Vogue published an article that set off Outlander fans who’ve been vocal on Social Media. Today is the Golden Globes, and Outlander has one nomination this year: Caitriona Balfe.
In my opinion, Cait TOTALLY deserves this nomination for Season 2. The first half of Episode 201 alone, is sheer genius in every way: the writing, acting, directing, cinematography, music, etc. Tobias is incredible, and Cait is right there with him, matching his years of experience every step of the way. Episode 207, Faith, is another stand out performance by Caitriona. Her portrayal of Claire’s loss and grief in 207 is stunning.
With the release of the Season 2 DVD and Blu-ray, we got to see extended and deleted scenes. Probably the most controversial was from Episode 207, (CLICK HERE to see it ) where we see Jamie express his grief about the loss of Faith, and we witness Jamie and Claire finding a way back to each other. People didn’t understand the rationale for excluding these important scenes from the episode.
Metin Hüseyin, who directed 207, had this to say…
Don't know why this part of the scene was cut. Cait & Sam were/are magnificent, carrying the weight of previous 20 episodes into this. https://t.co/jgiFGQGbhu
— Metin Hüseyin 🦋 (@MetinHuseyin) October 16, 2016
I wrote a piece about it (CLICK HERE to see it) at the time, and I’ve been mulling it over since. Seeing people’s response to the Vogue article, contributes to my thoughts.
Here are some excerpts from the article:
This Sunday, Caitriona Balfe Would Like You to Ask Her About Something Other Than Her Dress
“When you’re modeling, you’re there to elaborate the clothes, you can’t forget, the clothes are the story. But as an actress, the clothes are there to elaborate you,” she says, “It’s been an interesting adjustment, learning to express ‘me.'” Now, Balfe says, she’s also taking red carpet cues from her Globe-nominated Outlander role, and channeling the outspoken Claire in her approach. “It’s insane,” Balfe says, “that all we actresses seem to get asked about is what we’re wearing. Those interviews go out all over the world—and we’re in a moment now where, as citizens, we should be seizing that opportunity to speak up, speak our minds about the things we see happening around us. There’s plenty more to talk about than clothes.”
Speaking of things that are silly: When you’re on the red carpet, do you ever get sick of answering the question “what are you wearing?”? I’ve been privy to that experience, and it seems like you ladies get asked that like, a zillion times.
Oh my gosh. It’s surreal. Here you are, at a celebration of your craft, and all people want to know is what you’re wearing. Again and again. And not just that, but even down to—talk about your nail polish! You don’t want to be rude, but. . . . [sighs] I mean, I do appreciate, it’s a great marriage between entertainment and fashion, and I love that I get to borrow these incredible dresses, and designers—especially lesser-known ones, who I do like to support—get great PR out of it. But I do wish I had more opportunity to talk about the work. And not just that. I mean, one of the things that’s inspiring about playing Claire is that she’s this strong woman, standing up against chauvinism, and that’s really made me consider my own responsibilities, as someone who has a platform. I realize some people object to the idea of actors expressing their political opinions, but we’re human beings living in this world, responding to what’s going on, and why shouldn’t we be able to take a stand on what we see as injustice?
Okay, so if you were going to take a stand on something, what would it be?
Well, you know, if you watch Outlander you see stories about rape, about unwanted pregnancy, about women taking matters into their own hands, to provide a solution. To provide a choice. And in the meantime, you see bills like the one just passed in Ohio, where access to abortion services has been rolled back, and there’s no exception for rape or incest. And Planned Parenthood, which provides women crucial medical services aside from abortion, is under attack, and it just seems, at times, like all the rights our mothers and grandmothers fought for are being chipped away.
The thing that’s so odd to me about what’s happening in America, is that it goes against what we’re seeing in other places. I mean, I’m Irish, and in Ireland right now there’s a big movement to make it possible for women to get abortions in instances where their life is in danger—the laws there are so strict, even that’s not a given. There are women fighting for [greater] access to abortion in Poland. Do the women in America really want to go back to that? See the full article here
Maril Davis proudly posted the article on Twitter,
— Maril Davis (@TallShipProds) January 6, 2017
which kicked off a host of comments and some heated debate about the show not being a platform for a feminist agenda.
Here are my thoughts:
There’s this illusion in our culture right now and it’s pervasive, a mentality in everyone, as far as I can see, perhaps to a greater or lesser degree, but it’s there: to elevate, we must relegate.
I see examples everywhere- in myself, in others, in politics, in art. This idea that for one person or group to be raised up, another must be oppressed or diminished.
For America to be great again, one group has to be walled out, for one spouse to excel, the other must be less than, for the school administration to appear correct, the kids must be ignored, for one child in the family to shine, another must be vilified, for Claire to be a strong female character, Jamie must be watered down.
And both sides of the argument are trapped in this same mentality- Bernie Sanders wants to elevate the poor by stripping the rich. In media everywhere, especially kids’ shows, it’s popular now to make females the intelligent problem solvers (but still sexy!) while the guys are made to look like idiots.
This is the current response to feminism- the next swing in the pendulum, and it’s the one Jamie and Claire are caught in IMO. The arguments around the show reflect this same mentality- there’s too much Frank- he’s subverting Jamie.
What makes the Outlander books extraordinary, among other things, is the balance of the characters. Jamie is an unapologetic self actualized male. He’s a leader with clear values from which he does not stray. He dominates Claire sometimes, and you know what?
She likes it.
In the books.
Screen Claire has met the same fate as screen Every Woman today- she is the brains behind the operation, the leader, the one whose emotions count the most. And so, we have a lopsided Jamie and Claire, and IMO it has nothing to do with Frank, or giving tertiary characters or side stories more play. It has to do with our collective belief that there’s not enough to go around. The black and white swing of the pendulum. Responding to the past, which is gone, by the way, by mucking up the present.
Can we just erase the chalk board? Can we please not use Jamie to pay the social debt of centuries of elevating men and relegating women? Can we just start fresh and let him be Kick Ass Jamie?
The confusion extends to real life, as people respond to the Vogue article. Instead of celebrating Cait’s efforts to elevate Red Carpet discussion- which is a very good thing- the response is a reaction to the overweighting of Claire’s character on the show (mixed with some political dissent), and the perception that the absence of award nominations for Sam correlates to that.
Tick tock tick tock.
It’s my opinion that no one would have a problem with kick ass Claire, if kick ass Jamie showed up too. What we have is relegated Jamie so we can have elevated Claire. But the idea that they can’t both be elevated is a fantasy in my opinion. It’s an illusion.
If I have one appeal to the Season 3 writers, producers, directors, actors- please please let this character shine in all his glory. Jamie will not eclipse Claire, in fact his light will reflect on her and only make her brighter.
It’s a journey, and the people producing this show are on their own paths and living in this culture, discovering as they go. I support them wholeheartedly. AND I hope to see Kick Ass Jamie in Season 3.
For now, I wish KICK ASS Caitriona ALL the best tonight at the Golden Globes!! I look forward to a Red Carpet interview which reaches beyond the superficial.
May everyone shine, without apology.