflict is now. Academic discussions - critical theory- is interpreted by laypeople as "I'm criticizing x" as in pointing out wrong things with it and want to change it, not- as has been said at least twice, critical thinking skills. There doesn't have to be a moral value judgment it's literally just observation and analysis. We posit hypothetical alternate scenarios for literally everything in a text, nothing is off limits, because we can. If you took did a bunch of course work and lived/breathe theory for multiple years, it's the hammer for which everything you see becomes a nail. No "great man" gets left alone in academia, it's a damn compliment to be written about so extensively. Some people think giddily playing guessing games is less valid and once the show ends, it is. - BFA, favorite director is Lynch


Without pointing to a specific post, I have felt at various times that people unjustifiably suggested a degree of misogyny in his work.

I don't think that's true, regardless of what occurs in The Return - but even still, think we have seen far too little of the complete picture to make broad generalizations about the female characters and how they are portrayed, etc.
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Re: Part 10 - Laura is the one (SPOILERS)

Postby Cipher » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:52 am

Troubbble wrote:Can't speak for him, but I feel David Lynch is completely uninterested in ideological considerations like this when he's making art.

It's about aesthetic, pure and simple--not ideology. Wish people could appreciate The Return on that level, and let their personal agendas rest for an hour every week.

The aesthetic/visceral and the idea are completely intertwined for Lynch. At the very least, he's made it clear in interviews he's interested in hearing what each work illicits from people.

Fire Walk With Me is an abuse narrative, and that takes a bit of intellectual engagement to suss out and align, with all the other elements. But it is powerful because of the visceral, uncanny way it presents that. Substitute that out with any of his other films.

Season 3 Episode 8 is a tonal/aesthetic roller coaster, and immensely affecting through visuals alone, but the viewers aren't suppose to imagine they've never heard of the Trinity test or to consider how ideology and histories dovetail with its visuals.

I don't find, personally, that season 3 is operating quite at the visceral level his films do when it comes to gender and abuse, and with it icily dominating female storylines this season, it doesn't feel quite as successful or honest as a piece of art, through that lens, as they do. Yet. At this point.

This insistence that people are bringing a social ideology into the show and letting it distract from the art, rather than assessing how the art is operating in its portrayal of its own fascinations, is frankly fascinating to me. Much of Lynch's work is intensely gendered. Here we are discussing it. If someone wants to disagree about how it operates or its portrayals, I am absolutely open to that, but to dismiss the conversation entirely is just ... ???

I don't think Lynch cares about breadcrumbing for subtle clues or numerological patterns as if the show is a game, much as he loves the emotional ride of a mystery, but that receives a certain amount of discussion each week that is obviously critical to some viewers' enjoyment, so I quietly pass it over.

sylvia_north wrote:- BFA, favorite director is Lynch

We must now use these sign-offs after every vaguely critical post to clarify that the author does indeed care deeply about art and Lynch's work in particular. Which is hilarious/awful.

Troubbble wrote:Without pointing to a specific post, I have felt at various times that people unjustifiably suggested a degree of misogyny in his work.

The furthest I've seen anyone go, having been part of this conversation for most of the thread, is someone suggesting that troubled gender dynamics have always been an element of Lynch's work (not outright misogyny, but perhaps in a limited range of portrayals). Speaking only for myself, I've been glowing about Lynch's gender dynamics in every project he's touched but the first ten episodes of Twin Peaks season 3. And at this point I'm more than willing to see where it goes.

People are now being asked to repeat observations and analyses well-covered by earlier posts, so I'd implore people to read through previous discussions and see if concerns are addressed; it doesn't do anyone any favors to repeat the same posts every five pages. I'm not trying to be snippy with that; just genuinely want to be conscious of the amount of page space taken up by repeated commentary.
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Re: Part 10 - Laura is the one (SPOILERS)

Postby Rhodes » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:54 am

sylvia_north wrote: Academic discussions - critical theory- is interpreted by laypeople as ....


