or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Sunday, December 05, 2010

She Said

Ah, trusty Slate. You never let me down.

In this review of Black Swan, the new Darren Aronofsky movie, we find the following sentence:

One of Thomas' many refined cruelties is an ability to fan rivalries among his female dancers, and Nina soon becomes fixated on surpassing both Beth (Winona Ryder), a veteran female ballerina on the verge of retirement, and Lilly (Mila Kunis), a sultry, hard-partying younger member of the corps who seems to possess all the Odilian qualities that Nina lacks.

Now seriously, how did that sentence even get written, let alone past the eye of an editor and onto the page? How is even possible that the writer, Dana Stevens, did not notice that the second occurrence of the word "female" is as superfluous as any word could possibly be?

First of all, we have logic: if Nina is intent on surpassing another dancer, her target must of course be a female dancer, because male and female ballet dancers play very different roles. Second, we have nomenclature: the name Beth tells us that the veteran dancer is female. Third, we have gendered language: "ballerina" means "female dancer" and nothing else, with the male version being called a "danseur" or occasionally a "ballerino", which, if you know even the merest smattering of Italian, is self-evidently male, just as "ballerina" is self-evidently female.

Is Stevens paid by the word? Because I just don't get it otherwise.


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