From Our ReadersThe Barbra ComplexFrom Our Readers

Gasp! I’ve come to a revelation. My life is shaping up to resemble Barbra Streisand’s movie roles. More specifically Funny Girl, The Way We Were and Yentl. I have realized that in these movies, she ends up alone. Letting the love of her life leave her, or her willingly walking away. This is starting to confirm my pathetic suspicions…what if I become a “spinster” for life?

In Funny Girl, she had the affections of Mr. Arnstein, who was intrigued by her. She thought he was just the kinda guy that she could never get and he was wrapped around her little finger. He loved her, and cared for her, encouraged to do so many things. He let her be her, to the point that when she finally realized all this it led to one of the best outbreak into songs ever, ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’, where she just had to take a chance,”…gotta try once, I gotta fly once…” on love. And then this led to her finally becoming a “Sadie” and the “perfect reflection of her love’s true affections”. Then poison leaked in. And for reasons that I’m conflicted over, Mr. Arnstein, decided that it would be best to part from her, strictly for her benefit, saying that he was no good for her. She didn’t want that, but it was too late, he was already gone. And just like that, it was over. She would never fully recover. It all came to an end with these words: “What’s the difference if I say, I’ll go away, when I know I’ll come back on my knees, someday, oh, whatever my man is, I am his forevermore.”

Then in The Way We Were. Opposites do attract. Katie and Hubble couldn’t be any more different then north and south, black and white, day and night. But they both had passion in life and together they balanced each other out. Now, it wasn’t smooth sailing, they hit bumps. There were trust issues and personality conflicts, but the foundation was more or less solid. And you cheered for them. You want them to succeed. But then, they just stop fighting for it. He is tired of trying to tame her, and she is too stubborn to submit, in any way. He walks away first, then she walks away. That’s it. Well that, and a load of different hairstyles by good ole Babs!

Now in Yentl, it is a bit complicated. She is disguised as a man is really a woman, and she is in love with Avigdor but can’t do anything about it because everyone thinks she is a man. But fast forward through all that, to where she tells him who she really is and how she feels. Understandably, he is very upset, but then he admits to same feelings. He wants to make it work, move to a new town, get married, have kids, but on one condition, she can’t attend the school anymore, outwardly at least. He offers to teach her at home, but that isn’t good enough for her. So she leaves to pursue her dreams, leaving the one man she loved behind her.

I’m telling you, bits and pieces of these plots could very well be my life. I’m strong willed and stubborn. I’m an idealist and I have dreams for my life. I’m loud, and crazy and sure at times I can be dramatic (who isn’t)? I have fits of rage from time to time and don’t easily back down from a fight. I would say that yes, I do burst into song more than I probably should. Do the lessons learned from Barbra Streisand movies teach me that girls like this have no chance in getting the guy and being happy? Will I ever find the Mr. Arnstein to my Fannie? The Hubble to my Katie? The Avigdor to my Yentl? And will it last? Oh brother, no more movies for me, for a while at least.

by Amanda Kula

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  1. P.S. I think I am a lot like you (strong-willed, stubborn, out-spoken, idealist, break-into-song-y) and I have been with a wonderful boyfriend for 3 years who loves all of those things about me. If you don’t believe there are guys out there like that, then you will never be able to see one, even if he’s right in front of you.

  2. I love Barbra & her movies, but as you point out, they send the wrong message. She is so progressive, but those movies have such an anti-feminist message. So many movies are like that and unfortunately, not much has changed over the years. In fact, it might have gotten worse. I just read this post about how movies in the 80′s and 90′s tended to have a more hopeful message for women wanting to work & have kids than more recent movies: http://bitchmagazine.org/post/bringing-up-baby-diane-keaton-in-baby-boom-versus-katherine-heigl-in-life-as-we-know-it
    I hope you don’t actually believe what those movies present as sad truths (and perhaps your “no more movies for me” comment hints at this).
    If those guys were really good enough for her, they would never ask her to give up her dreams or leave her. No one should ever settle for less than what they deserve. And movie writers are very wrong is making us believe we have no choice.

  3. This makes me want to watch Funny Face again. I feel the same way though about my life. Girls should be allowed to have their cake and eat it too!