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Movies are individually conceived by writers and directors, but movie stars build their roles into brands--and the Taylor brand is startlingly feminist. In her breakout film, "National Velvet" (1944), Taylor challenged gender discrimination, playing a jockey who had to pose as a male to race. Her next landmark, "A Place in the Sun" (1951), tackles abortion rights. In "Butterfield 8" (1960), for which she won an Oscar, Taylor isn't censured because she's a prostitute, but because she chooses the men: she controls her sexuality. And the classic "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966) depicts the anguish that befalls a woman when the only way she can express herself is through her husband's career and children. Taylor's personal life, too, is remarkable: financially autonomous, she supported her parents as a teenager. As an adult, she has supported the right of people to love whomever they love--regardless of gender. Her legendary friendships with her gay male costars inspired her to become a major fundraiser for AIDS research in the 1980s, before the cause became fashionable. Drawing upon unpublished letters and scripts, as well as interviews with Gore Vidal, Robert Forster, Austin Pendleton, Kevin McCarthy and others,The Accidental Feministis a long overdue reappraisal that will surprise and excite a wide range of readers.
M.G. Lord is a celebrated cultural critic and investigative journalist, and the author of Forever Barbie and Astro Turf. Since 1995 she has been a regular contributor to the New York Times Book Review and the Times's Arts & Leisure section. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including The New Yorker, Vogue, the Wall Street Journal, and ArtForum. Before becoming a freelance writer, Lord was a syndicated political cartoonist and a columnist for Newsday. She teaches at the University of Southern California and lives in Los Angeles.
Table of Contents
"For MG Lord, it’s curvaceous, charismatic icons of femininity that hold her imagination hostage…What Lord did for Barbie, she now does for La Liz in ‘The Accidental Feminist’…Lord takes her readers on a chronological journey through the actress’s signal performances, analyzing each film with a theory scholar’s eye for telling detail, brightened with bloggerly brio, emotion, and use of the first person…When watching her significant films in succession, you see that, as Lord maintains, each serves as a cinematic Rorschach of social changes percolating through postwar society, in which Taylor stars as the protean blot…With ‘The Accidental Feminist,’ MG Lord makes the intriguing case that for Elizabeth Taylor, too much as never enough—not for the woman, not for the actress and not for the society that produced the theater of her life."--New York Times Book Review"An affectionate portrait of Taylor and her event-filled life… an excellent, compact guide to Taylor's film roles."--Wall Street Journal