Margaret Rutherford should rightly look puzzled at Disney’s latest casting for Miss Marple. And probably Agatha Christie will be spinning in her grave as well.
Disney have acquired the cinematic rights to the Miss Marple character, and plan to have 38yo Jennifer Garner play the Christie character. Doubtless the Marple character will shed her trademark tweed for copious amounts of female flesh.
Agatha Christie loosely based the Marple character on her grandmother and other women of that era. The essence of Miss Marple is that she is an elderly spinster, a bit on the dottery side, but razor-sharp in her logic, deduction and understanding of human-nature, a skill she has acquired over many years of studying human behaviour (no doubt because she had some luxury of free time as a spinster!), but mainly due to her many years of living, her age. From Diki:
Agatha Christie attributed the inspiration for the character of Miss Marple to a number of sources: Miss Marple was “the sort of old lady who would have been rather like some of my grandmother’s Ealing cronies – old ladies whom I have met in so many villages where I have gone to stay as a girl”. Christie also used material from her fictional creation, spinster Caroline Sheppard, who appeared in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. When Michael Morton adapted Roger Ackroyd for the stage, he removed the character of Caroline replacing her with a young girl. This change saddened Christie and she determined to give old maids a voice: Miss Marple was born.
So not the first time old woman/spinster erasure has gone on.
How does a 38yo ‘hot property’ actress fit into the scheme of things? Well, obviously it’s not her fault for the casting, it is Disney, erasing old women from the screen.
Disney I am now convinced, are actually an Evil Empire devoted to the destruction and subjugation of women. The Disney studio have for decades pushed the feminine delicate heroine onto us, who is usually rescued by a charming Prince Nigel, and holds out to marry aforesaid Prince Nigel. Portrayal of older women in the Disney films is usually Wicked Stepmother, Evil Witch, or Ugly Step-Sisters, the main message being to divide women. Decades and decades and decades of the stuff.
No doubt that all the early Disney animated films had loads of lowly-paid female colorists painting the frames. It is the sort of detailed and careful work that females are good at. These days animation houses outsource the labour-intensive colorisation work to places like Korea for cheap labour, or the newer trend of completely computer-generated.
The only marginally good things to come out of Disney were Touchstone films. Back in the 80s Touchstone Pictures were a regular vehicle for legends such as Bette Midler.
Every bit of animation under the Disney brand has some level of misogyny, and/or old woman erasure going on. From the exaggerated nipped in waistlines and beauty standards, the divisive female roles, ugly-as-evil, and no elder woman role models. The female heroine is on her own, usually in an unknown battle with some other female character. Generations of girls have been brainwashed by this shite, not to mention the fuckability mandate.
I was brought up knowing Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple, and I have always loved Margaret Rutherford. I did not see the later Miss Marple series with Joan Hickson, and many enjoyed her in the Marple role.
Angela Lansbury played a Marple-esque character in Murder She Wrote, although the Jessica Fletcher character was a widow. Lansbury played Miss Marple in the 1980 film The Mirror Crack’d. Landsbury is still alive, and is 85 now.
And here she is (below) in 2007 in a stage play, looking far more Miss Marple-like than Jennifer Garner at any rate.
Ageism both on-screen and off-screen affects women earlier and far more dramatically than it does men.
Bring back granny-power and spinster-power!
Rutherford’s Miss Marple was a character I could look up to. It is important for girls and young women to have strong, older role models, instead of being taught to be ‘decoration’ or mommies. Is it any wonder that 3rd wavers and funfems think they have to ‘retire’ and hand over the reigns at 30?
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Dame Agatha Christie (15 Sep 1890 – 12 Jan 1976) aged 85
Dame Margaret Rutherford (11 May 1892 – 22 May 1972) aged 85
Joan Hickson (5 Aug 1906 – 17 Oct 1998) aged 92
Angela Lansbury (born 16 October 1925) currently 85
Bette Midler (born Dec 1, 1945) currently 65
Jennifer Garner (born 17 Apr 1972) currently 38