From Daniel Fienberg’s THR review of Ken Burns’ Hemingway (PBS, airing tonight): “As powerful as the Hemingway mystique was in the first half of the 20th century, it would be impossible to think of a figure less-suited for glorification in the first half of the 21st century.
“Hemingway lived hard, loved hard and worked hard. He was an alcoholic, a philanderer and an abuser. His books celebrated war, or at least a version of heroism that could be expressed through war. They glorified hunting. They mythologized bull-fighting.
“Is 2021 the worst time imaginable for a six-hour documentary about Ernest Hemingway? Maybe.”
So why doesn’t the #MeToo commentariat issue some kind of official statement retroactively cancelling his ass? We all love his pared-to-the-bone sentences, but we all understand the cultural bottom line. Ernest Hemingway roared, wrote, drank, boxed and hunted animals in his heyday, but he just doesn’t belong any more. He doesn’t fit. Corey Stoll played the hell out of him in Midnight in Paris, but Hemingway is not — was never? — a man for all seasons.
And in all seriousness, isn’t it in the best interests of the #MeToo community to make that clear to one and all? In the event that there might be some impressionable young lads out there who, you know, might find the Hemingway thing attractive?
Incidentally: I was asleep at the wheel a few weeks ago when it was revealed that documentarian Ken Burns had abandoned his 1964 Beatles soup-bowl hair style. I finally paid attention as I watched the trailer for Burns’ Hemingway, a three-part, six-hour doc which debuts this evening on PBS stations.
In a 2.19.21 GQ interview by Gabriella Paiella, it was revealed that Burns’ decades-enduring bowl cut was due to his heaving gone to the same hairdresser since 1975. Which makes zero sense, of course. The real reason has more to do with the death of his Burns’ mom, and his wanting to keep the same look he had when his mother was alive.
Please listen to Ernest Hemingway speaking in this 1954 interview — who talks like this?:
“Young Affable Dolt,” Posted on 11.20.15: I was chatting with Sammy, a 20something blonde from Chicago, during last night’s KWFF party at the Ernest Hemingway home. After about a half-hour the guy she came with (a Key West resident whom Sammy befriended when she lived here three or four years ago) walked over. I didn’t get his name but he was tall, good-looking, friendly — let’s call him Tom.
The conversation turned to the film festival and Papa, Bob Yari‘s film about Hemingway which had screened earlier in the evening and which none of us had seen. I asked Tom if he’s seen Spotlight, which I said would be opening tomorrow (i.e. today) at the Tropic. “Uhhm, we have something else going on tomorrow,” he said. It’s not a festival film, I said — it’s opening commercially at the Tropic. “Oh, okay,” Tom said. So you’ve never heard of it? “No.” So you’re not much of a movie guy? “I’m a production guy,” he said with a certain pride and joie de vivre — a below-the-liner who works in the area. I asked if he knows about Atlanta being a hot place to shoot due to Georgia tax breaks and Pinewood Studios Atlanta. “Atlanta? Uhm, no,” he said.
Inner dialogue: So how does that work, Tom? You’re a South Floridian in the business of making movies and commercials, and yet (a) you don’t have clue #1 about Atlanta being the hottest domestic place for film and TV production jobs and (b) you haven’t even heard of a film with a 97% Rotten Tomatoes rating and which has a reasonably good chance of winning the Best Picture Oscar? Talking to subdued-brain-wave guys is somewhere between stifling and infuriating. How deep is the quicksand?