Feisty is as Feisty Does

I was going to write about something else, about several other things in fact, but I was so struck by one thing in that Guardian article on the MMR issue I just put in News, that I have to point it out. Have to.

Justine Picardie does a photo feature on Wakefield, his house, and his family, for the Daily Telegraph Saturday Magazine. Andy is, she tells us, “a handsome, glossy-haired hero to families of autistic children”…Then we hit ground zero: she fantasises about a Hollywood depiction of Wakefield’s heroic struggle, with Russell Crowe playing the lead “opposite Julia Roberts as a feisty single mother fighting for justice for her child”.

Oh, gawd. There you have it. Swap Juliet Stevenson for Julia Roberts – gee, they were so close, with the name and all – and there you are. A ‘feisty’ single mother – gosh, that doesn’t sound familiar does it? Hmm. No, surely we’ve never seen Julia Roberts play that part before, right? Right? I wonder why Justine Picardie didn’t fantasise a feisty single mother who dresses like a prostitute and works for Albert Finney, just to make sure we all had the same fantasy.

Feisty. Feisty. That word has a lot to answer for, you know? Not that it’s always bad – there was feisty Norma Rae, and feisty Karen Silkwood. But we’ve moved on now, from boring old union struggles in a North Carolina textile mill – I mean how unhip is that?! No, now we have to have feisty woolly thinkers, like Laura Dern in ‘Jurassic Park’ earnestly informing Richard Attenborough, ‘You can’t think your way through this, John, you have to feel.’ Oh yes, that’s good advice. Especially when evaluating medical evidence. When will people start fantasising about movies featuring feisty single researchers who tell ill-informed reporters they don’t know what they’re talking about, and win the day? I’d go see that movie!

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