Missing Feminist: Diane Keaton and the dreams of our mothers

Diane Keaton wears the hat that has become her trademark at Annie Hall.  In 2012 she publishes her memoirs of her Now and Always (AFP)
Diane Keaton wears the hat that has become her trademark at Annie Hall. In 2012 she published her memoirs of her Now and Always (AFP)

I have forgotten for years that I have the memoirs of Diana Keaton because they were given to me by someone I too had forgotten. And although that person is less toxic to me and all of humanity in the field of oblivion, now that it no longer hurts me, now that I have been able to read it, I feel that if that relationship was worth the tremendous pain, it was because of the book. by Keaton.

The edition is from 2012. The title in Spanish is Now and foreverbut in English it is Then again, something more like “then again”. I think I like it more than how they translated it: things are never forever, but they always start over, like in a circle. Keaton tells his life through that of his mother, who in turn kept 85 diaries in which he recounted his own and that of his marriage and family. And he does it with a question, which keeps me awake: “If I am who I am largely because of who and how she was, what influence do I have on my children?”

External views, Diane and her mother, Dorothy Keaton (the actress, whose real surname is Hall, took the artistic one), led completely different lives: one was a model housewife, the other, the superstar we know. It is inevitable that another question arises from the intertwined history of the two: How much do you earn and how much do you lose when pursuing true dreams?

Diane Keaton and Woody Allen
Diane Keaton and Woody Allen

The ideas of the time also define them: Dorothy’s idea, born in 1921, that her daughter could have it all – love, a family and the success she gave up -; that of Diane, born in 1946, that it was better to be a sexy girl than someone’s wife, even if deep down she was suffering for love or deliberately pursuing “unattainable goals” so that no one was in the way – “Woody, then Warren, And finally, Al , could I get engaged to any of them? It’s hard to know. ” The actress’s conclusion that if nothing was free for her, not even for her mother.

Keaton says this when it premiered Annie HallIn 1977 people stopped her on the street to tell her never to change. That whole look we love in Allen’s mythical movie was his idea, and it’s one of those things he paid a high price for.: he had spent years comparing himself Audrey Hepburn, convinced that she is not “pretty enough” and trying to find “solutions” for her face. Thus was born her half-open mouth – which made her look vulnerable, even though she had “an iron will” – and her hat that she would later honor Meg Ryan in When Harry met Sallyits trademark.

Like many other women of her generation and later, Keaton was bulimic: secretly vomited during filming Annie Hall. Like so many, he overheard an analyst repeat that the food was Dorothy. “I can’t stand the ease with which experts blame parents – and especially mothers – for the food addiction of teenage girls, about to become adults, middle-aged women and gruff old men. I’m sorry, but my mother. she was anything but not very affectionate, ”writes the actress when it is too late to tell her in person, hoping to hear from her again.

Relationships between mothers and daughters are rare. Keaton wrote her memoirs in her sixties (a decade ago), when she was still mourning Dorothy’s death four years earlier. A duel that was a mixture of love and gratitude, but also the need to unravel the mystery of their bond. Dorothy had never told her about her dreams, but many of hers had come true thanks to Dorothy’s, why were those fulfilled dreams such a strange burden to her?

One of the entries of Keaton’s mother in her diaries is about the book of Tim Robbins T.Cowgirls also feel melancholy. Now and always start with that quote Dorothy says she wants to “think later”. Robbins says that “for most crazy and brainwashed women, marriage is the culminating experience of their life; For men, however, it is a question of logistical efficiency: the man gets a bed, food, linen, television, offspring and other services, all under one roof … On the other hand, for women, marriage means giving up“.

Yes, he’s a man who plays Simone, and I guess that poor Californian housewife must read Tim Robbins’ ally explaining that she was a lela, but there is something that resonates: the sons, and even the more feminist daughters. Even today, we usually get the same from our mothers as the most patriarchal of men.

Her mother Dorothy had never told her about her dreams, but so many of hers had come true thanks to Dorothy's, why were those fulfilled dreams such a strange burden to her?  (AP)
Her mother Dorothy had never told her about her dreams, but so many of hers had come true thanks to Dorothy’s, why were those fulfilled dreams such a strange burden to her? (AP)

My mother was Diane Keaton’s age and yet she cared for my son all his life and took him to the pediatrician and to school so I could chase my dreams. And like Keaton for Dorothy, I never even asked about her. Because the daughters are selfish and demanding, and the question never runs out, and psychoanalysis almost always blames them.

Or well, actually the question eventually runs out when they’re gone, and then there’s the load. We daughters are usually very grateful to our parents. I thought, like Diane, that if I was a feminist it was because my old man had taught me to ride horses, cook barbecues, and talk politics.; I always enjoyed hanging around him, telling him I loved him: I held his hand when he died.

On the other hand, I wasn’t there when my mother died and I didn’t like her hugging me. We argued for nonsense and it was pitched battles. She was never when I needed her and her presence continues to accompany me. But now I know that if I’m a feminist or if I’m free – which have similar meanings in my head – it’s because I also had a Dorothy.

“I wish we could talk,” he writes almost at the end, when the two crossed lives become indissoluble. Your last lesson, the one I can’t bear to recognize and refuse to identify, is starting to sink. I think I know what you want to tell me forever. […] Dear Diane, take a deep breath, be brave and let go. Take your hands off the bike handlebars, lift them and fly“.

And then the magic: Diane realizes she is free. And then the best thing you can do for your children is to let them be too: “I try, Mom, but it goes against my every instinct. I promise you one thing: I promise to free them from the domination of my need before it’s too late. I promise to give them freedom as long as I want them to stay. ”Maybe one day even those children who don’t want to know about their dreams will understand.


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