Aesthetic Realism Consultant Nancy Huntting
Julia Roberts and Aaron Eckhart in "Erin Brockovich"

From the film "Erin Brockovich"

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Aesthetic Realism Seminar
The Most Popular Mistakes about Love—& How Not to Make Them!
by Nancy Huntting

Mistake #2: Thinking Love & Justice Are Different Worlds

I see the film Erin Brockovich as important in showing that women want very much to be a force for justice to people. It also comments on something only Aesthetic Realism makes clear: the awful mistake of making love a separate world where we are soothed and made important and don't need to be fair to a damn thing. 

The movie is based on the life of an actual woman named Erin Brockovich and her fight against a horrendous injustice, causing agonizing illness and death to hundreds of families in California: the continual dumping since at least 1965 by Pacific Gas & Electric, one of the world's largest utility companies, of an extremely toxic, cancer causing chemical, hexavalent chromium, knowingly allowing it to seep into the water supply. People everywhere, and Ms. Brockovich herself, need to know what I learned from Aesthetic Realism: what she is fighting is the contempt for human beings inherent in private ownership for profit; and it is the same contempt that has a woman feel she owns a man and can do with him whatever seems in behalf of her own comfort. 

We like Erin Brockovich, played by Julia Roberts, because she's a critic, and she's also trying to be kind, has feeling for people. She has contempt also, and is scornful and angry in a way that hurts her and others. Meanwhile, there's a desire to show herself in a way I respect—she’s not smooth! Julia Roberts in this role has an affecting relation of fierceness and tenderness, pride and vulnerability, sureness and unsureness. 

Julia Roberts in film "Erin Brockovich"As the movie begins, Ms. Brockovich is a single mother of three children who, after two failed marriages, finds herself without money or a job. She's interviewing for work, and we see what people are going through all over the country; the uncertainty, desperation, worries about money to feed their family. Erin tells the interviewer she wanted to study medicine but got married early and had a child; in her first job with a engineering company she came to love geology, and reading maps! We see a woman with mind, possibilities, and also one who has made mistakes in love. 

A Raging Question for Women

The film is critical of snobbish ways people sum up others. However, about sex and a woman's body, it is mixed up. Tall, shapely Erin wears tight mini-skirts and low-cut tops,  and people take her to be neither responsible nor intelligent. And though she herself acts like she's just being herself and others are at fault, her seductive wardrobe puts the spotlight on her body in a way that weakens the movie. 

This is a raging question for women now. The crucial thing as a woman dresses herself, I learned, is our motive: Do we want men to be stronger or weaker? Do we want to bring out their kindness and intelligence— or their unkindness and stupidity, so we can be contemptuously supreme? If it is the second, we go against our own hopes—we divide our minds and bodies, as Erin is doing—and it's a mistake.


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