IT’S STEPFORD NATION! Did you take your meds today? Kiss your sexbot ‘Good-bye’ when you went off to work? Maybe you got in lock step with the hive and condemned someone with a differing opinion.
THE STEPFORD WIVES (1975) concept was too good of an idea to waste on just one movie about creating the perfect cyborg wife. This was something the whole family should get in on!
The underlying predictive messaging was that we should prepare for and accept the emergence of sexbots and in the later films, behavioral modification through prescription drugs, both of which have already come to pass. This insidious programming was somewhat obscured by the more overt message that nature is flawed. Although it is nature itself that the secret brotherhood of men In The Stepford Wives want to change, the alterations made to their women are purely for selfish reasons.
The Stepford Wives is basically a 1970s endorsement for robots with perfect tits. Attentive robowives that cook, clean and drop their aprons whenever their owners demand it—and they are possessions now, no longer equal in any way.
It’s interesting that the oldest woman in Stepford works for the newspaper and is clearly a real flesh and blood human. She is loud, annoying and dresses in an unconventional way, yet in her role as journalist, she doesn’t go near revealing the truth to newcomers, but helps extract necessary information for the Men’s Association’s intended victims. Her elderly presence seems to side with the men who reject equal rights for women and that the activist viewer should make note of traitors in their midst and to reject outdated models of feminism. In the end, The Stepford Wives leaves the female viewer wary of the future and distrustful of men, but what the film never addresses is the greater horror that men would actually experience at having to live with a humorless wife.
REVENGE OF THE STEPFORD WIVES (1980) Revenge of the Stepford Wives and The Stepford Husbands were made for television additions to the Stepford family of films and they both used medication as a means of creating zombie spouses. Visually the results are the same as the cyborg replacements of the original, but the medicating doesn’t just produce docile spouses as they can in real life, it produces violent maniacs when the medications are halted.
A constantly blaring siren tells the female population when to take their meds and these women never miss a dose. When the siren is tampered with and their programming goes bonkers the women waste no time in finding the president of the Men’s Association and stomp him to death.
But it’s the casting of Julie Kavner as the new recruit into polite Stepford society that is the most interesting thing about the film. She is the equivalent to the Paula Prentiss character, who was also depicted by Bette Midler in the 2004 remake, but every word she speaks reminds us that she’s Marge Simpson. The Simpsons wouldn’t make its debut for nine more years, but the sight of her getting a mind-altering beauty make-over has Marge written all over it. And while we’re on the subject, it is well worth pointing out how The Simpsons became the go-to show for predictive programming. It has predicted everything from 9-11 to the iPod and probably most famously, Trump’s Escalator Ride to announce his running for president. If it’s a stretch to see this early peek of Marge in the land of dumbed down mind control then ponder the root of her last name—simp, which means fool or simpleton. Simply, uncanny.
THE STEPFORD HUSBANDS (1996) are portrayed as losers, wussies and fuck-ups. Michael Ontkean plays a writer with terminal writer’s block who annoyingly and constantly bounces a basketball against the wall, which is enough to get him locked up for some hardcore behavioral modifications. Wife Donna Mills is steamrolled into signing him over to Stepford science, but she quickly becomes wary of all the cooking he does and the lack of ball play in their new home. She soon figures out that the fistfuls of pills he takes each night might be turning her husband into a stranger—a well-behaved stranger, but not the man she married. She breaks rank with Stepford’s toxic feminist tradition and plots to reclaim her husband.
By 1996, I’m pretty sure college indoctrination and the media were already far into their hatred campaign toward men, so it’s surprising that they were not treated more poorly here, but since this film we have seen the disturbing portrayal of men as bumbling idiots sharply increase in all forms storytelling including commercials. Men are stupid and afraid, they fuck shit up, break things, they’re loud, messy, and insensitive. It’s gotta be true because that’s how the media has decided to portray them. It’s no accident that the message is to divide the sexes and reframe the concept of man as a strong provider and recast him almost as a useless appendage to the more intelligent and more powerful woman. Thankfully awareness of these programming tactics fail when we see them for what they are.
THE STEPFORD CHILDREN (1987)
I could only view a Spanish language version of this made for TV movie, so I lost some detail but this time around, it seems that the wives are already under transformation control, but their kids remain their human selves. They are loud, block traffic in the street, have big unpleasant hair and embarrassing late-80s faux punk fashions, so
clearly, they must be fixed! Barbara Eden and her family move to Stepford and her children are prime candidates for conversion. The son drinks from the milk carton and rides a motorcycle and the daughter has been corrupted by her punk friends.
The converted kids here are some strange mutant clone versions of their original selves and the Stepford High cheerleaders and popular kids make one believe that being a Stepford child is something to be desired, which is not far at all from the extreme pressures to conform that we see today.