Wednesday, July 8, 2020
Mrs. America-Entertaining Culture Wars
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Phyllis Schlafly co-authored books on national defense critical of arms control agreements with the Soviet Union, in addition to fighting against the Equal Rights Amendment.
   
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
 

BY CRYSTAL THURSTON

          

An elegant, stately, but toxic Cate Blanchett leads the star-studded cast of the Hulu TV series,“Mrs. America,” which portrays one of the fiercest culture wars of the 70s.

 Blanchett plays Phyllis Schlafly, a real-life die-hard conservative who fought to stop the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) against legendary feminists Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne), author Betty Friedan (in a lusty performance by comedian/actress Tracy Ullman) and N.Y. Congresswoman Bella Abzug (played with intensity and humor by Margo Martindale).

 At first, I was jarred seeing Byrne playing a living heroine, Gloria Steinem who spoke here in Ketchum a few years back. In my mind, no one could possibly live up to recreating her in a TV role. But I got used to Byrne and began enjoying seeing this partly real-life (some characters are fictional) peek into important parts of American women’s history. Seriously, how many entertaining TV shows have covered women’s history?

 The crafty Schlafly and her immaculately groomed female cohorts are not above tactics like storming Congress with signs opposing the ERA while bringing homemade breads and cakes to each Congressman.

 “To the Breadwinners from the Bread makers,” declares one sign. Another proudly states, “I’m only here because my husband allows me.” And they were not joking.

        

 Schlafly’s crusade planted the seeds that would grow into the “Moral Majority,” which played a key role in electing Donald Trump. Just before she died, Schlafly was on the 2016 convention floor that nominated Trump.

 Although Schlafly won her battle against the ERA, feminism marches forward fighting for the rights of women. Most recently the #MeToo movement continues the battle against female sexual harassment and assault. And let us not forget the massive Women’s March in Washington, DC in January of 2017. (I was there.)

 The movement continues.

 “Miss America” is on Hulu. You can get a free six-month trial to see it

.EDITOR’S NOTE: Crystal Thurston is a local film reviewer who studied under L.A. Times film critic Kenneth Turan and others at UCLA.

 

 

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