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Venus Talk

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Venus Talk

As I mentioned in my previous post, Netflix provided a slim selection of Asian films that didn't feature swords or martial arts (or survival features - The Picture Bride, Ode to My Father). It is Valentine's Day weekend, so I choose a romantic film (HEAVY on the romance and NOT classroom appropriate AT ALL) that dealt with aging in an interesting way.
First some details:
Directed by: Kwon Chil-in
Produced by: Jaime Shim & Lee Eun
Written by: Lee Soo-ah
Starring: Uhm Jung-hwa, Moon So-ri, Jo Min-su
Country: South Korea
Language: Korean
Distributed by: Lotte Entertainment
Running time: 109 mins
Released: February 13, 2014

This story details the loves of a group of female friends in their 40's. They are presented as successful in their careers but struggling in someway with love (one has never married but is dating a 26 year old who adores her (someone find this man - he is GORGEOUS!!! LEE Jae-yoon if you are reading this..., another friend's husband is cheating on her, another friend's long-term boyfriend refuses to marry her). Waiting to Exhale is a good comparison. These women were beautiful. Dressed stylishly (I'm coveting a few of their outfits & shoes!). Intelligent & running businesses. My concern is that these women are presented as "old." American actresses of this age are typically featured in roles that don't address their age. Hollywood has its own issues with age & lack of roles for women of this age, but if they are casted, their age isn't presented as integral to the role itself. Maybe around 60 does the role specifically deal with change of life issues (health issues, the role of friends as we age, the role of romantic relationships including marriage, Viagra was featured prominently in this film). The fact that Korea has a term for an unmarried woman in her 40's, "gold miss", was striking to me. Health issues like cancer were presented as expected of this age (& while it may be statistically true - I've recently lost a number of friends to cancer in their 40's), Hollywood saves these issues for later years. Films are powerful tools of propaganda. That is why there is outrage at lack of nominations of African-Americans. Is it healthy to present 40's as "old"? Living in Mexico, I frequently found job advertisements that requested applicants be within a certain age range (21-36 was common). Clearly age discrimination is not legal in the United States, but the contrast, to see how others outside of the US view age and what they consider "old" was shocking.
edited by cmccarty on 2/13/2016

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Professor Dube made a statement during last evening's class that made all of this make sense. If Korea has a population that is aging similar to the demographic patterns of China, it would make complete sense that there would be a need to examine the aging process through film. By presenting women who are dating, running businesses, continuing to dress fashionably, they are normalizing and providing acceptance for other women to continue to pursue issues pertinent to their identity. I see this movie in a whole new light as a welcome exploration and broadening of Korean society's expectations of the aging woman.