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6.06.2017

Christine Chabbuck

Last night I finished watching Christine on Netflix, a biopic about Christine Chubbuck, the 29-year-old reporter who killed herself in 1974 while broadcasting live in Sarasota.

It's actually a very good movie, and Rebecca Hall does an awesome job of playing a serious, moody, intense and high-strung Christine.  The movie dramatizes the mounting pressures and disappointments that led Chabbuck to her gruesome ending, which included being overlooked for a promotion, a demand for sensationalized violent pieces in lieu of her more wholesome lifestyle stories, a cyst on her ovary that caused her infertility, and the failure of a romantic flame at work to launch (he was interested in someone else).

I read a little more about Chabbuck on her Wikipedia page, the internet's most reliable source for information.  And it reinforced that crux of her crises was disappointment that she was unmarried, still a virgin, hadn't dated a lot, and would quite likely never have children.  And although a sensationalized story such as hers has a tendency for one simple narrative to explain what was quite likely a complicated situation, to the extent that this "spinster-phobia" explanation is the right one, I found it both sad and also a little pathetic.

Juxtapose Chabbuck, lets just say, with Laura Poitras, who was just interviewed on Charlie Rose.  Although I know precious little about Poitras' personal life, I do know that she is a 53 year old unmarried woman, but who seems to be living in a much more mature reality.  It seems, anyway, that she's defined her self-worth by what she's contributing, and not by some sort of narcissistic and superficial expectation she she be married with children by the age of 26 or 27.

Agh, well.  Christine was living in a different era.  I would like to think, however, that had she pressed on into her 30s, that she may have come to see that she was capable of living a full life, to have a successful career and respectability, as a single woman.  


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