Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Ghost and Mrs Rapist

You know what I was thinking today? (He said, as a worthless and transparent way of opening a blog post.)

I was thinking about Mrs Muir. Those of you of a certain vintage might remember her as one of the main characters from 'The Ghost and Mrs Muir.' G&MM was one of those TV shows that everyone at the time seemed to watch because it was on at that pre-adulthood, pre- or during dinner peak viewing time of 5:30 - 6:00 or 6:00 - 6:30. Over the years, the ABC had Dr Who, Sweet and Sour, the Goodies and Monkey while Channel 10 had the likes of MASH and the G&MM.

Made from 1968-1970 (and repeated well into the 80's -- did you know the original Flintstones series was 56-60?), the story went:

Lovely young widow Carolyn Muir, her two young children, and the maid discover that the New England seaside house they've moved into is haunted by the former owner -- an old salt named Captain Daniel Gregg. Gregg at first resists this intrusion, but he develops a ghostly love for his uninvited guest.

Anyway, the exact bit which popped into my head today (and does so every couple of years or so), was the episode where Mrs Muir decides she wants to be a writer. So she writes something and leaves it out, allowing the the ghost to 'spice it up' and mail it off under her name. (It's never clear how a non-corporeal ghost is able to interact with physical objects like a typewriter -- that's right, I'm one of those wankers.)

So various people read 'her' story and then are shocked and tittilated [for such an important word, it's damn hard to spell] by it -- in place of her (we imagine) sedate feminine tale is a rollicking pot-boiler. Mrs Muir gets lots of winks and nods and comments to the effect that people had no idea she was capable of such stuff. What this is all about of course is sex, though in emmy-award winning US TV from 1969, it can never be acknowledged. (But I'm sure that if Cpt Gregg could poke the keys of a type-writer he could...)

We only really see one little excerpt of the bodice-ripping prose generated by the captain and I only recall one word, the most scandalous: 'ravished' -- which is both suggestive and old-fashioned. Of course, 'ravish' means the following:

1.to fill with strong emotion, esp. joy.
2.to seize and carry off by force.
3.to carry off (a woman) by force.
4.to rape (a woman).

I'm pretty sure definition 1 wasn't being used and 2-4 all add up to the thing.

So the licentious text in question attributed to a 'lovely young widow' was both coy enough to be used on a 1960's US family sitcom but also able to allude to non-consensual sexual assault... I just thought that was, you know, interesting.

I'm also working on world hunger.


meva said...

I believe that the old bodice-rippers (another suggestive term) are full of 'ravishings'. Because how can one be *ahem* willingly intimate with a person of the opposite gender before marriage? Impossible, really.

And did you know that in the old I Love Lucy shows, the word 'pregnant' was never used (even when she obviously was) because it was considered too vulgar?

Jo said...

You'd think, after hanging around an American house for the better part of a century, Captain Gregg might have lost the snotty British accent.

Either that, or killed that fucking dog.

The Man at the Pub said...

I must have missed that show by a couple of years. Damn! I did like Sweet'n'Sour though, I even remember the title song, also called "Sweet'n'sour"