Wednesday, March 10, 2010

This One's For You, Farrah

I didn't watch the Oscars on Sunday night, so I'm only learning now of the brou-haha over Farrah Fawcett being excluded from the In Memoriam final curtain call.  (And then there's Maude.) I've read the so-called reason why Farrah was excluded - supposedly because she was considered "just" a television actress? - but frankly, that's just ridiculous.

Whether the woman was in one film or 1,000 films doesn't matter. What does matter was that her work was more substantial, more relevant - and frankly, much better than most of the crap passing for entertainment these days.

So, to give Farrah some recognition in the shadow of the Oscar snub (not that she needs such from me), I thought I would re-post my June 26, 2009 blog entry about her death and how one of her films (albeit a television movie) might have been the catalyst for lives being saved.

Kind of an ironic note: Farrah's snub from the Academy came on March 8, 2010, almost exactly 33 years to the day that Francine Hughes, the real-life wife who Farrah portrayed in The Burning Bed, killed her abusive husband on March 9, 1977.

Farrah Fawcett's Role of (Many) Lifetimes

With the passing of Farrah Fawcett yesterday, it's easy to remember her for the 70s icon that she undoubtedly was. But it is her later work, first the play Extremities about a woman who fights back against a rapist and the 1984 groundbreaking (and controversial) movie The Burning Bed that I believe to be her most significant.

Her portrayal of a woman affected by violence and domestic abuse allowed others to become educated and aware of the signs of domestic violence.

For we need to remember the times in which this was. 1984 wasn't that long ago (at least in my mind), but it was a time when domestic violence was still talked about in whispers and hushed tones, if at all. The Burning Bed was a controversial movie for the heavy issues contained within.

It was a role that many other actresses might not have felt brave enough to take on, but which Farrah did. And by making a contribution to erase the stigma of rape and domestic abuse, she became a champion for women whose voices were silent, whose lives were being whispered about. Finally, they were beginning to be heard.

They were heard on the hotlines, because The Burning Bed was reportedly the first such movie to include a toll-free domestic violence hotline at the closing credits. Today, the National Domestic Violence Hotline continues to be available for people in crisis at 800-799-SAFE. Anyone can call them from anywhere in the country and be referred to the nearest domestic violence shelter. Farrah later became a board member of NDVH.

There's no way to measure how many women Farrah touched by her portrayal of a battered wife. But if she saved only one life, or inspired only one woman to seek help and find her way out, then Farrah becomes more iconic in a way that deserves our remembrance, honor and gratitude.

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow said...

I noticed the omission while I was watching, and I felt personally affronted.

I was a big fan of Farrah's work with issues of violence, in both The Burning Bed and Extremities.

Even one of her televised movies based on an Ann Rule novel (Small Sacrifices) showed her range of character depiction.

Some of the "stars" memorialized on Sunday made a much smaller contribution, in my opinion!

Thanks for sharing this post.

Missy B. said...

I agree! I so admired Farrah in The Burning Bed, which brought to light the violence and humility of domestic violence. And, of course, she was my favorite angel on Charlie's Angels.

Laura said...

I didn't watch the Oscars either, so also heard about this after. I heard a comment that was made on some entertainment show (I only heard this second-hand so can't confirm) - there was a tribute to Michael Jackson? And he made more of a contribution to movies than Farrah Fawcett?