In 2013, the painting Judith Slays Holofernes by 17th century Italian artist Artemesia Gentileschi made its way to the Art Institute of Chicago. It’s a painting of woman cutting off her rapist’s head. It’s bloody, grim and grotesque. As such, it’s unsettling and awesome to behold.
Because the woman is still in the process of slicing off the man’s head, the painting feels very alive, very active. Merely thinking about it some ten years later after seeing it in person, I think of the decapitation as somehow still happening — eternal even! Hell for the rapist because ouch. Heaven for the woman because justice. And heaven for her helper because yay team. This is the part where I mention I’m not an art critic.
Anyway, the painting was only “visiting” Chicago. (It’s currently residing at Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte in Naples, Italy.) Realizing that we may never get the chance to see it again, Jesse and I took our kids (then ages 3, 4, 6 and 8) to see it and met a family friend at the museum, too. Good family fun.
When we were looking at the painting, I asked my friend something along the lines of, “What do you think?” and she said, “Good for her.”
My God, I love hearing women say that about other women. It just…ahhhhhh. I don’t condone violence, but there’s something about hearing someone say, “Good for her” that makes me happy.
I’ve had several “good for her” moments in my life but today I had a “good for him” moment.
A choreographer apparently smeared dog feces on a critic after receiving a negative review. I instantly thought, “Good for _____” as I clicked on the
bait link to find out if the choreographer was male, female or non-binary. I saw that the choreographer was male and finished my thought. “–him.”
Yes. Good for him.
Hey, we all thin-slice. We have instincts and make split-second decisions. But by and large, my response time to violence of any kind starts with a sigh followed by, “Hold on; we don’t know the whole story.”
But the second I heard that someone smeared shit in a critic’s face, my heart filled with cheer, pride and respect.
“Good for him!” I repeated, this time with an exclamation point.
You know what? I haven’t read the full story. I haven’t even tried to get the other side. I haven’t even looked to see if the choreographer himself might possibly need some kind of counseling or anger management. Nope. The reason?
I can’t stand critics.
The reason for the reason? Oh, many, but the nutshell version is I think professional critics are part of the problem, not the solution.
Have you seen the movie An Officer and a Gentleman? In the climax, Richard Gere goes after Debra Winger in what is arguably the most romantic movie ending of all time. As he scoops Winger up and kisses her, Winger’s unlikeable friend claps for her and says, “Way to go, Paula. Way to go!”
While the the bleach-blonde “Lynette” character is far from wholesome, her cheering is sincere. As such, I recognize it is not wholesome of me to cheer for a shit smearer, but it’s sincere and coming from a place of respect.
Thanks for reading.
P.S. Fern (now 14) and Angelo (13) are sitting at the same table as me, only they are playing chess, not blogging. I just showed them a picture of the painting and asked them if they remembered seeing it. Fern immediately recognized it and Angelo said he didn’t recognize it but had seen many paintings like that. He then called the painting “disturbing.”