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YMMV: Mommie Dearest
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Was Christina actually abused? Or was she just a bitter young woman trying to make money off her dead mother? Some in Hollywood think that the answer is somewhere in the middle. On one hand, Joan was widely known for having a temper that the public rarely saw due to her being self-aware of how it would hurt her career. On the other hand, Joan cutting her daughter out of her will pushed her over the edge towards writing the book and amplifying the severity of the abuse to epic levels.
      • Several of Joan Crawford's friends, such as Myrna Loy, and biographers, such as Donald Spoto, David Bret and Charlotte Chandler, have argued that Joan's strictness toward her children was grossly overblown by Christina, who had real discipline issues throughout her childhood and adolescence and a poor relationship with her mother thereafter (as did her brother Christopher; the twins had a much better relationship with Joan), and who wrote the book as a Take That out of resentment, justified or not. (The sources who argue in favor of this interpretation often acknowledge that Joan had personality issues that made her not particularly well-suited to be a mother, despite her intense desire for children.) They also point out that although Joan was, by all accounts, a stern disciplinarian with her children, this was in keeping with the standards of the era, which placed a premium on discipline, filial respect and similar values. Other friends of Joan Crawford and Christina including Helen Hayes, June Allyson, Rex Reed, James Mc Arthur, Betty Hutton, Eve Arden and Lana Turners daughter Cheryl Crane have come forward to say they did witness some abuse. As usual in these matters, the truth likely lies somewhere in between the two poles, and even her sympathizers agree that Joan did occasionally take very harsh actions in dealing with her children's misbehavior; for instance, Bret confirms that Joan did once cut Christina's curls off when she caught the girl impersonating her in front of her dressing-room mirror.
    • Joan also counts: Was she an abusive bitch? Or was Joan just mentally disturbed/in desperate need of anti-psychotic medication?
      • John Waters opines that, besides being a prime candidate for medication for her various mental disorders, Joan suffered greatly from the sudden rise from poverty to super-stardom, causing her to project all of her issues with being poor into her obsessive cleaning and going postal on Christina when she used poor people clothing hangers or got into Joan's ultra-expensive make-up.
      • The camp that argues that Christina's account was either greatly exaggerated or outright fabricated admits that Joan did place an overemphasis on discipline with Christina and Christopher, though she corrected this when raising the twins, and agree that she had issues with having grown up poor and in a dysfunctional family environment.
    • For one example, Joan really did strap Christopher down to his bed to prevent him from masturbating. On the one hand, that's incredibly abusive by moderns standards. On the other hand, this was at a time when masturbation was still widely seen as perverted and even physically and psychologically dangerous.
  • Critical Dissonance: The film made a lot of money, despite critics slamming it for being campy.
    • Deconstructed in that the studio realized that the film was getting positive reaction for all of the wrong reasons, and they changed the format of marketing trying to capitalize on it.
  • Cult Classic
  • Memetic Mutation: Three words: "NO WIRE HANGERS!"
  • Narm: A lot, but especially the infamous wire hanger scene.
  • Nightmare Fuel: While Dunaway's hammy performance earns some unintentional laughs, it can be pretty terrifying when it needs to (AFI even included Dunaway as Crawford on a list of the best movie villains).
  • So Bad, It's Good: The movie version.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: Faye Dunaway genuinely believed she would win an Oscar for her portrayal of Crawford. She later said that she was horrified and ashamed of the end result, often saying that the director just didn't care to tone down her performance.
    • John Waters did this with his DVD commentary. He opens his DVD commentary effectively telling listeners that he's going to approach the film as the serious bio-film that it was supposed to be. He also condemns the attempt to turn it into a cult classic by the studio by way of retooled marketing, pointing out how forced it was to try and do it without letting it naturally occur.
    • The Cinema Snob also gave a positive review of the movie, going so far as to break character to praise Dunawaye's performance and slam the Razzies. And he raises some really good points about pop culture's perception of scenes of movies without the overall context (namely, the fact that the infamous "wire hangers" scene is followed by Joan beating up Christina with said wire hanger).
  • Values Dissonance: Spanking children was not unheard of in Joan's generation. Related to the Alternate Character Interpretation at the top of the page however, it's up to the reader/viewer how much or how little that excuses her behavior toward her children. In particular she would tie her son to the bed with his arms at his sides to make sure he wouldn't masturbate (even when he was a lot younger than a lot of boys who would start that behavior), which took place at a time when masturbation was seen as medically and psychologically dangerous. Naturally, such a step would never be tolerated today.
  • The Woobie: Christina and Christopher.

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