Jackie/Power

 

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I had resisted seeing the movie Jackie for reasons I can’t recall: it felt like a vehicle for Natalie Portman? The movie trailer looked kitschy?

But it informed my thoughts about women and power — and how during that time women were allowed to use power in only the most non-threatening ways, which sort of negates it, doesn’t it? Jackie had the makings of a powerful woman. She was high born and well-educated, taking a job as a reporter. She was beautiful and married Kennedy and would define the style of her time. There is one scene, near the end, when she watches as Jackie-like mannequins are unloaded from the back of truck, bound for Bergdorf’s windows.

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Jackie, Jackie

But she suppresses her intelligence and confidence. Doubts her future and (although the movie doesn’t show it) flings herself into the arms of another powerful man.

Where is my husband? She asks, a little wild-eyed, during the famous, televised tour of the White House. She looks like a flight attendant, no, a stewardess, with her small steps and straight spine.

I’m here to serve you, her expression says.

When asked a question that strays from the subject of White House décor, she demurs: Oh that’s complicated, isn’t it?

When traveling with the President and their security detail, she is hesitant, looking over at him as she moves through the crowd.

But there’s scene on a dance floor, when she is wearing a flaming red dress — representing passion? Anger? Seduction? — looking assured and confident and powerful, twirling in her husband’s arms as the soundtrack plays Camelot: Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot.

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