This whole gender thing has absolutely nothing to do with academic discussion. It is a shame that universities these days no longer restrict themselves to science, but invent new "sciences" (that are really just political agendas being covered in difficult words).

So, even if Lynch were to use only weak, unintelligent, sexy, vulnerable women in his films, the question should be: is there an interesting and aesthetically satisfying piece of work?
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Re: Part 10 - Laura is the one (SPOILERS)

Postby Cipher » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:58 am

Rhodes wrote:This whole gender thing has absolutely nothing to do with academic discussion. It is a shame that universities these days no longer restrict themselves to science, but invent new "sciences" (that are really just political agendas being covered in difficult words).

...when do you think feminist criticism (gendered study of art and fiction) was popularized among artists and critics?

Because it's definitely not younger than fifty years.

I'm also super-duper baffled about shock over people paying attention to this in David "I've made movies about fear of fatherhood, women in trouble, and the uncanny domestic" Lynch's work.

So, even if Lynch were to use only weak, unintelligent, sexy, vulnerable women in his films, the question should be: is there an interesting and aesthetically satisfying piece of work?

It's unfair to throw a hypothetical at people and ask them to respond, because that depends entirely on what the artist intends to do with those characters, and how other elements imply the audience should view them. But I would say that if they're intended to be presented as honest portrayals, and are not, then yes, that's an issue.

Luckily that doesn't apply to Lynch and is a grossly hyperbolic strawman of any of the observations posted about this episode or season.
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Re: Part 10 - Laura is the one (SPOILERS)

Postby Rhodes » Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:02 pm

Fifty years.... would that be the 1960s? :wink:

But we're getting too political. I think there is a rule against that. That was my point to begin with. Judge Lynch on his artistic qualities. It's not important if he is a feminist or an anti-feminist.
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Re: Part 10 - Laura is the one (SPOILERS)

Postby Cipher » Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:06 pm

Rhodes wrote:But we're getting too political. I think there is a rule against that. That was my point to begin with. Judge Lynch on his artistic qualities. It's not important if he is a feminist or an anti-feminist.

But this isn't political. No one has taken this out of the realm of Lynch's art or the way it portrays its own fascinations. If you wanted to avoid the subject of gendered portrayals, there ought to be safer boards out there than ones dedicated to the director of Eraserhead and Inland Empire, the latter of which ran under the tagline "a woman in trouble."

Even with episode 10/season 3 taken as a stand-alone, all that's happening is that people are noting, "Hey, this season features multiple instances of lingering violence against women, and none against men. What could that be trying to say, and how successful is it?" That's not an agenda; that's engaging critical thinking and responding to the patterns of the work. That's the lifeblood of critical discussion and, in my mind, the entire point of voluntarily being on a message board. Or, if that's not your focus of choice, simply move on as others do for some of the more plot-level clue-hunting conversations.

Fifty years.... would that be the 1960s?

Yes. Is "nowadays" suddenly anything more recent than the 1950s? Is it future or is it past?

I regret that this has turned into such a ping-pong match, by the way. I wanted to clarify things and respond to what I felt was an offensively dismissive post about art criticism writ large a few pages back; I'm less interested in a personal tit-for-tat.

Methedome wrote:Solution: open a discussion thread for whatever ideological lens you choose - misogyny, violence, the color red, etc. and focus commentary on specific "parts" related to those parts.

As Jean Renault would say, "everybody 'appy!"

Fine, but the general response threads are going to have to be pretty spartan if every conversation responding to the foregrounded parts of the episode (or even minor ones) needs to be shunted off to its own thread. How about people just handle themselves during analysis and discussion? Episode 10 brought a lot of the gendered elements to the fore; episode 11 probably won't. I'm not horribly interested in making a thread all about them until we know how it ends.
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Re: Part 10 - Laura is the one (SPOILERS)

Postby Methedrome » Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:12 pm

Solution: open a discussion thread for whatever ideological lens you choose - misogyny, violence, the color red, etc. and focus commentary on specific "parts" related to those parts.

As Jean Renault would say, "everybody 'appy!"

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