The Poseidon (and Athena) Adventure
By David Marcum
When I was a teenager in the summer of 1981, I was smitten with the film Clash of the Titans, a small budget version of the Greek tale of Perseus. The gods and goddesses were played by a list of acting luminaries, including Laurence Olivier, Ursula Andress, and Maggie Smith, with Harry Hamlin playing the handsome hero. The real star of the movie, though, was Ray Harryhausen’s stop motion animation, used to create the magnificent creatures of Greek mythology.
Evidently, the movie captured more than just my imagination, as it was remade with a grander budget in 2010. This time, Perseus was played by Sam Worthington, star of Avatar and an actor everyone knows but can’t necessarily name. In both films, we are supposed to root for Perseus, but, instead, I found myself most fascinated with Medusa.
If you’ve seen Clash of the Titans, ever bought an item with the Versace logo, or studied Greek mythology, you know about Medusa. She’s a creature with venomous snakes for hair and so wretchedly ugly she can turn any man who looks upon her into stone.
Medusa is a bit player in the odyssey of Perseus, who heroically beheads her and rids the world of one more ugly woman. However, according to Ovid, Medusa wasn’t born a monster or hatched from a devious god’s egg. She was a strikingly beautiful priestess of Athena. Poseidon, god of the seas and brother of Zeus, was overcome with lust for Athena and raped her in the middle of her own temple.
If justice were to be served, Athena would confront Poseidon for his crimes, and the wicked would be punished, but this ain’t Law & Order SVU— this is ancient Greece! Alas, Athena knew the old saying among males, “Don’t get in a pissing match with a man who has a bigger…” I’m not finishing that sentence. This political season has been vulgar enough. So, instead, Athena takes her vengeance out upon the innocent Medusa, transforming her into a hideous reptilian form, forcing her to abandon society and live in a cave to be despised for nothing more than being hideous and unwittingly turning meter readers into statues. Athena punished Medusa in an act of misdirected retribution over being an unwilling victim of a crime perpetrated by a man because he was too important to be put on trial. Evidently, the Realm of the Gods works a lot like America’s banks…or Congress.
How interesting that several millennia ago, in the world’s first advanced civilization, stories employed standards of beauty thrust upon women that still exist today. Men were known for their strength, or cleverness, or industriousness, or any number of things, but women were known only for beauty or fertility. Strike a pose or spit out a kid. Otherwise, begone!
Three thousand years later and nothing much has changed. Young girls are made to believe their looks are all they bring to this world, but, if the eye of the beholder decides she isn’t beautiful, she is carefully, or not so carefully, cautioned to cultivate a personality. Moreover, women who have the audacity to have opinions and speak their minds as if they were invited to participate are immediately greeted with derision.
So, it shouldn’t be surprising that, for the past year, we have been watching Clash of the Titans in yet another remake, but not as a film; this time, as political theatre. In this remake, the focus has been on Athena, played by Hillary Clinton, and Poseidon, played by Donald Trump. Medusa has been portrayed by a list of women ranging from Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly to former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, with every other woman in the world in between, including Trump’s own daughter and an unnamed, thankfully, 10-year old girl!
Whether you believe God created Eve from Adam’s rib or that women split from men in the primordial slime, there’s no arguing that the ladies have always gotten what Marylin Monroe aptly called “the fuzzy end of the lollipop.” And who could possibly know the taste of that fuzzy end more than Hillary Clinton?
From the moment she was First Lady, Hillary-haters organized quickly, denouncing her every move and gaining traction because she didn’t follow the prescribed behavior for women: demurring; apologizing; running to the tea and sympathy crowd; or any number of things mistakenly outspoken women are supposed to do. Instead, Hillary took a page from Eleanor Roosevelt’s book and marched forward, head held high and shoulders thrown back, ignoring her detractors.
Well, nothing but nothing makes people angrier than being ignored after they’ve gone through all of the trouble of hurling their most polished invective at you. What disrespect given to one’s disrespect! “Hey, lady! I spent all of last night digesting bile to vomit at you! Just who do you think you are?”
What’s most amazing to me is that people have yet to catch onto the fact that women are the gutsiest people in public forums and when it comes to running things. They have no “Girl’s Club” to mirror that of the Boy’s Club. There is no “Ladies’ Code,” and no one has ever heard of a “Ladies’ Agreement.” Women don’t have to run their opinions by other women to avoid ruffling feathers. They arrive at a consensus only after they formed their ideas separately and then met other people who shared them.
Most men, especially the SWiCs*, however, are completely beholden to other men because their social standing never changes from their first days in middle school, when we all bite the proverbial apple that gives us self-awareness, but lack the maturity to know what to do with it. The most popular boys create the consensus of thought, and whether the others share it or not, they embrace it. From that point forward, men maintain the practice of satisfying their self-defined status quo. For most men, turning 13 is the last real transition in their lives. Everything they learn then, they will use until they die. Nothing in this mean, old world could possibly be worse for them than being cast out of the Boy’s Club for having a different idea. Nuremberg, anyone?
Online, especially in social media, the most useful dialogue is offered by women because they see things they dislike and post about them before pondering to check what other people think about it. So, it is ironic that, when someone does something particularly brave, we call that behavior “ballsy.” SWiC men are typically only ballsy when they are physically bigger than their adversary, are backed-up by their gang, or can point a gun at the problem.
Which brings us to Donald Trump, who behaves like a spoiled god. Growing-up rich and powerful, he has been used to taking what he wants and unapologetically leaving a path of destruction in his wake. He has slipped in and out of more bad business deals than the gods have raped innocent maidens. Like Poseidon, he has been bellicose, unsympathetic, and unforgiving.
But the new Athena, Hillary Clinton, has no designs on punishing the already punished. As of this writing, the Presidential Election is a week away, and Clinton has pulled ahead of Trump by double digits. It is looking as though Hillary will be our nation’s first woman president. If this happens, Medusa, in the form of women all over this country, will be avenged. Opinions and decisions are about to be rendered without input from the clique that has ruled this nation and most of world since it began.
However, this isn’t a day of reckoning. It’s a day of recognition. Medusa won’t even have to shed her mane of snakes to be freed from her cave. Whether she is beautiful or not in the eye of any beholder won’t matter anymore. People of both genders who value Medusa for her gifts will be in power, and the only men she will turn to stone are those too stupid to look only skin-deep for all the great things she brings to this world.
*SWiC—A Marcumian term for “Straight, White, Christians,” who dominate culture and political dialogue while lacking the good sense to see that now is the time they should be making friends with others not like them, as they are about to become the minority in every possible way.