Last week, Pam Grier was in Toronto for Black History Month to talk about her experiences in film and the current state of African American actors’ movie roles. She’s 62 now and she knows how to age, gracefully and fiercely. She’s still a goddess. This is retro 1970s Pam Grier, probably the baddest ass action lady in all of cinematic history. When you look at a picture like that, you just want to take your bra off and hang yourself with it knowing that no amount of makeup, Photoshop, Spanx, sweet talk, or self-delusion will make you look half as hot. Even her armpit crack is suggestive, check it out. In the 1970s women didn’t have to apologize for nip-slips, they were part and parcel of the bra-burning era. Pam Grier was a reigning star in those “blaxploitation” and campy Roger Corman women-in-prison films from the 70s. To paraphrase Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard: They had faces back then…and tits, and they were not afraid to show them.
Pam Grier, who was influenced by Gloria Steinem, was all about woman-power without compromising her femininity. As Foxy Brown, she was considered a trail blazer, not just for black women but women in general. Nobody was as sexy and strong as her, Jane Fonda looked like Gidget in comparison. Since the 1970s, thanks to the women’s liberation movement, women have come a long way in some aspects like having choices and job opportunities. But not in film, something seems to have gotten lost in the translation. Aesthetically, women have to look like a man with boobs. It’s all about sucking it out and strategically placing parts of it back in: carve out a P90X body, create Pilates abs, stretch out a yoga ass, and insert two Tupperware shaped bowls for breasts. If anything is out of place, the sloppiness will get you fired. No wonder as she pushes 50, Demi Moore is having a nervous breakdown like Norma Desmond. Instead of becoming a hermit, poor thing is chasing the dragon posting bikini self-portraits on Twitter. At the same age, Pam Grier, on the other hand, was rockin’ it like a lady in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown.
There are very few Pam Griers in film today. Women over 40 are usually just in supporting roles as the long-suffering wives of dynamic heroes, hysterical mothers of boxers/ballet dancers, bat shit crazy neighbours/co-workers, or stern lady judges. Meryl Streep doing an impression of a historical female character does not count. There’s really no one for the sex pot LOCA (lady of a certain age) to identify with. Maybe every two or three years, to placate us, they will dust off the cast members of Sex and the City and slap some on lipstick and make a movie that is actually a 90 minute commercial for Heritage Halston.
Speaking of LOCAs, I watched the Superbowl on Sunday, this is basically how it went:
Of course I watched it for the half-time show and ended watching the entire thing, as I have a secret crush on Tom Brady. I’m only admitting that to you for limited time only. He’s not really my type, he is too pretty. Anyway, the half-time show was good, in my opinion, you cannot fault Madonna for showmanship. A lot of you think she is the ultimate lady bad ass and I respect that. She is not my kind of LOCA though, her sense of style is contrived by imitating other stye icons and she looks like a veiny penis. Her records, at best, are commercial jingles with lyrics that a prepubescent girl would write in her diary and then burn in Grade 8 out of embarrassment. Her new song is tuneless and the lyrics are just stupid, talk about chasing the dragon…you are not a “girl,” Madge, and methinks the boy toys are just a beards to validate your mojo. Sorry, sister, he doesn’t count as a boyfriend if he has to sign a confidentiality clause.
Gisele Bundchen, on the other hand, is a lady bad ass. Oh horrors, Gisele has a potty mouth…grow up, people. If I was Tom Brady’s wife, I’d be yelling out expletives at the press, too. Because she is a supermodel, she should just look pretty and keep quiet. Here’s the link to the clip here, it’s not so shocking.
I’d rather leave you with some Pam Grier in action, watch it and learn: