Image via Sony Movie Channel
With the scent of pumpkin spice and school supplies in the air once more, I finally feel justified in offering a guide to the Addams women. Go rewatch Addams Family Values not only because it’s a case study in sequels that trump their originals, but also because it gives the world the misandrist triumvirate of Wednesday Addams, Morticia Addams and Debbie Jellinsky.
It’s a rare movie that features protagonists whose sadism matches that of its villains. Morticia and Wednesday are easily as violent, as mordant, and as perverse as Debbie. The thing separating her from the Addams women is not her megalomaniacal self-absorption or even the pale cream of her dresses, but the impurity of her motives. Whereas Morticia and Wednesday pursue the abasement of their men from an innocent glee in masculine humiliation, Debbie’s goals are purely pecuniary. She tortures Fester not for pleasure but for money. There is a way to read Addams Family Values as the tragic defeat of Debbie, who would have found her people in the Addams clan if only she could have embraced the non-instrumental sadism of Morticia.
Wednesday is the girl I wish I had had the courage to be as a young woman before dark and sardonic became part of the Cool Girl package. The refreshing part of Wednesday’s persona is not her darkness, but the fact that her precocity is not expressed erotically. Despite the way she has been transformed into a sexy Halloween costume staple, her moroseness reads as a reaction against the ways young women are conditioned by femininity. If Wednesday won’t grow up to become Debbie, whose primal scene involves a violent identification with Barbie, neither will she become Morticia—who inhabits connubial felicity as exquisitely as she does those black gowns. She represents a version of burgeoning womanhood unburdened by and actively antagonistic to the demands of male desire.
If Wednesday is my ego-ideal, Morticia and Debbie are the angel and devil on my shoulders whispering misandrist lullabies in my ear. Two sides of the same coin – the black widow and the dark wife – Mortica and Debbie represent the two poles that my aspirations shuttle between: the laconic bombshell in black and the man-killing mega-babe in pastels. I dream the dream of a sexiness that kills men dead or leaves them, at least, tied to the bed.
Below, a choose your own Addams misandry adventure.
- What is your favorite color?
- Black, like my dress.
- Black, like my soul.
- Black, like my husband’s teeth.
- The colors of nature and summer fun!
2. Your smile…
- Contains mysteries no man can fathom.
- Incites a sublime terror beyond language.
- Seduces men and flirts with insanity.
- Is the smile of a chorus line dancer in an off-off-Broadway show.
3. I like your dress….
- It’s so tight.
- It’s vaguely reminiscent of a Victorian bathing costume.
- It was stolen from a vintage sex doll.
- I only wear pleated shorts.
4. You can forgive any crime except….
- Revisionist historical reenactments.
- Men who overstay their welcome.
- Defiance in the face of fun.
5. The man in your life….
- Will crawl on his belly through glass for you – unless he uses his safe word.
- Is devoted to you, and you pity him.
- Had better have money, and will soon be dead.
- Has a vision that you will help him achieve at any cost.
6. You’re just like any modern girl…
- You love your family, but wish you had more time to seek out the dark forces and join their hellish crusade.
- You like fun as much as you like boys.
- You don’t want to be tied to one man for the rest of your life – only for the rest of his.
- You want it all: a job, a husband, a Thanksgiving pageant in July.
7. You solve problems…
- By using the power of your eyes, which are always illuminated by a spectral light from an unknown source.
- By going to the source and setting it on fire.
- First with your body, and later with high-voltage appliances.
- By aggressively singing campfire songs.
8. Finally, who is your favorite Addams Family man?
Mostly 1s: You are Morticia
Image via Wikimedia Commons
You are a goddess in black crêpe, and your trilingual sex life is the envy of the world.
Mostly 2s: You are Wednesday
image via Erin Stevenson O’Connor / flickr
You don’t suffer fools – they suffer you.
Mostly 3s: You are Debbie
Image via Sony Movie Channel
Some women want money, others just want to watch the world burn. You want both.
Mostly Ds: You are Becky Martin Granger
You are the worst. Divorce your husband and join an all-women lumberjack commune.