Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Julia Keller on Hillary Clinton and Death Imagery

An article that Julia Keller published in the Chicago Tribune last week, "Devil in a Pantsuit or the demonization of Hillary Clinton," really resonated with me.

She write about the death imagery that repeatedly crops up in political commentators' references to Hillary Clinton, and puts it in the context of novels and films that similarly feature tropes and imagery of a monstrous woman. Keller sees behind this imagery a "notion of a powerful, driven, influential woman as a hideous threat—a threat that can be curtailed only with her death."

I find it fascinating how these old archetypes continue to reappear in cultural portraits of powerful women. There's the archetype of the "witch," which I wrote about once in Bust Magazine (I compared the prosecution of Martha Stewart to the Salem witch trials, finding similar imagery in both). There's the "Marie Antoinette" archetype, which I wrote about in a Chicago Tribune piece. Both are images of women who are wielding too much power. I hadn't thought about death imagery. What are some other old archetypes that are still with us today, still in our subconscious and seeping out into our media and other cultural texts?

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