Elizabeth Taylor was gorgeous, sexy and magnificent. And on screen she clearly helped to create a fundamental discussion about women’s roles– in terms of sex, marriage, and personal identity. One of the most breathtakingly beautiful women in our collective memory, Elizabeth Taylor created a persona of radiant sexuality, who nabbed handsome suitors, breaking hearts in her wake. She was a touchstone for scandal, for sensationalism, and she was an actress who defined the term “movie star.” Her actions and lifestyle bewitched the imaginations of both admirers and critics. Even after her death.
Her legacy still stirs wonder and amazement: the recent auction of her jewels and other collectibles drew thousands to the sold-out exhibits all over the world. And amidst all of this, she starred in films that helped to define modern feminism. In her new book, The Accidental Feminist: How Elizabeth Taylor Raised Our Consciousness And Were Too Distracted By Her Beauty To Notice, cultural historian and journalist MG Lord tackles the complex subject of Elizabeth Taylor not from a biographical perspective, but from that of a cultural critic. Through interviews with family, friends, scholars and even gossip columnists, MG Lord concludes that Elizabeth Taylor made conscious decisions about the messages she communicated to her movie audiences– and in film after film, Ms. Taylor made powerful statements through her roles about gender discrimination, abortion rights and birth control, sexual control and self-determination, self-worth and identity through marriage. MG Lord takes us through Taylor’s personal life, her marriages, and her film career, delineating how an international sex symbol of staggering beauty could softly hammer her audiences with such potent feminist ideas.
Susan Orlean takes up subjects that on the surface we might take for granted, but clearly should not. She is a journalist and staff writer for The New Yorker. Her pieces for The New Yorker, as well as her books, focus on cultural phenomena that absorb the American imagination. Her recent book, Rin Tin Tin, about the movie dog who never seemed to die, and who was, at one point, the most popular movie star on screen, received enormous critical acclaim. The Orchid Thief evolved into the recent cult film, Adaptation. Another recent book, Saturday Night, is about just that: Saturday nights. In her terrific cross-continent exploration of why is that night different from all other nights, we learn a great deal about how we behave, and how alike we all really are. The Washington Post labeled her “a national treasure.” We at Writers Bloc think she’s required reading.
Note: Kate Burton, Richard Burton’s daughter, will participate in the program if she is in town.
7:30 pm. At the ICM Theater in the former MGM Building, 10250 Constellation Blvd., Century City. Park in the Westfield Shopping Mall, Century City, which is directly across the street, and have a drink and a bite to eat. Tickets, $20.