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As I sat down to enjoy another timeless Saturday night premiere on my favorite women's network, Lifetime, I noticed a majority the film was a platform for their go-to male actor, Rob Lowe, and the perceptions of his male character. As I proceeded to watch the rest of this Made-for-TV Feature entitled, Prosecuting Casey Anthony, I became more annoyed at the fact that Anthony was simply the center of discussion, but not the central point of view being portrayed/re-told. This idea of the associated male counterparts, as main focuses for recounting a historic woman/women's tale, was brought more to light as I noticed a preview for another premiere, Betty and Coretta, debuting Saturday, February 8th. Now, I understand these women did begin their movement because of the views originated by their late husbands , Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, but I would expect for the trailer to reveal less about the influence and more about the how these women made the cause their own/perpetuated these messages in ways their husbands never could. After watching Casey Anthony and previewing Betty and Coretta, I realized for the first time how much Lifetime tells these famed female stories with a male voice, below I will analyze how the women at the center of these stories are often seen as the foil characters in their own events.
When I initially sat down to watch, Prosecuting Casey Anthony, I wasn't so naive as to think that Rob Lowe, the Lifetime mainstay, was not going to be a main component of the story; but I thought his character's portrayal would include more insight into Casey Anthony, herself, by simply be a pawn to her re-telling of events. Since we have all heard this story re-hashed a hundred-million times by the male lawyers' interpretations of this case, I expected to get into the mind of Anthony and paint a more accurate portrait as to what she saw as the truth in her own trial. Even if there haven't been any in-depth interviews done with Anthony regarding this event, to concretely describe her version of the case's proceedings, I at least expected the film to more prominently highlight her reactions to the information being presented, her behavior in her jail cell each day after the proceedings, or even her emotional state/subsequent activities after the verdict was announced; in order to get a crisper visual interpretation of what was going on with this woman during her prosecution. Simply having Lowe re-count the events of this case, through his presumptive male character, gave the perception that this secondary evaluation of the crime was correct, without comparing against the accurately interpreted behaviors of the first-hand suspect . Furthermore, with Anthony's father also being a prime suspect in the film, most of the airtime was focused on him and did not provide any attention to the other main female involved in the investigation, her mother. Focusing on the mother's reaction to the trial would have also given insight into the female perception of the event/ the truth, as she has the ability to use her unique relational perspective of Anthony to analyze the situation ; however this facet was never researched either.
Also, whilst viewing this film, I noticed an exciting preview for the film, Betty and Coretta, starring Angela Bassett and Mary J. Blige as the pioneering widows of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. At first, I was extremely excited about this unique story of these civil leaders' wives solidifying the movement towards equality and bringing their husbands' ideas to fruition; however the more I saw the trailer, the more I disliked the perception it left me with. It appears the movie will be focused heavily on King's and Malcolm's feats, by not clearly setting the stage as to how Betty and Coretta altered/ brought this liberation venture to implementation by their own wills. A particular clip, which struck me as jarring, was when Bassett's character, Coretta, opens up a speech by stating, "I'm glad to see you all here, and I know my husband would be glad as well!", because it gives the expectation that these women are heavily riding the coattails of their male counterparts, rather than simply being influenced by their thought patterns to create one's of their own.
In closing, I understand that men can be a strong catalyst for many historic female endeavors, however when portrayed on an women-centric channel, such as Lifetime, I expect the male component to be just a piece of the bigger puzzle put together by the woman. Therefore, when I see these films that would rather feature Rob Lowe to draw in an audience, or give more clout to the story by mentioning the bigger-name male leaders involved, I just second guess Lifetime's intentions.